Saturday, 6 December 2014

The Adventures of Tintin: The Shooting Star Review (Herge)

Before I read the final book in Charles Burns’ X’Ed Out Trilogy, I wanted to re-read Herge’s Tintin book, The Shooting Star, besides Burns’ first two books, to see if it would add anything to the overall experience. Having just finished The Shooting Star and from what I remember of Burns’ comics, there’s unfortunately no major connection besides the visual. It also turns out this Tintin book is pretty awful too - (not so) shockingly, my pre-teen self was wrong about this one (even though I didn’t remember a thing about it besides the cover)! 

A piece of a giant meteorite, the size of a small island, crash-lands in the Arctic Ocean with no environmental impact besides making the water around its immediate vicinity boiling hot. Nobody on Earth besides two organisations - a good one and a bad one - are interested in this event and, with Tintin, Snowy and Captain Haddock leading the good guys’ ship, they race each other to the crash site to claim any potential cosmic treasures laying around. 

For 50 pages of this 62-page book, it’s a very unremarkable adventure tale. As is his wont, Tintin stumbles across some scientists who instantly include him in their work and expedition, along with his talking dog and alcoholic sea captain (who should really be in jail, rather than appointed head of an expedition!). 

The bad guys attempt some laughable Whacky Races-type schtick to throw Tintin and co. off, like lighting a giant stick of dynamite and leaving it in the open for anyone to spot. There’s the usual slapstick from Snowy and Haddock (yup, whiskey and loquacious insults again), and everything once more falls to our bizarrely-looking plucky journalist hero to save the day. 

The only really interesting part of the book happens in the last dozen pages on the meteorite/island where Tintin and Snowy encounter what looks to be an egg which grows rapidly into an exploding mushroom. Some more surreal scenes follow before the book ends unsatisfactorily and much too conveniently with none of the questions surrounding the events on the meteorite answered. 

Looking at this alongside Burns’ X’Ed Out books (at least the first two), I suppose the surreality is something he would riff on in his books, along with some of the visuals, but there’s not much here to connect the two. Maybe Burns’ comics will look into where the meteorite/alien eggs came from?

The Shooting Star is a generic Tintin adventure tale offering little originality besides some interesting space oddity at the end. But it’s a kid’s book that younger readers will probably find enjoyable enough so I can’t come down too harshly on the many poorly written, overly simplistic scenes that bored me as an adult. 

Anyway, I’m sure there are some great Tintin books out there that’ll captivate readers of all-ages but, not having read any recently, I can only say that The Shooting Star definitely isn’t one of them.

The Adventures of Tintin: The Shooting Star

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