Writers: Gerard Way, Scott Allie
Artist: Tommy Lee Edwards
Letterer: John Workman
Time-traveling assassins? Conspiracy theories? Homicidal bromance? It must be Christmas.
And so it is in the first ever Umbrella Academy spin-off, Hazel and Cha Cha Save Christmas.
Writer Gerard Way and artist Gabriel Bá introduced these breakout maniacs in the second volume of their Umbrella Academy series. Now Way, joined by writer Scott Allie and artist Tommy Lee Edwards, brings them back for a timeless (literally) Christmas adventure.
The eponymous murder bros stole the show in the main series, and now they finally receive the spotlight. If you’re familiar with these characters, you know their signature blend of homicidal mania and true friendship.
This issue’s first page finds them at a mundane staff meeting of the Temps Aeternalis, an organization that exists beyond time and regulates time travel. And that sentence about sums up the tone of the story. It’s a delicious mix of the absurd and the ordinary.
Much like the previous Umbrella Academy stories, this one-shot embodies the abstract spirit of Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol, or perhaps the works of David Lynch (we even get a nice nod to Twin Peaks in this issue, but I won’t spoil it). It’s a bold flavor. Admittedly, it might not be for everyone. But if you like it, you’ll love this.
Edwards’s art adds a level of grit to the familiar characters. His style carries a less cartooned and more abstract vibe than the usual Gabriel Bá panels. Umbrella Academy without Gabriel Bá might sound like an absurd idea — his style contributes so much to the tone of the original series — but Edwards finds a perfect style to match the tone of this story. Because what Christmas special shouldn’t be gritty and abstract?
I can’t get too deep into the plot without spoiling things. Suffice it to say, there’s time travel, there’s a mystery, there’s a character who seems suspiciously like Billy from Stranger Things, there’s a big conspiracy, and it all involves Santa. And of course, there are absurdly large weapons.
Some parts of the issue don’t land quite as they should. More than once, I felt that I was supposed to be feeling an “Aha!” moment, but instead I found myself wondering what exactly had happened. I admire Way’s commitment to the bizarre, but this story could have landed a bigger punch with a pinch more clarity.
But all in all, this is a fun adventure in the Umbrella Academy universe. My Christmas wish is for many more spin-offs with Hazel and Cha Cha. When they’re on the page, it’s hard to look away. I mean, they’re time-traveling assassins in cartoon animal masks—what else are you going to look at?