Unlike the first Season of the Umbrella Academy which followed a more traditional route as an adaption, and generally speaking, kept to the same overall story as the comics, the second season of The Umbrella Academy differs massively. Check out our post on the differences between Season 1 and the comics HERE, but in The Umbrella Academy: Season 2’s Biggest Differences Between the Comics and the Show, we’re taking a look at some huge elements like the whole team getting stranded, the handler’s plans, and a powerful book at race issues and views on sexuality in the sixties. We’re going to start with the few similarities for some context and then talk about the differences more generally (as basically everything is completely different).
Getting Stranded in Time
Although the second volume of the comics, Dallas, does see some of the Academy stranded in the 1960s, it isn’t all of them, and they aren’t separated. There it is just Diego, Klaus and Luther, and they join the US Army and fight in Vietnam, the idea of which was put into Season 1 with only Klaus.
Instead, Season 2 sees the entire team stranded at different points from 1960 onwards, each thinking the others to be gone and living out their lives as best they can.
The Focus on JFK
The JFK assassination is the centre of the Dallas comic, which sees the Temps Aeternalis, the comic version of the Commission, re-recruit Number 5 to stop his past self from preventing the Kennedy assassination (which he did right before returning to his family). In the comics, the organisation restores Allison’s voice to help Number 5, while Luther, Diego, and Klaus try and stop them.
The second series of the live-action version differs in how it revolves around the JFK assassination – although Diego is still set on preventing it, and it is still central to the whole story arc, the past Number 5 didn’t prevent it and so much of the context is very different.
Two Number 5’s
The focus on JFK’s assassination brings with it Number Five working against his former self, which is from the comics, although their respective motivations are different. In the comics, the past Number 5 (in the older body) is set on stopping JFK’s assassination and heading back to his family to stop the apocalypse. Whereas the slightly older version of Number Five (who is confusingly in the younger body) is there on behalf of the commission aiming to stop his past self.
In the show the past (old bodied) Number Five is enacting JFK’s assassination, not preventing it and the older (young bodied) version is there, simply trying to use the other Number 5’s time-travelling briefcase, rather than stopping himself.
The Younger Hargreaves
Another of the changes to the JFK plot is the role of a younger Sir Reginald Hargreaves (the adoptive father of the Academy). It is revealed that he is a member of a group known as the Majestic 12, with whom he is shaping and influencing the world.
In the show, he is a member of the organisation, but opposes the murder of JFK, although everyone else in the group intends to carry it out. It is also implied that the group knows of Hargreaves’ extraterrestrial origins – which links in with the real world Majestic 12, who were reportedly formed to deal with and investigate aliens and UFO sightings.
The Younger Pogo
In the comics, while trapped in the 1960s, Klaus contacts a younger Pogo to help build a Televator (a teleporting elevator) so that Klaus, Diego, and Luther can get to Dallas in time to prevent the JFK assassination. It’s a poignant reunion for Luther in particular, who was Pogo’s best friend and took Vanya’s murder of the talking chimp particularly badly.
In the show, it’s a totally different context that viewers see a young Pogo. There he is trained to become one of the chimps that flew into space. The sequence shows the serum which likely gave him his intelligence and ability to speak was to save his life after his rocket crashed – in a very similar sequence to how Luther was turned into a part ape-man after his accident in Season 1. This scene also shows off more of the relationship between Sir Reginald and the real Grace, as well as a more human and loving Hargreaves.
Old Man Hazel
The beginning of the first episode shows the return of a much older Hazel returning from season 1, after having lived a happy twenty years with Agnes. Hazel explains to Number 5 that the Academy’s presence in the sixties has brought the apocalypse forward from 2019 to 1963, and gives him some footage along with his time travelling briefcase (which is unfortunately for Number 5) immediately destroyed by attacking Commission agents.
The villainous assassin that the Commission sent after the Academy in the Dallas comic arc, are Season 1’s Hazel and Cha Cha. The first season blended the first two volumes of the comics heavily, and so the second season needed a new set of time-travelling hitmen as Hazel and Cha Cha’s stories were (mostly) concluded in Season 1.
The new assassins are three, white-haired Swedish brothers who are manipulated by the Handler into doing her bidding without the Commission’s knowledge.
The Focus on Race and Sexuality
The second series brings with it a powerful look at racism in the 1960s. Allison’s plot revolves around the mistreatment of black people in Dallas in 1963, with “White’s Only” restaurants, imprisonment without charge, and police brutality as well how she and a group of other peaceful protesters are trying to change it.
Similarly, although explored to a lesser extent, is the 60’s view of homosexuality. The second season sees Klaus publicly punched for being “queer” and Carl call Vanya and his wife’s relationship “unnatural”. These elements are totally new for the show as Allison is white in the comics, and neither Vanya nor Klaus have a same-sex relationship in the past (in fact, despite being gay in his own time, Klaus has a baby whilst in Vietnam).
The Real Grace
Another big change is the return of the Academy’s mother, although not in the way any of them would expect. Season 2 reveals that the robot Grace Hargreaves created to raise the children was based on a real woman he had once dated.
The real Grace helped Hargreaves raise Pogo in the sixties, and although her ultimate fate is uncertain, Hargreaves eventually recreates her in robot form as a part housekeeper, part-mother, part-slave (which we know as in Season 1 Diego mentions that Hargreaves didn’t let her leave the Academy – which could be as he didn’t want her to run into the real version of herself).
The Handler’s Scheme
As the Handler is a totally new character for the show, who partly takes on AJ Carmichael’s role form the comics, but with lots of new twists and personality, everything she does is different. But this season her arc as the real villain and her plans to take over the commission are a huge departure.
AJ Carmichael’s Death
In the comics, after successfully ensuring the death of JFK Number 5 eats his former handler (and the man, or fish, responsible for him becoming such deadly assassin). In the series, it is instead the Handler who eats AJ Carmichael after he tries to mess up her plans from inside his bowl.
As the Handler and her plans to take over the commission is a wholly new addition for the tv show, so is Lila. Played by Ritu Arya, Lila’s role throughout the season is extremely significant and eventually introduces the Academy to the idea of other people born on the same day as they were, who also have powers.
The Sparrow Academy
The Sparrow Academy is the name of the upcoming fourth volume of the comics, and the alternate team is teased throughout the third volume, Hotel Oblivion. In the comics, the team appears to be an alternate team of super-powered beings, with Number designations just like their Umbrella counter-parts. Although the Umbrella Academy has no knowledge of them, in the Hotel Oblivion arc Mom leads Vanya there, telling her it is her home.
In the show, the Sparrow Academy seems to be an alternate version of the Umbrella Academy thanks to the changes made to the 1960s. There, Ben is alive and a member, but it appears to be a very different Ben. There is also likely some kind of connection to Harlan, the boy Vanya gave powers to in the 60s, who’s toy was a Sparrow.
If you’ve enjoyed The Umbrella Academy: Season 2’s Biggest Differences Between the Comics and the Show, be sure to check out our post on the Differences between Season 1 and the comics HERE, our Season 2 Easter Eggs post HERE, and our Season 2 Review HERE.