The Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion #1
Gabriel Bá (artist), Nick Filardi (colorist), Nate Piekos (letterer), Gerard Way (writer)
October 3, 2018
A copy of this book was provided to WWAC by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
2018 has been a year of excitement and anticipation for Umbrella Academy fans. With the announcement of a Netflix-backed Umbrella Academy show on the horizon, Dark Horse has finally pushed forward the third installment of the series, almost ten years after the release of Umbrella Academy: Dallas.
Hotel Oblivion continues as if the gap between series releases had been maybe a year; it’s familiar, but not in a static way. Bá’s interiors are virtually unchanged and remain stunning, and colorist Nick Filardi fully embraces the series’ classic grim and gritty color palette. Gerard Way slips easily back into the plot and style of Umbrella Academy, which made reading this first issue like catching up with an old friend.
Taking place fairly soon after the events of Dallas, the issue opens on Sir Reginald Hargreeves sending Dr. Terminal, an enemy of the Umbrella Academy, to the part-luxury hotel, part-horror movie mental asylum, all mysterious, Hotel Oblivion. In the city, a rogue, and even more disillusioned Number 5 is being hired to assassinate John Perseus, a young, crazy CEO of Perseus Corporation. The Kraken follows Spaceboy to Tokyo where they meet Dr. Zoo, a scientist and former friend of Hargreeves. Dr. Zoo is in possession of The Minerva, an interstellar ship designed by Hargreeves, now able to travel to an unknown area of the universe called The After Zone. Back at the former Umbrella Academy HQ, Alison/The Rumor is helping her sister Vanya relearn how to walk after being paralyzed by a bullet to the face by Number 5. A handful of new characters, many with extraordinary powers, are very briefly introduced towards the end of the issue. Everyone’s favourite member, Seance, has yet to make an appearance. While basic, this issue sets a small, but solid foundation for what I hope to be an interesting story.
A true emo kid at heart, it’s hard for me to look at this series without nostalgia glasses. To this day, I’m a big My Chemical Romance fan and, when it came out, The Umbrella Academy made reading comics cool again. It re-fostered my love for American comics, after being lost in the world of manga for years. The series means a lot to me, so I was worried that Hotel Oblivion wouldn’t live up to my high expectations. Although there are no big changes in style or story in Hotel Oblivion, the team has been able to keep the story mysterious and compelling, with Bá’s interiors really put in the hard work for storytelling, despite being able to rely on nostalgia for numbers.
I’m worried that the series will have a hard time bringing in new readership, though. A big pull for Umbrella Academy when it debuted was the popularity of My Chemical Romance. Now, Gerard Way writing a comic is not super big news and doesn’t have as much pull as it used to. I’m not sure the Netflix show will be enough to both bring in new readers and bring back readers from 10 years ago. Relying on old fans and those excited for the show seems like a gamble, but I hope it’s one that pays off. The Umbrella Academy is a good series and I can’t wait to for the next issue.