Superhero Theory: Umbrella Academy and the Umbrella Terms

This article may contain some spoilers for the Netflix series Umbrella Academy

As season two is still being produced, we look at the significance of the phrase “umbrella term” and how it can be relevant to the Umbrella Academy. An umbrella term looks at the classification of a word or idea into a group. The adopted kids with special powers were all brought together from different contexts and placed under one classification ‘The Umbrella Academy’

1) What is the Umbrella Academy?

The Umbrella Academy is a comic book series created by Gerard Way and illustrated by Gabriel Ba, which began in 2007 under the publishing house Dark Horse. The story revolves around seven family members with extra-ordinary abilities. After their missing time-travelling assassin brother comes back from the future to warn them about an oncoming apocalypse, they band together to stop this evil threat from destroying the earth and the people who live in it. It was adapted into a Netflix series, which premiered in 2019.

2) The Characters

  • Number One (Luther Hargreeves): Luther, otherwise known as Space Boy, has the ability of super strength

  • Number Two (Diego Hargreeves): Diego, The Kraken, has the ability to manipulate objects and has a keen affinity for knife throwing.

  • Number Three (Allison Hargreeves): Allison, The Rumour, has the ability to alter reality or control people by telling a rumour.

  • Number Four (Klaus Hargreeves): Klaus, The Séance, is known to perform telekinesis and to communicate with, embody, and see the dead

  • Number Five (The Boy): Five, The Boy has the ability to perform micro jumps in space and time. He ended up being an assassin due to an encounter he made during his time spent in the apocalypse era.

  • Number Six (Ben Hargreeves): Ben, The Horror, is known to possess monsters that emerge out of his torso. He is deceased but his consciousness lives on inside Klaus.

  • Number Seven (Vanya Hargreeves): Vanya, The White Violin, can cause destructive waves that can destroy buildings or even hurt people.

3) The Term

Umbrella term is a term used to cover functions and words into one single common category.

So, taking this idea and developing it further, what is the one word which binds the Umbrella Academy family together? The family comprises of seven people and it is the focus both in the comics and the Netflix show. Umbrella Academy I feel is the word which binds them together as a collective group of what were once individual people. Below are some of the words which may bind Numbers 1-6 together:

  • Heroes: They were all trained by their father Sir Reginald Hargreeves to help people and protect them.

  • Motive: Their motive is to stop the apocalypse from happening and, in order to do so, they go on the hunt for answers.

  • Powers: They all are aware of their powers and they all acknowledge and know what to do with them.

  • Extra-ordinary: The six members of the family can be seen as extra-ordinary beings.

In our introduction of this topic, I state the following: The family comprises of seven people and it is the focus, both in the beginning comics and Netflix show.

In the Netflix series, the family members all get a tattoo of an umbrella on their wrists. Vanya did not get an umbrella tattoo and, in many ways, this could be seen as Vanya falling outside of the umbrella terms as described above. Which leads to the question…….

4) Which terms apply to Vanya?

  • (Oppressed) Hero: Vanya started off as being trained by Sir Reginald Hargreeves but, after discovering the true power which Vanya possesses, the training was stopped and she was told to believe she is ordinary. She never joined on missions and was never described as a hero.

  • Motive: Whereas the siblings’ motive had to do with the apocalypse, Vanya’s motive was to discover more about herself and her powers after she stopped consuming the pills. (Thanks to Harold Jenkins)

  • Powers: This, I feel, is straightforward. The six siblings all seem to acknowledge the fact that they have powers whilst Vanya simply believes she is normal. (Due to Alison’s ‘I heard a rumour’ trick whereby she whispers a phrase starting with I heard a rumor and whatever she says will occur and come true)

  • Extra-ordinary: I find this word, in relation to Vanya, more meaningful than when it’s used with the other six family members. Vanya always felt like she was ordinary and that there was nothing which was unique or special about her. It does actually affect her self-esteem, which is quite fitting considering her powers are controlled by her emotions. The suppression of her extra-ordinary features, unlike her family members, makes the term extra-ordinary an interesting link to the show and to the development of these characters.

I am sure there are more words that we can use, but for the purpose of this article I am going to stop here.

That is my personal opinion as to what terms I feel fit best with these family members. Feel free to add your own terms in the comments section.

I hope you enjoyed this second article of the superhero theory series. Keep your eyes peeled and umbrellas open for the next one, coming soon!

As the title states, this is all theory based. I am not affiliated with Netflix, and this is just my opinion as a fan of superhero characters. The point of all this is to show a link with popular culture and academia, facilitating learning and understanding of certain terms.

Written by Ylenia Callus and Edited by James Byrne. The cover photo is an art board print drawn by artist Dunbok.

Additional Editing was done by Blake Preston for the Super Ink Arts website.

© 2020 Super Ink Arts.