Asterix the Gaul (Asterix #1) ★★★★☆

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Title: Asterix the Gaul
Series: Asterix #1
Authors: Goscinny & Uderzo
Translators: Bell & Hockridge
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 53
Words: 3K





Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

All of the Gaul area is under Roman control, except for one small village in Armorica (present-day Brittany), whose inhabitants are made invincible by a magic potion created periodically by the Druid Getafix. To discover the secret of the Gauls’ strength, Centurion Crismus Bonus, commander of a Roman garrison at the fortified camp of Compendium, sends a spy disguised as a Gaul to the village. The Roman’s identity is revealed when he loses his false moustache, shortly after he discovers the existence of the magic potion; whereupon he reports his discovery to the Centurion.

Crismus Bonus, hoping to overthrow Julius Caesar, orders Getafix captured and interrogated for the recipe; but to no avail. Protagonist Asterix learns of Getafix’s capture from a cart-seller; infiltrates the Roman camp in the latter’s cart; and hears Crismus Bonus revealing his intended rebellion to Marcus Ginandtonicus, his second-in-command. Following Asterix’s suggestion, Getafix pretends to agree to the Centurion’s demand of the potion when Asterix pretends to give in to torture, and demands an unseasonal ingredient: strawberries. While Crismus Bonus’ soldiers try to find strawberries, Asterix and Getafix relax in relative luxury; and when the strawberries arrive, consume them all, and console Crismus Bonus that the potion may be made without them.

After all the ingredients are found, a potion is prepared that causes the hair and beard of the drinker to grow at an accelerated pace. The Romans are tricked into drinking this potion and before long, all of them have long hair and beards. When Crismus Bonus pleads Getafix to make an antidote, the druid makes a cauldron of vegetable soup (knowing that the hair-growth potion shall soon cease to take effect), and also prepares a small quantity of the real magic potion for Asterix. As Getafix and Asterix escape, they are stopped by a huge army of Roman reinforcements commanded by Julius Caesar. Upon meeting Asterix and Getafix, Caesar hears of Crismus Bonus’ intentions against himself; deports Crismus Bonus and his garrison to Outer Mongolia; and frees Asterix and Getafix for giving him the information, while reminding them that they are still enemies. The two Gauls then return to their village, where their neighbors celebrate their recovery.

My Thoughts:

I read many of the Asterix & Obelix stories growing up because my father collected these and we would buy them for him as birthday and Christmas presents. Since we were allowed to read them, very carefully, it was almost like we were getting ourselves a present too. Score! It was a hap-hazard reading journey though and I never bothered to read them all. Since I was looking for other comics to read besides Spawn and I really wasn’t interested in most of the Marvel or DC lineups (not even the old stuff), I recalled this series and jumped on it. Most of the books are only 50’ish pages long and each story is a self contained one, so it works out really well.

There are 38 of these stories. This story was published originally in 1961 in French and the translation I am reading was done in 2004. I might have to check with my pops to see who did the translations of his editions and see what the differences are. That type of thing is interesting to me so it’s worth exploring.

This type of comic is written for both adults and children. The kids will love the bright colors, the funny violence of tiny Asterix beating up four Roman soldiers at once, the contrast between Asterix and his giant friend Obelix. The adults will enjoy the very funny word plays and jokes in latin and the names of places and characters.

The beginning of the book introduces us to each character, the situation (that all of Gaul except this one village has been conquerered by Rome) and what the plot is for this particular book. We’re talking a One Stop Shopping kind of deal. Rather refreshing to be honest.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

61 thoughts on “Asterix the Gaul (Asterix #1) ★★★★☆

  1. I love Asterix! Animated movies – not so much, but the comics are great, I read most of them in my childhood and still have fond memories 🙂
    I’m a bit imperialist at times though, so I often rooted for the Romans, to be disappointed each time 😉

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Animations aren’t that bad, just not as good as comics, and perhaps better for younger audience. I disliked the live action versions though. Why spoil a great thing with mediocre adaptation…

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Cleo has a bet with Caesar that she can build a new palace in 3 months and gets asterisk and obelisk, getafix and dogmatix to build it or rather she asks Edifis and he employs the Gauls. If they fail Edifis will be eaten by crocodiles but if he makes it he’ll be covered in gold. Edifis’ rival Artefix tries to scupper the thing etc etc.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I did Booky! I took to French really well for some unknown reason, still can manage to make myself understood over there, but I’m not fluent now. And I’ve just sent off for the Asterix legionnaire comics and really looking forward to reading them again but in English this time! This has been an expensive read of a blog post! 🤣

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I read heaps of these as a kid. We Belgians also identify with the characters, as apparently Ceasar called us the bravest of all Gauls once. Glad this was refreshing, I can imagine. These are timeless.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. They are definitely classics in Europe – no idea about their reach in the USA.

