Obelix & Co. – Book 23

Obelix & Co. – Book 23

Obelix and Co. is the twenty-third volume of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations). The book’s main focus is on the attempts by the Gaul-occupying Romans to corrupt the one remaining village that still holds out against them by instilling capitalism. It is also the penultimate volume written by Goscinny before his death in 1977; his final volume, Asterix in Belgium, was released after his death in 1979.

After Obelix single-handedly defeats a newly arrived battalion of Roman soldiers, Julius Caesar ponders over how to defeat the village of rebellious Gauls. A young Roman called Preposterus, using his studies in economics, proposes that the Gauls to be integrated into capitalism. Caesar agrees, sending Preposterus to one of the village’s outlying Roman camps. Upon meeting Obelix carrying a menhir through the forest, Preposterus claims to be a menhir buyer and offers to make Obelix a rich man, on the pretext it will give him power, by buying every menhir he can make. Obelix agrees and begins making and delivering a single menhir a day to him.

Demand for his goods increases in time, forcing Obelix to hire villagers – while some aid him, the others hunt boar for himself and his new workers. The resulting workload causes him to neglect his faithful companion Dogmatix, while Asterix refuses to help him, concerned on what this is doing to him. As Obelix grows wealthy and begins wearing ostentatious clothes, many of the village’s men are criticised by their wives for not matching his success. In response, many turn to making their own menhirs to sell to the Romans, despite not knowing what they are for, with Getafix supplying them with magic potion for their work. As most of the village grows wealthy, except for Asterix, Getafix, Cacofonix and Vitalstatistix who did not engage in the new economic system. Asterix believes that this new change will not last.

Caesar soon becomes angered when he learns that Preposterus’ plan is placing him in financial debt. To counter this, Preposterus decides to sell the abundance of menhirs to patricians on the pretext they are a symbol of great wealth and high rank. However, this causes problems as other provinces begin making their own menhirs to sell to the Romans, creating a growing Menhir crisis that is crippling the Roman economy and threatening a civil conflict from the Empire’s workforce. To put a stop to this, Caesar orders Preposterus to cease further trading with Gauls or face being thrown to the lions.

Unknown to him, Obelix becomes miserable from the wealth and power he made, having never understood it all, and how much it has changed other villagers, making him wish to go back to enjoying the fun he had with Asterix and Dogmatix. Asterix soon hears of this and agrees to go hunting boar with him if he reverts to his old clothes, knowing that the villagers’ lives are about to return to normal. When Preposterus arrives to announce he will not be buying another menhir, the villagers claim Obelix knew of this in advance when he called a halt in his work but did not tell them, causing him to fight with them. Asterix soon breaks up the fight, directing the villagers to attack the Romans for causing the whole mess they are in. As they head off to wreck the camp Preposterus is residing in, Obelix decides to take no part in the fight. While the villagers’ wealth is gone, after events in Rome caused the sestertius they received to be devalued, they hold a traditional banquet to celebrate the return to normality.

Asterix and Caesar’s Gift – book 21

Asterix and Caesar’s Gift is the twenty-first volume of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations). It was the first Asterix adventure that was not published in serial form in Pilote magazine prior to its publication as a book.

Having completed twenty years of service in the Roman Army, veteran legionaries Tremensdelirius and Egganlettus await their honesta missio (Latin: honorary discharge) in the morning, but that night a drunk Tremensdelirius insults Julius Caesar and gets arrested. When Caesar is informed of Tremensdelirius’s mishap, he decides to play a practical joke on him. Caesar awards a “special gift” to Tremensdelirius: Asterix’s village in Armorica, the only territory of Gaul not yet conquered by the Roman legions. Tremensdelirius sees little merit in a gift he cannot drink and winds up exchanging the gift for wine and food at an inn in Arausio, owned by Orthopaedix.

