TITLE: Dollhouse: Epitaphs
AUTHORS:  Andrew Chambliss, Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen
PENCILLERS: Cliff Richards
COLLECTS: Dollhouse #1-5
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics
PRICE: $18.99
RELEASED: April 11, 2012

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

That’s right folks, before he sat in the director’s chair for that big Avengers movie, Joss Whedon played with dolls.

Quick history lesson: Dollhouse was a Whedon-created television series that aired for two seasons on Fox between February 2009 and January 2010. The premise was that the evil Rossum corporation was running several underground “dollhouses” around the world, which rented out human beings, or “actives” to wealthy clients. Having had their original memories wiped, the amnesiacs would be assigned new memories and skills for each assignment. The series followed Echo, played by Eliza Dushku, who over time developed a memory of her various assignments, and eventually develops a sense of self and turns against Rossum. Among the cast of characters along for the ride was Alpha, played by Alan Tudyk, a serial killer turned active who was accidentally imprinted with 48 distinct personalities, and is obsessed with Echo. Though short-lived, the series gained a cult following, which Dark Horse is obviously hoping to appeal to with Epitaphs. They even brought in series mainstays to write the story.

Epitaphs sees the dollhouse technology go viral via a mind-wiping phone call to the masses. Ergo, much of the population now consists of savage, mindless zombies. Now, Alpha, Mag, Zone and the various dolls inhabited by the savvy Ivy must fight to survive. Along for the ride is young Trevor, on whom Alpha bestows the ability to upload and various talents and quirks into his brain, much like he and Echo can. All the while Echo is MIA, a problem Alpha looks to rectify.

Full disclosure: I’ve never seen Dollhouse. But this book definitely reads like a Joss Whedon story, with Joss Whedon characters that look like Joss Whedon actors (most notably Eliza Dushku and Alan Tudyk). To that extent, I imagine it’s a great deal like the show, especially with some of the original creators involved.

But for a newcomer such as myself, the premise can be a bit hard to follow. In addition to keeping all these different characters straight and the different abilities they have. The situation with the various Ivy bodies was rather confusing at times, and there’s a scene where two of them become attracted to each other that I found more disturbing than anything else.

Still, I found myself caring about Alpha and Trevor. While the details were confusing, the zombie survival aspect of the book was easy to follow, and very dramatic. I was also a big fan of Cliff Richards’ work here. His faces are very distinct and lifelike, which is especially important considering these characters were once played by real people.

Dollhouse: Epitaphs was a decent read, assuming you have a computer next to you so you can look up the various characters. But considering this book is meant for fans of the series, you’ll have to take that statement for what it’s worth.

RATING: 6.5/10

Front page image from ifanboy.com. Interior image from tfaw.com.