The Broken Ear is the sixth album of The Adventures of Tintin and sequel to The Blue Lotus. First serialized in Le Petit Vingtième from 1935 to 1937, and first collected in book form in French in 1937, it was later redrawn and colourised in 1943.
An idol originally belonging to a Native American tribe in South America is stolen from the Museum of Ethnography in Brussels. The next day it is returned the museum, along with a note apologizing for the inconvenience and stating the reason for the theft had been a bet. Tintin, who was among the reporters looking into the story, realizes that the replaced fetish is a fake, the distinction being an ear broken on the original but the replacement ear is whole.
Tintin examines a book from his own collection with an image of the idol, drawn by an explorer: it confirms that one of the ears is damaged, while the one in the museum is not. Tintin then reads that a wood carver called Jacob Balthazar had died. Suspecting that Balthazar made a duplicate of the idol and was murdered, Tintin tries to obtain Balthazar's Parrot in order to get a clue of the killer's identity. He soon discovers that a pair of South Americans — Alonso Perez and Ramon Bada — are also searching for the idol, following the same clues, albeit employing more ruthless methods. A few attempts are made to kill Tintin in the process.
The parrot eventually repeats the last words of his late owner, naming a man called Rodrigo Tortilla as the killer. Ramon and Alonzo are acquaintances of Tortilla, and Tintin, having tracked them down, overhears their conversation. This takes the three men, and their attempts to outwit each other, to South America, where the plot thickens. During the journey by ship, Alonzo and Ramon manage to murder Tortilla by throwing him off the ship at night. It was he who stole the idol from the museum and murdered Balthazar after getting him to produce the copy that was placed in the museum. Among his luggage is yet another replica of the stolen idol. Tintin, who was also on the ship in disguise, has Alonzo and Ramon arrested as they dock in Los Dopicos, the main port of the republic of San Theodoros. However, his attempts are in vain for the colonel in charge is corrupt and allows the duo to slip away once ashore. He then helps them to lure Tintin to shore where he is framed for terrorism and sentenced to death.
In San Theodoros the rebellious General Alcazar and his men have been fighting against the ruling General Tapioca and his dictatorship. Just before Tintin can be shot by the firing squad, General Alcazar's rebels manage to save him. Unusually, Tintin has been drinking heavily because, at the start of the execution, the soldiers found out that their guns had been tampered with so the commander treated him to a "little aperitif" of aguardiente, the national drink. Thus, in a drunken state, Tintin proclaims his support for Alcazar in front of the firing squad, interrupted by an insurrection. Now in command of the country, General Alcazar honours Tintin by making him Colonel and his aide-de-camp. Tintin's new position of power is not without its problems. For one thing his humiliated predecessor swears revenge and makes several bungled attempts to kill him and Alcazar.
Ramon and Alonzo also continue in their attempts to get rid of him and recover the genuine idol. The idol found in Tortilla's possession has turned out to be yet another fake. They are erroneously persuaded that Tintin knows the location of the original idol and do not believe his denials, forcing him to lie about its whereabouts. Tintin manages to escape and capture Alonzo and Ramon. He takes them to prison, but they are soon freed yet again. Even worst, two rival oil companies, General American Oil and British South-American Petrol, manipulate the governments of San Theodoros and the neighbouring state of Nuevo-Rico, pushing both countries to war in order to get control of some profitable oil fields on the border of the two nations. When Tintin attempts to prevent war, R.W. Trickler, a representative of General American Oil, arranges for him to be killed by a man named Pablo. However, the attempt on his life fails, due to a simultaneous assassination attempt by Ramon. Tintin captures Pablo, who begs for mercy, and lets him go.
Trickler frames Tintin for espionage and he is sentenced to death. Pablo, grateful that Tintin spared his life, assembles a gang of men, breaks into the prison and frees Tintin and Snowy in an act of reciprocation. They escape by car to the border with Nuevo-Rico, but come under fire by Nuevo-Rican border guards with a Hotchkiss machine gun and a Pak 38 anti-tank gun. The incident is then exaggerated in the press and used by the belligerent governments of both countries as justification for the war over oil that Tintin had been endeavouring to prevent. Tintin manages to escape the Nuevo-Ricans and discovers that he is not far from the Arumbaya River. The Arumbayas, who live isolated in the rainforest, were the original owners of the idol. The idol itself is of no real value and Tintin has been wondering why so many people have been willing to steal and kill for it. He believes that the Arumbayas hold the answer and convinces a reluctant native to take him to them.
