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"The Dollhouse Family #1" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by DC Black Label / Hill House Comics

The Dollhouse Family 1 Large

Written by M.R. Carey
Layouts by Peter Gross
Finishes by Vince Locke
Colored by Cris Peter
Lettered by Todd Klein
2019, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on November 13th, 2019

Review:

Alice receives a mysterious and slightly creepy gift for her sixth birthday from her great-aunt. It's a 19th century dollhouse with a set of antique dolls. It quickly becomes her favorite toy. It's a place where she can get away from the perils of the outside world and her parents fighting. This becomes literal when the dolls start talking to her, welcoming her into their home by shrinking her down. Alice spends so much time in the dollhouse that she could almost stay there forever. That would come with a price.

The characters in The Dollhouse Family are so very real. Writer M.R. Carey does a phenomenal job introducing us to each person and giving us a good idea of who they are. This happens very quickly. Alice is innocent and sweet, the way that only a child can be. Meanwhile, her father is abusive, particularly to her mother. He's raw, like an exposed nerve, constantly on edge. It's only a matter of time before he goes too far.

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This is part of what makes the dollhouse so warm and welcome. It's a peaceful place full of happy people who care about Alice. To her, it's a nice change to her home life. To the outside world (e.g. us as the readers), it's terrifying. There's clearly something sinister lurking within this dollhouse, so I'm basically shouting at the comic for Alice to stay out of there. We get a glimpse of what's hiding in there, although it's still very much hidden. My mind is racing with what kind of monsters call this place home.

Artists Peter Gross and Vince Locke add to the solid character development with some great design work. You can see the hard edge on Alice's father. He's all rough angles and sharp corners. Her mother is softer and nicer, but also more vulnerable. We don't see him actually hit her, but you see the aftermath and fill in the blanks.

Alice's story is only half of The Dollhouse Family. There's also a tale of Joseph Kent in 1826 exploring a strange cave. It's unclear how the two are connected, although I wonder if the dollhouse is made of the material Joseph finds down there. His arc is more than a little strange, but very intriguing. I'm very curious how his path will intersect with Alice's. It's just as unsettling as the main story.

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Colorist Cris Peter distinguishes the two time periods. Joseph's pages are a little faded, with earthy tones that coincide with his descent into the cave. Meanwhile, Alice has a brighter life in the dollhouse, which contrasts with the darker tone of her actual home. Letterer Todd Klein gets in on this too with an old-timey font used for Joseph and a more modern look for Alice.

The Dollhouse Family has a Neil Gaiman vibe to it, which is certainly not a bad thing. It captures the innocence of childhood and the dangers that can take advantage of that. Something horrifying is brewing here. I'm anticipating it with equal parts dread and excitement. This is a terrific addition to the Hill House Comics lineup.

Grades:

Story: Fourandahalfstars The Dollhouse Family 1 Small
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Art: Fourandahalfstars
Overall: Fourandahalfstars

About The Author
Spez Bio 2
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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