I used to love this one as a kid because it had lots of machine guns in it. However, since I have returned to reading the Tintin books so that I know what I am writing about (as opposed to some books that I am not really interested in rereading, namely because they are too long and that there are other books out there that I would rather spend my time reading) I have no longer appreciate this album as much as some of Herge's other stories. Here the comedy really does begin to take the backseat to focus on a more adventurous story.
Tintin, Haddock, and Calculus are on their way to Australia to an aeronautical conference, namely because they were the first people on the moon (though I note that the Thompsons weren't included, though with the number of protagonists that appear in this book, having a couple of extra clumsy characters may have been a bit too difficult, and the Thompsons are probably becoming a little overused by now). At Djakarta they meet an old friend, the Estonian pilot Skut and are invited to join the multi-millionaire Laslo Carreidas aboard his jet plane as he is also travelling to Sydney for the same conference (Carreidas in involved in aircraft production, among other things). However things, as usual, don't turn out as planned and they find themselves captured by some of Tintin's old enemies, Rastapopoulos and his aide-de-camp, Mr Alan Mate.
Rastapopoulos has now rejoined the ranks of the ordinary people, and being impatient (as a lot of antagonists are) has decided that he will go a quick way to becoming uber-rich again, rather than the slow way, so he decided to kidnap Carreidas and force him to reveal the location of a hidden stash of money. However, as can be expected, getting this information out of Carreidas is not all that easy.
The characterisation in this book is good, as can be expected. Not all of the protagonists are clean cut individuals, and not all antagonists are out to get Tintin. In fact, when Rastapopoulos is accidentally injected with his truth serum, and gets into an argument with Carreidas as to who is the bigger villain, Rastapopoulos reveals that he was pretty much planning on killing everybody that was working with him so that he can get away scot free with all of the money. Unfortunately it seems that the turth serum has little to no effect upon Carreidas as he is just as stubborn as he was when he wasn't drugged.
Herge also seems to be experimenting with mysticism in these later books. In Flight 715 he has aliens come down as rescue the protagonists and kidnap the antagonists (another reason why I loved this album as a kid). It is almost a Deus-ex-Machina, but then again this isn't the first time that Herge has used such plot devices. We are also given hints through the book that this is where it is leading, though the telepathic devices that are used seem to detract somewhat from Tintin's realism. Still, it is a good and enjoyable adventure, but nowhere near the quality of his earlier works.