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Recap / Alix l'intrépide

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The 1956 book cover
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Alix l'intrépide (Alix the Intrepid) is a comic book by Jacques Martin. It was first published in Tintin magazine in 1948-1949. Then it was published as a comic album in 1956. This is the first episode of the Alix series.

In 53 BC, the Roman soldiers find a Gaulish slave named Alix in the ruins of Khorsabad. He is the only survivor of the city. The Roman legion soon flees before the Parthian army and leaves Alix alone.

The plot borrows several elements from Ben-Hur (not the 1959 film, but the original 1880 book or its previous film adaptations):

  • In the beginning, Alix watches Marsalla, a Roman general, parading from a window. He leans on the balustrade; a stone gets loose and falls on Marsalla. Alix is then framed for assassination attempt, just like Ben-Hur when a roof tile falls and hits the Roman prefect of Judaea.
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  • The name of Marsalla sounds like Messala, the name of Ben-Hur's rival.
  • Alix becomes a Roman citizen because he is adopted by a rich Roman, just like Ben-Hur when he is adopted by Arrius.
  • Alix competes with Marcus in a Chariot Race. Marcus and Marsalla will be ruined if Marcus loses because of a large wager. Finally, Marcus's chariot breaks apart, and he is trampled by other racers' horses. This is very similar to Ben-Hur's chariot race.


