Vertigo Comics needed to die for its spirit to live again. DC’s mature readers imprint shuttered at the end of last year, but other lines like Black Label, Sandman Universe, Young Animal, and the newly created Hill House Comics fill the void with stories that offer fresh takes on existing DC IP along with new ideas rooted in fantasy, crime, and horror genres. Hill House Comics, curated by best-selling writer Joe Hill, has had a particularly excellent debut. Hill’s Basketful Of Heads with artist Leomacs and colorist Dave Stewart is an extremely tense home invasion thriller that evolves into something much stranger, and The Low, Low Woods brings acclaimed novelist Carmen Maria Machado to comics for a surreal horror story with striking artwork by Dani and colorist Tamra Bonvillain.
The Dollhouse Family reunites the creative team of writer Mike Carey and artist Peter Gross, who worked together on Vertigo classics like Lucifer and The Unwritten. They’ve developed outstanding chemistry over the years, and their latest miniseries shows just how well they understand horror storytelling as they take readers into a haunted dollhouse possessed by a demonic being hungry for blood. The dollhouse has followed Alice since she was a little girl, leaving a disastrous impact on her life by taking advantage of her childhood trauma. And as Alice grows up, she learns that the dollhouse isn’t done with her yet.
This exclusive preview of this week’s The Dollhouse Family #3 jumps between Alice’s experience as an adult woman and past events surrounding the Victorian family the dollhouse is modeled after. Jessica Dalva’s covers play an essential role in the storytelling, creating evocative sculptures that show what the dollhouse and its residents look like in three dimensions. The different time periods highlight Gross’ design skills and ability to immerse readers in a specific environment, and Vince Locke heightens all the detail with scratchy inks that add texture. The final page uses intense hatching to create the sense of Alice being consumed by darkness as she makes a terrifying discovery during surgery, a feeling enhanced by colorist Cris Peter draining the color from the background.