Lisbeth Salander and Vertigo Play with Fire

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Adapted from the novel by Steig Larsen of the same name, The Girl Who Played with Fire is now a disturbing but through-provoking graphic novel from Vertigo Press. Adapted by Denise Mina, the story follows Lisbeth Salander as she seeks to stop the female trafficking market and confront the dark nature of her past. Mikael Blomkvist, the famed journalist from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, is also back. Working with an undercover journalist named Dag, the Millennium press is working to publish a book on Human Trafficking in an attempt to stop the destructive process. Unfortunately for those working for the press, the book identifies many key officials and journalists who use the services of the trafficked women. These men are dangerous and are willing to kill to keep their names from the pages of the book.

Denise Mina’s adaptation is a strong representation of the original book. One concern was the amount of times that the media in the book had to point out that Lisbeth was a lesbian. It is unfortunate, as this is a fairly accurate representation of the world media struggling to associate murderous criminality with female sexuality. Lisbeth in a few pages is villainized for being a lesbian, slandered as a Satanist and even has her foster father say he thinks she has Asperger’s Syndrome.  The feeling the rest of the book gives is that Lisbeth has just been so broken by her disturbing childhood and rapist social worker that she snapped and began to use her skills to call out those who would continue to hurt women.

Andrea Mutti , Antonio Fuso and Leonardo Manco do some stellar, yet highly disturbing artwork in this graphic novel. Attacks on women, and men, are prevalent through the entire graphic novel. These attacks are a key piece of the story, but it does not make them any easier to view. Smashed faces, abused women and Lisbeth getting beaten to a pulp are all painful images.

The Girl Who Played with Fire answers the dark questions behind the existence of Lisbeth Sanders as well as confronting the world of illegal human trafficking and the greed of those in power.

The Girl Who Played With Fire is available from Vertigo June 3, 2014.

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