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The Stratoship H.22 (Mr. Pump's Legacy) by…

The Stratoship H.22 (Mr. Pump's Legacy)

by Hergé

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Adventures of Jo, Zette and Jocko (3)

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For Tintinologists and casual fans alike, the adventures of Jo, Zette, and Jocko, are fascinating excursions into the embryonic narrative styles of Herge. For many, however, they remain simply unknown.

Created shortly after Tintin became a success throughout Belgium and France, "Jo, Zette and Jocko" were made for a slightly different type of readership. The weekly 'Coeurs Vailliants' was founded on principles of traditional values, and Herge was asked to provide a traditional family as the centre of his new adventures. Enter Jo and Zette, children of an engineer and his domestic wife, and their lovable pet monkey, Jocko.

It's perhaps no surprise that this scamps never became as popular as the boy reporter. While Tintin has agency on account of his age and profession, Jo and Zette are only children, and can never be as active protagonists as the blonde one - at least, not for more than a few adventures. There's also more didactism present, given the younger age group Herge was writing for, meaning there are moments of pure science or instruction. (A few of these elements seep into some of the weaker 'Tintin' installments, but they're more prolific here.) And, finally, the book shows its origins as a weekly serial, much as the early 'Tintin' works do. The first third is just set-up and continuous attempts at sabotage by a villain who threatens to become as comically inept as Wile E. Coyote. Indeed, the whole piece has a "Boys' Own" feel about it, with Jo or Zette constantly getting near the truth, only to find themselves in terrible danger.

To speak ill of this adventure, however, is to short-change it. Herge's humour abounds throughout the volume, from the very first page which creates the absurd and complex idea of the millionaire John Archibald Pump and his requirement for a butler who can roller skate. Everything about Pump's "Modern Times"-esque lifestyle is hysterical, and the misadventures of the monkey Jocko easily live up to those of his more famous canine cousin. (In the naughtiest frame of this 'family friendly' adventure, the culprit of a missing bottle of champagne is revealed to be Jocko, sleeping drunkenly behind some barrels.)

More to the point, Jo and Zette show a fair amount of chutzpah and insight, with Herge treating them equally. (It's thoroughly refreshing to see Zette get just as much action as her brother.) While the adventures rarely rise above standard chase-escape-chase fare, it's done with a level of panache and humour that equate with the increasingly complex 'Tintin' albums of the late '40s. Herge plays with our point-of-view, as when Jocko embarks on his own adventure to save Zette, even though we already know she's been saved.

There are a few other issues I had with 'Mr. Pump's Legacy', particularly the lack of dimensions to the villains, and the inadequate characterisation of poor Mrs. Legrand. However, as these are rectified in the second volume ('Destination: New York'), I retract them immediately!

It's clear that "Jo, Zette and Jocko" will never be a series esteemed as "Tintin" was. There are only five completed albums, and the first two (a two-part story entitled 'The Secret Ray') have never been translated into English. While the trio could have occasional adventures, their lifestyle didn't allow for such globetrotting as Tintin. Sure, Enid Blyton could make the English countryside a playground for decades, but Herge was never as attracted by bucolic tales. Unlike the many great works in the 'Tintin' oeuvre, 'Jo, Zette and Jocko' reveals its serialised origins far more often, and this inevitably tarnishes its reputation. Still, the album features some enjoyable characters, rip-roaring chase sequences, and an egalitarian attitude to its heroes - boy, girl, man, and monkey - which is admirable. For anyone who's enjoyed Herge's albums, it's worth a look. ( )
  therebelprince | Oct 30, 2018 |
funny book if you like action ( )
  SchusReadingStars | Jun 17, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
HergéAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Janzon, Allan B.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Janzon, KarinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Cartoon adventure in which two children and their pet monkey try to save the airship designed by their father from gangsters.

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