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Recap / Alix: Le Tombeau étrusque

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Le Tombeau étrusque (The Etruscan Tomb) is a comic book by Jacques Martin. It was first published in Tintin magazine in 1967-1968. Then it was published as a comic album in 1968. This is the eighth episode of the Alix series.

Alix and Enak escort the young Octavius across Italy. They spend the night in a deserted farm, when they are woken up by masked riders who attack another farm.


Le Tombeau étrusque provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Almost Dead Guy: Lucius is wounded when the column of prisoners is attacked by the Molochists. In spite of his wounds, he manages to walk to Tullius's house to tell him about the attack. Subverted, because he survives.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: A Roman bureaucrat who has his slaves fed to carnivorous fishes when they displease him? This seems to be an exaggeration of the cruelty of ancient times. Actually, this is a real historical anecdote, reported by Pliny the Elder, Cassius Dio and Seneca.
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  • And Now You Must Marry Me: Brutus tries to force Livia to marry him. When she is his prisoner, he tells her that she will be her queen.
  • Battle in the Rain: The attack of the Etruscan necropolis happens under the rain.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Alix, Enak and Octavius arrive just in time to save the son of the farmers who is going to be sacrificed by the Molochists.
  • Cat Scare:
    • A literal one. Alix lies unconscious is a pit. Strange eyes are looking at him. It is just a cat.
    • Later, the same cat knocks a vase over in the treasure room and frightens Alix and Lidia.
  • Character Witness: Alix gives some water to a Molochist who is prisoner of the Romans. Later, the Molochist let Alix and Lidia escape, he gives food to Lidia, and he tells Alix that the priests have caught Lidia.
  • Chariot Race: Alix challenges Brutus in a chariot race in Tarquini.
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  • The Chosen One: After seeing an eagle taking, and immediately giving back Octavius's loaf of bread, Valérius Sinner declares that Jupiter has chosen Octavius to take over the world.
  • Clothing Damage: Alix has to tear his tunic to pull a grid free in an underground passage.
  • Continuity Nod: Héraklion (who appeared in Le Dernier Spartiate) shows up in the end for no particular reason.
  • Corrupt Bureaucrat: Vésius Pollion, the prefect of Tarquini. He is more interested in organizing chariot race than in defending the population from the Molochists. Then he agrees to let Brutus kill Alix. In the end, he tries to take credit for the victory over the Molochists.
  • Damsel in Distress: Lidia is kidnapped by the Molochists on the seashore and Alix has to free her. He frees her and he hides her in the treasure room.
  • Damsel out of Distress: The high priest finds Lidia in the treasure room, so she is made prisoner again, but finally she escapes from her captors when Alix and the people of Tarquini attack the Etruscan necropolis.
  • Disney Death: Alix takes Enak out of the river. Lidia asks if he still breathes and Alix answers that he does not. Alix starts moaning, but Enak then breathes again. A bit later, he comes round.
  • Distressed Dude: Enak falls from his horse at the waterfall. He is going to drown himself, but Alix dives to save him.
  • Dramatic Thunder: During the attack of the Etruscan necropolis, Brutus climb onto a tumulus. When he gets on top, the tumulus is struck by a lightning.
  • Exploring the Evil Lair: Alix explores the Etruscan necropolis, which is the base of the Molochists, because he wants to free Lidia.
  • Faceless Goons: The Molochists wear a red face-concealing mask.
  • Final Battle: The story ends with the attack of the Etruscan tomb by the inhabitants of Tarquini.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Alix gives some water to a Molochist who is prisoner of the Romans. Later, the Molochist let Alix and Lidia escape, he gives food to Lidia, he tells Alix that the priests have caught Lidia and he participates in the final attack against the necropolis.
  • Historical Domain Character: The young Octavius and his sister Octavia the Younger (named Lidia Octavia in the comic book).
  • Human Sacrifice: The Molochists, a cult of Moloch-worshipers, practice human sacrifice. In particular, they sacrifice children. The high priest also wants to sacrifice Lidia.
  • The Klan: The Molochists are a group of violent riders wearing a uniform with a face-concealing masks. When they raid the countryside at night with torches, they look exactly like the Klansmen in The Birth of a Nation (1915).
  • Malevolent Masked Men: The Molochists wear a red face-concealing mask.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:
    • The eagle who takes, and immediately gives back Octavius's loaf of bread may be a manifestation of Jupiter, like Valérius Sinner thinks, or just a simple eagle.
    • The eagle who seems to kill Brutus in the end may also be a manifestation of Jupiter.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Vésius Pollion is an expy of Vedius Pollio, a man famous for his cruelty to his slaves: he had them fed to his morays when they displeased him.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: After Brutus and Pollion make a deal to kill Alix, both of them think they should get rid of the other later. There is also a rivalry between Brutus and the high priest.
  • The Place: The Etruscan tomb is the base of the Molochists.
  • Rousing Speech: After the chariot race, Alix gives one to the people of Tarquini to encourage them to attack the Etruscan necropolis.
  • Save the Villain: In the end, Alix saves Brutus from the crowd who is going to lynch him. He cannot save him from the eagle, though.
  • Secret Underground Passage:
    • The Molochists use a secret underground passage to get in and out of the Etruscan necropolis.
    • Alix discovers three passages in the Etruscan necropolis: the first one connects the pit where he fell to the treasure room. The second one allows him to go from the treasure room to the base of the Molochists. The third one allows him to escape.
  • Shark Pool: Vésius Pollion has a pool full of moray eels. He often throws slaves in to punish them. He also threatens to throw Alix in.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The sequence where an eagle takes Octavius's loaf of bread and immediately give it back to him is based on an anecdote from The Lives of the Twelve Caesars by Suetonius.
    • The scene where Alix gives water to a prisoner of the Romans is inspired by a sequence of Ben-Hur, where Jesus gives Judah water when the latter is a prisoner.
    • When Tullius explains the history of the cult of Moloch, he alludes to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the story of Loth, as told in the Book of Genesis.
    • Tullius also makes reference to the Mercenary War. The sacrifice of children to Moloch during the siege of Carthage is taken from Gustave Flaubert's Salammbô.
  • Slippery as an Eel: Vésius Pollion has a pool full of moray eels. He often throws slaves in to punish them. He also threatens to throw Alix in.
  • The Starscream: The high priest challenges Brutus's authority and betrays him.
  • Storming the Castle: In the end, Alix and the people of Tarquini attack the Etruscan necropolis, which is the base of the Molochists.
  • Treasure Room: Alix discovers one in the Etruscan necropolis.
  • Villainous Crush: Brutus is in love with Lidia and wants her to be his queen.

Alternative Title(s): Le Tombeau Etrusque

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