Asterix and the Normans ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Asterix and the Normans
Series: Asterix #9
Authors: Goscinny & Uderzo
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 53
Words: 3K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

The story begins with Vitalstatistix receiving a missive from his brother Doublehelix in Lutetia (Paris), to ask for the education of Doublehelix’s teenage son, Justforkix. Justforkix then arrives in a sports car-like chariot. The village holds a dance in honour of his arrival; but he is unimpressed by the traditional way of dancing, snatches Cacofonix’s lyre, and sings and plays in the manner of Elvix Preslix (the Rolling Menhirs in the English version). Some of the younger villagers dance to this new form; but Cacofonix tries to show off his own skills, and is struck down by Fulliautomatix. Justforkix thereupon suggests that Cacofonix’s talents would be better appreciated in Lutetia.

Meanwhile, a Norman crew arrive in Gaul to discover “the meaning of fear”, on grounds that they are fearless to the point of not understanding the concept, but have heard of people “flying in fear”, and believe that being afraid will grant them the ability to fly. Most of the Gauls welcome the chance of a fight; but Justforkix is horrified and decides to return home. Viewing Justforkix as an expert in fear, the Normans kidnap him to teach them; but this fails, and he remains their prisoner until Asterix and Obelix come to the rescue. A small Roman patrol is also involved in the resulting fight. At length, Norman chief Timandahaf orders an end to the battle and explains his mission to the Gauls. To teach the Normans fear, Asterix sends Obelix to fetch Cacofonix, while himself remaining as a hostage. When Obelix reaches the village, he finds Cacofonix gone to perform in Lutetia, and pursues him through a series of tell-tale clues.

Meanwhile, Timandahaf becomes impatient and tries to force Justforkix to teach the secret of flight by tossing him off a cliff. Just before this can be carried out, Asterix challenges the Norman warriors; and seeing him surrounded, Justforkix gains the courage to fight as well — albeit to no visible effect. Obelix and Cacofonix stop the fight, and Cacofonix’s discordant songs are exhibited to the Normans, which provokes their first real fear, and an immediate retreat to their homeland. When Asterix questions the Normans’ interest in fear, Getafix replies that courage is achieved only by having first been afraid, and superseding the fear to the desired effect. Thereafter Justforkix is claimed to have gained courage himself, and the story ends with the customary banquet, but with Cacofonix as guest of honour and Fulliautomatix tied up, with his ears filled with parsley.

My Thoughts:

Goscinny and Uderzo use the “hip young kid who is pretty dumb” trope (I wanted to say “again”, but looking at my other Asterix reviews Justforkix hasn’t been in any of them) and they use it well. Justforkix is the absolute epitome of a 60’s teenager and to be honest, a teenager from almost any modern era. He’s brash, rude, thinks he knows everything and won’t listen to his elders.

The Normans were just as amusing as the Gauls. They were trying to find out what “fear” was and as such they were talking about it like it was an artifact. They thought it could make them fly, as they had heard the phrase “fear gives you wings”. It made for some very amusing back and forth conversations.

Sadly, there were several times where I could tell that the characters were making word play jokes but it completely passed over my head. I couldn’t tell if it was me being ignorant of a situation, the translators doing a bad job or if it was referencing something from the 1960’s that I had no knowledge of. Usually Hock&Bell have done a bang up job of translating the jokes into something a modern reader can understand. And I can’t believe I just wrote that. 1967 is not some ancient and hoary mystical time that we don’t know about. While I wasn’t to be born for another decade, it’s part of the modern age. And since this translation was done in 2005, that really negates the “1960’s is Ancient Mystical History” idea.

But the important thing is that Asterix and Obelix got to do a lot of biff’ing and bam’ing of somebody new (the poor Romans, they need a break from all that thumping after all) and roast boar was enjoyed. That’s pretty much all I really want from these books.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Asterix in Britain ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Asterix in Britain
Series: Asterix #8
Authors: Goscinny & Uderzo
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 53
Words: 3K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

Julius Caesar has invaded Britain and succeeded in his conquest; but a single Gaulish village in Kent remains independent. One member of the village, Anticlimax, is dispatched to Asterix’s village to enlist the help of Getafix the druid in providing magic potion for the British rebels. It is decided that Asterix (Anticlimax’s first cousin once removed) and Obelix should accompany him, to help transport a barrel of the potion; but while beating up a Roman galley in the English Channel, Obelix mentions the mission, which is reported to the Roman high command in Britain.

