Millennium: The Girl Who Danced with Death by Sylvain Runberg & Belen Ortega When a character passes securely into the popular imagination, even the death of the creator does not necessarily write finis to their adventures. Stieg Larsson may be no longer with us, but his imperishable creation — Goth hacker (and ruthless righter of wrongs) Lisbeth Salander — is currently being given a new life in a series of books written by Larsson’s fellow Swede David Lagerkrantz. The latter sequence has generally been well received, although there are those who have objected to the very notion of Salander books written by someone other than the anti-heroine’s originator — but such objections seem curious, given that Sherlock Holmes, James Bond and many others have had new outings created for them by subsequent generations of writers. The latest sally in this trend is the graphic novel Millennium: The Girl Who Danced with Death by Sylvain Runberg & Belen Ortega, a venture that shows a canny understanding of how Larsson regarded his brutal heroine and her friend (and sometime assistant), the journalist Mikael Blomkvist. Given the sexuality and violence of the original trilogy, it’s something of a surprise that this particular version – appearing on the very adult imprint Hard Case Crime — is relatively discreet about of these aspects, a reticence that may disappoint some, despite the accomplished plotting. Lisbeth Salander is preparing to hack a gigantic data centre and expose the Swedish secret service’s secret files. Unfortunately, nothing is simple, and Lisbeth once again finds herself in need of Mikael Blomkvist’s help when her friend Trinity is kidnapped. In a world of conspiracy and mistrust, their investigation soon leads them to the obscure group known only as ‘Sparta’. While one might wish that an illustrator with the accomplishment of, say, Neal Adams had worked on the strip, Belen Ortega’s straightforward work is perfectly efficient.
Millennium: The Girl Who Danced with Death by Sylvain Runberg & Belen Ortega is published by Titan Comics/Hard Case Crime
Mr Miracle by Tom King and Mitch Gerads The late, great Jack Kirby’s return to DC comics (after an invitation by the then-publisher, Carmine Infantino) may have sadly petered out, but in his relatively brief (but prolific) return, the greatest of all comics illustrators managed to create his remarkable Fourth World series, introducing a variety of characters and concepts that accrued real longevity and are still in use today — in fact, they function better when isolated from Kirby’s wildly inspired but overwritten scripts. One of Kirby’s most striking creations was his gaudily clad escape artist Scott Free, better known as Mr Miracle, and this new take on the character from the creative team of Tom King and Mitch Gerads takes Kirby’s hero in a surreal direction (a notably damaged one) that the King of comics could not have have anticipated. Scott Free is the definitive escape artist, leaving the grotesque planet Apokalips to journey across space and set up life on Earth with his formidable Amazonian wife Big Barda. Kirby’s original scripts were decidedly quirky, but nothing like as idiosyncratic as here, with the unorthodox spin on the characters set out in a format which is straitjacketed into an unvarying nine identically-sized panels per page. This visual technique – which ensures that every image has equal weight and that there are no big dramatic panels in the Kirby manner — will not be to everyone’s taste, and neither will the elliptical writing and plotting of Tom King. Nevertheless, this bizarre and intriguing new take on Jack Kirby’s creation has had its keen admirers.
Mr Miracle by Tom King and Mitch Gerads is published by DC comics