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Tintin Destination Moon precedes Explorers on the Moon- whereby preparations are being made for the group's expedition on the moon. While there is no particular climax in this episode- since it's just a start-up for the next, I really appreciated the very artful manner in which the moon expedition is prepared: Hergé didn't depict this adventure as a sci-fi one, but it was more realistic and filled with technical details. This adventure brings to mind the real-life moon expedition- like most Tintin adventure, Destination Moon is also rooted on real happenings.
Tintin and Haddock are heading to Klow where their friend Professor Calculus had called them for some mysterious affair. But Tintin is getting worried about a car which has followed them all the way to the airport- and he doesn't understand the tight security and escort which accompanies them from the airport either. But very soon, Captain Haddock and Tintin will discover Professor Calculus' plan: The eccentric, hard-of-hearing Professor is actually planning a trip to the moon- and if he succeeds, they will be the first men to land on the moon...
I think that along with The Calculus Affair and The Seven Crystal Balls, this is yet another Tintin adventure where Professor Calculus shines in his share of limelight. He was quite a delightful addition to this episode: He not only provided some hilarious breaks through the tension, but he also demonstrated some unknown traits to his rather peaceful persona as he gets in an extreme fit of anger with the Captain. I really laughed out loud at the funny little man during his clash with Captain Haddock! Since the book debuts on a rather dark and mysterious note, I really appreciated the comic instances provided by Calculus in this story. Of course, Thompson and Thomson were very much present to provide their share of humor- but for once, they were really over-shadowed by the Professor Calculus. I really loved the manner in which Hergé painted the relationship between the Captain and Calculus in this book- it was really lively and endearing to read. In fact, quite a large portion of this book is centered on their relationship.
I really loved the manner in which the plot flew in this particular Tintin book. It was filled with suspense, intrigue and a delightful mélange of comical and dark elements. What I liked the most was the very explicit manner in which other minor characters were painted in this book: I think this is one of the rare few Tintin books where minor characters are explored with such depth of character. Moreover, compared to the other episodes, this one has some real intrigue and suspense, with some large dose of unpredictability. Also, this also serves as a climax between the ongoing enmity between Tintin and one of the recurring villains in the series as a whole.
Overall, five dooyoo stars for this book and very highly recommended as well. There is no strong climax but this lays a magnificent foundation for the following book. The characters are as well-developed as ever, with some great additions in the form of interesting minor characters and the plot is simply thrilling and filled with plenty of suspense and laughs.
~Thanks for reading~
Destination Moon is the sixteenth book in the series of Tintin adventures by Belgian writer and illustrator Hergé and was first published in 1953. The book is the first part of a story arc that is then completed in the following Tintin adventure Explorers on the Moon. Destination Moon begins with Tintin and Captain Haddock arriving home at Marlinspike Hall where their butler Nestor informs them that their good friend Professor Calculus left Marlinspike three weeks before in slightly mysterious circumstances after a man with a foreign accent came to see him. A telegram from Professor Calculus soon arrives though explaining that he's now in the country of Syldavia and wants Tintin and the Captain to fly out at once to join him. On their arrival in Syldavia, Tintin and Captain Haddock are met by the military and driven high into the remote mountains through numerous check-points and elaborate security measures. The reason for all of this fuss and secrecy soon becomes very clear. Their final destination is in fact the Sprodj Atomic Research Centre where Professor Calculus has accepted a request from the Syldavian government to design and build a rocket intended for the first ever manned mission to the Moon...
A solid rather than truly great entry in the Tintin series, Destination Moon is constructed as a series of vignettes set in the Atomic Research Centre more than anything as we build up to the big blast off and the more colourful and exciting events of the sequel Explorers on the Moon. There are some espionage capers woven into the story with foreign agents apparently lurking and eager to get hold of the rocket plans but what really makes the book enjoyable is the usual large infusion of comic elements as our heroes live and work in the centre together. These begin fairly early on in Destination Moon when a stewardess tries to put some mineral water in Captain Haddock's whisky on the plane to Syldavia without asking him. 'Not one drop of that disgusting mineral water in my whisky! What a country! They export mineral water, the poisoners!' Professor Calculus has a great introduction in the story when we first see him in the space centre and there are some amusing panels of art when Captain Haddock is reduced to tears of laughter after he is told by the Professor about his work in Syldavia and why they are all there. 'You old humbug Calculus! Old Calculus on the moon! That's a good one!'
The accident prone detectives Thomson and Thompson parachute into the story on a mission from their government to protect Tintin and his friends. The pair are apprehended comically dressed in Greek national dress which they mistook for Syldavian costumes. 'Get up?' they protest. 'You call Syldavian costumes a get-up? Your own national dress?' It's a funny introduction and the pair soon have numerous comical escapades in Destination Moon - like a bit where a body scanner makes them think a skeleton is on the loose. One of my favourite moments in the story occurs when Tintin takes to the mountains to survey the centre for possible infiltration points and is soon surrounded by little bear cubs enticed by the smell of the honey sandwiches in his rucksack. 'Here come the parents! That crowns it!' The most famous joke/sequence in the book occurs when Captain Haddock tells Calculus to stop 'acting the goat' with big ramifications and there is an enjoyably surreal interlude where the Professor loses his memory and must be shocked back into remembering who he is by Captain Haddock attempting all manner of methods from dressing up as a ghost to shooting him with a water pistol. 'Blistering barnacles, that's no use! He's reacted about as much as a tombstone!'
The espionage elements are modestly interesting in Destination Moon and there is quite a tense story thread where an unmanned subscale prototype of the rocket is tested and then taken over by a foreign radio-control system while Professor Calculus looks on, distraught at the thought of all his hard work being lost. The science is obviously not 100% accurate in Destination Moon but fun in an anachronistic Jules Verne way with a huge drawing of the atomic heart of the centre and also a blueprint of the rocket - which is essentially a giant WW2 V-2 - taking up a whole page. There is also a huge splash page illustration of the rocket which gives it a real sense of scope. It's ridiculous of course that Calculus could have come up with all of this in such a short space of time and Captain Haddock and Tintin seem strange choices to go on the mission as non-natives of Syldavia who appear to have been given no real training but then this is a Tintin book and pure escapism.
The Sprodj Atomic Research is like something out of a sixties James Bond film and makes an interesting location for the story. The background panels and details in Destination Moon are wonderful at times. The section where we get a look inside the rocket is really good too and Captain Haddock's accident prone nature is deployed for a funny joke that subverts our expectations. The Captain's growing reluctance to be a part of the mission is also quite funny. He tries to take a great deal of whisky onboard and when told that it is fitting that a sailor should be one of the first men on the moon replies - 'It would have been all the same to me if a piccolo-player had gone!' Despite all the sci-fi and comedy though one of the best parts of the book is actually the mysterious and atmospheric intro where Tintin and Captain Haddock are driven through the Syldavian countryside in intense secrecy.
Destination Moon is not one of the very best Tintin books but the art is very enjoyable and there are plenty of funny moments. It makes a great two parter with Explorers on the Moon.