Top critical review
Not bad, but not the best either
on 29 July 2016
Real Tintin fans will, of course, buy all the books in the series, including the enigmatic Tintin and the Alph-Art. But if you are a more selective buyer, this is not the best the bunch.
On the plus side, Herge was well into his stride by the time he created this adventure in wartime Brussels and we have a coherent plot along with pretty good artwork. There are also some rather fun characters like Professor Phostle, along with regulars like Captain Haddock.
On the other hand, even if you put aside the rather far-fetched story line (giant fast-growing apple trees anyone?), this mainly nautical tale suffers from periods where the action rather runs out of steam. There are also some odd scientific errors in the story and inconsistencies in the drawings which marr this adventure by comparison with later stories like the Calculus Affair.
Additionally, the character of Mr Bohlwinkel, chief villain in this story, will strike a slighly queasy note for older readers. There is actually quite a story behind this aspect of the story, which has been explored at some length by Tintin afficionados.
But all in all, this is not a bad earlyish work by Herge. It's just that he went on to create much better adventures!