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4.5 out of 5 stars
The Broken Ear (The Adventures of Tintin)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
There's an understandable tendency to look dismissively at the earliest solo Tintin adventures - justifiably in some cases. The artwork is somewhat naïve, as are the depictions of the countries that Tintin visits and the racial stereotyping, and the stories themselves suffer from the episodic format that they were originally published in, and there's often no clear overarching story, just a series of adventures based around a theme. On the other hand, the attraction of Tintin's character and the foundations of his investigative nature are established in his exploration of exotic lands, delighting in the diversity of a world rather that is more complicated than it would seem.

In this respect, The Broken Ear is certainly one of the best earliest Tintin exploits and, packed with incident and adventure, it's also one of the most memorable. More than just a series of adventures in a foreign land, there's some real-life relevance to the nature of South American republics in constant revolution, one dictatorial regime replacing another and not appearing to be any different or less cruel, while American investors, oil companies and weapons dealers manipulate the situation for their own ends.

The story starts off innocently enough with Tintin becoming interested in the disappearance of a South American fetish from a museum only for it to be replaced the next day, with its formerly broken ear now suspiciously intact. It's clearly been switched, but why would anyone go to such trouble for an object of little more than ethnographic interest? Tintin follows up the trail of a murdered sculptor and a talking parrot, before finding that the trail leads him right back to San Theodoros and the Arumbaya tribe living in its jungle. Before Tintin can investigate further however, he finds himself caught up in a revolution and appointed aide-de-camp of General Alcazar who has just deposed the evil dictator General Tapioca.

Certainly much of the storyline is built on cliché and standard plot devices - masked revolutionaries in sombreros running around carrying fizzing bombs, last minute escapes from firing squads, Amazonian tribes with poison darts - and the artwork is rather simplistic, showing little of the meticulous detail and research that Hergé and his studio would put into later works, but even so, this is the stuff of grand adventure. The storyline may freewheel from one incident to the next, but Hergé remains focussed on the story, returning repeatedly to the missing fetish and its mystery, allowing it to be the motif that threads through the narrative. And while the clear-line artwork might lack the finesse of mid-period Hergé, there's still a wonderful dynamism to the visual storytelling elements and the layouts, fully capturing the exoticism of the locations and the danger within them. Tremendous fun.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
As a grown man I've just finished collecting all the Tintin titles I owned as a kid, plus a few I never had 'back in the day', and I have to say, that while I've changed lot, and that dreamlike state of childhood innocence is hard to recapture, the Tintin books, on the whole, help me get close. They remain enchanting.

I love the hapless ill-fated villains in Tintin And The Broken Ear, Alonso and Ramon. There's a talking parrot, an amnesiac, and general Alcazar makes what I believe is his first appearance. As usual there's some beautiful 'bandes dessinées' artwork from Hergé, the lushly rendered jungle being very evocative, and he pays his usual attention to detail, basing the 'Arumbaya fetish' on a real statuette from an ethnographic museum that, I believe, he discovered in his locality.

As others have noted, this is one of the better Tintin adventures from Hergés earlier period. I loved them all back in the day, and I still love them now. Whether you're a child reading the Tintin adventures for the first time, or an adult returning to them, they remain enchanting.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 6 December 2010
I read this when I was 11, in the early 1970's, and thought it was wonderful. It was only years later that I appreciated the humour of the translation (into English). The conversation between the old scientist(missing presumed dead) and the Arumbaya tribe members looks like some foreign language but when read carefully is actually English written phonetically, with a heavy cockney accent. Wonderful stuff.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 January 2010
This is one of the best of the early Tintin stories, with a decent plot and some nicely observed details. Unlike some of the early Tintin adventures, this one has also aged pretty well.

Taking us from Europe to the world of feuding South American dictatorships, this adventure is always entertaining, and also has some jokes that will amuse the grown ups too - like the tongue in cheek references to the Chaco war and arms trader Sir Basil Zaharoff.

There are also some good characters along the way, like General Alcazar who makes his first appearance in this story. Watch out for the nicely drawn jungle landscapes too.

