It worked before, let’s try it again
Even though it is a holiday in the United States of America, we at Major Spoilers realize there are a great many of our readers that hail from places not contained within 50 states. Last year, I took down memory lane with a look at one of my favorite comics of all time Asterix and Cleopatra. It was so well received last year, we’re repeating the stunt again. Considering there are thirty plus Asterix titles, I think it is safe to say, we won’t be running out of material anytime soon.
The year is 50 B.C. Gaul is entirely occupied by the Romans. Well, not entirely… One small village of indomitable Gauls still holds out against the invaders.
With those words, the world of Asterix and the rest of the Gauls is unleashed upon the reader.Â The tiny village is constantly besieged by Caesarâ€™s army, but fortunately the village druid Getafix supplies Asterix and the rest with a secret potion that gives them super strength.Â Whatâ€™s really weird about this revelation is how the characters talk to one another as if theyâ€™ve never encountered the potion before in their lives – even though Asterix takes the formula daily.Â And while I doubt Obelix is a simple as he is draw, it seems weird that he would need to be reminded he fell into a vat of the stuff as a child that gave him permanent super strength.Â It works to a point, and in hindsight, readers can tell Goscinny is still formulating and building the characters.
The inability to conquer this tribe is a pox upon the Romans, and with Caesar getting more impatient, Centurion Crismus Bonus demands to know the secret behind the Gauls strengths.Â Yes, names are used for comedic effect throughout the series.Â Most of them are groan out loud bad, but because Goscinny uses the gag every single time it works nicely.
Crismus Bonus sends one of his soldiers undercover and soon enough the secret of the Gaulâ€™s strength is uncovered. To move the plot forward, the Romans capture Getafix, prompting Asterix to rescue his friend.Â While one might think there would be a lot of fighting, Asterix and Getafix use their cunning to trick the Romans into drinking a variety of potions that do not have the effect Crismus Bonus was hoping for.Â When Ceaser finally arrives in the camp, and discovers Crismus Bonus planned on using the potion to conquer Rome, he frees the Gauls for their honesty, but reminds them they are still sworn enemies.
While the writing works well and the gags bring a lot of laughs to the story, the dialogue isnâ€™t as strong as one might think.Â No disrespect to Goscinny, but when I first read Asterix tales, they were either in French of German and I had to figure out what was going on without the help of a translator. When I finally obtained English versions of the tales later in life, it confirmed what I thought years ago, most if not all of the story reveal is told through the art by Albert Uderzo.Â It works so well and still holds up 50 years later.Â While Asterix is revered in Europe, the iconic nature of the characters translates through the art so even those vaguely familiar with the characters can tell they are important.Â As a big fan of the art in the books, I wish I had some original art, or even a giant Fathead wall art poster of Asterix and Obelix for my Nerd Room of Doom.
For a first tale, Asterix the Gaul is a great tale that very nicely introduces a new reader into the world of Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo.Â For those who have never read or heard of Asterix, then this first volume is a good place to start and is well deserving of a 4.5 out of 5 Star rating.