Pow! To the People 10.31.08

umbacad.jpgArt Brut singer Eddie Argos turns the tables on a fellow rocker with a look at My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way’s Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite, plus a look at the DC Comics Encyclopedia.


I’m back in LA. It was my birthday; I’m now twenty-nine. For my birthday, I got some antique silver cufflinks. I love them. I love them so much, it makes me feel old. If my twelve-year-old self had known how delighted I would be to receive a pair of horse-shaped cufflinks, he would be massively disappointed in me. My twelve-year-old self would have been delighted with my other presents, though — I also received the DC Comics Encyclopedia and Gerard Way’s comic book, The Umbrella Academy.

The cover to the new edition of the DC Comics Encyclopedia by Alex Ross. Click for a larger image.I’m a bit ashamed at quite how much I love the DC Comics Encyclopedia. I’m even more ashamed that I’ve noticed some errors in it. For example, Dr. Light didn’t kill Sue Dibny in a horrific attack, Jean Loring did. Actually, to be fair, that’s the only mistake I’ve spotted. It’s a fantastic book full of the sort of information I normally have to look up in Wikipedia. It’s smaller than a laptop too, and as looking up information about DC superheroes on Wikipedia is mainly what I use my laptop for at the moment, it has become a sort of substitute internet for me. It doesn’t let you look up rumors about Ghostbusters 3 when you get bored though, unfortunately. Last week I said I wouldn’t review books about comics so all I’ll say is that the DC Encyclopedia is ace, but they should have written a bit more about Booster Gold.

The only other book I’ve had a chance to read this week is The Umbrella Academy.

As well as writing The Umbrella Academy, Gerard Way is the lead singer of My Chemical Romance. I’m not really a fan of My Chemical Romance, and Grant Morrison’s pretentious ramblings in the introduction to the book claiming that the band is spearheading some sort of "necrodelic" counter-culture revolution makes me dislike them even more. Personally, I’m more into Fall-Out Boy. Also, as a singer in a band myself who also maintains fantasies of one day writing a comic of my own, there was probably a little bit of jealousy sneaking into my psyche as I started to read this book. I am, after all, a Scorpio with a rampant ego who sees himself in competition with absolutely everybody, so consequently, I was pre-disposed to dislike this book from the start.

The cover to the collected Umbrella Academy by Gabriel Ba. Click for a larger image.I was wrong though. The Umbrella Academy is a pretty decent book. Most new books take a while to set the scene, and this book being no exception is a bit of a muddle at the beginning. Actually, thinking about it now, I started reading it the morning after my birthday, so it’s possible that it was my mind that was a bit of a muddle and the book is actually pretty straight-forward. Anyway, whoever was at fault – me or the book — I was really into it by the second chapter.

The story is that a load of children were born simultaneously to women who didn’t even know they were pregnant, and that seven of these children have been adopted by a mysterious philanthropist to "save the world." The book does feel a bit cobbled together at times, and Gerard seems to be hell-bent on out cramming as much cool stuff into his story as possible: there are eighty-year-old smoking school boys, talking monkeys, an orchestra that can bring about the end of the world, and at one point the Eiffel Tower turns into a spaceship. The story is good enough to sustain it though, and I’m definitely going to get the next installments.

It’s especially amazing that Gerard manages to write The Umbrella Academy whilst on tour. I don’t imagine he gets much free time to dedicate to it (unless of course he’s straight edge). I personally would love to see how much better it would be if he quit his "necrodelic" band and dedicated his time solely to his comic. Fingers crossed he does that soon. | Eddie Argos


In this edition:


DC Comics Encyclopedia: Updated and Expanded Edition (Dorling Kindersly; 2008)

400 pgs. full color; $40 hardcover

(W / A: Various)


The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite (Dark Horse; 2008)

192 pgs. full color; $17.95 softcover

(W: Gerard Way; A: Gabriel Bá)


To learn more, visit the Umbrella Academy Zone at DarkHorse.com.

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