Sammy's Reviews > Destination Moon

Destination Moon by Hergé
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's review
Sep 21, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: comic
Read in January, 1998

My review, as posted in Tintin Books:

Ah, "Destination Moon". As a child, I didn't have a particular affinity with the moon albums. I guess I was more interested in character stories and less in science at the time, but I have to say looking back this - and its second half Explorers on the Moon - is quite an achievement.

Briefly, the cons: "Destination Moon" is all set-up and little pay-off since it was designed from the start as the first half of an adventure. On top of this, there's a fair bit of filler since obviously Herge didn't want his heroes leaving Earth until the final pages. But unlike some of the earlier albums, where every page is a cliffhanger despite how ridiculous it may seem, this story is deliberately paced, filled with suspense and a genuine feeling of discovery.

On top of this, all the characters are given plenty to do. Calculus - who seems to have been the driving force in most of the albums from this era - has an ear trumpet to help him hear better (which of course, it rarely does) and his relationship with Captain Haddock is gorgeous. Note the scene where Haddock claims Calculus is "acting the goat". People love to draw Tintin and Haddock as a secret couple, but if anything it's these two!

Snowy also gets a lot of great sight gags, spending the first third of the album in an oversized outfit as he struggles to walk around the compound. And the Thompsons too, incompetence tempered by a genuine interest in the subject matter, are handled well. There's a lot of beautiful artwork evident in Herge's later middle period - the full-page shot of the rocket being prepared for take-off, for instance.

Sure, there are a few wrong notes: Tintin being mobbed by baby bears and then tricking them over a cliff seems both an unnecessary addition and a cruel resolution. But by and large, this is gold. (My favourite moment is Snowy somewhat self-referentially turning to the reader to join our excitement at the "sensational appearance of the Thompson twins!".

In some ways, these two albums are the end of Herge's middle period in which his insane amount of research was both the series' biggest blessing and its greatest curse. On the one hand, Herge's love for the subject matter really shines through - notably in the final few pages which feature several large drawigns of the rocket. In a possibly unique move, he donates an entire page to the rocket's blueprint! Because of this knowledge, the long stretches of dialogue in the early parts of the album are all the more meaningful and we come to feel the same level of anticipation and hope that the characters do, pushing us further into despair at the moments when all seems lost.

But countering this is the fact that, because he had so much knowledge to impart, Herge occasionally lets his storytelling skills lag. Even the Cold War villainy at play here is in the background, as most time is spent on discovery and knowledge. I should reiterate that the good elements far outweigh the bad, but one gets the impression that Herge had a long list of exciting facts and moments he just needed to convey, and plot could damn well come second.

All in all, "Destination Moon" is a labour of love for the artist. One could argue that a lot of the discovery (e.g. Haddock's testing of his spacesuit) had more weight in the '50s before this kind of thing was common-place. True, but Herge's passion bounces off the page, and I still feel genuinely enthralled by the politics and the sense of discovery. Four and a half stars.

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