The Shooting Star (French: L’Étoile mystérieuse) is the tenth volume of The Adventures of Tintin, the comics series by Belgian cartoonist Hergé. The story was serialised daily in Le Soir, Belgium’s leading francophone newspaper, from October 1941 to May 1942 amidst the German occupation of Belgium during World War II. The story tells of young Belgian reporter Tintin, who travels with his dog Snowy and friend Captain Haddock aboard a scientific expedition to the Arctic Ocean on an international race to find a meteorite that has fallen to the Earth.
The Shooting Star was a commercial success and was published in book form by Casterman shortly after its conclusion; the first Tintin volume to be originally published in the 62-page full-colour format. Hergé continued The Adventures of Tintin with The Secret of the Unicorn, while the series itself became a defining part of the Franco-Belgian comics tradition. The Shooting Star has received a mixed critical reception and has been one of the more controversial instalments in the series due to the perceived antisemitic portrayal of its villain. The story was adapted for both the 1957 Belvision animated series, Hergé’s Adventures of Tintin, and for the 1991 animated series The Adventures of Tintin by Ellipse and Nelvana.
A giant meteoroid approaches the Earth, spotted from an observatory by Professor Decimus Phostle, and he and a self-proclaimed prophet, Philippulus, predicts the meteoroid will hit Earth and cause the end of the world. The meteoroid misses Earth, but a fragment of it plunges into the Arctic Ocean. Phostle determines that the object is made of a new material which he names Phostlite, and arranges an expedition to find it with a crew of European scientists. Accompanied by Tintin and Snowy, their polar expedition ship, the Aurora, is helmed by Tintin’s friend Captain Haddock.
Meanwhile, another expedition is funded by the financier Mr. Bohlwinkel, with a team setting out aboard the polar expedition ship Peary; wherefore, Phostle’s expedition becomes part of a race to land on the meteorite. On the day of the Aurora’s departure, Bohlwinkel has a henchman plant a stick of dynamite on the ship, but it is found and eventually thrown overboard. In one of the shipping lanes of the North Sea, the Aurora is almost rammed by another of Bohlwinkel’s ships, but Haddock steers out of the way. Further setbacks occur when Aurora must refuel at Iceland, going to the port of Akureyri, where Haddock is informed that the Golden Oil Company (which has a fuel monopoly) has no fuel available. He and Tintin then come across an old friend of his, Captain Chester, who reveals Golden Oil has plenty of fuel and is owned by Bohlwinkel’s bank. Tintin comes up with a plan to trick Golden Oil into providing the fuel they need by secretly running a hose to Aurora from Chester’s ship, Sirius: when Golden Oil refuels Sirius, the hose allows them to refuel Aurora in the process.
Close to the Peary, the Aurora receives an indistinct distress call from another ship and the crew agrees to alter their course to help, but inquiries by Tintin expose that the distress signal is a decoy to delay them. Resuming the journey, they intercept a cable announcing that the Peary expedition has reached the meteorite but not yet claimed it. While the Peary crew rows to the meteorite, Tintin uses the Aurora‘s seaplane to get to and parachute onto the meteorite and plant the expedition’s flag. Tintin and Snowy (who followed on the plane) make camp while the Aurora‘s engines are repaired after developing trouble. The next day he finds the Phostlite creating immense explosive mushrooms, and discovers that Phostlite accelerates growth, and makes things much larger: his apple core grows into a large tree while a maggot grows into a huge butterfly, and he and Snowy are menaced by a giant spider that escaped from his lunch box, before rescue arrives. A sudden seaquake shakes the meteorite to its core and it starts sinking into the sea. Tintin gets himself, Snowy and a piece of Phostlite to the pilot of the Aurora‘s seaplane in the plane’s life raft, as the meteorite itself finally disappears into the sea. Thereafter Bohlwinkel learns that he is expected to be tried for his crimes. As the Aurora returns home, Captain Haddock steers the ship toward land to refuel not with oil, but with whisky.