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Recap / Alix: Le Sphinx d'or

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The 1956 album cover

Le Sphinx d'or (The Golden Sphinx) is a comic book by Jacques Martin. It was first published in Tintin magazine in 1949-1950. Then it was published as a comic album in 1956. This is the second episode of the Alix series.

Alix comes back to his Gaulish home village. At the same time, Julius Caesar besieges Alesia. Caesar is also looking for Alix because he wants to assign him a mission.

The rest of the story in a classical spy story, but set in Ancient Egypt. Caesar's agents in Alexandria have all disappeared mysteriously. As soon as Alix arrives there, the bad guys try to kidnap him. They fail and Alix manages to steal a secret document with information about the location of the Supervillain Lair. He gets there, but he is caught. The big bad suggests Alix should work for him (amongst other reasons because Alix's friend Enak is suspended above a pit full of rats—yes, there is a want of Shark Pool in Upper Egypt), and he offers him a lunch and a guided tour of his lair, where he prepares a Secret Weapon to Take Over the World. The Cavalry soon attacks the lair, which finally collapses, but not before the villain has escaped safely.


Le Sphinx d'or provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Anachronism Stew: Two Chinese scientists know how to make gunpowder in 52 BC. In reality, Chinese alchemists invented gunpowder much later, in the 9th century AD.
  • Ancient Egypt: Alix is sent to Egypt by Caesar. The story is set in 52 BC, so at the very end of the pharaonic period. After a prologue in Gaul, the bulk of the story happens in Alexandria and in Efaoud, a fictional temple in Upper Egypt.
  • Antagonist Title: "The Golden Sphinx" is the nickname of the Big Bad. Also a MacGuffin Title, because small golden sphinxes are clues to find Efaoud.
  • Bad Boss: The Sphinx is angry when he is losing the final battle and he punches a minion in the face. The minion immediately takes revenge: he shouts that the Sphinx surrenders, so the other minions stop fighting.
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  • Big Damn Heroes: Alix gets to his home village just as Vanic is going to be executed. He saves him.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Efaoud is destroyed, but the Sphinx has escaped with the formula of the gunpowder. Many Egyptian soldiers and the Roman mole have died in the final battle.
  • Bodybag Trick: Karan hides inside a sarcophagus to escape from Alexandria in a funerary boat.
  • The Cavalry: The Egyptian archers who show up in Efaoud short after Alix is caught by the Sphinx.
  • Collapsing Lair: The Sphinx's base explodes in the end. Part of it was already destroyed during the final battle. Then Sénoris decides to burn it. It finally explodes because of its stock of gunpowder.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • Sékara, Imar and Karan already try to kidnap Alix before hearing that he is the agent sent by Julius Caesar to investigate their organization.
    • Alix visits Josah's shop just at the same time as Karan.
    • Karan crosses paths with Alix in the desert when they both try to reach Efaoud.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Enak is an orphan, so he is free to follow Alix in his adventures.
  • Curtain Camouflage: An Egyptian soldier and The Mole hide behind a curtain in Alix's room when Yen-Si suggests Alix to betray the Sphinx. Someone (probably The Mole) also hided behind a curtain when the Sphinx welcomed Alix in his base.
  • Disney Death:
    • A Roman soldier hits Alix's neck with his sling. Then Julius Caesar is angry with him because he brought back a dead Alix, but an officer interrupts Caesar to say that Alix's body is moving, so he is not dead.
    • Karan throws Enak against a stone. His accomplices say that he is dead and that they will throw his body into the Nile. Later, when Alix questions him, Sékara confirms that Enak is dead. Actually, he is not: he was just knocked out and he came round when he was thrown in the Nile.
  • Distressed Dude:
    • In the temple in Alexandria, Enak is caught by Karan and his henchmen.
    • Later, Enak is kidnapped by the boatman and brought to the Sphinx. The Sphinx then threatens to drop him into a pit full of rats to convince Alix to work for him.
    • During the final battle, Enak is once again held prisoner by Yen-Si. The Sphinx, Yen-Si and Karan take him with them when they try to escape.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Inverted. Arbacès, Yen-Si and Karan disguise themselves as Egyptian soldiers to escape.
  • Fake Defector: Alix pretends to accept to work for the Sphinx.
  • Faux Affably Evil: The Sphinx offers Alix a lunch and a guided tour in his base... before threatening to feed Enak to hungry rats should Alix refuse to help him.
  • Final Battle: The story ends with the assault of the Sphinx's base by the Egyptian archers of Sénoris.
  • Gilded Cage: In Efaoud, Alix is put up in a comfortable room, but Karan makes clear that he cannot escape: the window overlooks a chasm.
  • God Guise: The Sphinx pretends to be a god to control his Egyptian followers.
  • Hidden Villain: The Big Bad, the Sphinx, always wears a golden mask. Actually, he is Arbacès.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: Guess who the Sphinx is? Arbacès!
