THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY: Who Are the Sparrows?

Our favorite adopted family of superpowered children are back! No silly, not the X-Men—though Charles and his kids were a big inspiration—we’re talking about Umbrella Academy. The third season of The Umbrella Academy is here! Fans of both the show and the comics have highly-anticipated this. Why? Well, not only do we return to the world of the Hargreeves but we learn a lot more about the mysterious Sparrow Academy. It’s something the comics have teased but never expanded on, so this is one of those magical moments where the comics and adaptations align to surprise and delight. 

Spoiler Alert

If you need a refresher on The Umbrella Academy season two’s finale, we’ll start with that so beware of spoilers.

What Happened at the End of The Umbrella Academy Season Two?
An image from the finale of Umbrella Academy S2 shows the team looking in shock behind them as Reginald Hargreeves stands in front of them

After a predominantly ’60s-set second season, The Umbrella Academy ended back in the modern day. It seemed like the plan had worked and the crew had averted the apocalypse. Alas, as they headed back to Hargreeves’ mansion they realized something was amiss. Not only was Reginald Hargreeves alive in this timeline’s version of 2019, but he called their old home Sparrow Academy and then a series of shadowy figures appeared. It was a shocking reveal that suggested our dysfunctional heroes either changed time or ended up in a different version of their reality. But to Umbrella Academy fans it also hinted at the arrival of a series of new characters that were teased in the 2018 return to the comic, “Hotel Oblivion.The Umbrella Academy‘s Sparrows have arrived.

Who Are the Sparrows in The Umbrella Academy Comics?
A still from Hotel Oblivion #7 shows the Umbrella Academy facing down with the Sparrow Academy
Dark Horse/Gerard Way/Gabriel Bá

We first meet a Sparrow in the pages of issue #5 of Hotel Oblivion. The long-awaited third volume of The Umbrella Academy series came out in 2018, nine years after the end of volume two. As Mom and Vanya go on a tour of the latter’s childhood misadventures, a young woman in a red domino mask and jacket approaches them. It’s a very similar look to the Hargreeves children’s old uniform, but instead of an Umbrella logo on her collar, she wears a Sparrow. Her arrival allows Vanya to walk again, and they begin a journey across the world. In issue six of the Umbrella Academy comic we find the pair in Norway, where the Sparrow claims Vanya will find home and family. Eventually, they end up at a secret hideout where they find Mom, who introduces the woman as Clara.

Clara isn’t the only named member that we get as the final page sees the mysterious group head to help out the Umbrella Academy. On the final page, we see them arrive with Luther, a.k.a. Number One, asking who they are. In return, the red-suited leader—who shares more than a passing resemblance to him—states, “I’m Number One.” It’s a shocking moment that hints at another group of superpowered heroes that echo the Umbrella Academy. While in the comics we didn’t learn the rest of the Sparrow team’s names, we do get a glimpse of them. There’s a tall blonde woman, a member of the team who wears blue and shoots a black power beam out of their face, a black-haired woman in dark sunglasses who can levitate, someone who can turn into a murder of crows, a disfigured character who can psychically inflict pain, and a green cube.

Are the Sparrows in the New Umbrella Academy Series?
header photo of the sparrow academy from the umbrella academy season three release date june 22

Yes! That’s why we’ve been diving deep into their comic book history. When Netflix announced the team’s arrival, the comic book fans were extremely excited. While co-creator Gerard Way had announced that “Sparrow Academy” would be the fourth volume of The Umbrella Academy series, readers had been left with an epic cliffhanger and no sign of the next volume. So it looks like The Umbrella Academy season three will continue where Hotel Oblivion left off and bring us the Sparrows. It takes the Sparrows and expands their story. And also plays with some other key plotlines from the third volume of the comics.

How Are the Sparrows Different? What Is Sparrow Academy?
A still from Umbrella Academy S2 finale shows the Sparrow Academy standing in Shadow in the Hargreeves mansion. Who are Umbrella Academy's Sparrows?

In the comics Sparrow Academy is in a strange mountain hideaway in Norway. We quickly learn that in the world of the Netflix show they live as famous heroes in what seems to be New York. Their academy works more like when Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters moved to Central Park. Fans and New Yorkers know about the presence of the Sparrows. In fact, Sparrow fans often head to their fancy city base to watch them train. It’s miles away from the secretive adulthood of the failed superheroes of the Umbrella Academy. Another thing that we know about the organization from the comics is that Mom is involved and has known about the team for a while. That appears to be the case here too, though this Mom doesn’t recognize her children. 

Another interesting diversion—though it’s more of an extension of the story—is the Sparrows themselves. In the comics we never knew most of their names and definitely didn’t learn their strange backstory like we do here. As Klaus quickly finds out, after the Umbrella Academy went to him for help in the ’60s during season two, Reginald Hargreeves decided his children were failures. So on that fateful night when the superpowered children were born… he adopted different ones.