I remember getting this title as a kid in 1976 when it was only just available in the UK - and only then in hardback format. Years later I still kick myself for giving it away to a charity shop when I was a teenager!
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on 7 August 2015
“The Broken Ear” is an early and relatively good Tintin adventure, filled with allusions to contemporary events and real people. It was originally published in 1935-37. The current, “canonical” version is from 1943.

Tintin investigates the theft of an Amerindian fetish at a Belgian museum (the fetish, too, was based on a real artifact) and soon finds himself in South America, where he experiences an absurd military coup and a war for oil provoked by foreign multinationals. The “Gran Chapo War” between the fictional South American nations of “San Theodoros” and “Nuevo Rico” has obvious similarities to the Gran Chaco War between Bolivia and Paraguay. The scheming arms dealer who sells cannons to both sides is based on a real person, a certain Basil Zaharoff. Hergé parodies pretty much everyone in this story: Latin American palace “revolutions”, Western oil companies and arms dealers, Latino gangsters and head-hunting Natives. Unfortunately, a stereotyped “greedy Jew” has been included, as well.

“The Broken Ear” introduces the colorful character General Alcazar for the first time, who would became a recurring feature of the Tintin universe. It also contains one of the more peculiar (and to some, shocking) frames of all Tintin stories, in which two dead villains are taken to Hell by literal devils! Otherwise, it's an old fashioned adventure and detective story. I consider it to be one of the better Tintin comics, probably because I never had a fetish for Captain Haddock (who is blissfully excluded from this story, not having been invented yet).
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on 6 November 2014
There are lots of good Tintin adventures out there (The Black Island, the trip to the Moon, Flight 714 and so on), but I would say that this is my favourite. It has everything you need for a really exciting story - loads of action, daring escapes, mysteries, heroes, villains and very varied settings. It's also one of the most diverse adventures - you get to see Tintin in Europe solving the murder mystery, then in South America, firstly as a colonel then investigating the Arumbaya tribe, and then back to Europe again to finish, with the fast-paced rescue of the Arumbaya fetish - all in one adventure, which doesn't happen very often in the Tintin series. Also a very varied range of characters, such as General Alcazar, the Indians, the villains Alonso and Ramon, and others too. This is the type of adventure where you just want to keep reading on to find out what happens to Tintin next. This could serve as either an excellent introduction to the Tintin series or a fantastic read for those well used to the series too. A really good book all round!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 1 September 2009
Fast paced, with much of the usual stuff in it, it is another of the straightforward crime/adventure thriller for children type stories which make up the majority of Herge's works. I'm one who prefers the slightly offbeat or creative stories that I think he should have made more of, TT in Tibet, The Shooting Star, Flight 714 for example. This is a well detailed, fast paced adventure taking Tintin to another exotic location so it's still a good read, better than most pre-Haddock books but not as good as The Black Island.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 30 April 2006
The storyline of theis book is both very action packed and exciting but still manages to find room for a few jokes, it starts with A fetish being stolen from a museum and then mysteriously being replaced with a fake, and as with most Tintin stories he travels long distances (spain this time) to recover it, and places great personal risk upon himself and along the way meeting a new friend (general Alcazar) and being arrested and nearly shot sevaral times eventually he discovers the wild Arumbaya tribe and meeting and old scientist missing and presumed dead years ago, all the while being chased and chasing two spanish criminals but in the end (as always) he reaps his reward and the original fetish is returned in less than perfect condition... to the museum- this story is a must have for any Tintin collector and definately one of Herges better books in regard to the artwork.
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on 23 March 2012
This book varies between unbelievable adventure - getting knocked out daily, surviving car crashes, gunshots and lightening - and then long text explanations of plot. Tintin travels half way round the world to find out why a statue in a local museum was swapped and the story goes off on various tangents without the sympathetic culture studies in later books. Overall, it seems rushed, with scenes shoe horned in.
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on 28 August 2012
Tintin and the broken ear is a great bok for ages 5-12. It is all about Tintin trying to find a model of an aryumba fetish who are a tribe in south america. Tintin is also being chased by rivals. Definitly a good read
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