This review was submitted as a contribution to a feature on underrated books. I have one more that I will be posting soon. Enjoy.
The encapsulation of Herge’s abilities as a story-teller, The Calculus Affair is the perfect blend of what makes Tintin great: A well-told story, a sense of verisimilitude, great characters, atmosphere and an ever-present sense of humour. From the surprisingly ominous opening featuring a blackout at Marlinspike during a thunder storm, this is far more adult in tone as Tintin and Haddock try to track down a kidnapped Professor Calculus in a race across Europe. Tintin and Haddock might be able to throw a punch, but they are not action heroes, and Herge goes to great pains to present them as regular people in over their heads. With the stakes raised, Tintin and Haddock are at their best here, relying on their brains to get their friend out of trouble. Returning to the world-building of earlier adventures, Herge’s interest in intensive research results in a more detailed and developed vision of the fictional countries Syldavia and Borduria. Managing a near perfect balance between suspense and humour (Haddock’s epic struggle to get rid of a piece of sticky plaster is a delight), The Calculus Affair is the work of a master at the top of his game.