Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ranking the Tintin series

Of the twenty-three completed Tintin adventures, I don't think any are outright bad, but some are obviously better then others. Here's my ranking from best to worst, with the chronological ordering in parentheses.

1. The Calculus Affair (18) – all the series’ best elements; none of its weaker ones

2. The Castafiore Emerald (21) – a masterful smaller-scale piece

3. Land of Black Gold (15) – fun, diverse settings and a still-scary political yarn

4. Tintin in Tibet (20) – a wonderful, touching tale; the only one without a villain!

5. King Ottokar's Sceptre (8) – the last pre-Haddock adventure is also the best

6. Tie: Destination Moon (16) – an excellent set-up to...
           Explorers on the Moon, which is just as strong

8. The Red Sea Sharks (19) – the least original later adventure still pops

9. Tintin and the Picaros (23) – what it lacks in exuberance it makes up in maturity

10. Red Rackham's Treasure (12) – a splendid payoff to its predecessor

11. Prisoners of the Sun (14) – a mostly terrific adventure

12. The Seven Crystal Balls (13) – suspenseful horror, but ultimately a bit silly

13. The Blue Lotus (5) – humane, informed and exciting, but unrefined artwork

14. Cigars of the Pharaoh (4) – less researched than later capers, but just as fun

15. The Black Island (7) – lively and charming, if somewhat thin

16. The Crab with the Golden Claws (9) – Haddock’s debut is great; the rest, okay

17. The Secret of the Unicorn (11) – engaging story, but not much sense of place

18. The Broken Ear (6) – slapstick plotting and weaker artwork, but strong satire

19. The Shooting Star (10) – a fun if ultimately shaggy-dog caper

20. Tintin in America (3) – visually inventive and amusing, but overly cartoonish

21. Flight 714 (22) – aliens? Forced amnesia? A wussified Rastapopulous? Lame.

22. Tintin in the Congo (2) – a youthful error in racism, though visually dynamic

Not ranked:

- Tintin in the Land of the Soviets (1): no color edition, and I haven’t read it

- Tintin and Alph-Art (24): incomplete, and I haven’t read it

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