        Variation is key – I’m currently experiencing a bit of a reading slump with SF. Not that much new titles coming out appeal to me, and while I still have some KSR and Egan on my TBR that I guess I’ll like a lot, I don’t want to burn through them, so I’m thinking of reading some more non-fiction, non-genre fiction, and also some more Dutch literature. I just hope my blog readers won’t mind if I veer too much outside speculative fiction, so I’m a bit hesitant 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Now that’s interesting. How much of your blogging is driven by your readers? Or what you perceive your readers want?
          And does that affect your desire to blog?

          I know your experience is probably more the norm, but I’ve just never heard it stated so plainly. If you weren’t blogging do you think you’d be writing in a journal? Or not at all?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. It used to be driven more by what I perceive readers want. E.g. I tried to vary SF/Fantasy more, and tried to also read from different areas, so no 3 reviews in a row from an 80ies book.

            I blog mainly for myself, I like that I have a kind of reading journal, and I also like the challenge of trying to voice an opinion about what I just read. Writing a review helps to make up my mind. But at the same time, I wouldn’t do it anymore I had no readers, so there’s also a social component, and a desire to be “heard”.

            Now that I’ve build up a readership, I’m more relaxed about it all, but I still fear that I would lose readers if I’d write 2 or 3 reviews in a row about some Dutch author, or 3 reviews of non-fiction, or 3 reviews from the same author. Then again, I think this desire to keep things varied is ultimately good for my own reading, not only for my blog.

            It’s not that I simply cater to readers to get better stats, because for that I would need to read much more recent SF/Fantasy – I’ve noticed that books published in the same year I review, especially hyped ones, get easily most views (except for the Dune reviewss). I haven’t read a recent speculative books in months, most recent one was Piranesi which I read in December.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. So basically: I mainly still read what I want, but I will bump up certain things in the que to vary things. The only thing I read less than I would want because of the blog maybe is some Dutch fiction, but that’s just a recent thing – I didn’t have interest in that anymore for years.

              Liked by 1 person

            2. Good to know you’re not exclusively catering to the hoi poloi. If I had to rub elbows with them, well ….. * sniffs *

              In all seriousness though, thanks for that. I am currently cogitating about a post on how I’ve reviewed through the decades and so I am finding it interesting to get tidbits about others.

              Liked by 1 person

                    1. Bormgans, I keep waiting for that dreaded “This site has violated WP’s ToS and has been parked” message. I know I’m not a big hitter, but sometimes I wonder when the axe is going to drop 😦
                      Thankfully, being a small blog has its advantages 😀

                      Like

                    1. Oh man, really? Makes sense though, thoroughly American movie. I watched it much later in life so I didn’t have the nostalgia factor but I still REALLY enjoyed it. Not sure if it would appeal to you at all.

                      Like

  3. I love these! I also like how the puns get translated pretty well into the different languages the series exists in. The Roman (and Gaulish) names are terrific, and whenever our heroes travel into another region, we are treated to a good-natured tour of the stereotypes of that region. For example, the Swiss Gauls are very neat and tidy, the Britons wear blue face paint and get extremely passionate about their football matches, and the Corsicans are touchy and always ready to fight.

    When I started teaching my kids Latin, we discovered that “Hic – Haec – Hoc” (the way drunk Romans hiccup in Asterix) is actually a declension of the Latin word for “this.” 😀

    Liked by 1 person

            1. Sort, nothing. You just stereotyped your whole country with that bagpipes thing. I’m surprised you can look yourself in the mirror after a comment like that. My goodness, where’s some patriarchal butt dynamite to stick in the bagpipes when you need it?

              (see, who else could I have conversations like this with? Movies, man, bringing the world together towards peace and universal brotherhood)

              Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m dying to read these even more now that you made the jump and added these to your rotation! I told myself I’d check these out before I go back to Europe. Now I just need to see if I can find a pretty edition to fully enjoy the run too. Thanks for the positive review for this first volume (and your trip down memory lane).

    Liked by 1 person

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