Asterix in Belgium – Book 24
Asterix in Belgium (French: Astérix chez les Belges, lit. ‘Asterix among the Belgians/Belgae’) is the twenty-fourth volume of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations).
It is noted as the last Asterix story from Goscinny, who died during its production.
After fighting the Belgians in the northern part of Gaul, Caesar states that they are the bravest enemies he’s ever faced (historically claimed by Caesar). His soldiers agree with him, to the point when they consider being posted to the camps outside Asterix’s village as a period of leave.
Chief Vitalstatistix is aghast at the idea that his village, which has been the terror of the Romans for years, is now looked upon as relatively harmless. He is further outraged when he hears of Caesar’s remarks. He claims that his villagers are in fact the bravest men of Gaul, and travels to Belgium to prove his point. A reluctant Asterix and Obelix go with him after Getafix tells them not doing so could make the story come to a sticky end.
After crossing the border, they encounter a village of Belgians who rely on brute strength (and a regular diet of meat and beer) to successfully scare off Caesar’s troops. These Belgians are led by two chiefs, Beefix and Brawnix (though Brawnix comes across mainly as a second-in-command).
To prove that the Gauls are the bravest, Vitalstatistix proposes a competition. The contest consists of raiding and destroying Roman camps on either side of the village. The Belgians and Gauls destroy the camps, telling the soldiers who they are. By the end they have destroyed an equal number of camps. Meanwhile, the Pirates’ ship is wrecked when Obelix throws a boulder catapulted at him too high, causing the Captain to complain, saying he and his men are neutrals. Word is sent to Rome, though the facts are exaggerated, talking about vast hordes of Gauls, a savage pack of hounds, and a mysterious fleet of neutrals. Caesar goes to Belgium himself to restore order unaware of the fact that the whole thing is to get him to decide once and for all which side is the bravest.
Upon Caesar’s arrival, Asterix and Obelix go to meet him under a flag of truce. Asterix proposes that Caesar meet both parties at an arranged meeting point and tell them they are equally brave so they can all go home. Outraged at being reduced to a mere umpire (as opposed to emperor), Caesar furiously declares that he will meet them in battle instead. In the ensuing fight, the Romans get their way in the early stages of the battle through the use of catapults. But then the three Gauls, and their magic potion, join the Belgians after they thwart a Roman flanking maneuver, and, by combining their efforts, the Gauls win the battle.
With the battle lost, Caesar decides to leave for Rome. On his way he comes across the Gaulish and Belgian chiefs. Caesar proudly announces that he will lay down his life, but the chiefs only want to know who is the bravest. Caesar angrily declares them simply all crazy and leaves. Vitalstatistix and Beefix laugh the incident off. They have to face the fact that they are all equally brave and, after a victory feast, part on good terms.