  • Historical Domain Character: Julius Caesar, Titus Labienus and Vercingetorix.
  • Human Sacrifice: Ansila suggests to execute someone to know if the gods want the tribe to participate in the Battle of Alesia. Aldéric accepts and he chooses to execute Vanic, the only survivor of the family of the former chief.
  • Idiot Ball: Alix sends three emissaries to Julius Caesar's camp. One of them is Aldéric, the guy who was the chief before Alix came back and who planned to execute Vanic.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten!: As first mission, the Sphinx asks Alix to kill Sénoris. Guards will go with Alix and kill him if he betrays the Sphinx. Finally, the Sphinx does not have the time to carry out this plan.
  • Instant Messenger Pigeon: Falcons are used by Karan to communicate with the Sphinx. Alix also uses falcons to communicate with Sénoris.
  • Kidnapped Scientist: Subverted. The Sphinx pretends that he kidnapped Yen-Si and his companion, but it is a trap to test Alix's loyalty.
  • Kid Sidekick: Enak is much younger than Alix.
  • MacGuffin Title: Two small golden sphinxes are clues to find Efaoud. Also an Antagonist Title, because "The Golden Sphinx" is the nickname of the Big Bad.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: The Sphinx wears a golden mask to conceal his identity.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: The Sphinx is angry when he is losing the final battle and he punches a minion in the face. The minion immediately takes revenge: he shouts that the Sphinx surrenders, so the other minions stop fighting.
  • The Mole: A Roman who infiltrated Efaoud helps Alix. He is killed during the final battle.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: Crocodiles try to eat Karan when he escapes from the funerary boat.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: The Sphinx invites Alix to have lunch with him. Then he gives him a guided tour of his secret base.
  • No One Could Survive That!:
    • Alix jumps from the roof of a temple into the Nile. He does not reappear to the surface. Karan and his henchmen assume that he is dead. He is not.
    • The body of an unconscious Enak is thrown in the Nile. Karan and his henchmen assume that he is dead. He is not.
    • The guys on the funerary boat assume that Karan is dead when the crocodiles attack him.
  • The Reveal: The Sphinx is Arbacès.
  • Rightful King Returns: Alix, the son of the beloved chief Astorix, is back in his home village. The inhabitants immediately recognize him as their new chief.
  • Second Episode Introduction: Enak appears in this second episode of the series.
  • Secret Test: Yen-Si suggests Alix to betray the Sphinx. This is actually a test to assess his loyalty.
  • Secret Underground Passage:
    • There is one in Karan's house. He uses it to escape from Sénoris's archers.
    • There is one in the Sphinx's room in Efaoud. He uses it to escape with Karan, Yen-Si and Enak.
  • Secret Weapon: The Sphinx has a secret weapon. First, it is used to destroy Romula's house. Finally, when the Sphinx guides Alix through his base, he reveals that it is gunpowder.
  • Slave Liberation: Alix and the Egyptian soldiers free the Sphinx's slaves.
  • Soft Water:
    • Alix jumps from the roof of a temple into the Nile. He does not suffer from the fall.
    • When he arrives in Efaoud, Alix falls from a high cliff into a small pond. He is just knocked out.
  • The Starscream: Arbacès was sent to Egypt by Pompey the Great to produce gunpowder, but he decided to keep this weapon for himself to take over the World.
  • Storming the Castle: In the end, the Egyptian archers storm the Sphinx's base.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: Alix comes back to his home village. As soon as he gets there, he has to save his cousin Vanic from a Human Sacrifice schemed by the druid Ansila and the new chief Aldéric, who are less than pleased to hear that the son of their former chief is back. Ansila and Aldéric then conspire to discredit Alix in the eyes of both the Romans and the other Gaulish tribes.
  • Supervillain Lair: Efaoud, a huge complex in the middle of the inaccessible mountains, where the Sphinx can play pharaoh with a throne carried by more than ten men, where he develops a terrible weapon, gunpowder, where he can throw his prisoners into pits full of rats...
  • Sword Cane: The Sphinx uses a sword hidden in a crook (the Egyptian heka which was the symbol of the pharaoh's authority) to hit someone hidden behind a curtain.
  • Take Over the World: This is the declared goal of the Sphinx: conquering Egypt, Greece, Rome, and then the World.
  • Technologically Advanced Foe: The Sphinx can use gunpowder and it gives him a decisive advantage over Alix and the Egyptians, who have to outnumber him and to steal a bomb to defeat him.
  • Unwilling Suspension: Enak is suspended this way above a pit full of rats.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Arbacès escapes in the end. Only Alix tries to chase him, but he must soon give up.
  • We Can Rule Together: The Sphinx suggests Alix to work for him. He threatens to kill Enak to convince him.
  • You Dirty Rat!: The Sphinx threatens to drop Enak into a pit full of rats.

Alternative Title(s): Le Sphinx Dor