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The Calculus Affair (The Adventures of Tintin)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I bought this for my little four year old home-educated relative. She, like her sister before her, has thumbed her nose at conventional 'Jennifer Yellow Hat' type reading material, in favour of the genius that is Herge. She's a mysterious little character, and we're not quite sure how much of these books she actually 'reads' and how much she simply enjoys... but since reading should be all about enjoyment, what difference does it make, really? Indeed, the words seem to be of almost no relevance when it comes to enjoying these books. The illustrations are so phenomenal that you can get a complete picture of precisely what is going on purely on those pictures alone.

As far as the story is concerned, I think other reviewers have covered it far better than I ever could. The best Tintin stories feature Captain Haddock rather significantly and this book is certainly no exception to that rule. I have a bit of a man-crush on the Captain, something that is in no way diminished by the knowledge of his rather fast and loose approach to the recommended daily alcohol intake of an average adult. The story itself is almost not even relevant; Once you take the plunge and procure any one single Tintin adventure, the others will surely follow. In my experience, nobody who has ever committed to taking possession of any one of these books had been able to stop before completing the entire collection. That is a testament to the artist's genius.

Nowhere does this creative genius manifest itself more in this volume than on page 10. More than one half of a page, with virtually no words whatsoever. Within eight frames, the Captain goes from contemplating a few verses of 'Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin'' to watching his entire world shatter before his very eyes. No drawing is wasted, and the children love it.

The geatest compliment I can give to any of these books is something my little eight year old relative says quite often; 'Is this written in English?'. Now then, someone with more money than sense (Guilty, as charged) decided to purchase some French copies of these books in order to make himself look intelligent. If there was ever a more clear-cut case of hoping to 'bathe in reflected glory', I have yet to make its rather shady acquiantance. My little eight year old friend reads and she reads extremely well... yet she obviously pays no attention whatsoever to the words within the books. It's all about the artwork - and it's a resounding two fingers to me.

These were the first books I can ever remember being passionate about and it is the images that I myself remember, not the words. Herge was a genius - he brought Captain Haddock and his very attractive blue sweater into existence. For that, I for one am inordinately grateful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
From the peak period of Hergé's latter career, The Calculus Affair is definitely amongst my personal favourites.

Ever since he first appeared on page five of Red Rackham's Treasure, professor Cuthbert Calculus bumbled right into this Tintin reader's heart. Unlike some Tintin characters (Haddock being a notable example) who take a tale or two to 'settle in', Cuthbert arrives fully formed, combining elements Hergé had previously dabbled with in other characters, notably the scientists and academics like Professor Alembick in King Ottokar's Sceptre, or several of the characters in Tintin and the Shooting Star.

Cuthbert's place in Hergé's own heart is clearly evidenced by his central roles in all three of his 'double-bill' adventures: having introduced him in the sequel to The Secret of the Unicorn (the aforementioned Red Rackam's Treasure), he is a key character in both the strangely occult-themed south-American adventures of The Seven Crystal Balls & Prisoners of the Sun, and the absolutely brilliant and more scientifically-themed Destination Moon & Explorers on the Moon, in which he really comes into his own as a fully-fledged central character.

Having already been abducted once before, in the South American double-bill, Calculus is again 'disappeared', in the magnificent Calculus Affair, this time not for 'meddling' in the traditions of a primitive superstitious culture through his archaeological and anthropological work, but because he discovers a technology with a military application.

Hergé gets to return his characters to a former theatre of operations, the east-central Europe of King Ottokar's Sceptre, only this time it's Borduria instead of Syldavia, and he's freer, post WWII, to make the 'Taschist' regime a blatant critique of dictatorship, combining elements of both left and right-wing forms of absolutism (as exemplified by the Nazi style arm bands worn by 'Taschists', and the sinister Eastern block vibes of Col. Sponsz's secret police, the ZEP, dressed in Green like Soviet troops, whose very name, as well behaviour, suggests the KGB).

