Broken House, Inside And Out: The Dollhouse Family #1 Reviewed

by Josh Davison

Mild Spoilers Ahead
Millions of years ago, an object struck the Earth. In 1979, it’s given to Alice Dealey as a dollhouse by a great aunt she never knew she had. The relationship between Alice’s Mom and Dad is bad and only turns violent in the years that follow. In that time, Alice discovers that the dolls in her dollhouse are alive, and Alice herself can shrink down and play with the dolls in the house. In 1826, Joseph Kent is surveying the land in Ireland, and he discovers a glowing cave while doing so. He explores the cave and gets lost for days before discovering a woman and a giant. 
In the backup story, the Sea Dogs discern a way aboard the HMS Havoc.

The Dollhouse Family #1 cover by Jessica Dalva
The Dollhouse Family #1 cover by Jessica Dalva

The Dollhouse Family #1 is the second horror title to come out of DC’s Hill House imprint, this one centering on a girl who is granted a magical dollhouse while her family begins to fall apart.
It’s a tale of growing tragedy; Alice loves her parents, but a bad temper and economic strain has turned her dad into a cruel and violent man. The dollhouse provides an escape for Alice, but something ancient and eldritch lies within it.
The story is actually from the perspective of whatever entity inhabits the dollhouse. That is the reason given for the narrative jumping between the early 1980’s and 1826. It does not perceive time as we do, so it’s memories of these two events blend.
Alice is an odd girl, but we don’t learn too much of her yet. She’s more of an archetype of a quirky girl in a breaking family. This first issue is more focused on the dollhouse and its history than exploring the character of Alice. That said, we do still learn a bit about her from her reactions and interactions to the dollhouse and its family.
The Sea Dogs chapter is especially brief in this issue and does little to advance the story.
Peter Gross’ artwork is brilliant and does a lot to flesh out the characters of this story through expression and body language. The shading and texturing helps build the unnerving atmosphere of the world within. Cris Peter’s color work gives a dim yet sickly atmosphere to the world of the comic, and it looks fantastic. Dan McDaid and John Kalisz once again do some great work with the Sea Dogs chapter too.
The Dollhouse Family #1 is a chilling first step into the world of this magical dollhouse. We meet Alice, her family, and the entity that is about to disrupt their lives. It’s a solid premise bolstered by good dialogue and a discomforting atmosphere, and I’m left wanting to know where it goes from here. This comic is worth a recommendation. Check it out.
The Dollhouse Family #1 comes to us from writers M.R. Carey and Joe Hill, artists Peter Gross with Vince Locke; and Dan McDaid, color artists Cris Peter and John Kalisz, letterers Todd Klein and Wes Abbot, cover artist Jessica Dalva, and variant cover artist Jay Anacleto with Ivan Nunes.
Final Score: 8/10

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