Orthopaedix, his wife Angina and daughter Influenza arrive at the village only to be disappointed to find it already inhabited, and that Caesar does not own the village at all (making the gift worthless). With no place to go, Angina berates her husband for selling their inn to travel to Armorica. Vitalstatistix overhears the conversation and decides to offer Orthopaedix a building to open a new inn. Obelix soon has a crush on Influenza, while Geriatrix doesn’t welcome Orthopaedix and his family, regarding them as outsiders. The villagers attends the new inn’s opening night, but Vitalstatistix’s wife Impedimenta and Angina start arguing about who owns the village. A fight starts ensues and the inn is trashed as a result.

The next morning, a bruised Orthopaedix is ready to leave and return to Lutetia, his hometown, but Angina wants to have revenge on Impedimenta and makes a claim to the leadership of the village on behalf of her husband. Vitalstatistix, shocked, has Cacofonix obtain an opinion poll of the villagers and learns that aside from Geriatrix, the villagers don’t really care, until Vitalstatistix makes a few remarks that offends some of the villagers, making them go to the other side. A political race starts, and Geriatrix thinks Vitalstatistix is weak and tries to stand for Chief himself. Asterix becomes worried that internal conflict could benefit the Romans. Meanwhile, Tremensdelirius arrives at the village to visit Orthopaedix, explains that since their last meeting he unsuccessfully tried all kinds of trade and he wants his land back, since he is in fact not allowed to sell the land. When the family refuses, he draws his sword. Asterix arrives, and the two fight, with Asterix winning. Influenza is impressed, while Tremensdelirius, swearing revenge, goes to the Laudanum Roman camp and finds his old friend Egganlettus serving as an aide-de-camp under the local centurion (as he found retirement boring and signed up for another 20 years). With his support, Tremensdelirius makes an official request to the centurion to restore his land. The centurion is reluctant to face the Gauls, but the veterans threaten to report him to Caesar, and he agrees to prepare a military attack with the new weapons they have.

Asterix in Corsica – Book 20

Asterix in Corsica – Book 20

Asterix in Corsica is the twentieth volume of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (artwork). It was originally serialized in Pilote issues 687–708 in 1973. It is the best-selling title in the history of the series, owing to its sales in the French market, but is one of the lowest-selling titles in the English language.

In most editions of this book the map that is shown before the story begins does not present Gaul and a close-up of the village with the four surrounding Roman camps. Instead the reader is shown a map of Corsica and a multitude of camps around the coastline.

The story begins with a banquet celebrating the anniversary of Vercingetorix’s victory at the Battle of Gergovia. As part of the celebrations, the indomitable Gauls always attack the local Roman camps; as a result, the Roman soldiers always go on “special manoeuvres” en masse to avoid the punch-up.

The Roman camp of Totorum, too, has visitors: three Roman soldiers escorting the Corsican leader Boneywasawarriorwayayix, exiled by Praetor Perfidius. He is left to spend the night in the Centurion’s tent, to its owner’s dismay. While the other camps are deserted, the Romans of Totorum have no option but to stay and be decimated by the Gauls and their friends, who discover Boneywasawarriorwayayix awakening from a long siesta (meaning sleep).

The proud Boneywasawarriorwayayix attends the Gaulish banquet and leaves the next day for Corsica with Asterix, Obelix and Dogmatix accompanying him. At Massalia, he hires a ship crewed by none other than Captain Redbeard and his pirates. When the passengers go aboard it is too dark for the captain and the Gauls to recognise each other. But when, in the middle of the night, the pirates attempt to rob the Corsican and his three companions, they recognize the sleeping Gauls and the entire crew vacates the ship in a rowboat.

Asterix and the Soothsayer – Book 19

Asterix and the Soothsayer – Book 19

Asterix and the Soothsayer (French: Le Devin, “The Divine”) is the nineteenth volume of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations). It was originally serialized in Pilote issues 652-673 in 1972.

