After Vertigo, Good Horror Returns to DC with The Dollhouse Family

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THE DOLLHOUSE FAMILY is the first Black Label title from DC I've seen that wasn't in a prestige format size. This makes me happy for more than one reason, but mostly because i don't always have to pay the price point necessary for the oversized prestige formatted books.

This comic is also what Andy Khouri should have been courting to the Vertigo line before it became a corpse so decayed it can't even be used for good fertilizer. Or perhaps Chris Conroy should have been given the editor's position earlier. But, it's fruitless to become lachrymose over upturned dairy, so let's take a forward-looking approach, because THE DOLLHOUSE FAMILY is a positive step forward for DC mature horror.

It's not a surprise the book is this good -- as good as Vertigo 1.0 titles were back in the day. The title is crafted and steered by M.R. Carey and Peter Gross, the same two talents who had such a successful run on this little thing called LUCIFER. THE DOLLHOUSE FAMILY is a proper blend of fantasy and reality, drawing the reader in almost immediately and pulling them inexorably through the most amazing tale until the skull-busting finale.

Young Alice receives an inheritance from her great aunt -- an antique dollhouse, done up in exacting detail, with five tiny realistic dolls inside it. Her father thinks they should have it appraised and sold, if it's worth anything, but Alice has already laid claim to it and it was specifically for her. As the story progresses, Alice is drawn more and more into the world of her dolls, while being completely aware all the while that her mother is being physically abused by her father. That's when she discovers the dolls don't just speak to her, but are actually alive, and able to be visited if you speak the magic words.

There's a bizarre history that leads up to why the dollhouse exists and how it came to be, and it goes back to the dawn of creation and meteoric giants crashing to Earth. It doesn't quite get to connecting to the more recent story arc (Alice's story takes place in the early 1980s, while other bits take place during the early 19th century), but not everything needs to be explained in the first issue -- just enough to make the reader come back for the second issue to discover a little bit more.

A horrific blend of CORALINE and THE INDIAN IN THE CUPBOARD, THE DOLLHOUSE FAMILY is a breakthrough in the comic book horror genre, the likes of which we haven't seen since Jamie Delano kicked off the first issues of HELLBLAZER. Highly recommended.

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0