What magics can be found in an antique dollhouse? Your Major Spoilers review of The Dollhouse Family #1 awaits!
Writer: M.R. Carey
Layouts: Peter Gross
Finishes: Vince Locke
Colorist: Cris Peter
Letterer: Todd Klein
Editor: Chris Conroy
Publisher: DC Comics/Black Label
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: November 13, 2019
Previously in The Dollhouse Family: On Alice’s sixth birthday, her dying great-aunt sent her the birthday gift she didn’t know she always wanted: a big, beautiful 19th-century dollhouse, complete with a family of antique dolls. In no time at all, the dollhouse isn’t just Alice’s favorite toy… it’s her whole world. And soon, young Alice learns she can enter the house to visit a new group of friends, straight out of a heartwarming children’s novel: he Dollhouse family.
CURATED BY JOE HILL
This issue opens with a puzzling moment, as… something (?) falls from space and crashes into a huge crater, which then slowly heals into a lake over several million years. “Then, a little later” (heh), in the present day, a young girl named Alice recieves her inheritance from heretofore unknown deceased aunt: A massive, incredibly detailed dollhouse. It was created, the letter informs her, in 1828, and features a little family who lives inside. Alice’s mother is impressed with the level of detail in her daughter’s fantasy life, but it’s clear to the readers that there’s more than just a little girl’s imagination in play. When the dolls teach her a magic incantation that will shrink her down to come play with them in their tiny home, it’s clear that something truly supernatural is going on here. Unfortunately for little Alice, her abusive father continues to take his temper out on her mom, leading the Dollhouse Family (who, by the way, make it clear that they’re not related) to explain to her the existence of The Black Room, a remedy for bad behavior…
WITH MAGIC, THE RULES ARE IMPORTANT
The main story of Alice is intercut with flashhbacks to a man named Joseph explogin an underground cavern, which I’m sure will tie into whatever it is that made the Dollhouse sentient (or, made sentients into the people in a dollhouse?) but even that is still interesting. Even more impressively, Peter Gross is able to imbue those sequences with the same amount of life and expression that he does the intricate scenes in the Dollhouse (and the ones in the perfectly normal present-day home.) Carey’s script feels like classic Vertigo, which makes sense given that M.R. Carey is the writer behind ‘Lucifer’, the limited series adventures of Petrefax and a noteworthy run of ‘Hellblazer’ and the building tension is exquisite throughout the issue, leading up to a gut-punch last page. After ‘Basketful of Heads’ and this debut, I’m thinking I may have to check out any and all of the Hill House Comics, because these are right up my uncanny alley.
BOTTOM LINE: UNNERVING IN THE GOOD WAY
In short, The Dollhouse Family #1 is an amazing first chapter of a story that I want more of, featuring expressive art, a setting that’s somehow creepy and mundane all at once and a final page that I truly hope isn’t what it seems to be, earning a well-deserved 4 out of 5 stars overall. In a world where Vertigo has finally rung down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible, it’s nice to know that good macabre tales are still out here for those who aren’t too scared to seek them out.
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THE DOLLHOUSE FAMILY #1
I love me some 'Twilight Zone' and 'Tales From The Crypt', so this is right up my alley, but you may want to first gauge how you feel about neo-gothic horror stories.