In the Netflix adaptation of The Umbrella Academy, Allison Hargreeves gets her powers back by healing. But in the comics, there’s a darker reason.
While Netflix breezes through an explanation of how Allison Hargreeves regains her powers in The Umbrella Academy, the comics tell the story of the return of The Rumor’s voice far better. The TV adaptation of The Umbrella Academy leaves a lot of details out, including one major difference in the plot of season 2. That change also eliminates a subplot from the comics that provides a much more believable explanation for how Allison’s mind-control powers were returned to her. Fundamentally, the story is more detailed and dramatic than the Netflix version.
The way Allison loses her powers in the TV show is identical to the way she loses them in the comics — Allison is attacked by Vanya in a fit of rage, who uses her powers to sever The Rumor’s vocal cords and ends up nearly killing her. Allison is rushed to medical care and her life is saved, but she’s unable to speak – a seemingly permanent disability. In the show, Allison’s power gradually returns as her vocal cords heal, a hand-wavy explanation at best. The process allegedly takes a year, but the show pretty much just skips ahead to where Allison can speak again.
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In the Dark Horse comics, however, Allison’s power returns at the hand of the Umbrella Academy‘s Commission, also known as Temps Aeternalis. The medical miracle is part of a twisted plot by the Commission to assassinate President John F. Kennedy. The Commission blackmails Allison and Five into performing the deed and surgically repairs Allison’s throat so she can use her power to kill the president. It’s revealed later that Allison posed as Jackie Kennedy and used her power in the famed convertible to make JFK’s head explode.
The complex story behind the return of Allison’s voice in The Umbrella Academy comics far surpasses the bare bones explanation in the show. The slow healing of her throat in the show gives Allison’s time to stop using her powers and learn independence, but no more so than in the comics. The idea that Allison’s vocal cords simply healed is also a little hard to swallow. Not only is it less believable, but it takes away from the impact of the story of Allison’s loss of powers.
When Allison is attacked by Vanya, she is presumed dead in what is a big shock and an emotional moment for the audience. When it’s discovered that Allison is alive, the writers had to justify her survival by making her suffer an equally powerful loss. The quashing of Allison’s powers, for which she has been valued her entire life, is equated to death. If Allison can’t use or depend on her powers, who is she? The idea that Allison could recover her voice simply through time lessens the impact of her trauma and sacrifice. The comics, on the other hand, make both Allison’s loss and regaining of her powers a traumatic experience. The idea that Allison is nothing but her ability to control is reinforced by the Commission’s use of her power to assassinate JFK as a fall-back. No-one in the comics cares whether Allison is ready to speak again, to come back to life, in a way. Allison is instead only valued for her powers as The Rumor and is blackmailed into obeying the will of the Commission through a death threat aimed at Luther.
Additionally, Allison is forced into surgery with a group of people she doesn’t trust and who have proven in the past that they are willing to do their own experiments and bodily modifications without the patient’s knowledge just as they did in turning Number Five into the greatest ever assassin. The mysterious nature of the Commission gives their offer to return Allison’s powers a dark edge. With the return of Allison’s powers, she’s also thrust back into the center of the action, drawn back into the violent and twisted life of The Umbrella Academy. The show addresses this a little, showing how Allison has to abandon her domestic ’60s lifestyle and her husband to save the world, but it doesn’t have the same impact it would if Allison had to make the same choice because she was being forced back into killing by the Commission — forced back into the darkest parts of her superhero life rather than the best.
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