Flight 714 (The Adventures of Tintin)
Created: Sat Mar 20 16:57:48 2010 | Last modified: Sat Mar 20 16:57:48 2010
"Flight 714" is one of my favourite albums. A fast paced action thriller, it features a plane hijacking, a remote tropical island, plenty of guns and shooting, a volcanic eruption and aliens. One of Hergé's later albums, this is also one of the best drawn books in the Tintin series. The tropical island has been pictured in vivid detail and is a good contrast to the gloomy, mysterious temple in the latter half of the story.
The story is this: Tintin, Captain Haddock and Professor Calculus are on their way to an International Astronautical Congress held in Sydney. They land in Jakarta in transit and they meet an old friend, the Estonian pilot Skut in the airport. Through him, they meet his boss, the aircraft tycoon Laszlo Carriedas (described somewhat ironically as the "millionaire who never laughs") who insists on taking them to their destination as he happens to be going to the same conference as well. Tintin and company are forced to accept his offer. Unfortunately for them, what was meant to be a quiet, peaceful journey turns out to be a harrowing adventure as they find out that Carriedas' secretary Spalding is a traitor who hijacks the flight with his help of his associates, the co-pilot Columbani and the radio operator Hans. Tintin and his friends, along with Skut and the steward are made prisoners and the flight is diverted to a remote tropical island where an old enemy of Tintin has designs on Carriedas' Swiss bank account. However things start to go wrong for the villains when Tintin and his friends manage to escape from the bunker. What happens after that forms the rest of the adventure and I won't reveal any more of the plot here.
While being a fast and furious action adventure, "Flight 714" also has its share of humour. Roberto Rastapopoulos is more clownish than villainish. In particular, the interrogation of Carriedas with the "truth serum" in the bunker is one of the most hilarious scenes every conjured up by Hergé. Again, the interchanges between Rastapopoulos and his right-hand man Allan is another source of humour. The scene where Allan looks at a proboscis monkey and imagines it to be Rastapopoulos (based on the shape of its nose) is superbly conceived. The latter half of the book is more subdued and serious, but has its own light-hearted moments as well, particularly when Carriedas is hynotized by Mik Kanrokitoff to make him believe that he's not lost his hat.
Hergé has really explored all the characters in this adventure. While apparently being on the "good" side, Laszlo Carriedas actually comes across as the most repellant character in this story. Selfish and short-tempered, He's shown as a low-down cheat who uses closed-circuit television in order to win a game of Battleships. On the other hand, Rastapopoulos, while undoubtedly evil, is cast as a pathetic buffoon who keeps having accidents and is only capable of bungling all his well-laid plans.
"Flight 714" marks Hergé's maturity and is a polished, complete, entertaining Tintin adventure. Highly readable, I rate it 5/5.