The first season of Netflix's The Umbrella Academy delivered a unique, surreal, complexly plotted take on the superhero. Well-received by both audiences and critics alike, the introduction to the quirky superpowered family proved to be a huge hit for the streaming giant, and successfully left us all wanting more. Well, the early reviews for the highly anticipated follow-up are now in, and from the sounds of things the second season promises to be as equally action-packed and manic as its predecessor.
Digital Spy could not help but compared The Umbrella Academy to a similarly unconventional team of supers, and commended both shows for etching out a different take on the overplayed genre.
"Aside from Doom Patrol, no other show is pushing the superhero genre out of its comfort zone like this, and the reason why it works so well is that each bizarre character is grounded in something very real. If you thought the first season of Umbrella Academy was emotional, then grab a brolly and prepare yourself for a downpour because things get even more intense this time round, especially towards the end."
The AV Club heaped praise on the second season, even calling it an improvement on the first, which they themselves admit is something of a miracle.
"But what better way to subvert expectations than by coming back for a second season that is actually, thankfully, and somewhat miraculously better in almost every single way? Season 2 of The Umbrella Academy manages to pull that off, and it has become a significantly better version of itself in the process. The performances are still very good (especially from newcomers Yusuf Gatewood and Ritu Arya, who slot into unexpectedly prominent roles very comfortably), and they're no longer forced to carry the weight of a storyline that unravels its mysteries at a crawl."
The comparisons to other comic book properties continues, with CNET praising The Umbrella Academy's light and dark elements and the handling of such a difficult thematic balancing act.
"Season 2 explodes the best parts of the show's wacky time travel and family dysfunction onto a lighter, richer '60s setting. While its take on historical events and social issues doesn't reach the levels of boldness hit by HBO's Watchmen, it's still affecting, thanks to strong new characters who draw even more out of the radiant regular cast. . . . Flamboyant, entertaining and enriched by a remarkable cast, Season 2 of The Umbrella Academy tweaks everything it needed to to belt a tune that resonates with its light and dark elements."
Not all of the reviews are as glowing however, with io9 stating the show would do well to lean more into the chaotic weirdness that Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá's comic series is so well-known for.
"While Season 2 is certainly more aesthetically fanciful and opens with a surprising action sequence that actually feels as if it were plucked out of one of Way and Bá's comics, it becomes something of a quiet show in many moments. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it does often seem as if The Umbrella Academy's second season is holding itself back from going full-on weirdo the way these characters are perfectly suited for. . . . There are a handful of moments scattered throughout the season that might throw you for the slightest bit of a loop, but in the end, The Umbrella Academy's second chapter ends up being perfectly good and just shy of great, which is saying something, because the show overall does feel like it has a stronger sense of what it's trying to be. It's just that right now, the tone the series is striking just isn't out there enough to really stand out."
To that end, several reviews echo the mindset that the Netflix adaptation is not quite as faithful to the source material as it perhaps could be, and though most agree that the show has better found its feet in this continuation, the show would be wise to push the superhero envelope even further.
Someone who did not enjoy The Umbrella Academy sequel though is the reviewer over at GQ, who found the whole experience a little frustrating creatively.
"It's not until deep into the season that they're all reunited and even deeper before something like a plot with any kind of momentum arrives. It's baffling: the first series was special because of the deft way it put a high-concept twist on the most relatable of sibling drama. To entirely remove that feels like self-sabotage, like a series of The Sopranos where we watch them all get bored in separate witness protection schemes. Worse, though, when something approaching a story does get going, it never gets going very far. The show is constantly setting up ideas that it never bothers to follow through on, constantly throwing up endless 'Wouldn't it be cool?' moments that the show seemingly forgets about mere minutes later."
Hey, you can't win 'em all. Most of the reactions to the return to the peculiar world of The Umbrella Academy found the adventure to a very worthwhile one and should provide a real treat for fans of the first season.
Beginning in 1989, The Umbrella Academy details a highly unusual occurrence wherein forty-three infants are inexplicably born to random, unconnected women who showed no signs of pregnancy the day before. Seven are adopted by Sir Reginald Hargreeves, a billionaire industrialist, who creates The Umbrella Academy and prepares his "children" to save the world. But not everything goes according to plan. In their teenage years, the family fractures, and the team disbands.
The second series will pick up with the dysfunctional super-powered family immediately after the end of the first series, with our mixed up heroes having been thrown through time in order to prevent the apocalypse. The official synopsis for the second season reads: Five warned his family (so, so many times) that using his powers to escape from Vanya's 2019 apocalypse was risky. Well, he was right - the time jump scatters the siblings in time in and around Dallas, Texas. Over a three year period. Starting in 1960.
Some, having been stuck in the past for years, have built lives and moved on, certain they're the only ones who survived. Five is the last to land, smack dab in the middle of a nuclear doomsday, which - spoiler alert! - turns out is a result of the group's disruption of the timeline (déjà vu, anyone?). Now the Umbrella Academy must find a way to reunite, figure out what caused doomsday, put a stop to it, and return to the present timeline to stop that other apocalypse. All while being hunted by a trio of ruthless Swedish assassins. But seriously, no pressure or anything. Season 2 of The Umbrella Academy is scheduled to be released to the official Netflix streaming app on Friday, July 31st.