INTERVIEW: Way and Bá Reunite for Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion

Gerard, Umbrella Academy was your first big comics project. With Killjoys, Doom Patrol, and running Young Animal now under your belt, has your approach to UA changed at all?

Way: I still write Umbrella in very much the same way. It’s an easier book to write than let's say Doom Patrol because I created these characters originally, they are part of my DNA, and they kind of write themselves, same with Gabriel and the art, they are like his children too. The only legacy I’m dealing with in writing Umbrella is our legacy. I will say, that all the other projects helped my writing tremendously, and I write with a skill and confidence I didn’t have with the first two volumes. Every time you write a comic, you get a bit better at it, and at this point I have more comics under my belt than I did when I wrote the first two volumes, and Gabriel has drawn many other stories and kept perfecting his craft, so you’re getting the best from both of us. Hotel is my favorite UA story since the first one. I still like Dallas, but that one was very hard for me, and for me personally and creatively, it missed some marks for me.

Though UA sounds like a team book, for much of the series so far the team has been broken up or otherwise in crisis, and that seems to be the case here again. How does this dynamic allow you to explore these characters in a way that is distinct from most superhero comics?

Way: I like treating these characters as the stars of their own vignettes. I see the book as these little glimpses into all of their lives, their personal stories, and the complication of their lives is what seems to keep them apart or drive them apart most of the time.

As a strange purgatory-like dwelling, it’s hard not to see the Hotel Oblivion at least partly through the lens of Hotel California. But it seems like what you’ve got going on here is even a bit more sinister. Who are the guests of the Oblivion, and what stands in the way of their escape?

Way: The guests of the Hotel Oblivion are people and things that the UA has faced off against in some way. Criminals, creatures, experiments gone awry. Characters that ended up on Hargreeves' radar that he deemed too dangerous to exist in our world, so he created this place in a dimension he found to house them all in and used his children to help defeat them. The design of the Hotel is complex, and there are many failsafes in place to prevent them from escaping, twists and turns and exits that lead you right back to the lobby, as well as failsafes preventing them from causing any serious damage. How the occupants treat each other, is a whole other story, and that is left up to them.Hargreeves’ machinations are again at the center of the conflict here. What can you tell us about the events he has set in motion?

Way: I can’t reveal exactly why he decided to put all these people in this specific place, or why he chose the pocket dimension to build the hotel in, but yes, Hargreeves is the driving force, and his machinations are at the center of the conflict, as they tend to be in UA stories.

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