Review - Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion #1 (@DarkHorseComics)

"You're going on a trip."

The concept of individuals with powers brought together by a seemingly in-the-know individual has its merits. In Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion #1 from Dark Horse Comics though, those merits hinge on a perverted sense of fatherly love. The issue is written by Gerard Way, illustrated by Gabriel Bá, colored by Nick Filardi and lettered by Nate Piekos.

Faced with an increasing number of lunatics with superpowers eager to face off with his own wunderkind brood, Sir Reginald Hargreeves developed the ultimate solution. Now, just a few years after Hargreeves's death, his Umbrella Academy is scattered. Number Five is a hired gun, Kraken is stalking big game, Rumor is dealing with the wreckage of her marriage, a rotund Spaceboy runs around the streets of Tokyo, Vanya continues her physical therapy after being shot in the head--and no one wants to even mention Seance until issue #2.

Way is fully aware that there's an abundance of connection and relationships amongst the characters, but that doesn't seem to phase him in the slightest as he throws the reader into the deep end in the issue. That's certainly not a bad thing; it's just that catching up with the likes of Spaceboy, the Kraken, Number Five, the Rumor, and the White Violin is a lot if your Umbrella Academy mythos is a little rusty or you've never read the series before. Way's script is extremely fast-paced and does its best to acclimate the reader to the characters' personalities through their interactions with one another. Way gives Sir Reginald Hargreeve top-billing in a sense by exploring his extremely cold relationship with the members of the Umbrella Academy, demonstrating a callousness for their regard that serves his desires first and foremost. And by the end of the issue Way establishes the direction of the series and gets all the characters ready for what will likely be a less than happy reunion.

The frenetic style of Bá is phenomenal as it lends a sense of chaos to Way's more organized script. Bá gives each character their own sort of edginess, some of which is attained through the quite literal edges and angles that Bá's style relies on. What's particularly interesting is Bá's approach when it comes to perspective as there are quite a few panels that focus on particular character expressions or actions. Bá contains the action within the panels and even those pages where the illustrations seem to transcend the panel borders there's still a sense of order. Filardi's colors are beautiful and subtly bolster the personalities of all the characters as the story jetsets from one locale to the next.

Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion #1 is a lot to ingest if you're new to the Umbrella Academy universe, but the reward is worth it if you want to invest the time. Sir Reginald Hargreeves is a man with a plan for just about everything, even if that plan involves the members of the Umbrella Academy learning things the hard way. Way's script is concise and well-crafted, doing its best to give the reader an idea of where everyone ended up since we last saw them. Bá's illustrations are the perfect fir for the story tonally as they underscore the somewhat strange interactions and personalities of the characters involved. Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion #1 is a great return to form for a world readers haven't explored for quite some time.

Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion #1 is available October 3.