By Justin McCarty
From Titan Comics’ and Hard Case Crime we have the English translation of the most recent comic adaptation for the Millennium Series novels written by Stieg Larsson. This adaptation was written by Sylvain Runberg with art by Manuel Carot Gonzalez. It’s a sequel to The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo published earlier this year, which finishes up this October. With another novel in the series due out this month, Titan may have seen an opportunity to do an English translation of the acclaimed French comics adaptation.
We find our hero Lisbeth coming out of hiding and suddenly caught up in sex trafficking ring as Mikael Blomkvist tries to get back to the investigative journalism he is known for before the events of The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo. Lisbeth is on the run after being accused of a triple murder and must find the proof of her innocence before the evil Zala, the leader of the powerful biker gang that runs the sex trafficking ring, finds her.
I came into this comic only having seen the movie adaption of The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo that came out a few years ago. So I was free of any baggage that might have weighed down my opinion of this adaptation. I found I was not lost and feeling like I needed to know the events of the previous story to enjoy this one. It did help to have an idea of Lisbeth’s and Mr. Bjurman relationship in the first couple pages. This was a fun read. The subject matter could make this story a downer, but it doesn’t. It definitely falls into the hard boiled genre of comics, though, so don’t look for comic relief. That said, after the first few pages the story really gets to rolling and is hard to put down. Once I got to the last page, I very much wanted to know what happens next. At 68 pages the comic never feels long.
Let me preface my issues with this comic by saying I am not very familiar with French comics and how they customarily look and feel. The opening pages seem to suffer a little from pacing. There are a lot of panels per page. At 68 pages there are a lot of panels in the book. It’s possible that that’s just how French comics are done. I would have liked the book to slow down at certain points to allow me a little break here and there from all the information that has been presented to me. The pacing isn’t an issue for long, just in the first few pages. Once the story picks up, I stopped caring.
Just because there was an abundance of panels in this story does not mean Gonzalez’s layouts and art are not enjoyable. The layouts were easy to follow, they keep your eye moving and allow for every story beat to land just right. The linework is also a good fit for the story. The art is rich and detailed with just a touch of cartooning so not to be too realistic and hamper the flow of the story. The muted colors put the mood of the story in the right places, subliminally letting you in on the character’s inner feelings and setting the tone of the action and conflict. The colors were a major contributor to the sense of hard boiled especially in Lisbeth’s key scenes.
After the pacing issues of the opening pages of the story, I could not find a lot to complain about and what I did find wasn’t a problem for long. The elements gel as the story gets going. The lettering was the one consistent distraction for me. Even with the length of the book and the high panel count, there is a lot of text on some pages. The lettering is not given proper room to breathe. The balloons are inconsistent and suffer from not having much space to work with; it was, unfortunately, distracting.
This book is about empowerment and redemption. It is also worthy of the Hard Case Crime logo. The messages of the story come across loud and clear. I look forward to the next installment in the series. You should too.
The Girl Who Played With Fire #1
Titan Comics/Hard Case Crime