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.