I’ve only ever watched the first season of the show Dollhouse produced by Joss Whedon and starring frequent collaborator (and overall kickass chick) Eliza Dushku, who starts as Echo, one of the “dolls” in a facility that programs applicants to take on a different identity for each assignment that they’re called to do. I thought the show had a decent concept, especially as some of the “dolls” became more suspicious of the facility and programmers, especially Echo. With that in mind, I thought the graphic novel might have an interesting storyline, especially since some graphic novel adaptations of television shows, like Dark Horse’s Buffy comics, offer some more intriguing takes on things the show couldn’t necessarily execute.
The cover of Dollhouse: Epitaphs #3 depicts a sign calling for the termination of Echo, which is an interesting enough hook in and of itself, but it gets even more interesting as the first page explains that the same technology that wipes the minds of “dolls” clean and re-programs them for specific missions has gone viral and is wiping the minds of everyone it reaches, turning them into mindless killers. This poses big problems for some of the rebel “dolls,” including their leader, Alpha, who sees Echo as his one hope to destroy the technology that wipes and re-programs “dolls.”
The story starts with two “dolls” who are on the hunt for Echo and want to find her before the people after her do. They find someone who they think is a “butcher,” but it turns out he’s another rebel “doll” who has been looking for Echo. She leaves behind ciphers that, when the lines are connected on, point to the direction of the next cipher.
Alpha is still suffering from inner turmoil from being imprinted with so many different templates, which effectively splits him into good Alpha and evil Alpha. This added a nice dimension to this storyline and added even more pressure to find Echo, especially because he’s obsessed with her and has psychopathic tendencies.
There’s still time for some humor, which comes off as a nice break from the hunting part. As it turns out, the “doll” named Zone imprinted Echo with all the different personalities she has, and says he did it because he was lonely and wanted to turn Echo into someone more like him.
Things take a turn for the even more interesting when Paul enters the picture and reveals that there may be some doubts as to the authenticity of the ciphers that Echo has been leaving behind. And the issue ends on a cliffhanger that will be resolved in Issue 4. Although Echo doesn’t actually appear in this issue, it’s still cool to see that her centrality to the storyline remains and that more people are affected by the damage of being imprinted and turned into mad killers.
Fans of the show may struggle to remind themselves who’s who and what’s going on with the story arc, but it’s an enjoyable read.