Heroes who make up Umbrella Academy, are among the most affected in comics, with a narrative consisting of countless expressions of how their neglected and abusive childhood continues to affect their adult lives. An important example of this — which is not so clearly shown in the Netflix TV adaptation — is the Fifth’s love for a mannequin, whom he calls Dolores.
The Fifth’s ability to travel through time makes him an incredibly strong person, but he learns too late that his abilities only allow him to move forward, not backward. After a quarrel with the children’s adoptive father Victor Hargreaves, the Fifth makes a leap forward in time, but discovers that the world has been destroyed. Living his life in isolation, the Fifth tries to unravel the secrets of time travel by hallucinating a relationship with a mannequin.
The five that perceive Dolores as a person show how his sanity degraded over a lifetime when he didn’t have another living being to talk to, but it also has metaphorical significance in the broader story. The most striking example of this is the external resemblance of Dolores to her Mother, a robot mannequin created by Victor Hargreaves to help raise children. While Mom looks human in the TV adaptation, she is much more explicitly based on a mannequin from the original comics, which highlights her resemblance to Dolores. Trapped in a dead world, the Fifth creates a relationship that replaces one person who treated him with parental love — this is just one of many cases when children play out their childhood in adulthood.
This connection also causes a comparison between Fifth and Hargreaves in how differently they treat their “partners” in mannequins. Mom seems reasonable, but it’s clear that Hargreaves views her as a tool, not treating her without affection. At the Ambrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion, Mom declares: “I know what it’s like to be unloved. I was born an object, and I have never been treated differently.” The Fifth’s love for a real object reverses this, showing that children have the potential to become much better than Hargreaves ever was. Although he had so little love that he treated people as objects, the Fifth had so much of it that he treated objects as people. at least until his human nature is distorted by Temps Aeternalis, who mix his DNA with the DNA of the most famous murderers in history to turn him into a murderer (which in itself is a metaphor for how the mistreatment of heroes reduces their heroic potential).
Ultimately, Umbrella Academy is the story of a father who treated his children as objects, and how, as adults, they survive this trauma, sometimes overcoming it, and sometimes passing it on to others. Loving the mannequin, the Fifth recreates his childhood in a fascinating way, showing that he has the potential to become a better person than the father who hurt him, but that he still reacts to the neglect he experienced at the beginning of his life – a perfect encapsulation. of the topics that make Umbrella Academy so attractive.