Flight 714 to Sydney (The Adventures of Tintin) Paperback – 15 Jul 2011
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About the Author
Hergé (Georges Remi) was born in Brussels in 1907. Over the course of 54 years he completed 23 albums of The Adventures of Tintin series, which is now considered to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, comics series of all time. With translations published in over 80 languages, more than 230 million copies sold worldwide and a Hollywood movie to its name, Tintin dominates the Comics and Graphic Novels chart even today. Sadly, Hergé died in 1983, leaving his 24th album, Tintin and Alph-Art, unfinished, but his hero continues to be one of the most iconic characters in both adult and children’s fiction.
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By this time (1968), Tintin was not all about action and adventure, and the characters (especially Captain Haddock) and satire had begun to dominate; the best example of this was the predecessor of this book, Castafiore Emeralds. Flight 714 presents a great new character, the multimillionare Laszlo Carreidas. Hergés intention was to avoid dualism, i.e. in this case, making people to be either good or bad, and thus Carreidas is a pretty creepy character even though he is one of the "good guys". The most famous example is the part where Carreidas and Tintins arch-rival, Rastapopoulos, argue under the influence of truth serum who the master of evil truly is.
Hergé also wanted to make the bad guys appear more sympathetic, so we see Rastapopoulos incapable of killing a harmless spider, running into a tree, getting constantly hit in the head with something, dealing with a exploding grenade, and his right-hand man, Allan, accidentally comparing him with a proboscis monkey etc.
I'd say that about 60 % of this book is better than any other Tintin (or any other comic book, for that matter). Unfortunately, near the end it gets a bit too weird, and there are too many things happening. But the good easily outweighs the bad, and so the book gets a well-deserved 5 stars from me.
Unfortunately, the plane is hijacked and forced to land on a volcanic desert island where the dastardly Rastapopolous awaits them. His plan is to extract from Mr Carreidas (with the assistance of a 'truth' serum) the millionaire's bank account number. But, of course, he hadn't planned for the arrival of his arch-nemesis Tintin!
While poor old Carreidas is being 'interviewed', Tintin and the others are incarcerated in an old World War II Japanese bunker. Inevitably, with the assistance of Snowy, they overpower their guards and escape, and set about rescuing Carreidas. In the meantime, the attempt to get Carreidas to reveal his bank details has not gone well and, inadvertently, Rastapopolous himself has also been injected with truth serum! Consequently, the interrogation has descended into an infantile argument between the two of them as to which is the most villainous (under the influence of the serum, they are both telling the truth)!
Having rescued Carreidas and captured Rastapopolous (for the time being!), Tintin and Haddock still have to deal with Rastapopolous's side-kick (the efficient and ruthless Alan) and his men. Outgunned and with no escape route, Tintin and co take refuge in a network of mysterious tunnels burrowed into the mountainside.
Rather than give the rest of the tale away, suffice it to say that it involves a volcanic eruption, an encounter with a very peculiar little man and the timely intervention of some other-worldly visitors to the island.
This really is a most entertaining tale - classic Tintin! An excellent plot, some brilliant characters, hilarious interactions, witty dialogue, a spooky atmosphere - and some FANTASTIC artwork! In fact, Herge's drawings in Flight 714 are among my absolute favourites - some of the scenes in the ancient tunnels stimulate the imagination like no others (these left a huge and spooky impression on me as a child)!
Herge's sense of humour is also on top form in this book, with Laszlo Carreidas being the most amusingly bad-mannered and abrasive man you'll ever encounter! And another absolute joy is the treatment Herge deals out to Rastapopolous who, over the course of the story, is severely punished for his villainy! Read the book and observe how he is stabbed by a needle, pricked with a thorn, bashed on the head by a discarded rifle, runs full-tilt into a tree, has yards of sticky tape torn from his face and sideburns, gets his clothes shredded by a grenade, gets a black-eye from Alan's elbow and finally another bonk on the bonce from a falling stalactite!! Marvellous stuff.
A Timeless Classic.
Maybe, maybe not…personally, I think it was mostly business as usual. All the usual gags are there: Captain Haddock's insults are as incomprehensible as they are colorful, Calculus is distracted and badly in need of a hearing aid, Snowy (Tintin's little dog) is hyper-intelligent and saves the day more than once, and the crooks are old acquaintances from earlier albums. Perhaps Tintin, the ever-young and priggish boy scout, is a bit harder than usual. In “Flight 714”, he is using both guns and machine guns to fight the bad guys!
What makes “Flight 714” interesting is, surprise, precisely the paranormal angel mentioned above. One of the characters, called Mik Kanrokitoff in the English version and Mik Ezdamtoff in the Franco-Belgian original, is based on Jacques Bergier, the famous French ufologist and co-author of “The Morning of the Magicians”! Apparently, Hergé had approached Bergier and asked the ufologist if he wanted to be portrayed in a Tintin comic. Bergier accepted with the words “Nobody remembers last year's Nobel Prize winners, everyone will remember Mik Ezdamtoff”.
The plot has incorporated elements of the “ancient astronaut theory”, made famous shortly afterwards by Erich von Däniken. There are also references to UFO contactees and abductees. The story ends inconclusively, since Tintin and his friends have been hypnotically induced to forget Kanrokitoff and the aliens. Calculus finds an object apparently not made of any metal found on Earth (again like many contactees), but his claims are laughed at by the general public (also a realistic scenario).
All in all, an interesting little piece of cultural studies, originally published in 1966-68.
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