Volume 4 of the 3-in-1 Tintin series begins in the middle of an adventure, concluding the story begun in The Secret of the Unicorn. (Keeping all the two-part stories together was not possible in the 3-in-1 format because chronologically, the Unicorn/Rackham and Crystal/Prisoners two-parters are back to back.) Red Rackham''s Treasure follows Tintin and friends as they search for the pirate booty procured by Captain Haddock''s ancestor, Sir Francis Haddock, in the West Indies. They receive some unexpected help in the form of a hard-of-hearing inventor named Professor Calculus, who would go on to become one of the most endearing characters of the series. (Herge admitted that the character was one "whom I never suspected would take on such importance.") It''s a lot of fun, with some submarine and diving adventures, humor from the Thompsons, and an unexpected (but satisfying) ending. The Seven Crystal Balls begins on a light note, as Captain Haddock tries to adjust to his new life as a gentleman following the events of Red Rackham''s Treasure. He wears a monocle and frequents the music hall, where in a not-unusual coincidence he and Tintin happen to find General Alcazar (The Broken Ear) and the dreaded diva Bianca Castafiore. However, it''s the act of fakir Ragdalam with Madame Yamilah, the amazing clairvoyante, that reveals the central adventure: the scientists excavating the tomb of Racar Capac have incurred the curse of the Inca. Despite the efforts of bungling detectives Thompson ("With a P, as in Philadelphia") and Thomson ("Without a P, as in Venezuela"), the explorers are stricken, and one of Tintin''s closest friends disappears mysteriously, leading to a trip to Peru in the second part, Prisoners of the Sun. After The Seven Crystal Balls set the eerie stage, Tintin and his friends continue their adventures in Peru. There Tintin rescues an orange-seller named Zorrino from being bullied, and the young man becomes their guide in their quest to find the Temple of the Sun. But they find more than they bargained for and end up in a hot spot. The perils of this engaging two-part adventure are especially harrowing in their combination of the supernatural and the real, although the resolution is a little too deus ex machina. Calculus and the Thompsons provide their usual comic relief.
The 3-in-1 format provides excellent value, but the small size (about 40% smaller than the single-story paperbacks) makes it harder to enjoy the detail in Herge''s layouts. --David Horiuchi
Proving that good things come in threes, this collection contains three classic and complete Tintin adventures--Red Rackham''s Treasure, The Seven Crystal Balls and Prisoners of the Sun. Full color.
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