Dollhouse: Epitaphs written by Andrew Chambliss, Maurissa Tancharoen, and Jed Whedon is the first of what promises to be an interesting interjection to the short lives Dollhouse television series. When the technology created by Rossum Corporation goes viral, anyone and everyone can become a tabula rasa with only one goal: kill and keep killing. Only a few of the series regulars show up for the graphic novel which practically guarantees that there will be more story coming. Echo and Alpha as well as Mag and Zone are here but many others, including Topher, Adelle, Priya, and Victor, along with other familiar faces are not present in this graphic novel but some new faces are presented.
This is not a sequel. Rather, this story takes place before Epitaph One and crosses over into Epitaph Two a bit. For those of you who have never seen Epitaph One (such as yours truly) this is a welcome segue, offering some explanation and back story for characters that were suddenly introduced when I saw Epitaph Two. (see footnote) The characters are living in a post-apocalyptic type future where only a few have been untouched by the viral brain-wipe and are fighting for their lives, gradually finding one another, while trying to use the technology that is destroying humanity to save it.
Written by the same people who scripted the television series the artwork does a good job of evoking the tone of the story and the humor manages to find life on the page as effectively as it does on the screen. Anyone familiar with the Whedonverse will be delighted to see the emotional undercutting and quirky asides that are typical of his character creations. The various threads that were left dangling on the television show are clearly meant to be tied up in the comics, including the development of how some of the survivors manage to self-imprint and the significance of Haven.
This single graphic novel collects volumes 1-5 and the ending invites more issues. However, I cannot find anything online to suggest that more comics are coming. I hope so. I had misgivings about the show’s premise and felt that it was beginning to come into its own in the second season. I liked the twist on a typical dystopian society that seems so much more like our own than any other I’ve seen and I thoroughly enjoyed this post-apocalyptic pseudo-zombie world. Enjoyed it, in fact, more than I would have anticipated. Color me genuinely surprised and over-all pleased.
Footnote: Okay, just in case you’re confused, let me try to explain. Epitaph One should have aired at the end of Season One but it wasn't actually scheduled to be aired by Fox, developed, presumably, for the dvd release alone. When Dollhouse was abruptly canceled, either Joss Whedon or Fox decided to air Epitaph Two without ever having aired Epitaph One. Suddenly there were these characters I hadn’t seen before but somehow it wasn’t too difficult to get a handle on where/when the story was taking place nor to appreciate who these new people were, even without the individual back-stories. Which says a lot about the quality of the writing.