Last time on “The Umbrella Academy: Dallas”, Number 5 had murdered a parking lot full of thugs, but not before they could call on the dreaded Hazel and Cha-Cha for back up. Number 5 is now in fear for his life and the Umbrella Academy is in shambles.
The previous mini-series from Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba introduced us to the Umbrella Academy in a broad and widescreen story. The entire world was in peril and the team had to reform to stop it. “Dallas” is a much more low key affair. It’s the aftermath, and a refreshing angle with which to launch a follow up series. Sure, there’s peril and action, but it’s a rare approach for a comic book mini-series to take its time and saunter through the rubble of a big set piece series like the one that came before this one.
One of the most impressive feats Way has pulled off in this book is creating an utterly strange but completely coherent and believable universe. There are talking apes, yes, but there’s no a super intelligent menagerie of all kinds of animals roaming the streets. It’s a consistency that is key to the success of the book.
Gabriel Ba, as always, deserves special mention for his characterization of Hazel and Cha-Cha. Two criminals wearing gigantic mascot heads, they are naturally unable to emote with their faces. Ba interjects an enormous amount of exaggerated but appropriate detail in their actions. I don’t know if it was at Way’s direction, but regardless, we learn a lot about their interior lives by how quick they are to slam their fist on a table or throw a bloody glove to the floor.
Dave Stewart’s colors are also noteworthy, as his approach is just as unique as the rest of the contents of the book, sometimes off register, rarely (if ever?) employing gradients. It’s a perfect complement to Ba’s artwork.
I’d also like to give Tony Ong, who designed the book, a huge amount of credit. The back cover and inside cover are both well designed, and he offers a unique take with each issue.
What you have here is a bizarre, charming, and emotionally believable world and cast, rendered by a collection of ridiculously talented craftsmen, each one at the top of their respective games. “The Umbrella Academy” is a special book, realized masterfully.