In Britain, the barrel containing the potion is confiscated from a pub cellar owned by Dipsomaniax, along with all the barreled “warm beer” (bitter) and wine in Londinium, by the Romans, who set about tasting the barrels to find the right one. Soon the whole unit assigned to the testing is hopelessly drunk; whereupon Asterix and Obelix steal all the barrels labelled with Dipsomaniax’s name, but Obelix is himself drunk and starts a fight with some passing Roman soldiers. During the commotion a thief steals the cart with the barrels. Anticlimax and Asterix leave Obelix at Dipsomaniax’s pub to sleep off his hangover; but while Anticlimax and Asterix go in search of the thief, the Romans capture the sleeping Obelix and Dipsomaniax, and raze the pub.

In the Tower of Londinium, Obelix wakes up and frees himself and Dipsomaniax out of the jail, and the three heroes, after a search, find the potion in use as a pick-me-up for a rugby team. After this team wins their game, the protagonists seize the potion and escape on the river Thames, where the Romans destroy the barrel and release the potion into the water. At the independent village, Asterix eases the Britons’ disappointment by feigning to remake the potion, with herbs Asterix got from Getafix (later revealed to be tea). With a psychological boost, the village prevails against the Romans, and Asterix and Obelix return home to celebrate.

My Thoughts:

This was a lot of fun. English, Irish and Scottish people are made fun of quite a bit and I laughed my head off. There is one scene where Asterix, Obelix and Asterix’s cousin order ONE cup of wine to see if it is wine or the missing magic potion. The innkeeper assumes they are Caledonians (scots) because they are so cheap. I roared with laughter. Since this was written well before the movie Braveheart was made, I knew there weren’t going to be any blue bottoms being flashed.

Then you have a scene where Obelix gets drunk testing out all the wine barrels and he turns into a sloppy, sentimental drunk who is afraid that Asterix won’t be his friend anymore. And then jumps a whole patrol of romans because he thinks they are gong to take Asterix away. Once again, I laughed out loud.

I don’t know if this book was actually funnier than previous ones or if the subject of making fun of the English just hit the right note, but my goodness, I was smiling through the whole story. And the whole “how the english became tea drinkers” was great!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Asterix and the Big Fight ★★★☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Asterix and the Big Fight
Series: Asterix #7
Authors: Goscinny & Uderzo
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 53
Words: 3K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

The Romans having been humiliated many times by the rebel Gauls, Felonius Caucus, advisor to Centurion Nebulus Nimbus, suggests a single combat between Vitalstatistix, chief of Asterix’s tribe, and the Gallo-Roman Chief, Cassius Ceramix of Linoleum. According to ancient Gaulish customs, the loser would forfeit his entire tribe to the winner. When Ceramix argues that Vitalstatistix would surely win with Getafix’s magic potion of invincibility, Caucus sends a patrol to capture Getafix before the challenge is confirmed. Whilst attempting to scatter the attackers, Obelix accidentally strikes Getafix with a menhir, the impact of which causes amnesia and insanity.

Following Cassius Ceramix’s challenge, Asterix and Vitalstatistix attempt to restore Getafix’s mind by experimenting in potions; but this produces only a whimsical sub-plot, in which the Roman soldier Infirmofpurpus, captured by Obelix as a test subject, is temporarily rendered weightless. Thereafter Asterix and Obelix consult Psychoanalytix (original French name is Amnesix), a druid who specializes in mental disorders; but when asked to demonstrate what caused the problem, Obelix crushes Psychoanalytix with a menhir, leaving him “in the same state as Getafix”. As the two crazed druids concoct a number of skin-coloring potions, Asterix tries to get Vitalstatistix into good physical shape for the fight, mainly by jogging. Meanwhile, the Romans plan to arrest Ceramix after the fight, lest he thereafter challenge their control of Gaul.

As the fight begins, Getafix accidentally makes a potion which restores his mind, and retains sanity despite being hit by another menhir (thrown by Obelix in an attempt to cure Getafix by repeating the cause of the original accident). Getafix quickly proceeds to brew a supply of magic potion. Meanwhile, the fight has turned into a bore: Vitalstatistix, exploiting his superior physical condition, is running circles around the ring while Ceramix tries in vain to catch him. After hearing of Getafix’s recovery, Vitalstatistix defeats his exhausted opponent with a single blow. The Romans do not accept this victory, but are crushed by the Gauls, who had drunk Getafix’s magic potion. When Ceramix is reduced to amnesia by a third menhir that was thrown by Obelix during the battle, Vitalstatistix declines his right to take over Ceramix’s tribe, and sends him home in honour. Psychoanalytix returns to business despite his amnesia, but remains professionally successful despite “side effects” of his medicines. Ceramix, now in the same mental state as Psychoanalytix, becomes “the most courteous chief in Gaul” and the probable originator of French courtesy. His tribe returns to Gaulish ways and the fight against Rome, while Vitalstatistix’s tribe celebrate their victories.

