the girl with the dragon tattoo #1

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a 2005 Swedish novel. Since then, it has garnered critical acclaim, spawned two film series adaptations (including an American film with Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara), novel spin-offs and two graphic novel adaptations. In 2012, DC published their own version. It felt flat and lifeless at times and was often hard to follow. In contrast, Hard Case Crimes’ THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO #1 is a beautiful, heartfelt adaptation to the Swedish mysteries. It takes the first big chunk of Stieg Larsson’s original novel and renders it with plenty of skill and faith.

A Convoluted Story Made Simpler

Courtesy of Hard Case Crime

The story of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO #1 is multi-faceted. Mikael Blomkvist’s career as an investigative journalist is on thin ice as a scandal surrounding defamation brews. He’s an interesting but rather muted man who can’t seem to escape drama. In contrast, Lisbeth Salander is a freelance hacker, investigator, and all-around BA. Adorned with various piercings and an uncontrollable haircut, she’s what really made this story unique back in 2005. She is the titular “girl” with the dragon tattoo. Lisbeth is a force to be reckoned with. She’s also a seemingly unending source of great one-liners. She steals every scene she’s in, especially in this graphic novel.

WATCH: Want more strong female characters? Check out Intellectual Property’s episode on female representation!

An older gentleman, fed up with a past mystery that he never resolved, contacts Blomkvist to help him solve a case that happened decades ago. From there, the mystery seems to grow more and more complicated with a vast range of characters. In the original novel, I had trouble keeping up with the large cast. In THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO #1, it was easier to follow and understand what was going on. Still, this isn’t a comic to flip through and skim. It’s best for you to devour slowly, making a note of all the details, characters, and storylines as they come.

Although I must add, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO #1 is not for the faint-hearted. This comic depicts and talks about rape, murder, and abuse. However, I feel like the creators planned every disturbing event in this comic. These moments aren’t there for shock value or twists. Instead, they shine a light on real problems while shaking up the reader enough so that they care.

It Took Me 3 Tries to Get Through The Original Novel

Courtesy of Hard Case Crime

It’s true. It took me three separate tries, about a year apart, to parse through Larsson’s original novel. It wasn’t, and still isn’t, a book I recommend. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was slow, dense, and uninteresting. But strangely, everything I felt that novel did wrong, this adaptation got right. Just like some people like the movie more than the book (blasphemy to my ears), I enjoyed THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO #1 far more than its source material. It plays like a well-directed movie, able to take risks with imagery and dialogue that a purely written book cannot.

READ: Want more gritty stories by Hard Case Crime? Check out our review of PEEPLAND!

The image above begins this comic. Here, you can already tell the creation of each shot is deliberate. Homs, the artist, executes each scene brilliantly. The writer, Sylvain Runberg, and Homs make a great pair. It seems like they worked together closely in order to bring complicated panels to life. The colors are fantastic, as they change with the atmosphere of every scene, allowing the reader to easily keep track of the various characters, stories, and subplots running throughout THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO #1. Homs also manages to bring out fantastic subtle expressions and moods in every character. Though there have been other depictions of Lisbeth that I enjoyed, Homs’ character design is captivating and faithful to her novel counterpart.


Courtesy of Hard Case Crime

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO #1 takes a tough source material and makes it into something readable and exciting. The art is gorgeous. It works beautifully with a fantastic color scheme that sucks you into the story. While the creators can’t take credit for the original plot, the execution is what makes this comic fantastic. From beginning to end, I could barely find any flaws in its creation, which is hard to say for many works in the graphic medium. With this, Hard Case Crime adds another winner to their growing collection of quality mystery and crime comics.

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO #1 by Sylvain Runberg and Homs
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO #1 is, to me, better than the actual book, a feat rarely accomplished. It has also sold me on Hard Case Crime as a quality publisher who can spot and work with great artists and writers.
97 %
A Fantastic Adaptation

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