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Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy feels like a bleak X-Men story

Netflix’s TV series The Umbrella Academy isn’t as weird as the Gerard Way / Gabriel Bá comic book series it’s based on, but “less weird” for this story is admittedly a very low bar to reach. The first issue of The Umbrella Academy comic features a battle with the zombie robot Gustave Eiffel, which culminates with the Eiffel Tower blasting into space. In the series, showrunner Steve Blackman (Legion, Altered Carbon) reduces that fight to a coy visual reference. His team has carefully pruned the story in a way that embraces the comic’s more bizarre qualities, while making room for a more coherent narrative.

The story of The Umbrella Academy kicks off 30 years ago, when 43 children were born around the world to women who had previously shown no signs of being pregnant. Eccentric billionaire Sir Reginald Hargreeves bought seven of these anomalous babies from their mothers, gave them numbers as names, and subjected them to a mix of abuse and neglect, while training them to become superheroes. Most of the kids fled home as teenagers, but they reunite when they learn that their adopted father has died, and then learn that the end of the world may be just days away.

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