The world of Umbrella Academy is home to talking chimps, but where did they come from and how do they fit into the larger narrative?
Even though the Umbrella Academy series has a lot of strange and fantastical elements, like superheroes, time travel, and the Eiffel Tower is a secret spaceship, it’s easy to forget that it takes place in a human and chimp society.
They appear pointless because they rarely affect the plot, but this is not the case at all. Their inclusion highlights the differences between two important father figures and speaks directly to the comics’ emotional depth and dysfunction.
Sir Reginald Hargreeves, an alien who adopts seven children with superpowers, is introduced in The Umbrella Academy #1. One of his accomplishments as an adventurer, explorer, and scientist is bringing chimpanzees up to human intelligence. Sensitive chimpanzees can be seen in The Umbrella Academy as citizens, police chiefs, drug dealers, and even vampires.
His breakthrough earns him the Nobel Prize. The most well-known is Phineas Pogo, Dr. He serves as Hargreeves’ aide, butler, and confidant. It is revealed in glimpses of his past that he was initially a laboratory animal; however, it is unclear who was experimenting on him.
He worked with Hargreaves for a long time and was there when the kids were growing up. Pogo is a loving influence in the lives of the children, whereas Hargreeves is cold and clinical toward them.
Although the inclusion of intelligent primates may appear arbitrary, it has a symbolic and emotional significance. Hargreaves treats his children like lab animals because he is not human.
He experiments with them teaches them how to complete tasks, and imposes roles on them. Pogo, on the other hand, is also not human, but unlike the alien Hargreeves, he shows genuine affection for the Umbrella Academy students.
This contrast is not accidental. In The Umbrella Academy, broken people try their best to survive in a strange world and make decisions about how to treat each other. Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, the creators, are demonstrating that everyone, no matter how out of the ordinary they may be, deserves to have their humanity acknowledged by drawing parallels between humans and chimpanzees.
Chimpanzees’ everyday lives are shown to readers throughout The Umbrella Academy. This initially strikes readers as odd, similar to Hargreeves’ perspective on humans. He perceives their insight, and he has some love for them, however, they’re not equivalent to him, just “shrewd monkeys.” But eventually, the reader gets used to it, and the humans and chimps no longer stand out. Similar to Pogo’s perspective, in which the children’s humanity is simply assumed.
Luther Hargreaves, also known as Number One or Spaceboy, brings all of these concepts together. Luther, Reginald Hargreaves’s most devoted and willing child, is the typical hero. However, when Luther sustains severe injuries, his father transforms him into a gorilla.
Again, Luther’s perception of the difference between a gorilla and a human is vastly different from that of an alien. Spaceboy has issues with his body image and even turns down Allison, also known as Rumor because he feels so different. Even though the reader still views him as a sympathetic hero, this fusion of monkey and man demonstrates the consequences of treating people like objects.
The possibility that people are simply brilliant-ish chimps giving their all is extremely in-accordance with the series’ show of harmed and restricted individuals giving their all as legends.
Way and Bá emphasize this message by literally filling The Umbrella Academy’s world with interchangeable humans and monkeys, drawing parallels between the perspectives of the children’s two father figures. Pogo is aware that everyone owes each other consideration, despite what some TV fans think of him. Hargreaves depicts the unaware inhabitants of Umbrella Academy’s world as both literal and metaphorical aliens.
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