Recap / Tintin The Red Sea Sharks

The Red Sea Sharks (1958) is the 19th adventure of Tintin. It is notable for its re-introduction of Tintin's Rogues Gallery and a number of supporting characters. The album begins with a reference to the Land of Black Gold. In Khemed, Sheikh Bab El Ehr has finally managed to depose his rival Emir Ben Kalish Ezab. Abdullah, the Royal Brat son of the Emir, is sent to Marlinspike Hall for protection.

In various subplots:
  • Doctor J. W. Müller ( The Black Island, Land of Black Gold) has allied himself to the new regime in Khemed, playing an influential role under the alias Mull Pasha.
  • The struggle for power in San Theodoros is still ongoing. Rival leaders General Alcazar and General Tapioca (The Broken Ear, The Seven Crystal Balls) secretly purchase weapons from a smuggling operation.
  • Leading the smugglers is J. M. Dawson, a Dirty Cop previously active in Shanghai (The Blue Lotus). His police days seem to be over but his criminal connections endure.
  • Marquis di Gorgonzola, a Corrupt Corporate Executive, seems to have behind-the-scenes involvement in many of the recent events. His main plan however is reviving an illegal slave trade operation by abducting pilgrims to Mecca and selling them. The Marquis is actually Roberto Rastapopoulos, mastermind behind a supposedly defunct crime syndicate (Cigars of the Pharaoh, The Blue Lotus).
  • Allan, Captain Haddock's former second-in-command (The Crab with the Golden Claws), resurfaces as captain of a slave ship.

Tintin has to face many of these old foes in order to resolve the situation in Khemed and in the revived African slave trade.


