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The Adventures of Tintin: The Calculus Affair (Review)

To celebrate the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn in the United States later this month, I’ll be taking a look at some of nineties animated television show. Check back daily!

Note: This is our review of the animated episode, check out our review of the book here.

We’re just finished the more fantastical series of Hergé’s adventures, where he took his lead (and supporting cast) to the bottom of the ocean, to the heart of a lost Inca society and even to the moon itself. The animated series proved quite adept at handling these stories. The fact that Hergé’s two-part adventures translated to four-part feature-length episodes was just icing on the cake. However, I find myself wondering how the team will handle The Calculus Affair. It’s a relatively mature adventure, and it represents a point where the series became considerably more self-aware and reflexive. Given some of the changes made to earlier stories, I can’t help but wonder how the series will deal with these very different themes and ideas.

Tintin must have ticked off some important people in his time...

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Tintin: The Calculus Affair (Review)

In the lead-up to the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, I’m going to be taking a look at Hergé’s celebrated comic book character, from his humble beginnings through to the incomplete post-modern finale. I hope you enjoy the ride.

The Calculus Affair is an interesting little story that is one part suspense thriller, and another part mystery. In short, it’s almost the perfect cocktail to brew up a Cold War espionage thriller, which was exactly what Hergé was going for. It wouldn’t be too difficult to rework the adventure as a James Bond movie (in fact, it even features a sequence with our lead piloting a tank), but Hergé does a lot of work to ensure that the story never gets too heavily bogged down. Much like King Ottokar’s Sceptre, the story stands quite well as an examination of the time when it was written.

Another fine mess!

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Tintin: Explorers on the Moon (Review)

In the lead-up to the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, I’m going to be taking a look at Hergé’s celebrated comic book character, from his humble beginnings through to the incomplete post-modern finale. I hope you enjoy the ride.

The one thing I really admire about Explorers on the Moon is the fact that – for an adventure that takes the iconic boy reporter off te surface of the planet and launches him into outer space – it’s a remarkably low key affair. In fact, most of the book is devoted to nice character moments for the ensemble, and to explore some of the wonderful research Hergé did to put his story together. There’s no great mystery on the moon, none of the aliens that would later appear in Flight 714. Instead, Hergé seems to accept that launching his cast out of the planet’s atmosphere was enough of a radical deviation from the norm as it was. So what we get is a strange situation where Explorers on the Moon feels like one of the more grounded adventures in the series.

"Can you hear me, Major Tom?"

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Tintin: Destination Moon (Review)

In the lead-up to the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, I’m going to be taking a look at Hergé’s celebrated comic book character, from his humble beginnings through to the incomplete post-modern finale. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Destination Moon is an interesting entry in the Tintin canon, in that it really feels like Hergé’s relaxing just a bit. Since around about The Broken Ear (or even Tintin in America), most of Hergé’s stories have been relatively plot-driven, with a central mystery and a story built around solving that mystery. Destination Moon, on the other hand, is an adventure that feels far more episodic in nature, with Hergé taking a central plot (the race to land a man on a moon) and then building a variety of small adventures around it, from attempts to hijack a test rocket through to Professor Calculus’ amnesia and beyond. The story is somewhat leisurely plotted, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The author is clearly enjoying having a little bit more narrative freedom than he’s used to, and also having a great deal of fun taking a fantastical core concept and demonstrating how much research he’s put in.

It's out of this world...

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