Who (or what) are the Umbrella Academy?

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Credit: Gabriel Bá (Dark Horse Comics); cover for The Umbrella Academy: The Apocalypse Suite No. 1

A guide to the wonderfully weird and offbeat characters who make up the Umbrella Academy in both the comic and the Netflix series.

For those who have seen the teasers and trailers for the new Netflix series, The Umbrella Academy, no doubt you have a lot of questions. You know this is a series based off a comic book series created by Gerard Way (yes, the same Gerard Way from the band My Chemical Romance). You also know that the story, like the X-Men, involves a team of superheroes born with special powers adopted and trained by an eccentric billionaire. And you may also be asking yourselves, “Who are these people? What is going on? Why does this look so weird?”

Well then, consider this your series primer, especially if you don’t have time to read the

Umbrella Academy comics published by Dark Horse (though you really should, as they are excellent). Of course, this won’t dwell heavily into spoilers, or reveal all the surprising twists and revelations the comic takes. What it will do is introduce you to the central characters of The Umbrella Academy and how their television counterparts might differ from the comics.

Sir Reginald Hargreeves, a.k.a. The Monocle

If comic book fans think Professor X and Reed Richards are insufferable jerks, they’re absolute saints when compared to the Umbrella Academy’s founder, Sir Reginald Hargreeves. Although he’s dead when the story begins, his presence and influence still looms large over the lives of his adoptive charges and the world at large. Yet one thing isabundantly clear from every flashback and account about him: Sir Hargreeves an emotionally callous and abusive father, either treating them with indifference, or regarding them as little more than scientific curiosities.

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Moreover, Sir Hargreeves isn’t human; he’s actually an alien, which also means Reginald Hargreeves isn’t his real name. This isn’t the only mysterious thing about him, either. How did he learn, for example, about the forty-three spontaneous pregnancies and births so quickly? Was there some other reason for adopting the children other than saving the world? What, as one newspaper headline in the series asks, was he saving the world from? How exactly did he die? Why does he wear a monocle?

Some of these questions are answered in the comics, but many are left unanswered. No doubt who or what Sir Hargreeves (played by Colm Feore) is and what he was really up to will also be the ongoing story for the Umbrella Academy television series.