Netflix's Umbrella Academy: Every Change Between The Show And The Comics
By Meg Downey on
So, you've watched Netflix's Umbrella Academy and you're thinking of picking up the comic books on which the show is based. Or, maybe you've read the comics already and you're thinking about diving into the show. Either way, there's a good chance you've got some questions about what to expect when you make the transition from one side of the fence to the other.
The good news is, both the original and the new version are just as bonkers and weird as the other and you're very likely going to love both if you already love one. The bad news is, there are some pretty major differences between the two sides of the coin.
Never fear though, these differences--though undoubtedly scary for die hard fans--are actually not bad. In fact, you'll probably learn to love them, no matter which side of the equation you're tackling things from. And to help with that, we've made a handy little guide to all the major changes you're likely to notice.
Obviously, there are spoilers from here on out, so tread with caution!
1. Mom's design
Unsurprisingly, a lot of the most immediately obvious changes between comic and show for Umbrella Academy came in the design area--after all, it would be pretty tough to completely translate all of Gabriel Ba's hyper stylized artwork into live action without some serious maneuvering. This is pretty apparent in the design of Grace, AKA "Mom," the Hargreeves family nanny who was upgraded from a full on tin can style robot like you might see on a show like The Jetsons to an incredibly humanoid android designed to look like a 1950s housewife. That's right, the show went full Westworld.
2. Diego's powers
In the comics, Diego is called "The Kraken," and for good reason--his main superpower is the ability to hold his breath indefinitely, making him a major asset to any water-based stealth missions the team finds themselves on. Unfortunately, the show is pretty hard up in the water arena, so Diego had to get a bit of an upgrade. Instead of holding his breath, he can now psychically manipulate the trajectory of his throwing knives.
3. Klaus's powers
Klaus got a similar switch up, but to much less dramatic effect. In the comics, he's able to float off the ground, which is his typical mode of transportation. This is largely because his other powers--contacting the dead, specifically--only work when he's barefoot. The show completely forgoes this quirk and leaves Klaus sadly stuck on solid ground, shoes and all. It makes up for it by giving him a nice upgrade in terms of his ghost-talking abilities, adding a layer where he can actually tap into the powers of the spirits he contacts if he's put in a dire enough circumstance.
4. "The Conductor"
The comics make "The Conductor" an extremely comic book-like supervillain who wears a mask and ultimately lures Vanya into joining a group called "Orchestra Verdammten" where the goal is to play the "Apocalypse Suite" and end the world. The show, however, takes a much more casual approach, transforming the shadowy Conductor into Leonard Peabody, a scorned Umbrella Academy superfan who slowly insinuates himself into Vanya's life and is eventually killed for his trouble. "Orchestra Verdammten" is never referenced at all.
5. Vanya's transformation
Vanya's transformation into the White Violin in the comics is actually an almost entirely surgical procedure. She's physically modified by the conductor in order to harness her power, turning her body into a literal instrument with which she's able to amplify her abilities. In the show, things are a lot less intense and Vanya just experiences a mental break that transforms her eyes, and later, her clothes. No going under the knife necessary.
6. Luther's body
While the show did its best to keep Luther's, uh, "iconic" figure in live action, some things are just too comic book-y to preserve completely. Luther's illustrated counterpart did not find himself injected with a secret ape-based superserum that mutated his body, but instead had his head literally severed and surgically implanted on a giant gorilla body to save his life. There's absolutely no secret about this in the comics--after all, it would be pretty impossible to hide.
7. The codenames
Less of a major difference and more of a minor stylistic change, the show took the Hargreeves' family code names almost entirely out of the picture. There are a few passing references to names like "Spaceboy" but other than that, they're basically absent. This is probably for the better, really, considering, for example, that Diego's codename ("The Kraken") makes pretty much no sense with his new power set.
8. Apocalypse Suite vs Dallas
From the minor to the major, one of the biggest and most obvious things Umbrella Academy comics fans will notice about the show's treatment of the source material is the way it fuses the first two story arcs into one. The first two comics arcs, Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite and Umbrella Academy: Dallas, focus on Vanya and her transformation and Number Five and his mysterious past, respectively--but, it turns out, they're two great tastes that go great together, at least for Netflix's purposes.
9. Lupo and Patch
Fairly early on in the season, we learn that Diego has a sort of on-again-off-again relationship with a detective named Patch, from whom he gets some of his tips and leads for his vigilante work. Patch is a brand new invention for the show who didn't exist (and consequently didn't die) in the comics at all. Instead, comic book Diego relies on a Commissioner Gordon type figure named Inspector Lupo to give him a heads up on the police business he wants to become involved in.
10. Hazel and Cha-Cha
Speaking of Dallas, the roles of Hazel and Cha-Cha were majorly expanded for the show. In the comics, they're always seen wearing their creepy animal masks and given next to no real development outside of being terrifyingly good assassins. The show, however, builds them out as flawed characters with lives and real, human faces. They also both wind up dead in the comics at the hands of Klaus after they kidnap him, so there's that.
11. The Commission
Speaking of Hazel and Cha-Cha, their organization, The Commission, is only briefly mentioned by Five in the comics as a place that once employed him. Not so, in the show, where we're given a full on tour of their base of operations, as well as an extended look at The Handler, the matriarch of the business who keeps everyone in line and has the ability to stop time and show up whenever it's least convenient for our "heroes."
In one of the most emotionally brutal moments of the show, Klaus accidentally uses Hazel and Cha-Cha's temporal briefcase to transport himself back in time to the to Vietnam war, where he falls in love with a fellow soldier named Dave, who is tragically killed in action. This is all totally new content for the show. In the Dallas comics, Klaus, Luther and Diego all travel back in time and kick around Vietnam while Klaus winds up running a strip club in Saigon, having a kid, and otherwise being a not great person.
The show builds Ben, the mysterious Number Six who died before the show began, up as a ghost who perpetually follows Klaus around--apparently without any of his other siblings knowing. In the comics, Ben is--well, just dead. He appears in the occasional flashback, but otherwise he's not part of the action at all.
14. The Ending
Vanya's transformation into the destructive White Violin is pretty consistent--minus the surgical alterations, of course--across both the show and the comics, but the ultimate outcome of the confrontation is drastically different. She winds up shot (or shot at in the case of the show) both times, but in the comic she's actually hit and hospitalized, preventing the apocalypse wholesale. In the show, it's slightly too late and rather than simply knocking their sister out and calling it quits, the team is forced to actually travel back in time (potentially all the way back to when they were kids) to try all over again.