INITIALLY, CONVERSATION AROUND Gerard Way's The Umbrella Academy centered on what business the frontman of My Chemical Romance had writing comic books in the first place—but the series' first six-issue run, Apocalypse Suite, quickly won praise even outside of Way's guylinered fanbase. Joining the ranks of Dark Horse properties now represented at Hot Topic, Way's series introduced the seven children collectively known as the Umbrella Academy, whose unique powers and conflicted relationships marked them as the next generation of superheroes.

But where many comics fans praised the energy and creativity Way brought to an often torporific genre, Apocalypse Suite was, if anything, too creative—the comics were confusing, with characters and ideas crowding for space. The series was distinguished primarily by its stunning artwork, courtesy of Gabriel Bá and colorist Dave Stewart.

The second story arc, Dallas, collected in a trade paperback just released by Dark Horse, is a significantly more polished offering. Set some time after Apocalypse Suite, the Umbrella Academy's ranks have been thinned, their alliances thrown into question. Most importantly, though, Way's central conceit has been clarified: While not all of the characters participate in Dallas' time-travelin', JFK-assassination-thwarting adventure, those that do are more fully realized. As a standalone story Dallas might seem slight—but as an episode in the development of an ongoing mythology, it promises richer things to come.