Frightened by a thunderstorm, the Gauls — with the exception of Getafix, who is at his annual druid meeting — are huddled in the chief’s hut, when they are visited by a soothsayer, called Prolix, who predicts that “when the storm is over, the weather will improve” and additionally predicts a fight (caused by the villagers’ habitual argument over the over-ripeness of fish sold by fishmonger Unhygenix). Asterix alone correctly identifies the soothsayer as a charlatan.

Upon Prolix’s departure, the chief’s wife Impedimenta preserves him in hiding near the village, where she and the other villagers question him at will; forbidding only Asterix and Obelix. Later, Obelix eludes Impedimenta and, upon encountering Prolix, chases him up a tree. Prolix diverts him by claiming to see a vision of a beautiful woman who loves warriors matching Obelix’s description. Obelix returns to the village and almost instantly falls for Mrs. Geriatrix. Prolix meanwhile is arrested by an optio, who brings Prolix before the centurion of the Roman camp Compendium, who decides to use the imposter’s persuasive skills against the Gauls. Upon Impedimenta’s discovery of Asterix near Prolix’s camp, consternation spreads among the villagers on grounds of a threatened sacrilege. At the Romans’ behest, Prolix returns, claiming dramatically that soon the air in the village will become polluted by a divine curse. Terrified, most of the villagers flee to a nearby island for the curse to exhaust itself, while Asterix, Obelix and Dogmatix stay behind.

The Romans soon arrive to claim the village, while Asterix and Obelix hide in the undergrowth. Getafix the druid returns from his conference, and hearing of the situation, turns Prolix’s ruse against him by creating and spreading a foul-smelling mixture of gasses. These expel the Romans, Prolix, and Cacofonix the Bard, who returns to the other Gauls on the island to confirm Prolix’s prophecy. Prolix himself is perplexed by this confirmation, while the Centurion sends word to Caesar that “all of Gaul is now conquered”; and hoping to become dictator himself, he has the soothsayer tell him exaggerated stories of the luxuries emperors enjoy. Getafix, Asterix and Obelix join the other villagers on the island, where Getafix reveals he created the “foul air” that expelled the Romans; but Impedimenta and the other women remain convinced Prolix was genuine, on grounds of his having flattered them in earlier predictions. Asterix therefore determines to take the soothsayer by surprise and thus prove him fallible.

To this end, the Gaulish men and women attack the Roman camp together; and when the Centurion demands to know why Prolix did not warn him of this, the latter admits his ignorance. Convinced of the soothsayer’s fraudulence, Impedimenta beats him and the Centurion. Returning to the village, the Gauls meet Bulbus Crocus, an envoy of Julius Caesar’s, come to confirm the Centurion’s claim that the village is conquered, and expel him. In the Roman camp, Crocus demotes the Centurion to a common soldier, who is then commanded by the Optio to clean the camp alone. Prolix is expelled from the camp, swears to give up soothsaying, and is driven away by a thunderstorm. The Gaulish village is soon at peace, with the exception of Cacofonix, who still daydreams of himself as a famous singer.

Asterix and the Laurel Wreath – Book 18

Asterix and the Laurel Wreath (French: Les Lauriers de César, “Caesar’s Laurels”) is the eighteenth volume of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations). It was originally serialized in the magazine Pilote, issues 621–642, in 1971 and translated into English in 1974.

The story begins in Rome where Asterix and Obelix are talking, but flashes back to Lutetia, where Asterix, Obelix, Chief Vitalstatistix, and the chief’s wife Impedimenta visit Impedimenta’s brother, Homeopathix, a rich businessman who immediately shows off his wealth. At dinner, Vitalstatistix quickly becomes drunk and boasts that, as a Chief, he can obtain for Homeopathix something money cannot possibly buy, a stew seasoned with Julius Caesar’s laurel wreath, whereupon the equally drunk Obelix volunteers himself and Asterix to fetch the wreath.

In Rome, Asterix and Obelix see a man coming out of Caesar’s palace. Upon discovering that he is a kitchen slave there, they offer themselves to the slave trader Typhus, who supplies Caesar’s palace. When Typhus’ other slaves provoke the Gauls into a fight, the wealthy patrician, Osseus Humerus, is amused and offers to buy them; Asterix mistakes him for Caesar’s major-domo and completes the sale. The Gauls are placed under the supervision of Goldendelicius, Humerus’ chief slave. Goldendelicius expresses dislike of the two Gauls because they come from Typhus (a mark of distinction among slaves) and fears that they might usurp his office.

Realizing their mistake, Asterix and Obelix attempt to get Humerus to return them to Typhus. First, they cook a volatile stew, which accidentally cures Humerus’ heavy-drinking son Metatarsus of his constant hangovers. Next they disturb the sleeping family by making noise, which only inspires the family to throw an impromptu party. The next day, a tired Humerus sends the Gauls to Caesar’s palace to justify his absence to a secretary there. Goldendelicius seizes the opportunity to tell the palace’s guards that the Gauls intend to kill Caesar. As a result, Asterix and Obelix are thrown into the palace prison upon arrival, but they escape during the night and unsuccessfully search the palace for the laurel wreath. At daybreak, they return to their cell (to the confusion of the palace guards) and decide to find Caesar and seize the wreath from him.

Next book in the series : Asterix and the Soothsayer

The Mansions of the Gods – Book 17

The Mansions of the Gods – Book 17

The Mansions of the Gods is the seventeenth volume of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations). It was originally serialized in the magazine Pilote, issues 591–612, in 1971, and translated into English in 1973. It was the first not to use Asterix’s name in the title (Obelix and Co. later became the only other in English, though not in French).

With the intent to force the village of indomitable Gauls to accept Roman civilization, Julius Caesar plans to destroy the surrounding forest to make way for a Roman patrician colony, called the ‘Mansions of the Gods’. The project is led by the architect Squaronthehypotenus, who orders an army of slaves of various nationalities to pull down the trees in the forest. With the help of Getafix’s magic, Asterix and Obelix plant acorns that grow into mature oak trees instantly; whereupon an increasingly erratic Squaronthehypotenus threatens “to work the slaves to death”.

Taking this literally, Asterix gives the slaves magic potion with which to rebel; but the slaves, upon rebellion, do not stop work and leave, as Asterix intended, but insist on better working conditions, regular pay, and freedom after completing the first block of the Mansions of the Gods (similar to that of modern-day employers and trade unionists). Upon hearing that the slaves are better paid than they, the Roman legionaries go on strike for similar and better conditions for themselves (a common occurrence among French strikers). Since the freedom of the slaves depends on constructing at least one building, the Gauls allow the work to proceed. After their release, a group of the former slaves (the (almost) luckless pirates from previous adventures) “float a company” with their wages.

Finally, the first completed building of the Mansions of the Gods is inhabited by Roman families: the first of these consisting of a patrician husband and wife selected by lottery. These Romans then go shopping in the village which, before long, turns into a market town selling “antique” weapons and fish to the Romans, embroiled in price wars and (in the case of some of the wives) assuming Roman dress. To counteract this, Asterix asks Squaronthehypotenus for an apartment, but is told they are full; whereafter the initial winners of the first apartment are continually harassed by Obelix acting like a rabid monster, with Asterix holding him back. The next day, the couple returns to Rome, and Asterix arranges for Cacofonix the bard to move into the vacated apartment. As a result of the bard’s discordant nocturnal practice, the rest of the Roman inhabitants return to Rome as well.

Squaronthehypotenus tries to keep the Mansions in business by bringing the local Roman soldiers as tenants and expels Cacofonix from the building; whereupon the Gauls take this as an insult, and destroy the Roman colony. The legionnaires gratefully return to their camp and Squaronthehypotenus announces his plan to go to Egypt to build pyramids in the desert with “nice quiet tenants”. That evening, the Gauls hold their usual celebratory banquet (in which this time Cacofonix takes part) and the ruins of the mansion are covered by Getafix’s instantaneous trees.

Next Book in the series : Asterix and the Laurel Wreath

Asterix in Switzerland – Book 16

Asterix in Switzerland – Book 16

Asterix in Switzerland (French: Astérix chez les Helvètes, “Asterix in the land of the Helvetii”) is the sixteenth volume of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations). It was originally serialized in Pilote magazine issues 557–578 in 1970 and translated into English in 1973.

Condatum’s Roman governor Varius Flavus has been embezzling a majority of the local taxes in order to finance a debauched lifestyle of never-ending parties, sending only a pittance to Rome, until Quaestor Vexatius Sinusitus is sent to investigate. Flavus, upon finding the Quaestor will not be easy to corrupt, serves him poisoned food and provides inept doctors making absurd guesses at his ailment.

Realizing his life is in danger, Sinusitus sends for the druid Getafix, who instantly identifies the malady as attempted murder by poison. Getafix agrees to brew an antidote for Sinusitus but lacks an essential ingredient: a flower called the “silver star” (edelweiss), and sends Asterix and Obelix to Helvetia (Switzerland) to find it. He also insists that Sinusitus remain in the Gaulish village as a hostage; apparently to guarantee Asterix and Obelix’s return, but actually to protect Sinusitus from Flavus.

Asterix and Obelix reach Helvetia but soon run into difficulties set by the Romans, as Varius Flavus has warned his colleague in Helvetia, the equally-corrupt Curius Odus, of their arrival. Thus the Gauls find themselves continually chased and delayed by the Romans, but are assisted by the hotel manager Petitsuix, bank manager Zurix, and some Helvetian veterans who hold a celebration at Lake Geneva. During the celebration, Obelix is rendered senseless by plum wine, and the veterans are attacked by the Roman army; whereupon Asterix and some of the Helvetians, tying themselves to Obelix and each other, obtain the ‘silver star’ from the mountainside, while the remaining Helvetians repel the Romans.

Later Varius Flavus comes to the village, expecting Sinusitus to be near death, either from the poison or execution by the Gauls after Asterix and Obelix have failed to return. Instead, the now-healthy Sinusitus marches out of Getafix’s house, and empowered by the druid’s magic potion, punches Flavus into the sky, announcing that he will now expose the corruption and sentence Flavus and Odus to their fate in the Circus in Rome. The story ends with the usual banquet for the villagers and Sinisitus, making it the first banquet featuring a Roman as a guest.

Next book in  the series : The Mansion of the Gods

Asterix and the Roman Agent – Book 15

Asterix and the Roman Agent – Book 15

Asterix and the Roman Agent (French: La Zizanie, “Strife”) is the fifteenth volume of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations). It first appeared as a serial in Pilote magazine issues 531–552 in 1970 and was translated into English in 1972.

The resistance of the Gaulish village against the Romans causes friction between dictator Julius Caesar and the Roman Senate, whose power had been reduced by Julius Caesar. With their Magic Potion which gives them superhuman strength and is known only to their druid Getafix, they easily stand up against Rome and her laws.

At a meeting with his associates, it is suggested to Caesar that causing internal conflict between the Gauls will lead to their breakdown. He is then told by another Official about Tortuous Convolvulus, a natural troublemaker whose mere presence causes arguments, quarrels and fights. This had him sentenced to the lions in the circus, but his ability had the lions eat each other and he is still in prison. Impressed by his abilities, Caesar sends him to the Gauls. On the way, Convolvulus has the whole ship arguing, from the captain to the galley slaves; and when the pirates attack the ship, Convolvulus represents one of them as having been bribed earlier by himself, and thus provokes them to sink their own ship. The pirate chief realises their mistake, and comments that they don’t even need the Gauls to make fools of themselves.

In the Gaulish village, things are being organised for Chief Vitalstatistix’s birthday, whom all enjoy except Impedimenta, who complains against the acquisition of useless presents including a mounting collection of swords, shields, stuffed fish, and menhirs. Arriving in Gaul, Convolvulus moves into the nearby Roman camp of Aquarium and gets a description of the village inhabitants. He then gives a valuable vase to Asterix whom he describes as the “most important man in the village”, to the annoyance of Chief Vitalstatistix. The other villagers take this announcement seriously, until Impedimenta fights with the village’s other women over their husbands’ relative importances, and then privately dismisses her husband as a failure. Further rumours lead to the belief by many in the village that Asterix, who is close to Getafix the druid, has revealed the secret of the druid’s Magic Potion to the Romans. Suspicion and paranoia increase, until the banquet to celebrate the Chief’s birthday is held in sullen silence.

Next book in the Series : Asterix in Switzerland

Asterix and the Cauldron – Book 13

Asterix and the Cauldron – Book 13

Asterix and the Cauldron is the thirteenth volume of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations). It was first serialized in the magazine Pilote, issues 469–491, in 1968, and translated into English in 1976.

The story introduces Chief Whosemoralsarelastix, the chief of a neighbouring Gaulish village: a miser who often does business with the Romans. When the Romans levy new taxes, Whosemoralsarelastix asks the people of Asterix’s village to guard a cauldron full of sestertii, ostensibly to keep the money away from the imminent visit of the Roman tax collectors. Despite Asterix keeping watch, the cauldron is stolen during the night, whereupon the strict laws of the Gauls demand that Asterix be banished until he has atoned for his negligence. Obelix immediately “banishes” himself to accompany Asterix, until they find money to refill the cauldron and repay Whosemoralsarelastix.

Asterix and Obelix engage in many futile attempts to earn back the money: questioning the Romans at Compendium (only to start a riot when the Romans know nothing about the theft), attacking the pirates in the belief that they stole the money (after the pirates have converted their ship into a restaurant), selling boars (at a ridiculously low price), prize fighting (only to win worthless statuettes), acting (foiled when Obelix insults the audience and ruins the company), gambling on a chariot race (only to lose their money on false information), and even trying to rob a bank (which is empty of money after the recent tax increases). With little else to gain or lose, they take the cauldron back to Whosemoralsarelastix’s village, Asterix hoping to save the village’s honour by clarifying that he alone is responsible for the loss. En route they rob a Roman tax collector of sufficient money to fill the cauldron; and Asterix catches an onion-like scent on the coins, recalling that the cauldron had previously been used for cooking onion soup, and thus proving that these are the very coins seized from Asterix’s care.

Next Book in the Series : Asterix in Spain

Asterix at the Olympic Games – Book 12

Asterix at the Olympic Games – Book 12

Asterix at the Olympic Games is the 12th comic book album in the Asterix series. Serialized in Pilote issues 434–455 in 1968 (to coincide with the Mexico City Olympics), it was translated into English in 1972 (to coincide with the Munich Olympics). The story satirizes performance-enhancing drug usage in sports.

Gluteus Maximus, an athletic Roman legionary, is chosen as one of Rome’s representatives for the upcoming Olympic Games in Greece. Gaius Veriambitius, his centurion, hopes to share in the glory of Olympic victory. While training in the forest, Gluteus Maximus encounters Asterix and Obelix, who unintentionally outdo him at running, the javelin and boxing, thanks to the power of the magic potion. Demoralised, he consigns himself to sweeping the Roman camp instead of training. When Veriambitius asks Vitalstatistix that Gluteus Maximus be left alone, Vitalstatistix decides the Gauls should enter the Olympic Games as well. Veriambitius argues they cannot, as Romans are the only non-Greeks allowed, but Asterix rationalizes that as Gaul is part of the Roman Empire, they are technically Romans (despite their resistance to Roman rule), making them a Gallo-Roman team, demoralising the centurion and his legionary further. The Gauls hold trials that prove inconclusive as everyone is dosed with the magic potion. Eventually, they decide to register only Asterix and Obelix as competitors.

Next book in the series : Asterix and the Cauldron