Heroes and Villains: Umbrella Academy, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not

It’s FINALLY October! Are you excited? I’m excited. I, for one, cannot wait to read some seasonally appropriate comics to set the mood for the rest of the month. Should we look at some? Let’s look at some!

The Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion #1
Gerard Way (W)
Gabriel Bá (A)
Dark Horse Comics

I have a terrible secret: Aside from a Free Comic Book Day comic this is the first Umbrella Academy book that I’ve read. I know, I KNOW! It’s awful considering what a huge fan I was of Way’s work on DC’s Young Animal imprint (RIP, and I sincerely hope it’s just resting). It’s downright criminal that I slept on what was essentially his first foray into comics.

Well, after checking out Hotel Oblivion I intend to atone for my past transgressions and delve deep into the previous volumes of The Umbrella Academy. Plus, with a Netflix series coming NEXT YEAR I have to get in on the ground floor so I can speak knowledgeably around my office’s water cooler. “What’s that? The Umbrella Academy? Oh, you mean the SHOW. You should totally check out the comic it’s based on. It’s to die for.” 

Since this is the third volume of the series I was joining things in media res but I was largely still able to enjoy the book. Way and Bá turn in some wonderfully surreal and atmospheric work which pushes all the right buttons for me. It’s a world I want to know more about and I intend on hitting up my local comic shop to get up to speed in the gap between the first two issues of this series. 

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! #1
Various (W)
Various (A)
Zenescope Entertainment

Right out of the gate I have to acknowledge that the Jack Palance hosted version of the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! was one of those syndicated wonders (even though there’s surprisingly only a handful of episodes) that creeped me out during my formative years. It didn’t matter what the subject was, Palance had committed to it 110% and sold the weird and wonderful nature of the show to my impressionable mind.

Now some thirty-odd years later (and I do mean odd! Hey! Hey!) Zenescope is bringing us a two issue anthology series based on some of the most popular Believe It or Not! stories. I absolutely adore the anthology both as a format and for what it’s able to do for these stories.

Like any good anthology there’s a framing sequence that sets the world of the book. In this particular and peculiar instance it’s set in one of the several Ripley’s Odditorium museums and it uses pieces from within to set up the various stories.

It may sound silly but I was kind of stoked to see that this book was 48 pages. There’s just SO MUCH stuff packed into the book and it’s pretty great considering most comics are 22 pages of story and 8 pages of ads these days. I really felt like I was getting something substantial when I cracked the book open.

The stories contained within were all fairly familiar to me since I had read my share of Weekly World News and other news of the weird publications when growing up. What I didn’t expect was the slight dramatization of some of the stories that gave them some (probably needed) depth. Also interspersed throughout the book were little bits of Ripley related trivia that were equally fantastic. 

Surprisingly, this series is only running for two issues and if this first issue was any indication I’m definitely going to want to check out the next one.

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