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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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on 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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on 7 August 2015
OK, I admit it. I'm a total bore when it comes to Tintin and his adventurous friends.

As a kid and teenager, I liked the suspense, the action and the intriguing conspiracies (often involving secret weapons), but I could never stomach Haddock's drinking habits and bizarre expletives, the constant slapstick surrounding the Thompson Twins, or the perennial deafness of Professor Calculus. And yes, there's much of both the positive and the negative in “The Calculus Affair”. Still, I would consider this to be one of the better Tintin adventures, together with “The Secret of the Unicorn” and “The Shooting Star”.

The best section is the meeting between the diva Bianca Castafiore and the chief of the Bordurian secret police Sponsz. Both personality types undoubtedly exist: the sadistic brute who loves classical culture (Sponsz) and the self-absorbed great artist who gladly performs on behalf of authoritarian regimes, since only they understand her greatness (Castafiore).

Interestingly, the two main fantasy nations of the Tintin universe, Borduria and Syldavia, are equally bad in “The Calculus Affair”. Both want to lay their hands on a secret supersonic weapon developed by the genial but naïve Calculus. Usually, Syldavia is the good “Western” nation, while Borduria is the evil empire. It's also interesting to see how Borduria, originally a stand-in for Nazi Germany, morphs seamlessly into a stand-in for the Soviet Union instead, while retaining some of its Nazi shtick.

Ultimately, I'm going to give “The Calculus Affair” four stars.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 28 January 2015
Classic Tintin adventure with lovely traditional drawing and bright colours.

If you are a fan this is a must have.

Gentle and rather old fashioned it takes you back to a different time and place.
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on 12 October 2012
I think this book is best enjoyed when the reader has read earlier Tintin books and is familiar with the characters. There is humour to be found in the illustrations and in the words (I enjoyed the jokes in "foreign" place names). This book was bought as a child's present, but can be enjoyed by all ages. There are a lot of Tintin books in the series.
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on 12 February 2015
I have managed to buy the entire collection of hardbacks for my husband. He is very happy with them. Great quality.
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on 17 March 2011
I read all the Tintin books as a young boy in the 50's, in Dutch (Kuifje,) and used to enjoy them immensely. I thought I'd introduce them to my grand daughter, Red, who is eight. I started her off with The Calculus Affair as some of the action takes place in Nyon on Lake Geneva where we lived for a while and where her mother was born. In fact, we lived in the Cafe Maitre Jacques which is featured in one of the scenes (the statue of Maitre Jacques, anyway). She loved this one and asked me to buy her another!
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on 7 December 2011
This is one cartoon character which doesn't need any review. Every single story is a favourite of mine and I wish they would turn each of that into a motion picture. An excellent addition to my Tintin collection.
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on 7 February 1999
This book features Tintin, Captain Haddock, Jolyon Wagg, Nestor, Professor Calculus, Thomson and Thompson and of cousre my favourite character Snowy. Calculus has invented an invention that breaks glass. He then is kidnapped, and Tintin and the Captain rescue him after many adventures in which they always semm to be bumping into that awful singer Signora Castafiore. This is one of my favourite Tintin books.
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on 15 February 2010
I bought the complete works of Tintin in hardback for by son's 18th - he thought that was pretty cool! The books all arrived neatly boxed and we all like dipping in.
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