Sammy's Reviews > The Shooting Star

The Shooting Star by Hergé
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Oct 31, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: comic
Read in January, 1999

My review, as posted in Tintin Books

"The Shooting Star" is a welcome return to form after the entertaining but less innovative "The Crab with the Golden Claws". Herge was still working under Nazi-occupied conditions, which explains why this era of his albums strays from political debates and focuses instead solely on narrative concerns. Still, the battle to recover the meteorite echoes the scientific attitude which prevailed throughout WWII and would culminate in the '50s and '60s with the Space Race.

There's certainly more padding than usual here, as in some albums this adventure would be a six-page subplot! But yet it works: all of the characters, from the crazed Belgians to the Icelandic sailors, are densely characterised. As with the previous albums, there is the constant fear of being double-crossed, which is particularly effective here with such a range of characters present.

The scenes at sea, particularly, come alive. This is the second of four consecutive albums which feature large stretches of plot at sea: for whatever reason (the confinement of characters? the literal feel of movement?) Herge must have felt comfortable in this environment, for - as we'd see in his next album, "The Secret of the Unicorn" - he'd create some of his best work here.

And while this isn't a pinnacle of the "Tintin" series, it's four-star entertainment. Captain Haddock is already quite well-defined (although he'll evolve further), and we get the last in a string of mad professors whose descendant will be Cuthbert Calculus. Snowy gets comparatively little to do here (a typical charge laid against Haddock's presence) but it isn't noticeable, because by now we have a wealth of characters and slapstick with a dog now seems only appropriate as occasional tension-relieving humour.

At the end of the race, we get a sprint to the finish: a mysterious island of scientific improbabilities. It's great fun, and shows the wide-reaching canvas that Herge could work with. Perhaps the lack of political implications would suggest this is lighter entertainment than Herge was generally producing, but honestly it's also more sophisticated.
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