Some Umbrella Academy fans were disappointed that Leonard Peabody never become the Conductor, but season 2’s Carmichael is much more authentic
Umbrella Academy fans left disappointed when Leonard Peabody didn’t emerge as a fully-fledged supervillain in season 1 won’t have the same criticism with season 2’s Carmichael. Netflix’s Umbrella Academy was a huge hit in 2019, and seson 2 is set to drop later this month. Leonard Peabody, otherwise known as Harold Jenkins, acted as the prime antagonist of season 1, despite initially posing as a sweet and socially awkward violin student. A Hargreeves fanboy with an almighty grudge, Peabody enters into a faux relationship with Vanya, manipulating her life to coax out her deadly latent abilities. After separating Vanya from her family, Peabody is responsible for turning Number 7 into the apocalyptic White Violin and is killed for his troubles.
Leonard’s counterpart in the original Umbrella Academy comics is The Conductor. A classic supervillain, The Conductor repeatedly approaches Vanya to join his orchestra and bring about the end of the world, effectively filling the same role as Harold Jenkins in the Netflix series. Nevertheless, these two versions of The Conductor are very different. The villain of the comics is almost skeletal in appearance, with an overblown outfit that falls somewhere between music maestro and Dracula. The live-action Umbrella Academy TV series strips all elements of fantasy away and turns Peabody into a regular guy, albeit an extremely creepy one. While it’s easy to see why this creative decision was more fitting for television, some fans were left disappointed that the full effect of The Conductor never materialized.
The Umbrella Academy season 2 is addressing this problem wholeheartedly. As revealed by the recent season 2 trailer, Carmichael will be the main villain when the Hargreeves siblings return. In the original comic books by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba, Carmichael is the head of the Commission (or Temps Aeternalis) and responsible for Number Five’s years begrudgingly working as an assassin. In the Dallas arc, Carmichael manipulates the Academy with blackmail to ensure the Kennedy assassination goes ahead. More importantly, Carmichael is a goldfish whose tank is grafted onto a human body, creating a strikingly offbeat visual, even for a supervillain.
Despite being even more outlandish than the comic book version of The Conductor, Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy has properly embraced the authentic Carmicheal look, unveiling the dastardly walking goldfish in all his glory in season 2’s first trailer. Given how season 1 changed Leonard Peabody from a supervillain to a carpenter with relationship issues, the decision to keep Carmichael almost exactly the same as Gabriel Ba drew him comes as a pleasant surprise. It would’ve been easy for Steve Blackman (Umbrella Academy showrunner) and his team to transform the Commission’s leader into a generic sinister businessman type, taking the same grounded approach as they did previously with Leonard. Running with the goldfish idea is certainly a risk, but Carmichael already looks wonderfully strange in The Umbrella Academy‘s season 2 trailer. Significantly, the comic book accurate Carmichael directly addresses one of the few elements of season 1 that might’ve been better.
Carmichael’s fishy appearance is just one example of a more general shift towards being faithful to the comic books in The Umbrella Academy‘s second run. Season 1 followed the source material in very broad strokes, retaining the overall theme of the apocalypse but adding much in the way of fresh plot threads and characters. Judging from the material released so far. The Umbrella Academy season 2 will be drawing more directly from the Dallas comic arc, delving into the Kennedy storyline and giving fans the crazy Carmichael design that was sadly missing for The Conductor.