04th Jul2017

‘Millenium: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo #1’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Sylvain Runberg | Art by Homs | Published by Titan Comics/Hard Case Crime


Hard Case Crime have to date published some fantastic offerings, injecting a real sense of bringing something different to the table than most other publishers. Crime based yes, but also very cinematic, very stylised, and not afraid to take risks. This adaptation could be seen as a risk on two levels. Firstly, the Millenium books by author Stieg Larsson have already been adapted into graphic novel/ comic art form, most recently by DC Comics Vertigo imprint in 2012. Secondly, that wasn’t a great graphic novel, perhaps indicating the subtleties and nuances of the novel may be too hard to translate to the more visual graphic novel format. Let’s see what we’ve got then.

Firstly, cards on the table. I was not a fan of the original 2005 novel, although a lot of people were, and actually gave up on it. However, I did watch the two film adaptations, which I did quite enjoy, and am interested to see if this book can hold my attention. So, for those unfamiliar with any of the original source material or adaptations, ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo‘ is Lisbeth Salander, a tech whizz who essentially works as a freelance hacker and gatherer of information. She’s a pretty tough cookie, all punk/ goth/ emo and tons of sass. Our other main character is a down on his luck publisher, Mikael Blomkvist, who’s investigation of a disappearance from years ago throws the two together and opens a very bad can of worms.

We start as top investigative journalist Blomkvist has just a lost a court case in which a corrupt businessman has claimed he lied, and he had decided to leave his magazine, Millenium, to save it from the backlash. He is then hired by Henrik Vanger, (after being investigated and cleared by Lisbeth, who works for a security company) to investigate a family matter, a disappearance from many years ago of his young niece Harriet. It turns out that Mikael also has a connection, as Harriet was his babysitter when he was young, though no longer remembers this. Mikael is not sure he wants the job, but Vanger dangles in front of him something he can’t resist. He has something on Wennerstrom, the corrupt businessman, which will help Mikael restore his reputation.

Mikael moves to the Vanger island to start his investigation, under the pretence of writing a family history. Meanwhile, lots of other threads have been forming, some insights into Lisbeth’s life, an indication that a very sadistic murderer is at large. We soon discover the Vanger family is a little, er, unique. Harald, Henrik’s brother, was a Nazi and lives now as a recluse, and most of the others have a very dysfunctional relationship with each other. There may also be ties to a murder case from the 1940’s. Layer upon layer upon layer, skillfully weaved and slowly unravelled. Far too much detail and depth to be able to go into depth about, but by the issue’s end, Mikael thinks he has his first breakthrough, and Lisbeth has shown just why she is so tough, and such a survivor.

This is an excellent adaptation, the text and the art work fantastically well together to try and tell a very complicated story as straightforwardly as possible. The art certainly breathes life into these characters, with Homs using multiple panels per page to tell his story, but never making it feel too dense, too complicated to follow. Although in general the dialogue and text are the star, the art certainly does its bit with pacing and style.

Again, Hard Case doing what they do best, showcasing top class work. Very cinematic, very mature themes, and very skillfully written and drawn. Even though I ultimately know how this all plays out, I am still really interested in seeing how the creators take us there.

Looking forward to more of Lisbeth and Mikael soon.

**** 4/5


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