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Tintin's first and rather anomalous adventure.,
This review is from: Tintin in the Land of the Soviets (Hardcover)
The oldest of the Tintin adventure to be published in full 'book' form (originally referred to as 'albums'), In The Land Of The Soviets remains even more anomalous than In the Congo, for several reasons. First of all it was never deemed worthy of a redraw, which might've truncated it to the normal length and format all the other Tintin albums share (62 colour pages). At 141 black and white pages, it remains an oddity, even in purely technical terms.
But as a story, and as a work of art, it also differs markedly. Rather than hearing Hergé's voice, which only really comes through in the gentler humour (in itself mostly rather lame on this occasion, and also often anything but gentle: along with In The Congo, In The Land Of The Soviets finds Tintin at his most brutal), we are served up an indigestible dose of heavy handed anti-Communist propaganda: he's certainly the 'company man' at this point, doing the bidding of his Catholic employers. After this story, only his adventure in the Congo makes explicit reference to the paper - Le Petit Vingtieme - for whom Tintin is allegedly a reporter. In fact In The Land Of The Soviets is also one of the very few Tintin adventures in which we ever see him writing up a report to send back to the paper.
In addition to all of this, Hergé's craft is very much in its infancy, which makes In The Land Of The Soviets an interesting rather than particularly satisfying document. The drawing, dialogue, and storytelling are all, by Hergé's own later standards, really very poor. In fact one of the most noticeable shifts in the whole catalogue of his Tintin work is the almost quantum leap between this and In The Congo, especially in terms of the artwork, but also in most other respects. Some aspects, such as the smoothing out of the episodic structures that originated with the serial format, would take longer to iron out and improve. But there are precious few hints - some gags that will be recycled later, the odd well composed frame, or series of frames - of what might come later. On the evidence of this adventure alone one would hardly predict the great lifetime achievement that Hergé in fact went on to.
Even more of a one-for-the-fans curio than In The Congo, but perhaps less so than the unfinished Alph-Art, as other reviewers point out this would not be a recommended starting point for those coming fresh to Tintin. Even Tintin's character differs from what it was to become, with him being less innocent and more thuggish, only Snowy resembling his character as it would (more or less) remain in future. So, although it was, in book form adventure terms, where the much loved reporter and his dog started out, I wouldn't recommend any reader started here.
Still, for Tintin nuts like me, and there are clearly a great number of us out there, this is nonetheless essential.