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The Adventures of Tintin: King Ottokar’s Sceptre (Review)

To celebrate the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn in the United States later this month, I’ll be taking a look at some of nineties animated television show. Check back daily!

Note: This is our review of the animated episode, check out our review of the book here.

In a way, King Ottokar’s Sceptre feels like the end of an era. King Ottokar’s Sceptre is the last adventure in the series that Tintin would spend alone (save for the company of the loyal companion, Snowy). Although Hergé began work on The Land of Black Gold next, the next completed story (The Crab With the Golden Claws) would introduce Captain Haddock, who would follow Tintin for the rest of the series.  It was also the last story that Hergé completed before the outbreak of the Second World War, and the sense of paranoia is palpable. After this story, Hergé would remove a lot of the more overt political commentary from the series, preferring to offer more subtle and biting commentary. I’m delighted to say that the animated adaptation retain pretty much all of the spirit of Heré’s original story, which I was a little worried about given how deeply rooted the story is in the European politics of the thirties.

Keys to the kingdom...

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Tintin: King Ottokar’s Sceptre (Review)

In the lead-up to the release of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, I’m going to be taking a look at Hergé’s celebrated comic book character, from his humble beginnings through to the incomplete post-modern finale. I hope you enjoy the ride.

It’s amazing what you can miss in enjoying your favourite stories as a child. For me, at the tender age of seven or eight, King Ottokar’s Sceptre was a thrilling tale of palace intrigue with a rather wonderful locked-room mystery at it heart. Returning to it now, it feels like quite a bit more. This is the first time, reading a Tintin book, that it feels part of a particular place or time. Even the possibly-Nazi agent from The Black Island was cast ambiguously enough that the story could have been set at any time in the relatively recent past, but King Ottokar’s Sceptre is something quite a bit different, capturing the sense of fear in Europe on the eve of warfare.

A locked room mystery...

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