Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 2: The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite #3

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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 2: <i>The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite</i> #3

Every day this month, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite #3, which was published by Dark Horse and is cover dated November 2007. Enjoy!

This comic is written by Gerard Way, drawn by Gabriel Bá, colored by Dave Stewart, and lettered by Nate Piekos. Yes, this is the first page of the comic. Why would I reassure you? Because, as you can see, it certainly looks like we dropped in on this comic in the middle.

This is due, of course, to the idea of “writing for the trade.” This is a long story divided into six chapters, and it’s meant to be read in one sitting. Therefore, just as you might expect the first few paragraphs of a chapter to follow along from the last few paragraphs of a previous chapter with no month-long break in the middle, Way simply continues the story from “chapter 2” and doesn’t care at all about bringing anyone up to speed. So a casual reader will have no idea what’s going on on this page, and even a reader of the series might forget, given the monthly breaks in between chapters. Way gives us some information about the evil dude – he’s dying, he’s insane, he built a wondrous machine that keeps him alive – but not way he has a girl strapped to a chair (although it’s obvious he’s going to do something nefarious to her). It’s certainly not the worst first page – it’s intriguing and mysterious – but it’s still fairly obvious that Way is writing a story that you probably can’t just jump into.

Bá’s art and Stewart’s coloring is nicely done. The evil dude looks both menacing and slightly goofy, as if we’re not supposed to take him all that seriously. Way and Bá do this a lot in The Umbrella Academy – it’s almost trite the way they give us goofy-looking villains who do horrible things. This guy is plump and wears an odd helmet, but he’s talking about suffering from a fatal disease and he has a girl strapped to a chair with a ball gag in her mouth. Not pleasant. Bá sells it, though, and Stewart’s fine, muted, blue-based coloring in every panel but the lower left one helps highlight both that that one is a flashback and that the villain is insane, as he killed the doctor who diagnosed his illness. It’s a standard trick in the comic book business (and in movies, too), but that doesn’t mean it’s not effective.

The first page of the third issue of The Umbrella Academy might not be the most astounding first page, but it does offer the reader some tantalizing puzzles, which is all we can really ask for, right?

Next: One of the most boldly colored comic book runs of the past 15 years!