Millennium: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest #1
Writer: Sylvain Runber
Translator: Rachel Zerner
Artist: José Homs
Letterer: Phillipe Glogowski
Publisher: Éditions Dupuis S.A.
Based on the books by: Steig Larson
A review by Brooke Ali
You could say that I’m a fan of the Millennium Trilogy. I’ve read the original three books and seen all the movies in both languages, so I was eager to see how the story is translated into the comic format.
One of the complaints I often heard about the original books was the writing style. As a journalist, Larson wrote the books in a more journalistic than literary style: very linear, with lots of info dumps and exposition. I know a lot of people who were put off by this style and couldn’t get passed even the first few chapters of the first book. The comic format isn’t hampered by this and is able to present the story in a way that is more pared down and engaging. For example, the opening scenes of the book, of Lisbeth Salander in the hospital, are gone and the comic opens with the much more gripping images of Alexander Zalachenko waking from his coma, covered in bandages from his fight with Lisbeth at the end of the second book.
The comic continues to follow the opening chapters of the book: Ronald Niedermann on the run, the reinstatement of The Section, Salander working to gather information on her old psychiatrist, Dr. Teleborian, and Mikael Blomkvist beginning to work covertly with the police to get justice for Salander. Other than a few minor changes, like adding a scene showing the fate of Salander’s first psychiatrist before her “care” was taken over by Dr. Teleborian, the comic follows the book faithfully.
The art style works really well with the material; a gritty, realist style that fits the mood. I especially like the way Homs illustrated the members of The Section; a more jowly bunch of old white guys you’d never hope to meet and exactly as I pictured them in my head when I was reading the books. I did find the illustration of female characters to be a bit male gaze oriented, and this took me out of the story as I read it. There’s one panel, as an example, where two men and a woman are watching a news report; the men are clearly visible, but the woman’s head is cut off by the TV, making her just a set of disembodied cleavage. The use of colour did a lot to highlight the characters places in society within the story; Salander’s panels are often dark and heavily shadowed while she is in hiding, while the meeting of The Section is almost washed out there’s so much light.
Buy it! I’ve always loved the third book (the courtroom scene at the end is just so satisfying!) and Runberg and Homs are doing an excellent job of bringing Larson’s story to the comics medium. I’m probably going to go back and read the first two books as done by them and I’m definitely looking forward to future issues of this one.