Practically every frame can be admired as a work of great art, making this a sublime visual feast, and the story flows beautifully, disguising well it's episodic structure. By this stage even the incidental characters are well fleshed out, meaning cameos such as that of Italian motoring-enthusiast Arturo de Milano are thoroughly engaging.

Over the years Hergé experimented with occasional full page artworks or frames, or sometimes, as in this instance, and very successfully, with 'oversize' frames. In the Calculus Affair, already one of his best drawn Tintin adventures, there are two such frames, both of which are delightfully detailed, full of wit, character and invention, capable of sustaining long attention and admiration.

Full of incident, action, humour and humanity, this is - for my money - one of the very best of a series which is itself of an unusually high and overall consistent standard.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 4 February 2011
Professor Calculus invents a sonic machine that shatters china and glass but, if developed and fall into the wrong hands, could topple cities and devastate Earth! When Calculus visits Geneva he is kidnapped by Bordurians (a made up country that is Soviet-like) and its up to Tintin and Captain Haddock to save the day!

I read this when I was a kid and recently came across this at the library and decided to have a look at it again, nostalgia being what it is. What surprised me the most from this book was that despite it being an espionage, James Bond style storyline, theres an awful lot of slapstick humour in it. For example there's an extended sequence featuring a piece of sticky tape and a larger than life caricature of an insurance salesman. I didn't realise how much Haddock was a silent-era comedian (minus the silence) either. He's constantly falling over, hitting his head on things, tripping on things, and bearing the brunt of any physical violence. And then there's overkill on the comedy with Thompson & Thomson who show up every now and then.

What I essentially loved and remembered were still here though: the superb drawings and Herge's clear line style were a joy to see again. The story meanders all over Europe and it's wonderful to see 50s era Europe depicted on the page, really really excellent drawing. And of course Captain Haddock's bizarre dialogue, his best being "Billions of bilious blue blistering barnacles!" but also including "Bashi-bazouk!", "Ectoplasm" and a "Certified Diplodocus!".

It's a wonderful comic book which, while not being TIntin's best outing, is nonetheless effortlessly charming and entrancing. A great read for all ages.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 April 2010
The Calculus Affair comes in the wake of Hergé's greatest achievements in the Tintin series which peaked with the double-length works, The Secret of the Unicorn/Red Rackham's Treasure, The Seven Crystal Balls/Prisoners of the Sun and Destination Moon/Explorers on the Moon. The qualities that are evident in those books are all here in The Calculus Affair, the story packed with amusing incidents and adventure, strong characterisation, entertaining secondary characters and superlative clear-line artwork that is not only well designed and laid-out, but expressive and dynamic. There's only one area in which The Calculus Affair is lacking from the double-features, and it might well have something to do with length - there's just not much room left for a decent plot.

Essentially, although there is a little bit of a mystery at the start of the book with glass, crystal and ceramic objects shattering in Haddock's Marlinspike mansion, the plot involves an experiment that Calculus has been developing, creating a device that can destroy objects through the use of high-frequency sound. Two rival neighbouring Balkan nations, Syldavia and Borduria (fictional nations first encountered in King Ottokar's Sceptre), both recognise the potential for the invention to be used as a weapon with the power to destroy entire cities, and between them vie for kidnapping the Professor and obtaining his secrets.

If the plot has little that is inventive, complicated or nuanced in any way (when it comes to where Tintin's sympathies should lie during an encounter with agents from both countries, Captain Haddock amusingly recommends just hitting the ugliest ones) The Calculus Affair is at least a masterpiece in visual storytelling terms, every single page filled with seemingly insignificant little incidents that are meticulously storyboarded and realised. Some of the more memorable are the crossed telephone lines during the storm at the start that involves Mr Cutts the butcher and introduces insurance salesman Jolyon Wagg, there's the incident with the sticking plaster on the plane and there's the chase sequence with an eager Italian driver that culminates with a magnificent large frame of the car weaving through a small town on market day - but even seemingly minor throwaway jokes (Haddock's attitude towards hitchhikers) are brilliantly encapsulated in a couple of frames.

