REVIEW: ‘The Dollhouse Family,’ Issue #4 (of 6)

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Dollhouse Family #4

The Dollhouse Family #4 from DC Comics’ Black Label horror imprint Hill House Comics is written by M.R. Carey, with art from Peter Gross and Vince Locke, colors by Cris Peter and letters by Todd Klein. This issue shows Alice’s worst nightmare come true: the Dollhouse has returned. In the last issue, the story jumped forward in time and shows Alice raising her daughter alone, showcasing a bit of normalcy, of the mother and daughter at a play date, while also weaving two narratives together and building out why the Dollhouse is so focused on Alice.

Last issue also ended with Jenny, Alice’s childhood bully who was taken into the Dollhouse, possessing a white nationalist and has him perform an act of terrorism that leaves Alice and her daughter in the middle of it. When we see them again, in The Dollhouse Family #4, they’ve both lost a limb in the blast but kept their lives. After being in a coma for weeks we get to see Alice go through physical therapy and be reunited with Una’s father.

Additionally, we see more into the demon behind the Dollhouse and its pull on Alice’s ancestors in the past. Though this plot does more to confuse than to add to the narrative. While this dual narrative structure has continued throughout the mini-series, I’m currently frustrated with it. While Alice and Una are interesting and dynamic, everything else feels hollow around.  That being said, the events of this issue in their storyline are well-done and terrifying.

After 20 years, the Dollhouse offers Alice one more chance. Enter its halls and get Una’s hand back. And, for a third time, Alice refused to stay. The Dollhouse Family #4 also sets up a direct confrontation between Alice and Jenny, and yet, she still refuses. But then, the Dollhouse offers a choice to Una.

The art in this issue is intriguing still and like the others, it’s more pulp than refined and this works when Gross and Locke are illustrating Jenny. The most terrifying thing of this series so far, even outside skin walls and many-mouthed demons, is Jenny. She is a ghost child, more zombie in aesthetic than a child, and it works to create some of the more shocking visuals in the series, specifically as she sits on a railing or rises from the darkness. than anything. Overall the atmosphere of the dark and ominous moments of the book is perfectly set by Peter’s colors. There is a stark difference in the lighter moments of the story, ones of hope and rebuilding and the darker moments, where the Dollhouse makes its appearance.

Overall, I’m not as in love with The Dollhouse Family #4 as I have been in previous issues and I knew that would be hard after last issue’s ending. That said, the way this issue ends, with gloom and all the shock that I appreciate horror comics for, was satisfying. While the narrative is still uneven and I’m still lost when it comes to the historical moments in the issue, the series is still worth a read, if not to just see where it’s going.

The Dollhouse Family #4 is available where comics are sold.

Rating: 3.5/5

The Dollhouse Family #4
3.5

TL;DR

I’m not as in love with The Dollhouse Family #4 as I have been in previous issues and I knew that would be hard after last issue’s ending. That said, the way this issue ends, with gloom and all the shock that I appreciate horror comics for, was satisfying.