If you’re still waiting on Netflix to formally announce Umbrella Academy season two, you’ve got time to buy the comics on which the TV show was based. But once you start reading, you’ll quickly realize that using the comics to predict the future of the TV show isn’t a sure thing. The first season of Umbrella Academy is based primarily on writer Gerard Way and artist Gabriel Bá’s first major story arc, Apocalypse Suite, but it also draws a lot of material from the second major story arc, Dallas. And several major characters have been changed so much they’re basically unrecognizable.
Still, if you read the comics closely, you can start to imagine how elements of the original stories could be blended into the TV show’s fun-house-mirror version of the same narrative. And since it’ll be a while before we see a second season of Umbrella Academy — Netflix still hasn’t confirmed a renewal yet — why not take the time to imagine it?
(Just to be clear: This article includes massive spoilers for the Umbrella Academy comics, which could also, eventually, turn out to be spoilers for the TV series.)
The Umbrella Academy rewinds the apocalypse
The biggest change in the Umbrella Academy TV series so far is the end of the world. In the comic, Klaus actually manages to prevent Vanya’s apocalypse by using previously undiscovered telekinetic powers. But in the TV show, the world actually ends, moments after Five time-travels away with all of his siblings in tow.
But there’s a different apocalypse in the comics that the TV show could still draw inspiration from. Yes, the end of the world is prevented in Apocalypse Suite. But just four issues into Dallas, the world is destroyed by a totally different apocalypse, when nuclear weapons that were stolen by Hazel and Cha-Cha finally go off. It’s only by manipulating the past — in this case, by ensuring that John F. Kennedy gets assassinated — that the Umbrella Academy manages to cancel that apocalypse. It’s not hard to imagine a second season of the TV show that similarly follows the Umbrella Academy into the past, manipulating historical events to prevent the global cataclysm that ended season one.
Five simultaneously tries to prevent and commit the Kennedy assassination
This one requires a little explanation. The second Umbrella Academy arc, Dallas, is a clever twist on the old time-travel trope about going back in time to prevent JFK’s assassination. In Umbrella Academy canon, Kennedy was never assassinated because Five — during his period as a time-traveling killer — betrayed his handlers and iced the assassins who were supposed to take out JFK.
In Dallas, Five gets confronted by his former employers, who coerce him into going back in time to stop his past self from preventing the Kennedy assassination. Meanwhile, his siblings go back in time to try to save JFK, leading to a kind of civil war between the superpowered members of the Umbrella Academy.
How would this work in the TV show? The series obviously needs to start by addressing the apocalypse cliffhanger. But since season two will probably follow the Umbrella Academy as they go into the past to save the future, it would be easy to shift the Dallas arc to be about how JFK’s fate has a major impact, with the Hargreeves siblings forced to decide whether or not assassinating the president is worth it.
Allison gets her voice back
In the comics, Five manages to assassinate Kennedy with the help of Allison, who disguises herself as Jackie Kennedy and joins the motorcade. Using impossibly advanced surgical techniques, Five’s employers restore Allison’s vocal cords and she uses her superpower to kill the president — specifically, by telling him, “Mr. President … I heard a rumor that the back of your head is about to explode.”
It’s hard to guess if the TV show will delve into the JFK assassination — the first season was cagey about Five’s exact role, so we’re short on details — but one way or another, I’d be surprised if Allison didn’t get her voice back. It would be very unusual for a TV series to have one of its central characters communicate solely through a notepad. And without a voice, Allison doesn’t have any superpowers, which makes it hard to justify running around with her siblings.
Dr. Hargreeves’s origin story
Another big question left unanswered at the end of season one: What’s the deal with Dr. Reginald Hargreeves? The cold, abusive patriarch of the Umbrella Academy isn’t just the founder of a world-famous family of superheroes; he’s an inventor of near-magical proportions, with creations like Pogo the chimpanzee butler and the children’s robot mother under his belt.
Fortunately, the comics provide more context for his abilities. The very first issue of Umbrella Academy reveals that Dr. Hargreeves is a space alien disguised as a human, and it’s likely that the TV show has a similar twist in store. A (somewhat confusing) flashback in the season-one finale depicts a younger Dr. Hargreeves on what looks like an alien planet, with rockets blasting off from the field outside his window. It’s a little weird that he still looks human — in the comic, he wears a human mask — but whatever the explanation, there’s obviously more to Dr. Hargreeves than anybody knows yet.
Vanya the amnesiac
In the comics, Five shoots Vanya in the head to help prevent the end of the world. Vanya survives, but suffers both memory loss and paralysis, and her slow recovery has defined her character for the remainder of the series. The TV show’s version of Vanya didn’t suffer a bullet to the head, but given the weight of the finale (and the almost trancelike breakdown that led to it), she could suffer the same symptoms, forced to relearn — to her horror — that she killed so many people. It’s certainly material that I’d love to see Ellen Page tackle.
