Publisher: DC (Hill House Comics Imprint)
Writer: Mike Carey
Artwork: Peter Gross, Vince Locke
Colours: Cris Peter
Lettering: Todd Klein
Release Date: 8th January 2020
“It goes faster now”.
In 1828, a mysterious Dollhouse appears for the first time at Arthur’s house, coinciding with the funeral of his wife and a dire warning from a holy man. Flash forward to 1998 and Alice at College. Flash forward to 2005 and Alice as a mother and with a successful career. Flash forward to The Dollhouse returning to haunt Alice and her daughter. Half glimpsed horrors, things that shouldn’t be, omens and signs; the entity in the black room is coming for Alice and her daughter, and its pace is quickening!
Unusually for me, I’m at a bit of a loss for words. I have eulogised at length about the writing and the art in this series and I am not sure I can say a lot more about The Dollhouse Family without repeating myself or having to employ someone to create new superlatives for me. This issue brings us more background, character development and plot progression than the previous two issue combined and the pace is, as suggested above, quickening in a very satisfying way.
There is a real feeling of something huge and terrible in the offing, and it’s just on the edge of our senses, tantalisingly close. Issue three marks the half way point in this six-issue series and with no sign of even the slightest flaw in this masterpiece, it looks like Carey, Gross, et al are set to deliver a story that will be the equal, if not the master, of anything Vertigo produced at its peak (see, I told you I’d start repeating myself).
The downside of all this is that inevitably, and all too soon, this series will come to an end, and that is something I would like to put off for as long as is humanly possible, because it really is that good! Seriously, I’m not exaggerating, I’m not just trying to fill a word count, I don’t have a vested interest in this book being successful, it just really is, in my humble (feel free to laugh) opinion, shaping up to be one of the best horror comics of the last decade.
To try and offer something new to my ramblings on this tale I’d like to take a moment to touch on one of the themes of the story I’ve only briefly discussed before. While I’m not sure that this story strictly falls under the banner of Lovecraftian, there are definitely eldritch and cosmic horrors at work. The intelligences behind the scenes being are akin to Stephen King’s creations Pennywise and The Turtle, and the Dollhouse itself is reminiscent of Joe Hill’s Inscapes.
This is a theme I have discussed in the other titles in the Hill House series. There is, to a greater or lesser extent, something of the worlds that both King and Joe Hill have built. If you look at the map of the inscapes, Pennywise’s Circus Is clearly mapped, as is the Locke House, there are also unmapped areas which these stories could easily flesh out. With Basketful of Heads, the references and themes are glaringly, gloriously obvious, but with The Dollhouse Family it’s far subtler. I have a hope, that somewhere down the line we do get to see all these worlds come together.
If you haven’t already picked up an issue of this series, you’re really missing out. If you’re a fan of Sandman or Hellblazer then this is for you. If you’re a fan of dark, creeping insidious dread in your horror then this is for you. If you’re a fan of Stephen King or Joe Hill then this is for you. I have no qualms at all in giving this series a five-star rating so far, and I sincerely look forward to continuing to do so.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek