‘The Umbrella Academy’ Review

Good and Bad of Plots, Characters


Graphic by Kaley Johnson and Estefani Rios

Netflix’s ‘The Umbrella Academy’ tells us the story of a dysfunctional family of superheroes coming together to save the world.

Kaley Johnson, Reporter

Based on the original comics of the same name by Gerard Way, the new Netflix series “The Umbrella Academy” follows both the separate and connected stories of the seven Hargreeves siblings as they deal with the aftermath of their father’s death and attempt to save the world from the upcoming apocalypse.

While that may sound basic enough, there is quite a bit more to this dysfunctional family. It all started in 1989 when 43 infants from around the world were all born on the same day. The strange part is that none of their mothers were pregnant before that day. After word of the babies got around, Reginald Hargreeves, whose origins are still unknown, attempts to adopt as many as he can to train them to use the special powers and abilities they are born with. They become a superhero team of seven and are named The Umbrella Academy.

Considering that each of the Hargreeves kids could pretty much have their own spin-off show, the best way for me to discuss the show is to go over each sibling in the order of the way that their father ranked them.

Number One / Luther / Spaceboy

Believing he is the best and the favorite above his siblings, Luther is the only one who stays by his neglective father’s side long after the others left. His power is strength, the most basic it can get for a superhero, and he often overestimates how much others like him, making him arrogant and insensitive. What disappoints me the most, however, is his potential to be a good character. He is the most sheltered throughout his life, and his naive nature and limited life experience make for some pretty funny one-liners and even a few good mini-plots, but in the end, his poor treatment of his siblings when they need him is what brings him down.

Number Two / Diego / The Kraken

I don’t hate him but I don’t love him. His power to manipulate objects while they are in flight, usually knives, is not anything special, but it does make for a few impressive moments in terms of action scenes. He has a fairly good relationship with some of his siblings, specifically Luther and Klaus, and his romantic relationship with Detective Patch does create a little bit of interest for his storyline. Much like Luther, it’s his temper and his poor treatment of other siblings (specifically Vanya) that gives me a sense of neutrality towards the character in general.

Number Three / Allison / The Rumor

Again I have no strong opinions on Allison. After most of the siblings left the team, Allison becomes an actress and even has her own family. The most interesting thing about her is her attempt to gain custody of her daughter, Claire, after losing her to her father when he sees Allison use her power, the power of suggestion, on Claire. She is able to make anyone do or say anything just by saying “I heard a rumor,” and while it was wrong to use on people she cares about, it did make for a funny moment involving one the flashback scenes to when they were kids. Being pretty much the only sibling to care about Vanya, who is probably the most troubled sibling, she is like Diego in the sense that she feels as though she only exists for the sake of having another character.

Number Four / Klaus / The Séance

Now it gets interesting. Klaus’ power, the ability to see the dead, has taken quite the toll on him because not only can he see them but he can’t exactly control it, meaning that ghosts haunt him on a daily basis. To lessen the presence of them, Klaus turns to drugs and alcohol and (while I in no way condone this) it makes for many hilarious scenes, as one would expect. He is sarcastic, funny and believe it or not, probably the most caring of all the Hargreeves siblings. His relationship with his sibling Ben, who died when they were teens, is also great, as Klaus is the only one who can see Ben, who can help keep Klaus’ sanity at difficult times.

Number Five / Five / The Boy

Five is an old soul, literally. He can both teleport and travel to the future. After taking a trip to the future as a boy and becoming stuck in an apocalypse, he is forced to live in solitude for the next 42 years. Eventually, he makes it back to his siblings 19 years after he left them, where he is unfortunately put back into his teenage body. What we’ve got here with The Boy/Number Five is a sarcastic, grumpy and slightly insane 58-year-old man, in the body of a 13-year-old – it’s fantastic. His complete disregard for anything but saving his siblings and the world from the apocalypse he lived through is what makes him so likable despite his flaws.

Number Six / Ben / The Horror

Having been dead from the start of the show, Klaus is the only person he can talk to for over a decade thanks to Klaus’s power. Ben’s power is probably the most disturbing: the ability to channel creatures from other dimensions through a portal under his skin. It’s most often displayed as tentacles emerging from his stomach (but don’t worry, we only see this once and it actually ends up being pretty cool). Since he’s dead and only appears to Klaus, Ben’s purpose is to act as Klaus’s impulse control when it comes to drugs and bad decisions. Their relationship leads them to be probably the best dynamic duo of the whole show.

Number Seven / Vanya / The White Violin

Vanya is that one character that you always feel sorry for whether you like her or not. She is treated the worst by their father and is told from a young age that she is ordinary and has no powers. However, she actually seems to have the most dangerous power of all, which has to do with using her emotions and violin to make things happen. Throughout her life, she is neglected by both her father and siblings, not being allowed to train and fight with them, which leads to many emotional issues. Despite all of this, and the fact that most of her siblings aside from Allison and Five don’t really want anything to do with her, she still tries to connect with them and support them as they much as they will let her, which is admirable. While sometimes her actions seem justified due to her past, there are times when I find it hard to understand her motivation for others. She is another character that I don’t dislike but don’t necessarily like either. 

All in all, each of the siblings has good and bad qualities, but there are clearly some characters I like more than others. The show’s ultimate plot about a dysfunctional family being forced back into each other’s lives is something that is inspiring as they all come together with a common goal, no matter how poorly executed some of their plans were (I’m looking at you, Luther). With an amazing soundtrack, and some scenes that have quickly become iconic, “The Umbrella Academy” is definitely one of my favorite Netflix original shows to date.