Well, this is very interesting. Netflix and Universal Cable Productions have confirmed previous rumours that the next major comic book adaptation to hit the streaming service will be Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá’s The Umbrella Academy.
“I am thrilled that The Umbrella Academy has found a home at Netflix,” said writer Way in a statement announcing the news. “I couldn’t think of a better place for the vision Gabriel Bá and myself had when creating the comic, and cannot wait for people to experience that world as a live action show.”
The Umbrella Academy is published by Dark Horse, and has so far seen two volumes completed: Apocalypse Suite in 2007, and Dallas in 2008. The series, which also won an Eisner for the first volume, follows the adventures of a dysfunctional team of superheroes put together as children by a deranged billionaire, who reunite in the wake of his death.
There are a couple of reasons why we call the idea of an adaptation “interesting”; firstly, it seems like something that Way had largely moved away from, having not written a volume in nearly ten years and currently focusing his comics efforts – in the wake of winding down his music career with My Chemical Romance – over at DC with the impressive Young Animal imprint. Of course, there’s nothing new in the idea of a “old” comic being picked up for adaptation, but all the same it’s nice to see Way getting back into that headspace – could it mean we also see a third volume of the comic at some point, too?
And secondly, it’s not necessarily a comic that immediately feels like it would translate over to another medium. It wears the influences and passions of Way on its sleeve, and is a madcap, frenetic, time-twisting, idea-driven adventure that you’ll probably hate if you don’t get on with Grant Morrison, or utterly love if you do. The art of the brilliant and inventive Bá, as with his Casanova work around the same period, is a significant draw as well. But the pace at which ideas are flung at the page sometimes comes at the cost of narrative coherence, and it would be a brave soul indeed who attempted to tame it for a TV/streaming audience.
Still, it’s in the hands of executive producer Steve Blackman, who’s most recently worked with Noah Hawley on Fargo and Legion, so that bodes well; and Way will serve as a Creative Consultant. Meanwhile the writer of the pilot, Jeremy Slater, isn’t new to comics adaptations: he wrote an early (very early) draft of the ill-fated 2015 Fantastic Four, and also worked on the upcoming American adaptation of the classic Manga Death Note.
We’ll find out just how the imagination of the comic translates to the screen when The Umbrella Academy debuts in 2018. In the meantime, if you want to find out more about the comic, we recommended it to Joe way back in 2015 in the wake of our first Hellboy episode – so check out that minisode if you want to hear his thoughts on it!