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Red Rackham's Treasure,
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This review is from: Red Rackham's Treasure (Adventures of Tintin) (Paperback)
Red Rackham's Treasure is the thrilling conclusion to Hergé's tale of intrigue, treachery and pirate booty that began with The Secret of the Unicorn. Tintin and Captain Haddock had deciphered the three coded parchments that reveal the location of the Unicorn, a 17th century ship that was captained by Haddock's ancestor, Sir Francis Haddock. The Unicorn had been scuttled by Sir Francis Haddock during a fight with the pirate Red Rackham and Tintin and Captain Haddock believe that the pirate's treasure is still aboard the ship.
In Red Rackham's Treasure, Tintin and the Captain charter a ship so that they can go in search of the long lost treasure. Their expedition is complicated when news of their impending voyage is leaked to the press and numerous peculiar personages, each claiming to be a descendant of Red Rackham, present themselves and demand a share of the treasure. Fortunately, the press coverage does have one happy consequence: Tintin and Captain Haddock becomes acquainted with Professor Cuthbert Calculus, an eccentric inventor who proposes that they use his newly invented shark-shaped submarine during their search for the sunken Unicorn. The group, with Thomson and Thompson [still no relation] providing security in case of rival treasure hunters, then set sail towards riches and adventure.
Red Rackham's Treasure is another excellent Tintin book from Hergé. There is a great deal of excitement and derring-do in this story as the heroes venture underwater and to exotic locations in search of the treasure. The backgrounds here are more detailed than in The Secret of the Unicorn and so this book is a Hergé highpoint in terms of both art and story. It's all the more impressive since he based all of his location designs on pictures and newspaper stories rather than venturing from Belgium in search of settings. The underwater action is particularly fine; there is a great deal of tension related to the difficulties of maintaining an air supply and to the promise of treasure on the sea bed, as well as some delightful humour in the shape of a shark that takes a shine to the shark-shaped sub [try saying that several times in a row].
In fact, despite the old-fashioned adventure elements of the story, Red Rackham's Treasure is a very humorous story. Captain Haddock is on top form and his angry interactions with the alleged Red Rackham descendants and with Thomson and Thompson as well as with Professor Calculus are a sight to behold. The Haddock-inspired parrots are a hoot and a half too. This is the book that introduces Professor Calculus and this is another reason for it being a landmark in the Tintin series. Brilliant and befuddled Calculus is one of Hergé's greatest creations and, fortunately, plays a prominent role in future books.
Ultimately, Red Rackham's Treasure is a fine mix of adventure and humour with a good dash of classic detective work on the part of Tintin himself mixed in. This is the story that really marks the start of Hergé's renaissance as both an artist and a storyteller, and it sets the tone for the further excellent Tintin adventures that follow.