Saturday, March 12, 2011

Review: Umbrella Academy v2 Dallas

Following the events of the previous volume, Dallas picks up soon after the superhero family has saved the world from a near apocalypse which was caused by their estranged sister.  At the start of this one, the team is once again more or less kaput, with each team member doing their own thing.  Spaceboy, once the de facto leader, has totally let himself go, and sunken deep into the trappings of day-time TV and gluttony.  Seance is busy preening himself and working on his celebrity image, while the Rumor gets even with her near world destroying sister.  While all that is taking place, Number 5 is busy betting up a storm at the dog track.  The Kraken, never one to sit idly by, has been hard at work investigating Number 5's comings and goings.  Before you know it, the team is tangled up with some time traveling cartoon headed assassins named Hazel and Cha Cha, traveling through time, fighting in the Vietnam war, and at the scene of the crime during the JFK assassination. 

While I thought the first volume of The Umbrella Academy suffered a bit in the character development department, that was definitely not this issue this time around.  By seeing how each character reacts to the near-apocalypse that was caused by their sister I really got a sense for what each character is really like.  Not only did each character come off as a much more developed and nuanced individual, the character building seemed much more natural this time around.  Each character has their strengths and weaknesses, and Way does a great job of having those qualities fit into their team dynamic. 

The plotting of Dallas was also much more intricate and layered this time around.  Every section of the story had meaning and purpose to the overall tale, but Way did a great job of masking how all the pieces fit together, and when he finally did show you all the pieces at once, it made for a very nice pay-off.  All around a pretty incredible piece of writing in this volume.

Once again, the artwork by Gabriel Ba was top notch.  The guy can just flat out draw really cool looking stuff that doesn't actually exist, but he still makes it look awesome.  Cartoon headed psycho killers in nazi uniforms?  No problem.  A human body with an enclosed goldfish bowl, complete with goldfish, in place of a head?  Yeah that's in there too.  A killer Lincoln Memorial?  Yep.  Ba can bring the wildest idea to the page and make it look incredible.  But he doesn't just draw weird stuff really well, he can draw everything else really well too.  The world of The Umbrella Academy has a familiar feel to it, but at the same time it is like nothing you've ever quite seen before. Hell, I don't even know where exactly the books take place, but everything looks great, and is beautifully drawn.  Truly a great match of imaginative story telling and art that brings the imagination to life.

The improved writing and character development really made this graphic novel stand out.  While I enjoyed Apocalypse Suite, I thought Dallas was near perfect, and it left me wanting more Umbrella Academy RIGHT NOW!  Not sure if that is gonna happen though.  Hopefully there is more from this title in the future, because if there is, I am in.  Lots of great stuff to love in this one.  Give it a read and thank me later.

Grade: A


Ryan said...

Sounds awesome, good review. I just picked up Apocalypse Suite, I always have to read things in order I think I have a minor case of OCD! Light switch on, off, on, off.

Ryan said...

Ryan- you definitely want to read Apocalypse Suite first. I'll be interested to hear what you think about it!