Review: Dollhouse – Epitaphs (One Shot)

Dark Horse released a one-shot issue for Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse, entitled “Epitaphs,” a few weeks ago and, uncharacteristically for me, I just now got around to reading it.  The issue is written by Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, who were staff writers on the show as well.  If you picked up season 2 of Dollhouse on blu-ray and/or dvd then you probably will have already read about half of this issue.  As an exclusive to the sets, they released “Epitaphs” in a mini-comic and I remember reading it thinking it was interesting but hardly felt like a story and now I know why.  There was more to it and now, in full comic book form, we are treated to what is essentially the teaser issue for the upcoming 5-issue miniseries that will begin with Dollhouse #1 on July 13, 2011.

The issue follows characters we have seen before, Zone and Mag, from the Epitaph episodes of Dollhouse, as well as a few new ones.  The story starts literally minutes before the world goes to shit.  We get to see just a glimpse of who these characters were before the phones start ringing and wiping people’s brains.  The rest of the issue (I won’t be going into plot details as I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t read this yet) could have easily been an episode of the tv series and quite frankly, I think that is it’s biggest compliment.  There is no adjustment period going from tv to the comic medium here.  You open the issue and you are back in that world.  One of the strongest things about Whedon’s tv shows has always been the development of his characters.  Right off the bat, we get to know just a few things about these characters and for me it instantly invests me in their survival.  Now, granted, I’ve seen some of them before on the show, but nevertheless, attention to character is not lost in this one-shot.  Fans of the show will be treated to a few surprises, one of which is the reveal of the character that we will be seeing more of in the miniseries and I’m sure most fans will be plenty pleased to be able to see more of the character.

Cliff Richards is the artist for the issue.  Richards is no stranger to Whedon’s work as he has done work on the Buffy comics.  I think he does a good job here.  He handles emotion and action pretty well and the look of the book plays well into the aesthetic of the show.  He does a good job with the likenesses of Felicia Day and Zach Ward and the mystery character mentioned above.  The art looks like the actors but never slaves to make sure that they always look perfectly like them.  After all, this is a comic book, you should be able to recognize the actors but allow the artist to have some freedom.

This issue is a great start to the comic continuation of Dollhouse.  I’m looking forward to the miniseries which will be written by Jed and Maurissa and another staff writer from the show, Andrew Chambliss.  I highly recommend reading this issue (and the upcoming miniseries), especially if you are fan of the show.

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