The Umbrella Academy versus homicidal monuments
Other than a flashback to a thwarted bank robbery, the TV show doesn’t show us much of the Umbrella Academy’s heyday when the kids were a crime-fighting superhero team. But if future episodes want to dig deeper into that era, there are a bunch of nutty adventures to draw inspiration from in the comics. In an early flashback that set the tone for the sheer wackiness of the comics, Dr. Hargreeves dispatched the Umbrella Academy kids to fight the Eiffel Tower, which turns out to be a homicidal spaceship controlled by the ghost of the zombie-robot Gustave Eiffel. Dallas opens with a similar flashback, as the kids head to Washington, D.C., to stop the rampaging Lincoln Memorial when it comes to life.
All of that is probably a little too wacky for the TV series, which is more grounded and serious than the comics, but we do know that wild adventures happened in the TV show’s continuity as well. In episode eight, Allison’s daughter asked her to tell her about the Eiffel Tower adventure as a bedtime story. And, come on, who wouldn’t want to see that fight adapted for a live-action flashback?
Dr. Terminal and the Terminauts
In the comics, the Umbrella Academy didn’t spend all their time fighting national landmarks. They also faced off against a few conventional supervillains. The most notable is Dr. Terminal, who has a rare medical condition that requires him to constantly consume matter so his disease won’t eat his body. (One flashback reveals that he kidnapped the adolescent Allison and consumed her arm.)
Dr. Terminal’s villainy even lived on after his (presumed) death: In a posthumous retaliatory strike, Dr. Terminal built the Terminauts, a series of robots who would spring to life and cause chaos as soon as the members of the Umbrella Academy were reunited. After the kids get together for Hargreeves’s funeral in Apocalypse Suite, the Terminauts spring to action, attacking a carnival and forcing the Umbrella Academy to work together to put down the threat.
Between expanded roles for Hazel and Cha-Cha and Vanya’s slow transformation into the White Violin, the TV series didn’t have a lot of room for supervillains in season one. But Dr. Terminal is a particularly memorable for who could easily pop back into story — especially now that Klaus can officially channel Ben into the physical world, which means the Umbrella Academy has been reunited again.
The Hotel Oblivion
The third big comic arc, which is ongoing — the final issue will be published this summer — is Hotel Oblivion. The Hotel Oblivion is a kind of prison, situated on a remote planet, where Dr. Hargreeves secretly locked up the Umbrella Academy’s captured enemies. It looks like a hotel, but the clerks and bellhops are all faceless robots, and the “guests” are served cockroaches for dinner.
The Hotel Oblivion contains plenty of supervillains who could show up in the TV series, including Obscura (a dude with a camera strapped to his head) and the Murder Magician (who committed magic-themed crimes, like hypnotizing a crowd of people and sawing someone in half). It’s also a fascinating location that — if it exists in the TV series — would have been spared from the apocalypse, making it one of the few places in the present day where the Umbrella Academy (or Cha-Cha and Agnes) could travel.
The introduction of John Perseus
And then there’s the man who might be the biggest Umbrella Academy villain of all: John Perseus, a cocky trust-fund zillionaire desperate to reach the Hotel Oblivion, where his father has been incarcerated. Perseus was actually introduced in Dallas, when an unhappy board member lamented his mysterious R&D project that was sucking up all the company’s money. But it’s not until Hotel Oblivion that Perseus really emerges as a threat, with Five and Vanya infiltrating his company as he attempts to build a portal to the Hotel Oblivion. Comic creator Gerard Way has described Perseus as an evil mash-up between Iron Man and Thor, and it’s hard to imagine the TV series missing the chance to introduce the man who seems poised to become the series’ greatest villain, especially because it would provide a meaty opportunity for a big-name actor to join the cast.
The other 36 kids
Both the comic and the TV series begin with the revelation that 43 children were spontaneously born on the same day. Hargreeves adopted seven of them, then raised them to become the Umbrella Academy. The comic reveals that at least some of the other babies died, but what happened to the rest? Do they have superpowers too?
Based on the most recent Hotel Oblivion issue, which was published in February, it’s looking like the comic is finally going to answer this lingering question. While her siblings are dealing with the Hotel Oblivion, Vanya is being wheeled around by her robot mom, who introduces her to several mysterious figures wearing red robin pins. In a very Allison-like flourish, one of them tells Vanya she can walk … and suddenly she can. The second season has several pressing questions to answer before it revisits this decades-old mystery, but once the world is un-destroyed, exploring what happened to the immaculately conceived children who Dr. Hargreeves didn’t adopt could be a rich way to open up Umbrella Academy’s world by introducing new characters with new superpowers.
Five pays a chimpanzee prostitute to dress up like Marilyn Monroe and sing “Happy Birthday”
There’s really no reason for the TV series to include this scene — but come on, you want to see it, right?