More than just amusement, these little situations (the crossed lines, the persistent sticking plaster of doubt that keeps on nagging at your conscience, the switching of ideals to suit self-interest) also reflect the conflict of ideals where morality isn't so clear - not least of which is in the use of science to develop weapons of mass destruction - so that it's consequently hard to determine which side to support. As far as comics go, this is highly sophisticated material under the guise of simple entertainment, Hergé dealing to some degree with the same concepts as Watchmen, questioning the use of nuclear weapons and the motivations of those with the power to use them for their own ends. Lacking a strong plot to hang these ideas upon, The Calculus Affair may not be as complex in narrative and structural terms as Alan Moore's 80's dark meditation on imminent nuclear Armageddon, but it's no less brilliant and innovative in terms of its visual language, still looking fresh and relevant while Watchmen is already looking dated, and it's certainly less self-important.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 10 January 2010
If you only read one Tintin book, this is the one to go for.

I think it is fair to say that Herge was at the top of hs form when he wrote this cold war advenure, which takes Tintin to Borduria in search of Professor Calculus who has been kidnapped by the Kurvi-Tasch regime for the secret of a new sonic device he has developed.

The drawings are superb, with beautifully observed detail, and the plot is entertaining, with plenty of interesting characters along the way such as the bumbling Colonel Sponsz, head of the Bordurian secret police.

I remember being given this as a kid on a seaside trip over 30 years ago, and I still remember how I could hardly wait till we got home to read it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 July 2014
Strange things are happening at Captain Haddock's estate at Marlinspike.
Thugs are up to something, and all the glass is mysteriously exploding.
Soon Tintin and the Captain discover that Professor Calculus had been kidnapped.
Their investigation leads them to Switzerland and then to Borduria, ruled by the iron grip of the Stalinist Kurvi Tasch regime.
The Bordurians, it turns, out have kidnapped the Professor, to develop nuclear weapons and thus enable them to attain world domination.

This is quite eerily prophetic, being written in 1956, when it seemed quite impossible for a tinpot dictatorship to acquire such weapons of mass destruction, but we now we see these very same devices being developed by tyrannies such as Syria, Iran and North Korea.

The Calculus Affair is filled with espionage and gripping adventure
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 31 January 2007
Tintin's Cold War adventures span various books, from the faintly Hannay-at-Zenda-ish 'King Ottokar's Sceptre' to the dastardly attempt by an Eastern European spy to steal the precious moon rocket. But the most satisfyingly farcical has to be this one, 'L'Affaire Tournesol' as it was originally known. Professor Calculus has devised a machine that may or may not be able to destroy buildings with ultrasound vibrations; a series of variously incompetent cropheaded Bordurian agents spend much of the book attempting to muscle the blueprints out of the hapless Prof, Tintin & co. This book is notable for the first appearance of the incomparably bumptious insurance salesman and Haddock Nemesis, Jolyon Wagg (one of the most inspired interpretations of that unsung couple, Herge's English translators, Lonsdale-Cooper and Turner - Wagg in French is the equally fatuous Seraphin Lampion). The artwork is prime Herge, late 50s/early 60s Ligne Claire at its finest. The dialogue crackles along, and the plotting is sublime - just check out the classic sequence of Haddock's dogged attempt to wangle a drink out of the Swiss scientist.

It's maybe not the most profound Cold War spy story ever written, but it's definitely one of the funniest.
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on 26 April 2013
Classic Herge. I bought this for my 9 year old nephew who is reluctant to read but loves comics. Hopefully he'll collect and read them all!
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on 15 January 2013
We love Tin Tin, one of the most beautiful comic series ever, We would by further more exemplars. Marveles, exiting
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 8 June 2008
This Tintin has to take the bite out of the cake; it is humourous, adventureous and delightful to read. I got this Tintin a few days ago and was going to read it when something boring came up, for example wedding, funeral or museum but when I picked the book up (just to read the first page) I coudn't put it down so I would recommend this Tintin book for you.
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