My Thoughts:

While the story itself was no worse than the previous one, I knocked off a star for all the horrible word plays that simply infested this volume. It felt like every other page was an over the top bad joke on purpose. Just read the middle where the soldiers are talking:

Once or twice in the book I can deal with. But almost every other page? Too much.

The story is pretty amusing though. Getafix the druid gets knocked on the head by one of Obelix’s menhirs and loses his memory. The romans decide to take advantage of the situation and shenanigans ensue. It was hilarious. Then Obelix has the bright idea of hitting Getafix with another menhir to fix what he originally broke. Of course, Getafix has just fixed himself with a potion by accident. So there he is, back to normal, when a menhir comes sailing out of nowhere and buries him in the ground. Again. I laughed my head off. Silly situations like that really do amuse me 😀

Mrs B was looking over my shoulder occasionally and pointed out that the good guys all had mustaches and you could always spot a bad guy because he didn’t. Now I’m going to be looking out for that in future volumes. Makes me wonder what Goscinny and Uderzo had against clean shaven’ness? I mention that because I had a mustache in highschool and have a picture of it. Mrs B says it is very “awkward” looking, which is very generous of her 😀

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Asterix and Cleopatra ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Asterix and Cleopatra
Series: Asterix #6
Authors: Goscinny & Uderzo
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 51
Words: 3K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

The book begins with an argument between Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, and Julius Caesar. As a triumphant invader, Caesar belittles the Egyptian people and suggests that Egypt, as a realm, is past its best. Infuriated, Cleopatra makes a wager with Caesar promising to build a new palace in Alexandria within three months. Cleopatra summons Edifis, who claims to be the best architect in Egypt. She promises Edifis that if he builds the palace on time he will be covered with gold; if he fails, he will be a meal for the sacred crocodiles.

Edifis responds to this assignment by enlisting the help of the Gauls, Asterix, Obelix, Getafix, and Dogmatix. Thanks to Getafix and his magic potion, the work goes forward on schedule, despite multiple attempts by Edifis’s arch rival, Artifis, to sabotage the construction after Edifis says he doesn’t want his help, claiming Artifis works people too hard. Artifis tells the workers to demand less whipping, which would slow construction. However Getafix gives the workers magic potion. Artifis bribes the stone-delivery man to throw his load away, before Obelix beats him up, causing him to reveal the truth, a henchman tries to lock the Gauls inside a pyramid, but Dogmatix helps them find their way out. He subsequently tries to frame the Gauls by sending a poisoned cake to Cleopatra, but Getafix makes an antidote enabling the Gauls to eat it, then cures the taster and claims eating too much rich food was giving him a bad stomach. Edifis is kidnapped and hidden in a sarcophagus in the house of Artifis, but Obelix frees him. Artifis and his henchman are forced to work on the palace, but without magic potion.

Just before the palace is due to be completed, Caesar intervenes by sending legions to try to arrest the Gauls, after he realises the three Gauls are in Egypt when a spy disguises himself as a worker, and sees the effects of the magic potion. The Gauls fight off the Roman soldiers, but the commanding officer proceeds to shell the building with his catapults. In desperation, Asterix and Dogmatix deliver the news to Cleopatra. A furious Cleopatra then hurries to the construction site to berate Caesar. Caesar’s legions are ordered to fix the damage they caused (without any magic potion to help them) and the palace is successfully completed on time. Cleopatra wins her bet and covers Edifis with gold. Edifis and Artifis reconcile and agree to build pyramids together, and Cleopatra gives Getafix some papyrus manuscripts from the Library of Alexandria as a gift. The Gauls return, but Vitalstatistix criticises Obelix trying to give an Egyptian style point to menhirs.

My Thoughts:

Getafix the druid gets roped into helping an old friend in Egypt build a palace for Cleopatra, which is going to be a gift to Caesar. Asterix, Obelix and the magic potion get involved and hijinks ensue.

In each volume, every time Asterix and Obelix go on a boat they inevitably meet up with a specific pirate. In this volume he’s mortgaged his first born for a new boat and when they see Obelix yoo-hoo’ing at them (he’s bored and wants a fight), they sink their own ship so they don’t have to fight the gauls. Eventually you see the pirate captain chained to an oar of a galley, as that’s all he has credit for. It is very funny to watch their downward slide 😀

The running gag is everybody comments on Cleopatra’s nose, “and a very pretty nose it is”. I wasn’t sure what I was missing, as it wasn’t funny or amusing. I’m wondering if the translators did a bad job OR, and I suspect this is more likely, the humor from creators just didn’t carry through. It wasn’t annoying, it just felt like a joke fallen flat. That kept getting repeated :-/

Dogmatix is now fully part of the team and actually plays an instrumental part in getting them out of a trap in the pyramid. Obelix definitely has a rapport with him and it’s quite amusing to see the juxtaposition of big fat Obelix and little tiny Dogmatix.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Asterix and the Banquet (Asterix #5) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Asterix and the Banquet
Series: Asterix #5
Authors: Goscinny & Uderzo
Translators: Bell & Hockridge
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 51
Words: 3K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

Inspector General Overanxius arrives in the fortified Roman camp of Compendium on a mission from Julius Caesar to lead the local garrison against the village of indomitable Gauls. Centurion Lotuseatus warns him the Gauls are dangerous, but the attack goes ahead, only to be soundly repelled. Undeterred, Overanxius erects a stockade around the village to prevent the inhabitants from spreading their rebellious ideas through Gaul.

Asterix bets that he and Obelix will escape the village and go on a tour of Gaul, collecting regional culinary specialties for a banquet upon their return. Overanxius promises to raise the stockade if they succeed. Asterix maps out a route, while Obelix fetches a large bag to hold their shopping. The two break through the stockade, while the other villagers create a diversion by attacking the barricade on another front. Overanxius has a rider despatched to alert the entire occupation army to be on the lookout for the pair.

Rotomagus (Rouen): Asterix and Obelix make their way to the Normandy region, where a Roman patrol recognizes them. They flee and escape via a wealthy Roman couple’s yacht up the Seine, while the patrol is stymied by the unhelpfully vague responses of local residents.

Lutetia (Paris): Upon arrival, Asterix and Obelix negotiate the traffic jams and buy a ham from a pork butcher shop, where from this point on, Dogmatix (unnamed until the next adventure) follows the duo through Gaul. Fearing detection by a Roman patrol, they purchase a gleaming used chariot and handsome horse from a dishonest salesman to make their escape. They soon discover the horse is slow and was only painted black, while the chariot loses its lustre and a wheel. The duo gets back on track by knocking out the driver of a Roman breakdown chariot and stealing his vehicle.

Camaracum (Cambrai): The Gauls stop in a humbug shop to buy boiled sweets, but are spotted by a Roman patrol, which they beat up, trashing the shop in the process. Unfazed by the damage, the shopkeeper says Gauls are aware of the bet and then demonstrates his solidarity by knocking out the patrol leader. Back on the road, Asterix and Obelix get past another patrol by posing as breakdown men, towing a legionary, Spongefingus, in his damaged chariot, only to then cast him aside on the road.

Rheims (Reims): Asterix and Obelix abandon the breakdown chariot and buy some wines. They are found by Spongefingus, who has recovered from his “accident,” but Asterix knocks him down by using a cork exploding from an amphora.

Divodurum (Metz): Leaving Rheims, the pair detours into a forest, where the scent of roast boar leads them to the house of Unpatriotix, who feeds and then betrays them. Roman soldiers come to the house but capture only Asterix, as Obelix is out hunting boar. When Obelix discovers the ruse, he knocks out a legionary to get imprisoned too and rescues Asterix. After beating up the Romans at the prison, Asterix declares it is too late to buy any of Divodurum’s specialties and decides to buy some in Lugdunum. As they leave, the Gauls commandeer a Roman postal cart.

Lugdunum (Lyon): The two Gauls abandon the postal cart and, after crashing through a Roman blockade, meet Jellibabix, head of the resistance movement. He pretends to betray the Gauls to Prefect Poisonous Fungus, but lures the Romans into a maze of back alleys, where the legionaries become hopelessly lost (the prefect’s plan to leave behind a trail of pebbles to find his way out backfires when a legionary picks up the pebbles). Jellibabix gives the duo a parcel of sausages and meatballs, and arranges a chariot for them.

Nicae (Nice): En route to Nicae, Asterix and Obelix become stuck in holiday traffic bound for the Gaulish Riviera and stop at an inn for lunch. In Nicae, they buy salad and are once again spotted by a Roman patrol. They escape by sea and commandeer a vacationing Lutetian’s rowboat.

Massilia (Marseille): The Gauls stop at Cesar Drinklikafix’s inn where, aside from having goat’s milk and boar, they buy fish stew. Again, the pair makes a premature departure when a boy warns of approaching Romans, but Drinklikafix and his friends stall the soldiers by blocking the road with a game of pétanque.

Tolosa (Toulouse): En route to Tolosa, Asterix and Obelix stop for the night, unaware they are in a Roman camp. Next morning, they beat up the Romans, but then surrender after learning the centurion intended to take them to Tolosa by cart. The Gauls are chained up, but repeatedly break their chains, much to the blacksmith’s dismay. Out on the road, the centurion rides on ahead to bring over the prefect, but in his absence, Asterix and Obelix beat up the Romans again, make off with the cart, and buy sausages in Tolosa.

Aginum (Agen): The Romans announce a 50,000 sestertii reward for information leading to the arrest of Asterix and Obelix. An unscrupulous innkeeper, Uptotrix, invites the two Gauls to his inn, where he gives them a bag of prunes and serves them drugged boar. Suspecting betrayal, Asterix orders Uptotrix to taste the boar, which causes him to fall unconscious, although Obelix is unaffected despite eating the rest of the boar. The pair leaves the cart in Aginum and takes the horses, one of which collapses under the combined weight of Obelix and the shopping bag.

Burdigala (Bordeaux): En route, the Gauls rest for the night by a roadside, where their bag is stolen by two Roman highwaymen, Villanus and Unscrupulus. The next morning, Asterix and Obelix pursue the thieves, who are caught by a Roman patrol and mistaken them for the Gauls. In the town square of Burdigala, General Motus shows the “Gaulish outlaws” to the public, only to realize he has the wrong men when Asterix and Obelix arrive to reclaim their bag. The public attacks General Motus and his men while the heroes regain their bag and buy oysters and white wine.

Gesocribatum (Le Conquet): Before leaving Burdigala, Asterix and Obelix spy a ship offloading menhirs and meet Captain Seniorservix, who is honored to let them aboard as Obelix helps unload the menhirs before the ship’s departure. At sea, the ship runs into the recurring pirates, whose own ship is sunk by the Gauls. On arrival in Gesocribatum, Seniorservix smuggles the Gauls ashore in sacks. Asterix and Obelix get out when a Roman patrol is passing by, but they beat up the Romans and escape.

Eventually, Asterix and Obelix reach the stockade outside their village and, after beating up the Romans yet again, give them a message to tell Overanxius they have won their side of the bet. That night, Asterix shows the food and wine to Overanxius and Lotuseatus, before demonstrating the village’s specialty, ‘the uppercut’, which knocks out Overanxius. Moments before the punch, Dogmatix barks for the first time, making Obelix notice him. Dogmatix is given a bone and the villagers enjoy their banquet.

My Thoughts:

I think I have settled into the rhythm of this comic. Considering that each comic tells one story, that’s a good thing. I’m not looking for anything deeper now, just brawling Gauls having fun 🙂

That is all that there is to this. I think that is the secret to its staying power too. It’s not complicated, it isn’t based on any politics or ideas of the day (which age books and stories extremely fast), it is just Asterix having light hearted adventures with his best friend Obelix. In one of the earlier reviews I mentioned the formula for these books. As long as I don’t pay attention, that formula works perfectly.

What that does mean though is that pretty soon, my “reviews” are going to consist of the synopsis and me saying something like “Yep, I liked it” and that’s it. I’m not looking forward to that time I have to admit. I like to be able to write something about each book I read, to make it stand apart from the thousands of others I’ve read but some times that desire meets the cold cruel wall of reality head on.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Asterix the Gladiator (Asterix #4) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Asterix the Gladiator
Series: Asterix #4
Authors: Goscinny & Uderzo
Translators: Bell & Hockridge
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 51
Words: 3K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

While stopping at the Roman Camp of Compendium, Prefect ‘Odius Asparagus’ wants one of the indomitable Gauls as a present for Julius Caesar. Because none of the others can be captured, Centurion Gracchus Armisurplus decides on Cacofonix the bard. Soldiers sent by the centurion, although driven away by Cacofonix’s singing at first, counteract this by stuffing parsley in their ears and capture him easily. A young boy named Picanmix from the village raises the alarm to Asterix and Obelix, and the Gauls attack Compendium; but learn that the prefect has already left in his galley with Cacofonix.

Asterix and Obelix therefore board a ship with Ekonomikrisis the Phoenician merchant, who agrees to take them to Rome after they save him from the pirates. In Rome, after Cacofonix has subjected the slaves in the prefect’s galley to his bad singing, the prefect presents him to Julius Caesar; but when Caius Fatuous, the gladiators’ trainer, declares Cacofonix unfit to serve as a gladiator, Caesar decides to throw the bard to the lions. Upon arrival in Rome, Asterix and Obelix befriend Instantmix (a Gaulish chef working in Rome) and visit the public baths. There, Caius Fatuous decides they would be perfect candidates for the gladiators’ fights in the Circus Maximus, and he arranges to have them captured. That night, Asterix and Obelix visit Instantmix in his insula, where he identifies the location of Cacofonix. The next morning, the Gauls’ first attempt at rescuing the bard fails when they raid the Circus prison and discover that Cacofonix has been transferred to a lower basement. Caius Fatuous has his men try to ambush them in groups of three, but Asterix and Obelix defeat them with ease, and apparently without taking notice.

Caius Fatuous then offers a reward of 10,000 sestertii to any citizen who captures Asterix and Obelix; but the two of them volunteer as gladiators to infiltrate the following Games, and Fatuous places them in training under his assistant Insalubrius. Soon, the Gauls demoralize Insalubrius and irritate Caius Fatuous by having the other gladiators play guessing-games instead of training. Later, when Fatuous plans the Games to Julius Caesar, the Gauls go on a stroll, with Caius Fatuous (reluctantly) as their guide. On the eve before the games, Asterix and Obelix visit Cacofonix in his cell and inform him of their intentions to free him and the gladiators.

The next day, during the chariot races, Asterix and Obelix substitute themselves for an inebriated contestant, and win the race. As Cacofonix is put into the arena to be killed by the lions, he sings to the Romans, and thus frightens the lions into retreat; whereupon Caesar orders the gladiators’ competition to begin. When Asterix, Obelix, and the gladiators introduce Caesar to their guessing-game, and Caesar insists on a martial contest, Asterix challenges a cohort of Caesar’s own guard, and the two Gauls win easily. Seeing that the audience are amused, Caesar releases the three Gauls and grants them Fatuous as a prisoner. Soon afterwards, the four men meet back up with Ekonomikrisis, and Asterix surprises him and his men by having Caius Fatuous row the ship back to the Gaulish Village alone. After a brief journey (plus a second run in with the pirates, which sinks their ship), the Gauls arrive home and Ekonomikrisis keeps his promise to return Caius Fatuous to Rome. The villagers then celebrate the return of their heroes with a banquet, only with Cacofonix having to sit it out bound and gagged after offering to sing a song to celebrate his triumphant return.

This book is noteworthy in the Asterix series as the first in which Obelix says his famous catchphrase “These Romans are crazy!”

My Thoughts:

Fun. Cacofonix the Bard gets kidnapped, only to be shut up time and again every time someone hears him sing. Even Asterix and Obelix threaten to not take him back to Gaul if he tries to sing to them at the end of the book. How can that not make you laugh?

The running gag for this story is Obelix playing a game of “hit the romans” and using their helmets as proof that he knocked them out. You seem him constantly with a huge pile of roman helmets lined up like soup bowls in his arms every time he meets a new group of them. There were a couple of word plays that went right over my head, as I didn’t see what what was supposed to be funny, but missing a joke here or there isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Overall, a good way to spend the evening.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Asterix and the Goths (Asterix #3) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Asterix and the Goths
Series: Asterix #3
Authors: Goscinny & Uderzo
Translators: Bell & Hockridge
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 51
Words: 3K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

Asterix and Obelix, nervous about Getafix traveling alone to the annual druids’ conference in the Forest of the Carnutes, accompany him on his journey and remain outside the forest during the conference. Meanwhile, on the Roman Empire’s border, two legionaries are captured by a band of Goths (Tartaric, Esoteric, Atmospheric, Prehistoric, and Choleric), intending to kidnap the Druid of the Year and use his skills to conquer Gaul and Rome.[3]

En route to the Forest, Asterix, Obelix, and Getafix meet another druid, Valueaddedtax, who uses his magical powers to convince the Romans to let them pass. At the edge of the Forest of the Carnutes, Getafix and his friend leave Asterix and Obelix for the druid’s conference. Unaware that the Goth band is hiding nearby, the druids enter their inventions in a contest, in which Getafix wins the “Golden Menhir” prize with his potion, which gives superhuman strength. As he leaves his colleagues, the Goths take him prisoner. Asterix and Obelix, fearing for their friend’s safety after they do not see him leave the Forest, enter the woods and find a Visigoth helmet (actually a pickelhaube like those worn by Germans during the first years of World War I). They instantly set out towards the east (thoroughly confusing Obelix) to rescue Getafix.

Unfortunately, they run into another Roman patrol, which spots the helmet Asterix is carrying and mistakes them for Goths (who are wanted for assaulting Roman border guards). Obelix and Asterix easily defeat the Romans, but the Roman general is informed of the incident and sends out pictures of Asterix and Obelix with a reward for their capture.

Asterix has the bright idea of disguising himself and Obelix as Romans and ambush two legionaries, stealing their armor and weapons and leaving them tied up and gagged. Two other legionaries, searching for the Goths, come across our heroes, in which Obelix’s laughter at what they should say if they meet other Romans almost blows his and Asterix’s cover. Soon after, the two legionaries spot the two tied-up Romans and mistake them for Asterix and Obelix, “a fat one and a little one”. Thinking another Legionary captured them and has gone for reinforcements, they decide to take the reward, and take the prisoners to the general’s tent. When the captives are ungagged, however, the full story comes out, and the Romans promptly begin capturing each other left and right, believing each other to be Goths, much to the disappointment of the General. Asterix and Obelix, back in Gaulish clothing, are completely untouched, along with the Goths, who approach the border.

The Goths cross the Roman Empire’s border back into Germania, stunning a young legionary whose eagerness to report an invasion becomes a running gag. (He initially reports an “invasion” of Goths invading the Goths, then an invasion of Gauls crossing into Germania — which his centurion dismisses as their territory is not the one being invaded—, and then finally reports the Gauls returning to Gaul, which causes him to get 8 days inside). They present the druid first to a customs officer, who at first refuses to let them through on charges of importing foreign goods. Eventually, the Goths present Getafix to their Gothic chieftain, Metric, calls in a Gaulish-Gothic translator, Rhetoric, who is threatened to be executed if he does not convince Getafix to cooperate and brew magic potion. Although Getafix flatly refuses, Rhetoric lies and says that he has agreed to do so in a week’s time, at the New Moon.

Meanwhile, Asterix and Obelix also stun the young legionary and enter the Gothic lands. While running into a Gothic border patrol, Obelix stupidly uses the cover up names he and Asterix used for their Roman disguises, making the patrol think the Gauls are Romans. After Asterix and Obelix beat up the patrol, they disguise themselves as Goths by attacking two of them, infiltrating their barracks as members of the army. They escape from the Gothic army, but are soon captured again by the Goths and thrown in jail along with Rhetoric, who was also trying to flee. Although they are thrown in prison, Obelix easily breaks the door (another running gag) and they flee, taking Rhetoric with them to question. While at first he pretends to speak only Gothic, Rhetoric accidentally reveals that he can speak Gaulish and is forced to spill the beans. While trying to sneak into the Gothic town, Rhetoric screams and attracts a patrol. Although Asterix and Obelix beat up the patrol, they surrender to the last standing man to be brought to the Chief.

The Gauls are brought before Metric. Getafix reveals that he can actually speak Gothic and informs Metric that Rhetoric had been deceiving him. Once again, Rhetoric is thrown in jail with the Gauls, and they are all sentenced to execution. Asterix, Obelix and Getafix devise a scheme in which many Goths are given magic potion, so that they spend time and energy fighting each other for chieftainship instead of invading Gaul and Rome, making Rhetoric play a part in it. Under the pretext of cooking a last Gaulish soup, Getafix gives the jailer a list of ingredients and brews the potion when he acquires them. During the public execution, Rhetoric asks to go first. Full of magic potion, he resists all attempts at torture, and beats up Metric, throwing him in jail and making himself Chieftain of the Goths. The Gauls visit Metric in his prison, and give him magic potion. As the two Chieftains had the same magic potion in them, a direct fight proves futile and each storms off, promising to raise an army.

