Publisher: DC (Hill House Comics Imprint)
Writer: Mike Carey
Artwork: Peter Gross, Vince Locke
Colours: Cris Peter
Lettering: Todd Klein
Release Date: 11th December 2019
Alice has done a bad thing. A very bad thing…
Lost in grief and fear, Alice is taken to an orphanage after her mother takes responsibility for her father’s death. When the Dollhouse mysteriously appears in her dorm room, Alice soon learns that this supposed place of safety and compassion is actually anything but.
In my review of issue one I said that this was very much a love letter to Locke & Key, but this latest chapter emphatically proves that The Dollhouse Family is an entirely different creature with its own mark to stamp on the world. Still very reminiscent of the horror comics of the ‘80s and early ‘90s, the same influences of Neil Giaman, Alan Moore and Garth Ennis are more than evident. However, Mike Carey’s own voice is much stronger in this issue, taking those influences and shaping them into something dark and disturbing – a horror story with the potential to become an epic series.
The expansion of Joseph’s story brings more insight into the mysterious family living in the dollhouse, as well as giving us another brief glimpse of our antagonist almost appearing as Grendel’s Mother in voice and deed. There are a lot of layers to Carey’s narrative, the stark horror of reality blending seamlessly with the fantastical, supernatural world of Cordwainer and his family.
What’s also great about this story is that upside of the fantastical, the ordinary real world that Alice lives in is very believable, and in some ways much darker than the world she hides in. Her fears in the real world and her hopes for rescue ultimately lead her to make the same mistake over and over again by trusting the voice in the black room, possibly hoping that ultimately, she will get her wishes fulfilled if she just tries hard enough?
Peter Gross and Vince Locke’s artwork once again exemplifies the best of ‘80s and ‘90s horror storytelling, but adds a level of detail that really draws you into the page. There’s a particularly fascinating full page “artists impression” of the inside of the doll house that has some intriguing notes and images that hint at aspects of the story that we have yet to be introduced to.
Gross and Locke effortlessly switch between Alice’s world, Joseph’s world and the world of the dollhouse, managing to give each their own style without it jarring and taking you out of the story. There are a couple of moments in this issue that really caught me off guard, and without giving too much away, there is a single panel where the dollhouse takes on a horribly, suggestively organic aspect in the vein of Junji Ito or David Cronenberg, but the last page is all Carpenter.
This series is just getting better and better and in just two brief issues has already hit my top recommendations of 2019! Seriously people, get out there and buy The Dollhouse Family!
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek