Asterix and the Picts – Book 35

Asterix and the Picts – Book 35

Asterix and the Picts is the 35th book in the Asterix series, and is the first book to be written by someone other than René Goscinny or Albert Uderzo. It was written by Jean-Yves Ferri and illustrated by Didier Conrad. The English-language version was translated by Anthea Bell.

It takes Asterix and Obelix across the Channel into Scotland, where they meet the Picts. This is the duo’s second journey to the British Isles, after visiting the Britons in Asterix in Britain (1965).

One winter day, while searching for oysters, Asterix and Obelix find a young man frozen in ice washed up on the beach. They take him to the druid Getafix, who by the stranger’s clothes and tattoos identifies him as a Pict, residents of Northern Caledonia (now Scotland). Getafix is able to revive him, but the Pict has lost his voice and is unable to express himself, even in sign language; a gold ring clenched in his hand is the only clue to his background story. A minor complication ensues when a Roman census officer, Limitednumbus, arrives at the village to record the Gauls’ activities, which Vitalstatistix allows him to do.

Following Getafix’s administrations, the young Pict regains only limited power of speech and the Gauls cannot understand him. One day, he chisels a map on one of Obelix’s menhirs, leading to his home. With this clue, and additional enticement provided by the village women’s increasing fascination for the handsome young man, Asterix and Obelix are tasked with taking him home, along with some healing elixir for the Pict’s throat. As they leave in Unhygenix’s fishing boat and encounter (and fight) the pirates, the Pict fully recovers his voice. He introduces himself as Macaroon and tells them how he was ambushed by Maccabaeus, the chief of the Maccabee clan, tied to a log and thrown into the loch near his home because Maccabeus is longing for the hand of Macaroon’s fiancée Camomilla, the adopted daughter of Mac II, late monarch of Caledonia, in order to make himself king of all Picts. In an effort to consolidate his claim, Maccabaeus has pleaded for an alliance with Rome and secretly invited a Roman legion to his coronation.

After a playful encounter with Loch Androll’s monstrous resident Nessie, who steals the gourd with the elixir, they land and go to visit Macaroon’s family. However, Macaroon learns there that Camomilla has been kidnapped by Maccabaeus shortly after his disappearance, and that Maccabaeus is going to be crowned king the next day. Asterix motivates him to challenge Maccabaeus, but Macaroon loses his voice again. Asterix and Obelix attempt to retrieve the gourd from Nessie, but in the process they stumble upon a tunnel which leads them straight to the Red Picts’ dungeon, where Camomilla is kept captive. They rescue her and escape through one of the tunnels.

The next day, all the Pict leaders assemble to elect their next king. As Maccabaeus advances with his Roman allies and promotes himself, Macaroon and his family arrive at the island and confront Maccabaeus; but the challenge is declared void because Macaroon has yet to recover the full use of his voice. Through a tunnel emerging right onto the assembly island, Asterix, Obelix and Camomilla arrive at the nick of time to defy Maccabaeus, and the sight of Camomilla restores Macaroon’s voice. The Gauls and the Picts unite and fight the Romans and Maccabaeus (with some help from Nessie), crushing them. Maccabaeus and the Roman task force’s centurion then suffer the same fate Macaroon did, being chained to a log and tossed into the freezing Caledonian waters, and Macaroon is made king of the Picts.

The Gauls return home in triumph. Meanwhile, Limitednumbus has become frustrated by the constant movement of the Gauls, which does not allow him to count them properly. Obelix is about to tie him to a tree trunk and send him to the Picts, when Asterix reminds him that there is an easy way of counting Gauls: the banquet at the end of the story.

Asterix and the Falling Sky – Book 33

Asterix and the Falling Sky – Book 33

Asterix and the Falling Sky (French: Le ciel lui tombe sur la tête, “The Sky Falls On His Head”) is the thirty-third volume of the Asterix comic book series, the ninth solely written and illustrated by Albert Uderzo and the only volume to introduce science fiction elements into the otherwise historical comedy series. The book was intended as a tribute to Walt Disney and a satire on the state of the French comics industry. It was released on October 14, 2005 to commercial success, but was panned by the critics. This was the final volume produced by Uderzo before handing over the series to a new creative team.

An alien spaceship appears above the Gaulish village, causing nearly all of the people and animals to turn rigid. Only Asterix, Obelix, Getafix and Dogmatix are unaffected due to consumption of the magic potion. An alien named Toon emerges from the spherical spaceship. He is from the planet Tadsilweny and is accompanied by “superclone” security men.[5] Toon turns off his ship’s “anti-collision magnetic field”, ending the paralysis of the village. He informs the Gauls he is on a mission to confiscate their “secret weapon” (Getafix’s potion) that is “known throughout the universe”, in order to prevent it from being seized by evil aliens called Nagmas.

Meanwhile, a Nagma has landed his spaceship in the nearby Roman camp of Compendium and seeks the “powerful deadly weapon”. The Roman centurion Polyanthus gives him directions to the Gaulish village. Toon’s army of superclones and the Nagma’s “cyberat” robot warriors engage in battle. Asterix and Obelix enter the fray, and the Nagma attempts to abduct Getafix. The Nagma is eventually defeated, and Toon abandons his quest for the magic potion as its only discernible effect on the aliens is to cause them to temporarily increase to an enormous size. As he departs, Toon erases all memory of his visit from the village and the Roman camp.

Asterix and the Class Act – Book 32

Asterix and the Class Act – Book 32

Asterix and the Class Act (French: Astérix et la rentrée gauloise, “Asterix and the Gaulish return; la rentrée is the French return to school after the summer break) is officially the thirty-second album of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations and some stories), published in 2003. Unlike the other Asterix books, it is a compilation of short stories, rather than one long story. Each story has an introductory page giving some of its original history.

Only one of these stories (Chanticleerix) is completely original in this album, the remainder are reprinted from earlier sources, most notably the French comic “Pilote”.

The majority of these stories were written by Goscinny. Chanticleerix, The Lutetia Olympics and The Birth of Asterix were written by Uderzo after Goscinny’s death. Springtime In Gaul and Asterix as you’ve never seen him were also written by Uderzo alone.

Most of these stories have had only very limited distribution prior to this publication. In 1993 there was an earlier, smaller collection also called La Rentree Gauloise which was only available in French. It also contained a story called L’Antiquaire (The Antique Dealer) as filler which was not by Goscinny nor Uderzo, does not fit with the other stories and contains two recycled and out-of-character villains. That story has not been reprinted, but otherwise Class Act is an expanded, updated version of this.

Even earlier, in the mid-1980s, a promotional collection of some of these stories appeared in a number of translations (but not English) as Astérix mini-histoires (Asterix Mini-Stories).

Asterix and the Actress – Book 31

Asterix and the Actress – Book 31

Asterix and the Actress (French: Astérix et Latraviata, “Asterix and Latraviata”) is the 31st volume of the Asterix comic book series, written and illustrated by Albert Uderzo.

Asterix and Obelix receive a surprise birthday visit from their mothers, who have come from Condatum, bringing a Roman sword and helmet as presents. The mothers soon fuss over why their sons are still unmarried. Their efforts to find matrimonial matches for them go unappreciated.

Meanwhile, Asterix and Obelix’s fathers, who run a ‘modernities’ store in Condatum, are arrested because an alcoholic veteran legionary, Tremensdelirius from Asterix and Caesar’s Gift, had sold them the sword and helmet of Caesar’s rival Pompey, who now wants them back, but the two items were gifted to Asterix and Obelix. Pompey sends a gifted actress, Latraviata, disguised as Panacea, Obelix’s love interest and escorted by a Roman agent, Fastandfurious, to infiltrate the Gaulish village and retrieve Pompey’s belongings.

The real Panacea and her husband Tragicomix, upon learning that Asterix and Obelix’s fathers have been imprisoned by Pompey, set out for the Gaulish village to alert their friends. On their way, they run into Latraviata and Fastandfurious, who have left the village with Pompey’s sword and helmet, and the subterfuge is exposed. Asterix and Obelix catch up with them and Fastandfurious is hit with a menhir. Asterix and Obelix then go to Condatum to free their fathers, while Tragicomix apprehends Pompey and hands him over to Caesar. Caesar presents a statue of himself to Asterix, who hands it over to Latraviata for her outstanding acting performance, resulting in a joke about the first César Award.

Asterix and Obelix All at Sea – Book 30

Asterix and Obelix All at Sea – Book 30

Asterix and Obelix All at Sea (French: La Galère d’Obélix, “Obelix’s galley [ship]”) is the thirtieth volume of the Asterix comic book series, by Albert Uderzo. The album was dedicated to Uderzo’s grandchild, as well as to the American actor Kirk Douglas.

A band of slaves led by Spartakis (a parody of Spartacus) has taken over Julius Caesar’s personal galley, prompting Caesar to send his Admiral Crustacius to recover the vessel.

After some arguing about a safe place to disembark, the slaves set sail for the only place safe from the Romans: the village of indomitable Gauls. The four outlying Roman camps rehearse a parade to welcome Crustacius, who is pursuing the slaves. Believing the Romans are about to attack, the Gauls prepare for battle. Obelix is (as usual) denied Getafix’s magic potion. As the Gauls return victorious, they find Obelix has turned to stone after drinking a remaining cauldron of magic potion.

The former galley slaves are granted refuge, while Getafix tries to revive Obelix. Ultimately Obelix returns to life, but as a child and deprived of his usual strength. He is kidnapped by Roman soldiers and put on a ship bound for Rome, where Crustacius intends to use him as a bargaining counter for the return of Caesar’s galley. Asterix, Dogmatix, Getafix and the former slaves set out in pursuit and rescue Obelix at sea. Crustacius and his adjutant Vice-Admiral Nautilus, as well as Caesar’s galley, are handed over to the pirates, who plan to ransom them to Caesar. Spartakis and his crew take the Gauls to Atlantis (the Canary Islands), but the Atlanteans, despite having the secret of eternal youth, cannot restore Obelix’s adulthood. The Gauls head homeward, while the freed slaves remain on Atlantis as children forever.

On Caesar’s galley, the pirates unwittingly give Crustacius a dose of magic potion from a barrel inadvertently left behind by Getafix. He expels the pirates and plans on using his new strength to usurp Caesar; however, he makes the same mistake as Obelix and becomes a statue. Nautilus’s ambition of obtaining a promotion for bringing back the galley is dashed when he forgets to remove the jolly roger flag upon approaching Rome’s harbour and the vessel is attacked and sinks. The statue of Crustacius is installed in the Circus Maximus, while Nautilus and his crew are reduced to sweeping the arena. Asked by Cleopatra why he has erected a statue to commemorate his incompetent admiral, Caesar replies that although lions do not eat granite, things may change some day.

On their way back, the Gauls are intercepted by another Roman galley and Asterix is knocked unconscious by a catapult stone. Seeing his friend about to be thrown to the sharks, Obelix recovers his strength and size, and rescues him. Obelix then propels the galley into the Roman camp of Aquarium, before returning to the village for a feast.

Asterix and the Secret Weapon – book 29

Asterix and the Secret Weapon – book 29

Asterix and the Secret Weapon is the twenty-ninth volume of the Asterix comic book series and the fifth by Albert Uderzo alone. It parodies feminism, gender equality/relationships, and military secrets.

The story begins when a female bard named Bravura is being hired by the women of the village, who think that Cacofonix is giving their children a poor education. Upon hearing this, Cacofonix secludes himself in the forest nearby. When Bravura arrives, the women are stunned by her singing and the men laugh at it; much to her annoyance. Over the next few days, Bravura exhorts Impedimenta (and later other village women) to resist the authority of her husband. Impedimenta then quarrels with Vitalstatistix, who joins Cacofonix in the forest. Impedimenta is then made chief by the women, while the men do not dare vote against their wives.

Meanwhile, Julius Caesar, to take over the village, sends his agent Manlius Claphamomnibus, with orders to bring the “secret weapon” over the ocean discreetly. At the village, Bravura’s reforms spread discord among all the locals. Asterix, troubled by all of this from the start, is approached by Bravura, who offers to marry him and assume joint chieftainship; whereupon Asterix accuses her of coming to the village to seize power. When she kisses him, Asterix hits her reflexively, but feels shame and regret immediately after. For striking a woman, Impedimenta expels Asterix from the village; when Getafix objects to this, Bravura insults him. Immediately, Getafix and the other village men join Vitalstatistix in the forest.

Claphamomnibus’s ship lands at Gaul, and he reveals the secret weapon: female legionaries, whom the Gaulish men would refuse to fight for fear of being dishonored. Asterix, when he learns of this, is sent to warn the village women of the threat. Bravura suggests making peace, and goes to meet the female legionaries herself. However, she is refused, and Claphamomnibus insults her. At this, Asterix approaches Bravura with a plan. His initial step is to have Cacofonix sing onomatopoeia in the forest, causing rain and scaring all animals (in one scene exposing a dragon), which in turn terrifies the female Roman scout parties and delays their assault. When the Roman women eventually attack the village, they find that Bravura has converted the village into a shopping mall where the women can buy clothes and get their hair and makeup done. In the meantime, the men of the village defeat the male soldiers stationed around the village; and finally, Cacofonix sings again to expel the women. Julius Caesar is made the laughing stock of Rome, and Bravura leaves for Lutetia, reconciled with Asterix.

Asterix and the Magic Carpet – Book 28

Asterix and the Magic Carpet  – Book 28

Asterix and the Magic Carpet is the twenty-eighth volume of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations). It was first published in 1987. It is the fourth book to be published after the death of René Goscinny and is thus both written and drawn by Albert Uderzo alone.

The full original French title was Astérix chez Rahàzade ou Le compte des mille et une heures (Asterix meets Orinjade or the 1001 Hours Countdown), a reference to Queen Scheherazade who tells the famous 1001 Arabian Nights collection of stories.

Following the rebuilding of the Gaulish village after Brutus’ attack in the previous story, Chief Vitalstatistix is trying to give a speech, when he is interrupted by the bard Cacofonix, whose song causes rain. This introduces Watziznehm the fakir, who falls from his flying carpet. Watziznehm explains he was searching for the village because he needs to make it rain in his country, a kingdom in the Ganges Valley, within the following 1001 hours, otherwise Princess Orinjade, daughter of Rajah Wotzit, will be sacrificed to the gods. This prophecy is part of an evil scheme by Grand Vizier Hoodunnit, to seize the throne.

Vitalstatistix agrees to send the rain-making Cacofonix to India, accompanied by Asterix, Obelix, and Dogmatix. All five mount the flying carpet; but their journey is often interrupted either by Obelix’s insistence on stopping for food, by Cacofonix’s attempts to sing, and once by a lightning strike which forces them to replace the carpet. The Gauls eventually arrive in India with exactly 30 hours, 30 minutes, and 30 seconds to save Orinjade; but Cacofonix has lost his voice during the journey, and Rajah Wotzit’s doctors proclaim that to regain his voice, Cacofonix must take an overnight bath in a combination of elephant milk, dung and hair. Accordingly, the Gauls and Watziznehm take Cacofonix to elephant-trainer Howdoo and set up the bath; but Hoodunnit sends his henchmen to kidnap the bard and take him to an elephants’ graveyard to be trampled by the wild elephant herd.

Watziznehm, Asterix and Obelix set out to rescue the bard, but they are stopped by Owzat, Hoodunnit’s fakir sidekick. While Watziznehm and Owzat curse each other, Asterix and Obelix escape to Howdoo, with whom they embark to the elephants’ graveyard. After delays by tigers, monkeys, a rhinoceros and Hoodunnit’s henchmen, they find Cacofonix alive and well, his smell having placated the elephants. Meanwhile, Watziznehm defeats Owzat and recovers the Gauls on his flying carpet.

At the execution grounds, Asterix saves Orinjade, while Watziznehm intercepts Hoodunnit. Cacofonix recovers his voice after a dose of magic potion, and sings, causing rain. At the victory feast in the palace, Obelix surmises that his fellow villagers might be having their customary banquet, this time without him. This is proven true; and at the banquet, some of the Gauls begin to express a desire to retrieve the bard, in fear of a drought, and Fulliautomatix the blacksmith, Cacofonix’s habitual menace, appears to be missing him.

Asterix and Son – Book 27

Asterix and Son – Book 27

Asterix and Son (French: Le Fils d’Astérix, “Asterix’s Son”) is the twenty-seventh volume of the Asterix comic book series, created by author René Goscinny and illustrator Albert Uderzo.

A baby boy mysteriously appears on Asterix’s doorstep one sunny morning. Stung by speculation that he could be the father, Asterix sets out with Obelix to find the baby’s parents. Their only clue is the embroidered linen of the baby’s clothes and wrappings, suggesting he comes from a rich Roman family. The Romans attempt to kidnap the baby, at the behest of Marcus Junius Brutus, Caesar’s adopted son. Getafix realizes that the baby was left in the village for its protection.

While in the village, the baby twice drinks the magic potion, first by accident when Obelix uses a half-full potion gourd as a feeding bottle; later, he falls into a nearly-empty cauldron of potion. The baby smashes the doors of several houses and harms the Roman spies sent to capture him, including a legionary disguised as a rattle peddler, and the Prefect of Gaul, Crismus Cactus, who is disguised as a nursemaid. Finally, Brutus takes matters into his own hands, attacking the village with his own legions and burning it to the ground. The men of the village entrust the baby to the women, before fighting the Romans. Brutus seizes the baby from the women and escapes with the help of the pirates, but soon Asterix and Obelix catch up with him and rescue the baby.

The unexpected arrival of Caesar and then Cleopatra resolves the mystery. The baby is their son, Caesarion. Brutus had sought to kill the baby in order to become sole heir to Caesar’s property and fortune, so Cleopatra had the boy sent to the Gaulish village for his protection. Caesar exiles Brutus to Upper Germania and promises to rebuild the village. The story ends with a banquet on Cleopatra’s royal barge.

Asterix and the Black Gold – Book 26

Asterix and the Black Gold – Book 26

Asterix and the Black Gold (French: L’Odyssée d’Astérix literally “Asterix’s Odyssey”) is the twenty-sixth volume of Asterix comic book series, originally published in 1981. It is the second book to be both written and drawn by Albert Uderzo.

The book describes Asterix’s and Obelix’s voyage to the Middle East. It is mainly inspired by James Bond films and biblical tales.

The book begins with Asterix and Obelix hunting wild boar until one boar leads them to a Roman patrol, which the Gauls vanquish while the boars escape. In Rome, Julius Caesar orders M. Devius Surreptitious, the head of M.I.VI, service, to send an agent to infiltrate the Gauls. This agent is a Gaulish-Roman druid known as Dubbelosix, who travels in a folding chariot full of secret devices. Dubbelosix and Surreptitius communicate via a carrier fly, who develops a crush for Dubbelosix. In the Gaulish village, Getafix is depressed because he has run out of rock oil, which he requires to make the magic potion enabling the Gaulish resistance to Rome.

The following day, Getafix is cheered by the arrival of Ekonomikrisis the Phoenician merchant but suffers a stroke upon hearing that he forgot to bring rock oil. When Chief Vitalstatistix tells Asterix and Obelix to fetch another druid to treat him, they discover Dubbelosix, who successfully revives Getafix with an alcoholic tonic. Asterix determines to go with Obelix and Dogmatix to obtain rock oil from Mesopotamia; Dubbelosix insists on coming, and they set off on Ekonomikrisis’ ship. Along the way, they defeat pirates and Roman warships, while Dubbelosix secretly corresponds with the Romans, to arrange a blockade. The Phoenician ship finally lands at Judea, where Asterix, Obelix, Dogmatix, and Dubbelosix disembark for Jerusalem, where some sympathetic traders help the Gauls to enter secretly, in spite of an attempt by Dubbelosix to alert the city guards. Leaving him behind, Asterix and Obelix make contact with Ekonomikrisis’ supplier, Samson Alius, who directs them to Babylon as the Romans have destroyed rock oil supplies in Jerusalem.

In the Syrian desert, Asterix, Obelix, and Dogmatix find themselves caught up in ongoing wars between the Sumerians, Akkadians, Hittites, Assyrians, and Medes, much to Asterix’s frustration. In the ensuing arrow battles, their waterskin is pierced, but they find a source of rock oil in the ground and carry some back to Jerusalem in the repaired waterskin. There, the two Gauls capture Caesar’s personal ship, as well as Surreptitious and Dubbelosix. Near the coast of Gaul, Dubbelosix seizes the waterskin of rock oil and, as he tries to force it open, Obelix leaps upon him, spilling the oil into the sea. Asterix has lost all hope, but when they come back to the village, they find the Gauls fighting Romans as merrily as ever, and learn Getafix has replaced the rock oil in his potion with beetroot juice. Out of dismay, Asterix has a stroke, but after being cured with the new potion, convinces Getafix to perform experiments before testing him. Thereafter, the Gauls send Dubbelosix and Surreptitius to Caesar in a gift-wrapped box. Caesar sends them to the Circus Maximus as punishment for failure, where they are covered in honey and chased by bees, with the lovesick carrier fly following behind.

Asterix in Belgium – Book 24

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.