DC Comics’ new horror imprint Hill House Comic, made in partnership with horror favorite Joe Hill, has delivered chills since it began in October and, in The Dollhouse Family #2, it’s continuing to knock horror out of the park. Last issue, we saw little Alice discover that her new toy—a dollhouse and its dolls—is more than just that. In true Through the Looking Glass fashion, Alice is taken into the dollhouse and uses it as a way to escape the very real familial trauma that her abusive father is putting them through. Issue number one ended with Alice getting revenge on her dad, as the pacing was turned up to an eleven.
Now, in The Dollhouse Family #2, writer M.R. Carey, artist Peter Gross and Vince Locke, colorist Cris Peter, and letterer Todd Klein have dialed up the horror as Alice’s life is shattered after listening to the Dollhouse. With her father dead, her mother going to prison for her actions, and a bully tormenting her at her orphanage, Alice’s life is a traumatic blend of fear and longing. Choosing not to speak, even though the words are ringing in her head, Carey writes a beautiful portrait of Alice and trauma while Gross and Locke’s art and layouts present a feeling of darkness and isolation. When the house calls to Alice again, her decision to say no to its proposition further propels her story into death while the secondary story finally meets the main one.
The strength of The Dollhouse Family #2 lies in Carey’s characterization of Alice and how he crafts the dialogue around her as well as how the scenes she exists in feels like that, simply existing. There is a darkness to the art that hangs over the story and propels the tension that a good horror story needs. Additionally, the supernatural moments don’t overwhelm the otherwise quiet character study, instead, they live under the surface, coming in strong at the end of the issue and leaving me needing issue number three.
Additionally, the secondary story line which saw a man end up in a cave with a mysterious woman has moved forward and connected in a way that I didn’t expect, leaving room for exploration in the next four issues of the mini-series. While the issue relies on dialogue, there are small moments that are wonderfully done. When Alice receives devastating news about her mom, the rug is pulled out from under her.
As the social worker begins explaining, her words slowly fade in color until there is nothing but white empty speech balloons and a lonely and devastated Alice on the page. Illustrating that moment of the script was perfectly handled by Klein and stands out as one of my highlights in comics this year.
Now two issues in, the min-series is shaping up to be wonderful. That said, I fully hope that there is more about the Dollhouse, more about the magic, and just more about Alice in the next issues. With that being said, The Dollhouse Family #2 is a solid entry with a great ending moment. It’s hard to do, but each issue has so far ended conclusively. The single issues work entirely by themselves as stories, while also leaving enough thread for the next issue to hold onto when it picks back up.
The Dollhouse Family #2 is available where comics are sold.
The Dollhouse Family #2
The Dollhouse Family #2 is a solid entry with a great ending moment. It’s hard to do, but each issue has so far ended conclusively. The single issues work entirely by themselves as stories, while also leaving enough thread for the next issue to hold onto when it picks back up.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.