Comics: The Girl That Kicked The Hornets Nest - Reviewed

New from Titan Comics

Our story begins in a dimly lit hospital room. An anonymous figure, bandaged top to toe, awakes in a sweat. He utters a name, fists clenched: "Lisbeth". Curiosity peaked? Good, strap in.

Based on the novel trilogy by Stieg Larsonn, written by Sylvain Runberg and drawn by Jośe Homes, this Swedish thriller ticks all the right boxes. This story has a great pedigree, as this is the third of the series. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2005) and The Girl Who Played With Fire (2006) are its predecessors. There now exists a book, a graphic novel and a movie series for this epic tale. I am relieved to inform you that they are using the term remastered literally.

Lisbeth, a rebel with a cause, still healing from a fresh bullet wound to the cranium, is fighting for her future. A victim of sex trafficking and unimaginable abuse, she holds vital information that could expose a degenerate right winged governmental collective called "The Section". Herself, the media and a divided government must battle it out for supremacy.

You wouldn't conceive a political crime thriller being set in Sweden. Normally known for its civil neutrality; not somewhere you would expect to see political conspiracy, hacking, espionage and gory murders. Behind closed doors the morally bankrupt scheme, plot and manipulate. Sweden's sordid underbelly is flipped on its back, its soft exterior exposed to the reader.

I once read that Tim Burton based his entire style from one dead tree. If this is a running theme for talented artists, then Homes must have based his style on an old farm barn. The deep, once vibrant colors, now faded and ridged with age. Skin, wood, brick and fabrics culminate to make a consistent high quality environment. Jet blacks and dull protruding yellows bring cityscapes to life. In the characters wooden homes; rich reds and browns look almost etched into the paper. Every one of these urban scenes are enriched with texture.

The textures within Homes's art are only fifty percent of what makes it great, if that wasn't enough. It is the intimate composition that carries the other fifty percent. The body language, facial expressions and character interactions are particularly strong. There is one frame that encapsulates this perfectly. Our protagonist is strangling someone. Her arm is pushed into the foreground, whilst both of their shadows are silhouetted against the wall in the background. I've never had my eyes drawn and focused to two separate instances of the same frame before in such a way. It speaks of the talent being showcased.

You are being subconsiously invited to evaluate the characters in each of his frames. In this way, Homes manages to build a connection between them and the reader swiftly, which is a necessity, due to the comparitively gradual plot. An early bond between reader and character was delivered by Homes, creating great synergy between artist and writer.

The story itself can seem convoluted and hard to follow at times. This is more likely do to my late arrival, as opposed to it being the authors fault, as I did not read the two previous titles prior to writing this review. This is a book for adults. If I ever need evidence that graphic novels are serious pieces of literature than this (and at close second, Mause) would be my proof. This is not only a great story, but a mature portrayal of human behavior.

As the plot matures it becomes easier to follow. Each individual sub plot culminates into one masterfully choreographed conclusion. Its many cogs turning towards one triumphant finish. Despite its dark themes, this book has a point to make that is ultimately uplifting. If you are looking for a book to sink your teeth into, to be invested in, than this is for you. If you're wanting a light hearted quick fix, then this isn't your book.

It's strong art style, complicated (but ultimately effective) plot and intense themes make this book one of my top 5 reads. Join me in my excitement, get this book, you won't regret it!

-Daniel Roberts