Those wondering what Netflix's post-Marvel superhero future will be need look no further than the refreshingly weird "Umbrella Academy," which begins streaming Feb. 15.
This unlikely team of heroes, based on the Eisner Award-winning Dark Horse Comics series by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, provides a strikingly different streaming experience if your recent comic book searches on Netflix have involved universe-ending snaps and African technological utopias.
The nonstop barrage of comic-book-inspired entertainment has primarily been a one-sided event, with most big movies, live-action and animated shows and streams coming from the big two comic book publishers: Marvel and DC.
That's why "The Umbrella Academy" feels like such an achievement.
Hollywood execs and streaming giants are finally taking chances on the really good stuff. Don't get me wrong: "The Umbrella Academy" is a superpowered affair, with creepy domino masks, heroics and a superhero-adoring public. But many comic book readers head over to a publisher like Dark Horse because their tastes are asking for something different from the superhero norm. And that's why you'll probably enjoy this show.
"The Umbrella Academy" is a triumphant amalgam of two comic book miniseries: "The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite" and "The Umbrella Academy: Dallas." Elements of both series intertwine, not beholden to chronological order of when the comics were published, but instead using major moments from each to serve this 10-episode first season.
A quick "Umbrella Academy" 101 course goes as follows: 43 children are spontaneously born to women who, moments before birth, showed no signs of pregnancy. Many of the children are abandoned, but seven were adopted by a wealthy mad scientist, Sir Reginald Hargreeves. He trains the children, all of whom have powers, to be a kid superhero team known as the Umbrella Academy.
The powerless seventh child, known as No. 7 — each Umbrella Academy member has a number, because Hargreeves apparently doesn't have time for the emotional attachment of using real names — is deemed not as special as the others.
The kids are split up in adulthood at the beginning of the show but are reunited by Hargreeves' death, a mystery that forces them to team up again against their wishes.
If "The Umbrella Academy" is the start of Netflix's new comic book normal, this is a creepy good start.