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Alix l'Intrépide provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Anachronism Stew:
    • In the beginning, Alix is a slave in Khorsabad and the Romans plunder the city. In real life, Khorsabad was abandoned at the fall of the Assyrian empire, more than five centuries before the events of the book.
    • Alix admires the Colossus of Rhodes. In reality, it was destroyed by an earthquake in 226 BC, some 173 years before the events of the book.
  • Ancient Rome: The bulk of the story happens in the Roman Empire. After Honorus Galla adopts him, Alix lives in Rome and several sequences happen there, like the Chariot Race and the Gladiator Games.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • When Crassus attacked Parthia in 53 BC, no Roman troops went further east than Carrhae. In the beginning of the story, Roman soldiers plunder Khorsabad, which is hundreds of miles further (and which was long abandoned by that time).
    • The story is set in 53 BC (at the time of the death of Marcus Licinius Crassus). Honorus Galla tells Alix that he sold Alix as a child into slavery years ago, when he was an officer in Gaul under the command of Julius Caesar. Given the fact that Alix is depicted as a young adult or a teenager, that he does not seem to remember anything, and that Galla recognized Alix only because he looks like his father, these events must have happened at least 10 years earlier. In reality, Julius Caesar arrived in Gaul in 58 BC, i.e. only 5 years before the start of this story.
    • Julius Caesar attends a chariot race in Rome in 53 BC. In reality, he never returned to Rome between 58 BC and 49 BC, because he would have been sued.
  • Big Damn Heroes: A Roman soldier is going to hit a female farmer with his sword. Alix shoots an arrow at his hand and the Roman drops his weapon.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Pompey's plan is foiled, but this will allow Caesar to keep on conquering Gaul, Alix's homeland. Honorus Galla, Alix's adoptive father, and Toraya, his friend, are dead.
  • Blackmail: Arbacès protects Alix at first because he wants to use him to blackmail Marsalla to force him to join forces with Pompey the Great.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Alix prevented Pompey from getting the support of the powerful general Marsalla. Therefore, Pompey was unable to counter Caesar's rise to power.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Alix shoots an arrow at the hand of a Roman soldier who is holding a sword. The soldier drops his weapon.
  • Broken Pedestal: Alix loved Honorus Galla as a father, until the Roman nobleman confesses that he captured Alix and his parents years ago and sold Alix and his father into slavery.
  • Chariot Race: Alix and Marcus compete in a chariot race in Rome. Marcus tries to cheat, but Arbacès has sabotaged his chariot.
  • Complexity Addiction: Arbacès's goal is to convince Marsalla and Marcus to join forces Pompey the Great. His plan involves: convincing Alix to compete against Marcus in a chariot race, sabotaging Marcus's chariot, so that Alix wins and is accused of cheating, organizing a gladiator fight between Alix and Marcus to settle the cheating case, bribing the arbiter of the fight, making Marcus win only if Marsalla accepts to join forces with Pompey.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • In Rome, Alix passes by under Marcus's window just when Marcus throws away the cup used by Arbacès to poison Toraya.
    • Honorus Galla, the governor of Rhodes who Arbacès asks to arrest Alix and Toraya, is the Roman officer who captured Alix and his parents in Gaul and sold him into slavery years ago.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Honorus Galla reveals that Alix's mother is dead and that his father was sold into slavery years ago. So Alix has no family bond and he is free to live his adventures.
  • Deathbed Confession: Just before dying, Honorus Galla confesses that he captured Alix and his parents years ago and sold Alix and his father into slavery.
  • Death Trap: In Khorsabad, the Roman soldiers strap Alix to a column inside a building on fire.
  • Disguised in Drag: Arbacès disguises himself as a Roman lady to convince Alix to compete in the chariot race.
  • Distressed Dude: Alix: straped to a column in a building on fire, fallen into a crocodile pit, chased by a pack of wolves, caught by the Haikanes who want to put out his eyes, caught by Sarmatian cataphracts, arrested by the Romans in Rhodes, arrested again after the chariot race in Rome, forced to fight as a gladiator, caught by Marsalla and sentenced to death.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • Alix is not dressed in red. He is even sometimes dressed in blue, which will be Enak's designated color.
    • Enak is absent.
    • Alix is constantly in distress and others (mainly Toraya) have to save him. In later albums, Enak will often be in distress and Alix will save him.
    • The plot is a Random Events Plot.
    • Jacques Martin's drawing is quite awkward.
  • Frameup: Arbacès sabotages Marcus's chariot, so that Alix is blamed for cheating.
  • Friend or Idol Decision: In the end, Alix is going to catch Arbacès, but Arbacès threatens to kill Toraya if Alix does not let him go, so Alix let him go.
  • Gladiator Games: Alix has to fight Marcus in a gladiator game.
  • Good Samaritan: Toraya saves Alix when he is attacked by wolves. Later, he protects him from the Haikanes who want to put out his eyes.
  • Hidden Elf Village: The Haikane village. The chief explains that his people was decimated and the survivors decided to settle down in an isolated, hidden village.
  • Historical Domain Character: Surena, Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great.
  • I Want Them Alive: Surena tells his soldiers that he wants Alix alive, when he has fallen in the crocodile pit.
  • Kangaroo Court: The court where Alix is sentenced to death for treason and murder attempt.
  • Made a Slave: Alix is a slave in Khorsabad in the beginning of the story. He was the son of a Gaulish chief and sold into slavery by the Romans when he was a child.
  • Money Fetish: Marsalla likes touching gold and precious stones of Sargon's treasure.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: Alix falls into a crocodile pit and the reptiles try to eat him.
  • Not Quite Dead: In Rhodes, Arbacès falls from his loggia. Marsalla and Marcus assume that he is dead. Actually, his servant finds him and treats him. He reappears in Rome.
  • Pirate: Scythian pirates chase Arbacès's boat, then decide to attack Marsalla's trireme.
  • Poison Is Corrosive: Poisoned wine meant to kill Toraya decomposes grapes.
  • Protagonist Title: Alix l'intrépide, i.e. Alix the Intrepid.
  • Random Events Plot: What happens to Alix comes out of nowhere. For example: a pack of wolves attacks him, the Haikanes want to put out his eyes, Arbacès buys his freedom, Arbacès suggests him to participate in a chariot race... The author confessed that he sent the first page as a showcase of his skills to Tintin magazine and that he had no idea about the rest of the plot. He had to make up everything when Tintin magazine informed him that the first page will be published and requested the next ones.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Marsalla's Roman legion does it in Khorsabad. Alix is the only survivor.
  • Really Royalty Reveal: Honorus Galla reveals that Alix is the son of a Gaulish chief.
  • Savage Wolves: A pack of wolves chases Alix.
  • Sequel Hook: Pompey sends Arbacès to Egypt. Alix arrives in his native country: Gaul.
  • Sissy Villain: Arbacès wears many jewels (earrings, a necklace, bracelets...) and a pink tunic. He never gets involved in physical fight. He disguises himself as a Roman lady.
  • Soft Water:
    • Alix and Toraya, a Haikane villager, fall from a high cliff into a river. They do not suffer from the fall.
    • Later in Vulsini, Alix and Toraya jump from the roof of a building into a small water vat.
  • Trick-and-Follow Ploy: Surena plans to trick Alix into catching the Roman legion up and to follow him. It does not work because Alix does not know where the Roman army has gone.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Arbacès flees from Vulsini and nobody chases him. He is even surprised.

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