No. 1: Marcus
A poster for Umbrella Academy Season Three shows the top of a Black man's head above it it says No. 1 this is Marcus

This is the character we meet in the final pages of Hotel Oblivion #7. As No. 1, he’s the de facto leader of the crew. In the first episode we see that he’s immensely strong and easily defeats Luther, his powers are super strength, speed, and also levitation. He’s also a peacemaker. We get to see that in play when he meets Viktor to try to solve things. Sadly for Marcus, his time on this Earth is not long and in one of the few really disappointing choices this season he doesn’t survive past the first episode. Hopefully he’ll get to live longer in the comics.

No. 2: Ben
A poster for Umbrella Academy Season Three shows the top of an asian man's face he has a scar beneath his right eye and above him it says No. 2 this is Ben

In one of the most shocking reveals, Ben is also a member of the Sparrows. This is extremely unsettling as the Umbrella Academy’s Ben died before the show ever started. Though he has played a vital part in the series as a ghost, this is a nice way to bring him back into the fold. It’s a shame that this Ben is a jerk! With his higher number ranking, up four places from No. 6 to No. 2, it’s clear Reginald realized his past mistakes. But here Ben is an aggressive, forceful type, using his eldritch powers to subjugate others. It’s not the Ben we know and love. But the Umbrella Academy still seem really happy to see him anyway.

No. 3: Fei
A poster shows the top of a lightskinned Black woman's head, she wears sunglasses over scarred eyes, this is Fei

The third member of the Sparrows is Fei. With her cool sunglasses and epic fighting skills, she appeared to be the member from the comics who can levitate. But as we soon learn she seems to be an amalgam of that Sparrow and the one who can turn into a murder of crows. Fei sees through her crows and can control them, using them to spy on her enemies. She also seems to be one of the leaders of the group despite her third place ranking. 

No. 4: Alphonso
A poster for Umbrella Academy Season Three shows the top of a white man's face, it's disfigured on his left hand side. this is Alphonso

The disfigured character from the comics comes to life here as Alphonso. His powers mean that his body mass is incredibly dense, causing massive pain when people attack or hit him. He’s close to Jayme and seems to be one of the more antagonistic of the Sparrows. His relationship with Reginald Hargreeves is near to non-existent and his No. 4 ranking seems appropriate to where he stands on the power rankings. Saying that, he’s definitely not happy with the arrival of the Umbrella Academy and wants them gone sooner rather than later.

No. 5: Sloane
A poster shows the top of a lightskin Black woman's face called Sloane

One of the most interesting Sparrow powers belongs to Sloane, who can control gravity. Her powers allow her to manipulate gravity, enabling her to float, crush things, and lift things up easily. All of that absolutely undersells her powers, but she’s really mighty. Sloane also happens to be the most kind and open of the Sparrows, and would rather befriend the Umbrellas than battle.

No. 6: Jayme
A poster for Umbrella Academy Season Three shows the words No. 6 and the top of white woman's head named Jayme

Before the show came out, we had a theory that Jayme could be the character from the comics who we see shoot a large black beam out of their face. While that is not entirely the case, she does shoot some pretty nasty dark matter out of her mouth. Yep, Jayme’s powers are not unlike the Dilophosaurus from Jurassic Park. She spits a black acidic liquid, but rather than kill its victim, it makes them hallucinate. We got to see this in very fun fashion when Diego gets hit and imagines the two teams having a dance off to Footloose. Thanks for the musical number, Jayme.

No. 7: Existential Dread Inducing Psykronium Cube/Christopher
A poster shows the words No. 7 and a picture of a grey cube named Christopher

The one other character we definitely met in the comics aside from No. 1 is Christopher. And who doesn’t love an “Existential Dread Inducing Psykronium Cube”? While not much was known about him in the comics, the first two episodes set Christopher up as a beloved member of the Sparrows. He communicates with his family through a strange language and they obviously respect him. He’s also pretty useful in a fight as the Umbrella Academy quickly discovers. 

What Can We Expect From the Sparrows in the Rest of Season Three of The Umbrella Academy?
A collage image shows Four of the Sparrow academy posters each showing a head around a drawing from the Umbrella Academy comics of the Sparrows flying in the sky
Netflix / Dark Horse / Gabriel Ba

Lots of the show’s trademark family drama for one thing. The heart of The Umbrella Academy is the dysfunctional collection of siblings at its core. And season two set up a whole new group of kids fighting for Hargreeves’ love and attention. Speaking of which, we now have an alive Hargreeves in the present who apparently expected his other family to come and find him. So we can expect things to get messy, especially as Ben is a key member of both groups but only lives in the 2019 timeline, which will likely cause some serious heartbreak for the Umbrella Academy. So basically the Sparrows are going to probably end up as allies and antagonists in season three of The Umbrella Academy.

Originally published on April 13, 2022.

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