While in the rainforest Tintin meets a man named Ridgewell, a British explorer living with the Arumbayas, and he learns that the idol was offered to a previous explorer, A.J. Walker (who also happens to be the author of the book "Travels in the Americas", London, 1875 Tintin had read earlier), as a token of friendship during his stay with the tribe. But as soon as the explorers left, the Arumbayas discovered that a sacred diamond had disappeared. Lopez, an interpreter to the explorers, had stolen it. The Arumbayas were furious and pursued Walker's expedition, massacring almost all the explorers. Walker himself managed to escape with the idol while a wounded Lopez barely got himself out of the jungle. Tintin believes that Lopez hid the diamond in the idol so that he could retrieve it later on. Tintin leaves the Arumbayas only to come across Alonzo and Ramon who have deserted from the San Theodoran Army after they were drafted during the war with Nuevo-Rico. Realizing he lied to them before, they again try to force him to reveal the location of the idol.
However, Tintin manages to escape, then capture them. In Alonzo's wallet he finds a note signed by Lopez which confirms that the diamond is in the idol. The note once belonged to Rodrigo Tortilla, the man who originally stole the idol from the museum and was later murdered by Ramon and Alonzo. How Tortilla is connected to Lopez is not revealed. Alonzo and Ramon later escape. Tintin and Snowy have reached a dead end so they return home, where they hear the news that San Theodoros has made peace with Nuevo-Rico, and the oil companies' machinations went for nothing because there was no oil after all. Then Tintin is surprised to find copies of the idol being sold in numerous shops. He visits the factory that produces them and sees Balthazar's brother Simon, who had found the idol among his late brother's possessions. However he has sold the original idol to a rich American tourist called Samuel Goldbarr, who has left for home on aboard the S.S. Washington. Using a plane Tintin manages to catch up with the departed ship, only to find that Ramon and Alonzo are already aboard and have finally got hold of the idol. During the confrontation the idol falls and breaks, revealing the diamond. All three of them try to save it, but it falls into the ocean and they also sink. Tintin is saved by the crew. However, Alonzo and Ramon drown (and are subsequently shown briefly being pulled up by devils to Hell). The diamond is never found afterwards.
The original idol is glued and tied back together and returned to the museum by the wishes of Goldbarr after he is informed of the situation.
- This comic book marks the first appearance of General Alcazar, a character that eventually becomes a pivotal character in further stories. He reappears in "The Seven Crystal Balls", "The Red Sea Sharks" and in "Tintin and the Picaros".
- Dr. Ridgewell and Pablo later returned in "Tintin and the Picaros".
- Although General Tapioca was only mentioned in this book, like in the subsequent comic books "The Seven Crystal Balls" and "The Red Sea Sharks", he makes his only appearance in "Tintin and the Picaros".
- R.W. Trickler subsequently returns in the unfinished "Tintin and Alph-Art" as an important guest in the party of Endaddine Akass.
- The story of this comic book was continued years later with "Tintin and the Picaros", involving Alcazar's revolution to obtain Tapioca's place as dictator of the Republic of San Theodoros.
- Thompson and Thomson
- Rodrigo Tortilla
- Jacob Balthazar
- Simon Balthazar
- Jacob Balthazar's Landlady
- Ramón Bada
- Alonso Perez
- Professor R.W. Euclide
- Colonel Barker
- Eugene Trebblebob
- Colonel Jimenez
- Captain Maldemer
- General Alcazar
- General Tapioca (mentioned)
- Corporal Diaz
- General Olivaro
- R.W. Trickler
- Basil Bazarov
- Colonel Juanitos
- General Mogador
- Don José Trujillo
- Dr. Ridgewell
- Witch Doctor (The Broken Ear)
- Chief Avakuki
- A.J. Walker
- Butler to Mr Goldbarr
- Samuel Goldbarr
- San Theodoros
- General American Oil
- British South-American Petrol
- Korrupt Arms
|The Adventures of Tintin|