REVIEW: ‘The Dollhouse Family,’ Issue #5 (of 6)

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Dollhouse Family #5

The Dollhouse Family #5 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 picks up after the shocking events of issue four, where we saw Alice’s daughter give into the Dollhouse in order to restore her mother’s lost leg. Now, in The Dollhouse Family #5, the Dollhouse has taken away another piece of Alice’s soul but this time she’s not running away and is facing it head-on. This time she’s going to uncover the secret of the House’s terrible birth.

Throughout the series, we’ve learned small things about the Dollhouse. It’s connected to a demon, attached to Alice’s ancestors, and it has a mind of its own and will exert its power through violence and death as much as possible. For Alice’s part in this story, she lost her family as a child and stands to lose it again. As the penultimate issue of the mini-series, The Dollhouse Family #5 finally offers us concrete answers. While this issue stands a setup, it fairs far better than the last two because it offers more story elements as opposed to the shock value previous issues were relying upon on. It also finally makes the dual narrative structure feel like part of the same series.

This issue is interesting, connecting dots between the past and present which were too far apart in the preceding issues. The Dollhouse Family #5 pulls the ends of the story together and offers up an interesting look at the winding road that the Dollhouse took to get into Alice’s life. While Alice doesn’t have any huge moments of horror, the reveal of the Dollhouse’s origin is both intriguing and beautifully illustrated. With elements of body horror hinted at with the flesh backing of the housewe’ve seen in previous issues, the narrative choice for the Dollhouse’s background was well worth the wait.

Dollhouse Family #5

With one issue left, The Dollhouse Family #5 does a lot of heavy lifting but never once feels like it’s jumping the shark or overextending its exposition. The only fault is in the lettering on one page. As Alice reads a letter left for her in her inheritance, the letting switches to a style of cursive lettering stylized to look close to that which would be made by a fountain pen and written out by hand. Because of this, the highly stylized lettering is hard to read. In order to read the two passages, I needed to zoom in on my digital copy to see what it said and use the small bit of exposition to continue in the story.

That said, Carey’s story has vastly improved from the previous issues and I’ve invested again while Gross and Locke’s art is disturbing and atmospheric when coupled with Peter’s colors. Overall, The Dollhouse Family #5 does the job a penultimate issue is supposed to go, it got me excited for the conclusion, which was all I wanted it to do.

The Dollhouse Family #5 is available wherever comics are sold.

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The Dollhouse #5
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TL;DR

The Dollhouse Family #5 does the job a penultimate issue is supposed to go, it got me excited for the conclusion, which was all I wanted it to do.