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My Chemical Romance's Way reopens ''Umbrella''

A promising second installment in My Chemical Romance singer Gerard Way’s stylish series. Plus: threatened superheroes, grieving superheroes, and ravenous zombie superheroes

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THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY
Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá
(Monthly)
The most obvious thing to say about this six-part superhero series is that it was penned by Way, lead singer of Queen-esque goth rockers My Chemical Romance. But the more useful fact is that Way ”way” loves Scottish comics writer Grant Morrison. Certainly Morrison’s surreal, berserk 1989 Doom Patrol overhaul is an influence on this tale — about seven mostly superpower-endowed people mysteriously born at the same moment to apparently non-pregnant women, then adopted by Sir Reginald Hargreeves, monocle fan and inventor of the ”Mobile Umbrella Communicator” (whatever the hell that is). Issue No. 1 — the fabulously, and accurately, titled ”The Day the Eiffel Tower Went Berserk” — offers a description of the septet’s early years, while issue 2 (”We Only See Each Other at Weddings and Funerals”) finds the team regrouping as adults to pay respects to the deceased Hargreeves, beat the hell out of each other, and occasionally ruminate upon preventing a global apocalypse. FOR FANS OF… Doom Patrol. DOES IT DELIVER? Only time will tell if Way has as good a grasp of overarching plot as Morrison, but on a micro level, this is a nicely puckish start. Meanwhile, artist Bá contributes exactly the sort of joyous, stylish work that — together with his twin Fabio Moon (Casanova) — earned the Brazilian a place in our EW 100 issue earlier this year. B+ — Clark Collis

MARVEL ZOMBIES, VOL. 2
Robert Kirkman and Sean Phillips
(Monthly)
You know those movies that are so bad, they’re actually good? Marvel Zombies is almost like that, except it’s still pretty bad. Premise: Zombie superheroes eat and smash! In Vol. 1, they ravaged the Earth — then went into space to eat the universe. Yes, that’s what I said. Now it’s 40 years later, the munch bunch has gobbled through their intergalactic buffet (”Damn… I can’t believe we ate the whole thing.” Genius, in a bad kinda way), and they’re starving for new universes to eat. Watching the zombie Marvels gorge on the sentient world known as Ego The Living Planet (he’s got eyes and a beard, don’t you know) is perhaps one of the saddest things I have ever seen in a comic book. If the whole book was this impishly arch, maybe it could work. But then they go and screw it up with a poignant subplot about the Black Panther going Zombie. ”Don’t look at me dear,” he says to his horrified wife as he devours his first human meal. Who knew zombies could be so considerate? FOR FANS OF… Silliness. DOES IT DELIVER? Me think this stupid zombie comic just ate me brain. Me hungry for The Walking Dead, Kirkman’s much better zombie comic. Me glad me got this for free. D+ — Jeff Jensen

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA
Dwayne McDuffie and Joe Benitez
(Monthly)
The Joker, Lex Luthor, and other costumed bad guys gather (as, no joke, the Injustice League) to ”create a new America, where crime and corruption are accepted as a normal part of life.” This estimable goal begins with destroying Superman, Batman, and the rest of the JLA. FOR FANS OF… Saturday-morning cartoons; Truly Tasteless Jokes; Mortal Kombat. DOES IT DELIVER? The first arc begins with Green Lantern trying to secure strippers for Green Arrow’s bachelor party, then moves on to bloody fight scenes, a tactic involving Kryptonite paint, and jokes about cheese fries and diarrhea. The target audience is, in a word, unclear. C — Sean Howe

FALLEN SON: THE DEATH OF CAPTAIN AMERICA
Jeph Loeb; with art by Leinil Yu, Ed McGuinness, John Romita Jr., David Finch, and John Cassaday
(Hardcover)
In the tangled universe of mortality-bilking superheroes, it’s hard to buy that a character has truly met his maker. So here, author Loeb (Batman: Hush) attempts to drive home the finality of Captain America’s recent murder, masterminded by the dastardly Red Skull (and penned by a magnificent Ed Brubaker). And what better antidote to the seeming popcorniness of an event comic than chronicling, in five installments, Cap’s spandexed peers wrestling through the sundry stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. That’s right: This is a concept comic. FOR FANS OF… Superman’s DC-star-studded funeral circa ’93. DOES IT DELIVER? The ambitious premise is a noble one — and the artwork alternately moody, passionate, even majestic. Combine all of the above with an unrelenting reverence, however, and Fallen Son suffers from a lumbering, terminal case of bathos. At its best, it’s Cap’s funeral lightened with inappropriate quips (Fantastic Four’s The Thing on the eulogizing Iron Man: ”Y’think he’s drunk?”); at its worst, it’s Spider-Man, head bowed, sulking in the dark rain. Maybe somebody should put that guy out of his misery. C — Nisha Gopalan