The Umbrella Academy, based on the acclaimed Dark Horse comic series by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba, arrives Friday on Netflix, introducing viewers to the dysfunctional family of superheroes who must overcome their differences if they have any hopes of saving the world.
It's a tall task, given their backgrounds: In 1989, 43 children were born on the same day across the globe, to random women who previously showed no sign of pregnancy. Eccentric billionaire/inventor Sir Reginald Hargreeves adopted seven of the infants, but didn't so much raise them as he did hone them into weapons: the Umbrella Academy, whose childhood exploits entranced fans around the globe, inspiring comic books and memorabilia. Now, years after the team disbanded, the siblings are reunited by the death of Sir Reginald, and by the looming apocalypse.
The first season combines, and remixes, elements from Way and Ba's 2007-2008 miniseries The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite, and its 2008-2009 sequel The Umbrella Academy: Dallas. Their are a lot of characters, from at least two eras, to keep track of, so we break them down below. But be warned: While we try to avoid spoilers for the Netflix adaptation, we do reveal details from the source material.
Luther Hargreeves (Number One)
Portrayed by Tom Hopper (Merlin, Game of Thrones) as an adult, and Cameron Brodeur as a child, Luther Hargreeves is the leader of the Umbrella Academy and the favorite adoptive child of Sir Reginald Hargreeves. Referred to in the comics as Spaceboy, the super-strong Luther rose to worldwide fame as the first boy in space. However, Luther was critically injured in a later mission to Mars, which resulted in Sir Reginald transplanting his head onto the body of a Martian ape. That's in the comics, at least; on the Netflix series, the circumstances surrounding his transformation, some seven years earlier, are considerably different.
Following the mysterious death of Ben Hargreeves (Number Six), and the subsequent disbandment of the Umbrella Academy, Luther left Earth for the Moon, where he lives when the Netflix series opens.
Diego Hargreeves (Number Two)
A Batman-like vigilante with unerring knife-throwing skills, Diego Hargreeves (aka The Kraken) has an intense rivalry with Luther that, on the Netflix adaptation, frequently brings him to blows with his adoptive brother.
Played by David Castañeda (Sicario: Day of the Soldado) as an adult, and by Blake Talabis as a child, Diego had a romantic relationship with police detective Patch (Ashley Madekwe), which complicates their professional interactions. He also maintains a special connection with the Umbrella Academy's Mom.
Allison Hargreeves (Number Three)
Better known in the comics as The Rumor, Allison Hargreeves possesses the ability to instantly alter reality by telling a lie ("I heard a rumor that ..."). Played on the Netflix series by Emmy Raver-Lampman (A Million Little Things) as an adult, and by Eden Cupid as a child, Allison used her power to further her acting career, at the cost of her marriage and the custody of her daughter.
Klaus Hargreeves (Number Four)
Portrayed by Robert Sheehan (Misfits, Mortal Engines) as an adult, and by Dante Albidone as a child, Klaus Hargreeves can communicate with the dead (in the comics, at least, he can also levitate and take possession of others). A drug addict with a flair for melodrama, he's in rehab at the opening of the Netflix series, but takes up his old habits as soon as he checks out of the facility -- and steals to support them.
The Boy (Number Five)
Referred to only as Number Five or simply The Boy, at age 10 (or, on the Netflix drama, age 12) he defied Sir Reginald Hargreeves, and used his time-travel abilities to leap into the future. There, he found himself alone in a post-apocalyptic landscape, where he lived for decades, aging normally. He eventually becomes an operative for the Temps Aeternalis, a sort of time police dedicated to preserving the time stream by eliminating anomalies.
Portrayed on the Netflix adaptation by Aidan Gallagher (Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn), Number Five returns to his adoptive family's "present," but reverts to the age he was when he disappeared. There, he tries to rally the now-adult Umbrella Academy, discover who's responsible for the apocalypse, and prevent it from happening.
Ben Hargreeves (Number Six)
Able to summon ghastly creatures from other dimensions through a portal beneath his skin -- they typically manifest as enormous tentacles -- Ben Hargreeves died as an adult during an Umbrella Academy mission, although the comics have yet to reveal the circumstances. It's his memorial statue that stands in the courtyard.
Also known as The Horror in the source material, he's played as a child by Ethan Hwang on the Netflix series, which makes some changes to the character.
Vanya Hargreeves (Number Seven)
Estranged from her adoptive family, Vanya Hargreeves spent her childhood excluded from the Umbrella Academy's missions, and its fame, because she possessed, in the words of Sir Reginald, "no discernible talents." Forever the outsider, Vanya published a tell-all memoir, Extra-Ordinary: My Life as Number Seven, that only further distanced her from her siblings.
Played by Ellen Page (Juno, X-Men: Days of Future Past) as an adult, and by T.J. McGibbon as a child, Vanya is a concert violinist, but lacks the confidence to move beyond third chair. However, she becomes central to the first volume of the comic series, and the first season of the adaptation.
Sir Reginald Hargreeves
Played by Colm Feore (24, The Borgias), Sir Reginald Hargreeves is the eccentric billionaire and world-renowned scientist who adopted seven of the 43 infants inexplicably born on the same day in 1989 (or 1977 in the comics) to women around the globe who previously showed no signs of pregnancy. Emotionally detached, and frequently cruel, Sir Reginald oversaw the training of the children in their special abilities, and seemed to bask in the glory of the Umbrella Academy's exploits, but displayed little interest in them personally. (He assigned each of them a number, and insisted they be referred to by that.)
Central to his adoptive family's dysfunction, it's the mysterious death of Sir Reginald that draws the members Umbrella Academy back together, long after the team disbanded.
Reginald Hargreeves' trusted assistant and confidant, Phinneus Pogo is a talking chimpanzee, and dapper dresser, whom Luther Hargreeves considered his best friend. He's voiced on the Netflix adaptation by Adam Godley (Powers, Lodge 49).
Grace Hargreeves (Mom)
Referred to only as Mom by the members of the Umbrella Academy, Grace Hargreeves is somewhere between a robot and a living mannequin with the appearance and demeanor of a 1950s television homemaker. Portrayed by Jordan Claire Robbins (12 Monkeys), the always-cheery Mom was given responsibility for the care of the children, and provided them with the affection that Sir Reginald did not.
Hazel and Cha-Cha
Temporal assassins employed in the comics by the Temps Aeternalis, Hazel and Cha-Cha are charged with maintaining the integrity of the time stream by killing anomalies. While they're famed for their bloody kill sheet, they're best known for their distinctive masks: Hazel in the pink dog mask, and Cha-Cha as the blue bear or beaver.
The Netflix adaptation makes some changes to the duo, with Cameron Britton (Mindhunters, Stitchers) playing the calm, doughnut-loving Hazel (in the blue mask), and Mary J. Blige (Mudbound) portraying the ruthless Cha-Cha (in the pink mask). In the comics, they're both men.
Arriving Friday on Netflix, The Umbrella Academy Season 1 stars Ellen Page, Mary J. Blige, Tom Hopper, Cameron Britton, Robert Sheehan, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Adam Godley, Aidan Gallagher, David Castañeda, John Magaro, Ashley Madekwe and Colm Feore.