The Gauls wander around the town, giving potions to any Goth who looks browbeaten and who would be glad of a chance of power (their first two candidates being Electric, who is poor and has to sweep up streets, and Euphoric, who is being bossed about by his dictator-like wife). The would-be Chieftains each raise an army, and a confusing set of conflicts begins, known as the “Asterixian Wars”, thus successfully sowing so much discord in Germania that the tribes be more occupied with fighting each other rather than trying to invade other countries.

Although their peace-keeping mission probably created more casualties than a Gothic invasion of Rome would, the three Gauls make it back to Gaul, again running into the over-eager young legionary at the border, return home confident and are welcomed with open arms by the village, who throw their usual banquet in celebration.

My Thoughts:

This made for a great read on a Saturday morning. Sitting on our old comfy couch, eating Stouffer’s fried mac&cheese poppers while drinking diet Mt Dew and reading about gauls beating the stuffing out of Romans, Ostrogoths and Visigoths. What more could you ask for?

Light hearted fun is all these stories offer and so if you only expect that, you’ll be fine. I think my problems that I experienced with the previous book was that I was expecting something more inline with a series of novels, where characters grow and change and the world is explained more and more. Here, Asterix is Asterix, Obelix is Obelix and that’s just the way they’re going to be.

The names of various Gauls, Romans and Goths continues to be as amusing as ever. It did however make me want to investigate the older translations of these to see what they were then. Because it might be a case of the translators making up their own jokes and that would really color my view of the whole thing.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Asterix and the Golden Sickle (Asterix #2) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Asterix and the Golden Sickle
Series: Asterix #2
Authors: Goscinny & Uderzo
Translators: Bell & Hockridge
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 51
Words: 3K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

Disaster strikes the Gaulish village when Getafix the druid breaks his golden sickle, as without one, he cannot attend the annual conference of druids, or cut mistletoe for the magic potion which keeps the Roman army at bay. Asterix and Obelix set out for Lutetia (present-day Paris) to buy a new sickle from Obelix’s distant cousin, the sicklesmith Metallurgix.

On the way there, they encounter bandits, but easily defeat them, and learn from a fellow-traveller that “sickles are in short supply in Lutetia”. In the city, they find Metallurgix missing and make inquiries at a local inn, but the landlord professes to know nothing. He later gives a description of Asterix and Obelix to the devious Clovogarlix, who in turn directs them to his superior Navishtrix, who tries to sell them a sickle at an exorbitant price. They refuse, and defeat Navishtrix and his followers, only to be arrested by a Roman patrol. They are released by the Prefect of Lutetia, Surplus Dairyprodus, and learn from a Centurion that Metallurgix may have been kidnapped by sickle traffickers.

From a drunkard imprisoned by Dairyprodus, they learn Navishtrix has a hideout at a portal dolmen in the Boulogne forest. In Navishtrix’s underground store-room, Asterix and Obelix find a hoard of golden sickles, but are attacked by Clovogarlix, Navishtrix and their minions. Upon defeat, Navishtrix escapes, and Asterix and Obelix follow him to Surplus Dairyprodus, who – in front of the Centurion – freely confesses to having sponsored the illegal sickle monopoly for his own amusement. The Centurion releases Metallurgix and imprisons Dairyprodus and Navishtrix; whereafter Metallurgix gratefully gives Asterix and Obelix the best of his sickles. With this, they return to their village and celebrate their achievement.

My Thoughts:

As fun as this was, I am realizing that it truly is meant for a younger audience. I think that for me to appreciate it to its fullest I’d have to read these just one a year instead of one a month. However, that just isn’t going to happen.

There is a formula to these books that goes something like this: There is a Problem that somehow involves the Gaulish village. Asterix and Obelix get roped into Solving the Problem. Violence and Jokes Ensue, Repeat as Necessary until Solution(s) are reached. Everyone has a Feast at the Village to celebrate. The End.

That formula works and it works well. You simply cannot beat (pun intended) Asterix drinking the magic potion and kerpow’ing scads of roman legionnaires with one punch. And don’t forget the random stranger who gets a swig of the stuff and adds to the chaos. And the banter, don’t forget the banter. It is like combining the Three Stooges with Laurel & Hardy. The problem with a formula is that at some point a reader (ie, me) expects something new and the older you are and the longer you’ve read, the harder it is to find new things. And formula’s aren’t well known for coming up with new things but with successfully re-using items that have worked before.

Of course, it might just be that I’m an old grump (get off my concrete lawn, you stupid kids!) and I want to complain about something and poor little Asterix “won” the lottery. I’ll leave it up to you to decide.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Asterix the Gaul (Asterix #1) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

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.