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Why We're Worried About The Future Of The Umbrella Academy

If the last decade has taught us anything, it's that superhero stories and comic book culture are here to stay. It was hardly a surprise then that Netflix put its stamp on the superhero genre with an impressive run of Marvel series between 2015 and 2019. Clearly undermined by the massive feature films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Netflix turned to the slightly less hallowed halls of Dark Horse Comics in search of a fresh foray into the superhero realm. The streamer turned up an unexpected blockbuster in its adaptation of Gerard Way's and Gabriel Bá's award-winning comic book series The Umbrella Academy.

For those unfamiliar, The Umbrella Academy begins with billionaire industrialist Sir Reginald Hargreeves scouring the world to adopt a group of kids whose wildly unusual births he believes signal some larger greatness within them. It turns out that he's right — the children are inhumanly gifted — and Sir Reginald successfully turns the children he adopts into a super-powered squad of crime-fighters. All is well until life intercedes and the Hargreeves children ultimately grow up and grow apart. They're reunited in adulthood after the death of Sir Reginald, which eventually leads them into a desperate fight for the future against an all-too-familiar foe.

That's the setup for both the first run of books and episodes of The Umbrella Academy, the latter of which premiered on Netflix in February 2019. It did so to surprisingly impressive viewership, and earned a quick season 2 order. But even as we anxiously await the second season premiere, there are already a lot of questions concerning the possibility of additional seasons. Here's why we're worried about the future of The Umbrella Academy.  

The Umbrella Academy's source material is already running thin

One of the chief concerns producers have when deciding to adapt a story into a serialized narrative is whether or not there's enough story to tell over multiple TV seasons or movies. That's especially true of translating a comic book to the screen, as the stories themselves tend to be serialized from the start. When it comes to Marvel and DC properties, though, the boundless spoil of characters and stories possessed by each makes adapting those comics easier.

In the case of The Umbrella Academy, the opposite is mostly true. Part of the problem is that it's a relatively new series (it debuted with Dark Horse in fall 2007), but the larger issue is that The Umbrella Academy was and remains more so a limited series event collection. The initial six-issue run of The Umbrella AcademyThe Apocalypse Suite, was touted as just that. Had that run failed, it's likely we wouldn't have seen much more of The Umbrella Academy's KlausNumber Five, or the rest of the gifted gang on later episodes of the Netflix series' first season.

Thankfully, The Umbrella Academy became an Eisner-winning success, prompting a pair of additional storylines. The first, subtitled Dallas, was released in 2008. The second, Hotel Oblivion, didn't arrive until a decade later. So, as it stands, there are but three volumes of The Umbrella Academy tales in print. Season 1 of the Netflix series has already used one of them up. The second season will presumably cover another, and if Netflix orders a third season, the series will certainly catch up to Gerard Way's existing The Umbrella Academy narratives. As history (read: Game of Thrones) has shown us, some bad things can happen when there's no more source material to adapt.

The Umbrella Academy creator just got the band back together

The good news is that Gerard Way recently confirmed The Umbrella Academy fans won't be forced to wait another decade for fresh tales of the super-powered, dysfunctional Hargreeves family. Taking to Instagram to celebrate the full release of all six issues of Hotel Oblivion in September 2019, Way announced that he "just started Volume 4" of The Umbrella Academy and teased that "it won't be too long before a new issue hits the stands."

Unfortunately, excitement for new Umbrella Academy stories was tempered about a month later when Way announced his band My Chemical Romance was getting back together after their 2013 break-up. Initially touted as a one-off reunion gig, it now appears the hard-rocking band have plans to hit the road for a larger run of shows in 2020.  As for how this tour might effect The Umbrella Academy, it's clear that Way is currently dedicating most of his energy to rehearsing and touring with MCR, and probably won't have a ton of free time to finish up Volume 4. 

If there's any silver lining to take from the MCR reunion beyond the obvious, it's that Way reportedly started writing The Umbrella Academy as a way to cope with the complicated inner workings of the band itself. So even if he knows how the next chapters of The Umbrella Academy unfold, he's also probably collecting fresh material while on the road. With any luck, Way will use the experience to get the next Umbrella Academy volume finished before the Netflix series surpasses his books.  

Can The Umbrella Academy continue living up to expectations?

Assuming everything goes according to plan, we can bank on Way finding time to crank out new issues of The Umbrella Academy sometime in 2020, which means those issues will be in print well ahead of a potential third or fourth season of the Netflix series. And yes, we can also assume a third season of the show will happen, if only because Netflix (at least for the time being) really believes in The Umbrella Academy. The streamer will probably want to keep the same production schedule for the series, meaning a potential season 3 won't start shooting until late 2020, with a possible season 4 going before cameras in fall 2021.

Given that Hotel Oblivion ended on such a big cliffhanger, we also can imagine Netflix might try to package season 4 as a two-parter shot simultaneously instead of going with two separate seasons — which means new episodes of The Umbrella Academy could be hitting Netflix on the regular through 2022, and possibly beyond.

Obviously, that's a lot of speculation, and there are still many mysteries surrounding the state of both The Umbrella Academy books and the Netflix series. Perhaps the largest question mark is whether or not season 2 of The Umbrella Academy can live up to the first. After all, the element of surprise was a big part of what made season 1 work, since not many people knew what The Umbrella Academy was prior to streaming it. Needless to say, it will be fascinating to see if the show holds together under the weight of loftier expectations — 'cause those can be a killer for any fledgling series, especially one as prickly as The Umbrella Academy.