‘The Umbrella Academy Vol. 3 (Hotel Oblivion)’ by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá [Comic Review]

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The more I read this series the more I become aware of a pattern when reading it. I’m usually hopelessly confused about what exactly is happening until the last couple parts when everything seems to come together. And then it ends.

The next arch begins and I have to go through it all over again.

And yet I still find myself enjoying it. At no point to I think to myself “why am I readings this?” or feel like giving up. In fact, while this particular volume had a lot going on to confuse me, I become more and more attached to the characters.

Most of what made the beginning of this volume confusing for me was trying to keep track of where everybody was. Sure there were captions every time the location changed but it was with the assumption that I already knew what “Hotel Oblivion” meant and how it related in space and time to everything else. Also, there were some time jumps and interacting with ghosts that mixed it all up in my head. There’s a lot to process in this volume.

One of the big points of enjoyment for me, particularly in this volume, was the artwork provided by Bá. There was some pretty trip-y places visited in this go around but Bá was able to bring life to those with his use of colour. The scenes in Afterspace were a particular favourite of mine.

There were other instances throughout when I would pause at a panel just because I thought it was pretty or dynamic. In fact, I’ve recently been learning a lot about structuring comic books so I took this as an opportunity to stretch what I’ve learned.

For instance, I realised while reading that Bá tends to introduce a new setting by filling a whole page with a scene, usually pushing out to the very edge of the page, then placing further panels on top to show the following action after the set-up shot. For example:

This creates the feeling of large scope to the setting, much in the same way film would start with a wide shot of the setting (city/landscape) before focusing in of the character, because the setting itself cannot be contained by the confines of the page. This technique becomes incredibly interesting once you get infinite canvas comics!

Also, if you notice the two panels that include action, the motion of both actions travel in the same direction–to the right. This follows the direction the reader is meant to read the comic and it also includes a reaction in the second panel because of the action in the first. It’s a consistency of movement throughout the page that makes the action seem seamless even though there isn’t anything to tell the reader what happens between the panels.

Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I avoided talking about the plot partly become it confused me for most of it and partly because I don’t want to give anything away by talking about what I did understand. Plus, I found the artwork too fascinating once I started to take in apart.

I almost feel as if this is a series I need to go back and read again in the hope that I will know more about what it happening now that I have more of the story to pull from. If I go back to the first volume will I be able to pick up on all the plot-lines that were put forth that have only just been realised? I’m not sure, but I find myself excited by the idea of going back and revisiting the beginning. I had a similar reaction when watching the Netflix series, even if they did switch things around.

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