The Holiday Tradition Continues…

It’s time once again to dive into the wonderful world of Asterix – a holiday tradition at Major Spoilers! The druid conference is just around the corner, and all good druids will be there with their golden sickles.

ASTERIX AND THE GOLDEN SICKLE
Writer: Rene Goscinny
Artist: Albert Uderzo
Publisher: Dargaud
Translation: 1975 by Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge

Previously in Asterix: Those who are not schooled in Asterix, here’s the 411 – Asterix (sometimes referred to as The Adventures of Asterix) is a French series that began in 1959 and has continued for over 50 years. The title character, Asterix, and his friend Obelix, have adventures throughout Europe during the time of Roman expansion. To help combat the invaders, Asterix uses a magic potion whipped up by the village druid, Getafix, that gives him super strength.

Previous Asterix Reviews
(2011) Asterix in Britain
(2010) Asterix in Spain
(2009) Asterix the Gaul
(2009) Asterix and Obelix’s Birthday: The Golden Book
(2008) Asterix and Cleopatra

THE DRUID CONVENTION

In this second book, the druid convention is coming up, and in order to get in, Getafix must show his golden sickle. But there is a problem, the village druid just broke it by accident. The only place to get a new sickle in time is to head to Lutetia (present-day Paris), and obtain a new one from Metallurgix (get it?). Asterix and Obelix agree to help their friend out, and it is off to the city of lights!

When the duo arrive they discover Metallurgix shop is closed, and the sickle maker is nowhere to be found. On top of that, there appears to be a black market golden sickle ring running rampant in the city, and the bored prefect, Surplus Dairyprodus, doesn’t seem too concerned. It’s the mystery aspect of the tale that makes this a engaging read, and probably why I liked this volume as much as I did. Scene after scene, Asterix and Obelix attempt to track down the missing sickle maker, and each time, they wind back up in the Roman jail through no fault other than being Gauls. Piece by piece, it all comes together, and when the Prefect is found to be the master of the sickle black market (he was bored and had nothing better to do) the duo are able to find their friend and complete the mission.

Again, this is a fantastic read, and the puns, which annoyed me in the past (especially in Asterix in Britain), works perfectly here. There could be a number of reasons for this; this is only the second book in the series, and Goscinny could have still been finding his footing in the world of puns, or it could be that there really isn’t that much over the top humor to be found in France. Though the names continue to be in your face (one of the bandits is called Clovogarlix), it’s the slapstick moments that get the biggest smile from me. This is the first book in which Obelix gets to stretch his legs as a character, and every moment he is on the page is pure enjoyment.

ICONIC ART

There is a very distinct change in Uderzo’s style form the first volume to the second. In the first book, the characters are much more angular, while here, we get to see the characters in their more familiar rounded forms. While Asterix the Gaul is a good first start, I think most of the iconic character features (Obelix with his Menhir, Asterix’s feathered helmet, etc) stand out in this second volume.

In addition to the characters getting their iconic looks, Uderzo fills each panel with detail and crowds that make the dirty city of Lutetia feel like a metropolis. The moments and chase scenes that take place through the streets of the city are well played, and I really like how every bit-character has a distinct look, and is simply not a series of colored circles or duplicate representations of men and women.

BOTTOM LINE: GET IT IF YOU CAN

Asterix and Cleopatra will still go down as my favorite Asterix title, Asterix and the Golden Sickle is right up there as my number two Asterix book. The humor isn’t sickening, the art is wonderful, and the mystery of the missing Metallurgix actually drives the story forward instead of devolving into a series of lame jokes. If you can get your hands on Asterix and the Golden Sickle, do it. It’s a fun story and earns 4.5 out of 5 Stars.

Rating: ★★★★½

DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!
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The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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5 Comments

  1. Randallw
    November 22, 2012 at 9:43 pm — Reply

    If the puns don’t quite work it may not be be Gosciny’s fault. One of the good things about the Asterix books is that they are slightly tweaked each time they are translated, so as to fit the new language better. If it’s the second book then perhaps the translation team hadn’t worked things out yet.

  2. Jorgos
    November 23, 2012 at 12:59 am — Reply

    One of the strips I grew up with here in Belgium. You made me want to reread them ;)

  3. November 23, 2012 at 10:21 am — Reply

    First Asterix I read. The art is gorgeous, and the story is very funny. Good stuff.

  4. November 23, 2012 at 2:06 pm — Reply

    This is a beatyfull tradition.
    It could be nice if you reviewed more european comics.

  5. Oldcomicfan
    November 23, 2012 at 7:24 pm — Reply

    I discovered Asterix in the late 70s after I ran out of Tintin books to buy. Atlantic Little Brown had formed an alliance with Muethin publishing (however it was spelled) and brought a lot of the Belgian/French school of comics over to the U.S. Tintin was my favorite, followed by Lucky Luke, Lt. Blueberry and Asterix. The problem was that availability was spotty – there weren’t comic book stores yet – and I found them in various and sundry places such as college book stores, greeting card stores and even an office supply store. Occasionally one would show up in a public book store but that was rare.

    The second problem was that these books were cheaply bound. They usually fell apart during the first read! Most of the series that were brought over petered out before all of them were published in English, with the exception of the Tintin Books and the Asterix books. In fact, after waiting thirty years for them to publish more of the Vagabond of Limbo series, I have undertaken to translate them myself, which is difficult because I can’t read French or Belgium, and since it is a sci-fi series, a lot of the jargon is made up and thus doesn’t have a direct English translation.

    Getting back to Asterix – it’s basically Popeye set in ancient Roman days, with Popeye (Asterix) being given a fat, dopey sidekick. The spoken humor is mostly puns, some of which don’t always translate into English properly. The visual humor is Jerry Lewis kick in the pants pratfall humor. If you like that style of humor, then Asterix is right for you! And you don’t even have to ask your doctor if Asterix is right for you.

    And there is the third problem. Aside from changes in the setting, each Asterix book follows the same basic plot, and if you read one Asterix book, you’ve read them all. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Asterix, just not enough to purchase the books again when they once again became available. I suggest that, unless you are a fan of European comics, you read some old Thimble Theater reprints instead. E. C. Segar did the same sort of humor adventure stories, only fifty years earlier, and he did it better than Goscinny and Uderzo.

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