I’m not sure there has ever been a uniquely singular comic book world as well realized and captivating as what Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba have created in “The Umbrella Academy.” The first analogue most would probably bring up would be The Doom Patrol, but even that was hooked into the DC Universe on at least some level and the Grant Morrison version was still firmly planted in this America, if a slightly stranger one. But “The Umbrella Academy” not only exists in a much odder plane, every new detail fits in perfectly.
For example, this issue delves into the guild of time hopping assassins that, naturally, Number Five worked for for decades before reappearing as his childhood self. This issue serves as a bit of a set up, but as for exactly what is being set up, that’s a bit unclear. We know that the Academy is split into two factions. Spaceboy, Kraken, Seance, and Spaceboy are trying to find a way back in time, while No. 5 and The Rumor is in the strange pocket headquarters of the Temps Aeternalis. While this issue might be a bit light on action, it’s never falters on its page-to-page promise of totally gorgeous absurdity. But somehow it all hands together. The opening dream sequence, in which the color takes a dramatic shift into pastel (kudos to Dave Stewart), has the unenviable duty of illustrating what exactly would be considered surreal in a world as off-register as this one. But it does so wonderfully.
Gabriel Ba has always been a consistently unique and fantastic artist, and nothing has changed about that in this issue. He’s taking cover duties by the horns, though, with one of the best covers of the year so far in both concept and execution. Dave Stewart continues to evolve the particular style he’s been utilizing for this book and seeing it branch out in new directions in the opening dream sequence is a real treat.
Gerard Way has somehow, over the course of ten issues now, continued to expand upon the strange world he introduced in this series, all the while never adding a piece that appears out of place. It’s been said many times before, but every new issue just accentuates the improbability that a book like this would come from someone who’s, basically, just working a second part time job.
“The Umbrella Academy: Dallas” strikes a much quieter tone than its predecessor. It’s somber, meditative, and gritty. That is, until the last page, and all that is overturned in an instant. This issue has a hell of an ending, and there’s still two more to go.