‘Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion #4’ - Advance Comic Book Review

There are a lot of balls being juggled in the newest story arc of Umbrella Academy, but, at times, it feels like each story is being juggled by a different juggler and each of those jugglers are on a different planet. I have no idea how they’ll get everything to connect, but if they do – wow! To some degree, it feels like four issues of setup, and this is only a seven-issue storyline. Maybe I should be thinking of it like a chess game and the creators are shuffling pieces around the board for something yet to come. It’s hard to say when, as I have absolutely no idea where this could be going.

That’s happening because in this series creators Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá aren’t completely interested in the story. Yeah, there’s a lot of things going on, but there’s no defining through line. It feels like the train of thought of the characters that we’re witnessing, and I’m not always completely sure why they are doing what they are doing. Some of the characters are imploding, some of them are shifting, some of them are dancing around who they are. Perhaps I should be thinking of this story arc as a sort of cocoon phase for these characters.  

The centerpiece for a couple of the stories is the Hotel Oblivion, a place where the now-deceased billionaire father of the siblings of the Umbrella Academy would hide away the villains they defeated. Very illegal, very unethical. Their literal alien father was not a good person. This hotel prison, like a hyper-realized location from Oldboy, is on another planet, maybe even another dimension, and is impossible to—wait, no, it’s not impossible to perform a break out. Two villains now have. One villain we have seen in previous story arcs.

Two new character also have been introduced in this issue. At least one of them I don’t recognize from previous volumes – the other I’m uncertain of.

The other central thrust to the story is in watching the siblings who are now mostly scattered to the winds, dealing with the trauma that this unloving, uncaring, and ultimately abusive father subjected them to. They were more his play things than children. They are powerful, and at the same time powerless. They are either self-defeating, overtly-ambitious, hyper-violent, easily manipulated, or too willing to continue to please him. They have become so entrenched in their outlets to their traumas that it is what they have become defined by. Some are fighting back. Some are losing. Some may not make it back. That’s the one thing that keeps this series on a different level from every other series out there.

It may seem like I’ve been subjecting the story arc to a mixed review, but it’s not. I honestly have no idea what to think about the series right now. It’s ambitious, and if Way and Bá can pull it together in the end, like those jugglers, then—wow. If they can’t… Well, I prefer ambition that misses the mark over something that doesn’t even try.


Creative Team: Gerard Way (writer), Gabriel Bá (artist), Nick Filardi (colors), Nate Piekos from Blambot (letters), Scott Allie (editor)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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