Published by DC Comic Black Label’s horror imprint Hill House Comics, The Dollhouse Family has been bringing a Through the Looking Glass horror that is closing in on our main character. In The Dollhouse Family #2 we saw Alice, traumatized and silent after killing her father to save her mother at the end of the first issue. Now, In The Dollhouse Family #3, Alice has been left in an orphanage with bullies taking her opportunities at a normal family away, the Dollhouse helps her, pulling her tormentor into the house and closing out the issue on a cliff hanger of the impending doom to come while also mapping out why Alice is so special to the house in the first place.
Written by M.R. Carey, with art from Peter Gross, Vince Locke, colors by Cris Peter and letters by Todd Klein, we’re halfway through the series. The Dollhouse Family #3 jumps forward in time, past Alice’s childhood and into her adulthood as a mother herself. The comic now takes place as Alice raises her daughter alone. But of course, the Dollhouse has never forgotten the promise that she made and is still trying to bring her into its walls. But the twist this issue? Jenny, the bully from her childhood, the one who died in the orphanage, is hanging around as well, leading to a new twist in Alice’s life just when she thinks everything is working out.
The Dollhouse Family #3 continues to tell a dual narrative, weaving together the Dollhouse’s supernatural and possibly godly history. At the middle point of the series, Carey has dialed up the horror in the script, leaning completely into the otherworldly nature of the Dollhouse in the past and the future, using horror images of a house made of flesh, and more to drive the point home. This issue is strong because of how much it cranks up the tension and fear in our protagonist.
Now an adult with a child and a career, we have to watch as Alice is confronted with the Dollhouse as it chases her down, using Judy to do it. That being said, there is a choice in the issue that took me out of the story, especially as a person of color. In the last act of The Dollhouse Family #3, Judy moves a man to an act of violence that puts Alice and her daughter at the center of it.
To do so, Carey decides to make the man a racist, featuring a disturbing chat conversation that has deeply racist roots in history. It was hard to read. Even harder when Alice and her daughter, who is mixed, look to be victims of a hate crime. Then the issue ends.
While I applaud a good cliffhanger, this one uses racist language to show evil. While I agree, that racists like the one in this issue are in fact evil and capable of evil given my own experience and well, the news, this man, moved by a supernatural force, didn’t have to be. In fact, his racism could be replaced with nothing and the man still could have created an evil moment. It’s frustrating and shocking in the wrong way.
Overall, The Dollhouse Family #3 could have been the height of the series so far, but instead, it leaves me cautious to pick up another one at all. The supernatural horror is done well while the real-world terror is lazily inserted.
The Dollhouse Family #3 is available where ever comics are sold.
The Dollhouse Family #3
The Dollhouse Family #3 could have been the height of the series so far, but instead, it leaves me cautious to pick up another one at all. The supernatural horror is done well while the real-world terror is lazily inserted.
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.