  • Abandon Ship: Tintin and Haddock's kidnappers abandon ship after setting fire to its cargo of ammunition and explosives. As the heroes struggle to extinguish the fire, it is swamped by a large wave and Haddock is able to get the ship working again.
    • The Ellipse-Nelvana adaptation removes the wave: Tintin and Haddock rescue the prisoners and bring the fire down with their help.
  • America Saves the Day: While Americans in previous albums are typically villains, this album culminates with the USS Los Angeles coming in to rescue the heroes from submarine attack. The United States Navy saves the day.
  • Badly Battered Babysitter: Nestor, the butler of Marlinspike Hall. While Haddock is off adventuring, Nestor has to take care of young Prince Abdullah. The situation is "a little trying" on him. He loses a lot of weight while taking care of the Royal Brat.
  • Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: A menacing hand points a gun at Tintin, only for it to be Abdullah wielding a water pistol.
  • Butt Monkey: Haddock suffers from a series of Prat Falls that lead to him repeatedly falling on his face or into the ocean. When Tintin later sprays him with a hose (to stop him being attacked by rioting passengers) he tells Tintin not to apologize as he's gotten used to it.
  • Centipede's Dilemma: Captain Haddock is unable to sleep after Allan mockingly asks him if he sleeps with his beard under or above the covers. This ends up saving his life and those of everyone on the ship.
  • Completely Different Title: Coke en stock ("Coke On Board") was translated into English as Tintin The Red Sea Sharks, perhaps because the first word in the title might be taken to mean Coca-Cola (the story reveals it to be a code word for slaves). "Coke" can of course mean "Cocaine" and the original intended meaning of a kind of coal.
  • Contrived Coincidence: As per usual for this series — the airplane Tintin and Haddock are on crashes due to an engine fire, saving their lives when a Time Bomb in the hold explodes. A freak wave puts out the fire threatening to blow up the ship's cargo of explosives. Haddock drops the anchor, knocking out the frogman attempting to put a limpet mine on their hull. The trope is lampshaded at the beginning of the story, when our heroes (literally) bump into General Alcazar moments after discussing him (and right after Haddock was complaining how ridiculous the trope is, after seeing it in a movie).
  • Cool Boat: The escape submarine concealed in a "sinking" motorboat.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Haddock goes on the investigation just to get away from Abdullah. On returning he finds to his relief that the Royal Brat and his entourage has left the day before, only for Jolyon Wagg to turn up, having decided to hold a car rally at Marlinspike Hall.
  • Everything's Even Worse With Sharks: Despite the English title, this story actually features just one shark. It swallows a bomb that was meant to be planted on the side of a ship, unintentionally saving the lives of everyone on board and blowing itself up in the process.
  • Feed It a Bomb: A shark accidentally swallows a mine intended for Tintin's boat. We hear it hiccup for a while, then it culminates with a "hicBOOOOOOOOOMMMM".
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Tintin, Haddock and Piotr Skut are adrift on a raft in the middle of the Red Sea. They eventually are sighted by some passengers in Gorgonzola's ship, after which a woman immediately shouts to the latter, "Look! Shipwrecks! How madly gay!"
  • Heel–Face Turn: Skut falls in with the heroes pretty much instantly after they rescue him from his downed plane. It helps that he really wasn't anything more than a Punch Clock Villain in the first place.
  • High-Speed Missile Dodge: The Big Bad orders his submarine to sink the ship, killing the meddlesome Tintin and destroying all the evidence against him. Haddock has to keep turning the ship to avoid the torpedoes being fired at them, only to have an Oh Crap! moment when the handle of the engine order telegraph breaks off in his hand.
  • I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You: While supposedly interrogating Tintin, the Thompsons let him know which hotel Alcazar is staying at.
  • Implied Death Threat: Allan reminds Haddock and Tintin of the eponymous sharks when warning them not to be troublesome.
  • Lost at Sea
  • The Namesake: The English title for this story is a reference to a single shark which appears in one of the closing scenes. In the original French and most other languages, this album is known as "Coke on Board", with "coke" or some variant being a code-word for human cargo being shipped to slavery. Coke is a form of fuel, derived from coal. it is used here as a synonym for "black".
    • Though the "sharks" is likely also to be a reference to the various villains they encounter, including Submarine Pirates in a shark-prowed Type VII U-boat.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Airplanes and armoured cars are sent to stop our heroes. One ends up bombing the other due to a miscommunication.
  • Percussive Maintenance: The radio Skut is trying to repair works perfectly after Tintin accidentally knocks it off the table.
  • Rebus Bubble: Haddock has one of these.
  • Rogues Gallery: The album brings back many of Tintin's old enemies and connects them to each other in various ways. Included are Dawson (The Blue Lotus), Bab El Ehr (Land of Black Gold), General Tapioca (mentioned in The Broken Ear), Dr. Müller (The Black Island), Rastapopoulos (Cigars of the Pharaoh and The Blue Lotus), and Allan Thompson (The Crab with the Golden Claws and, in a later edition, Cigars of the Pharaoh).
  • So Much for Stealth: Tintin is listening in on Dawson arranging a weapons shipment, only to find Adbullah has planted an alarm clock in his coat as a practical joke.
  • Submarine Pirates: Di Gorgonzola's slaver gang uses several ships and one submarine to attack targets. The submarine is a German Type VII U-boat.
  • Suicidal Gotcha: Villainous example. Recurring Big Bad Rastapopoulos has been caught as the master of the Evil Plan which involved literal slave-trading, and the navy is closing on his superyacht. He goes out in a launch, supposedly to give himself up, but it suddenly sinks. The heroes and the world media think that he is dead, but he has in fact escaped in a mini-submarine hidden in the launch.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Dawson is portrayed as much more of an outright villain than he was in his debut, where he generally stayed in the confines of the law while trying to catch Tintin. Here, he decides to have Tintin blown up based purely off a second-hand report of him skulking around Dawson's weapons warehouse.
  • Wanted Poster: Wanted posters for Tintin and Haddock in Khemed.
  • Who's on First?: Haddock asks a shot-down fighter pilot his name and he thinks he's replying "scoot!" as a rejection. Turns out he's Estonian and his name is actually Piotr Skut.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Subverted with the black Muslims whom Allan and Rastapopulous are slave-trading under the guise of transporting them to Mecca on the Hajj. Initially Haddock is completely unable to convince them of this, but after a bit of consideration, most of them decide he probably has a point, as some previous hajjis Allan took on the journey never came home.