Wait. What’s that you say? You have never heard of Asterix? Well, settle in and enjoy the silliness.
Our story begins…
“In the year 50 BC, after a long struggle, the ancient Gauls had been conquered by the Romans. Chiefs like Vercingetorix had to lay their arms at Caesar’s feet. Peace reigns, disturbed only by occasional attacks by the Germans, speedily repulsed. All Gaul is occupied.
All? No – one village still holds out stubbornly against the invaders. One small village surrounded by fortified Roman camps. All efforts to subdue these proud Gauls have failed and Caesar asks himself, ‘Quid?’
And now we meet our hero, the warrior Asterix, just off hunting as usual…”
The Gaul’s’ secret to being indomitable? Geatafix the Druid’s magic potion that temporarily gives its user extreme strength and invulnerability. Well, temporary for everyone except Asterix’ best friend Obelix, who fell into a cauldron of Magic Potion as a child. Asterix is the village champion and is continually going on missions to help a friend (such as in “Asterix and Cleopatra” or “Asterix in Britain”) or to prove the superiority of the Gaulish village (such as “Asterix and the Banquet”) The books mostly swap back and forth with one issue being about a home adventure, the next about an away adventure, etc. While Gossciny died in 1977 after writing issue #24, Uderzo continued writing them on his own for many years after.
One fun detail of the Asterix books is the exceedingly silly fake Latin names: The chief of the village is named Vitalsatistix; in “Asterix in Switzerland,” a Roman who loves to throw orgies is called Varius Flavus; they meet up with a Roman named Ossues Humerus in “Asterix and the Laurel Wreath,” along with his wife Fibula, daughter Tibia, and son Metatarsus.
Asterix is also filled with silly puns and allusions to other works. For example, in “Asterix and the Britain,” the British become obsessed with tea when Asterix makes them a drink with some imported leaves given to him by Getafix, or every time Asterix visits the city of Lutetia, the traffic jam has not unjammed, with the same people waiting to move, even over several adventures.
The series started in the early 1960s. Asterix is not as racist as some others of the time (Tintin comes to mind), but it is still not great. For example, anytime Uderzo shows black characters, they have to exaggeratedly big lips and Egyptians all have large noses. But mostly, anyone who is not a Gaul or a friend of a Gaul is a bit of an idiot, regardless of where they are from. Still, it is something to keep in mind.
These were some of my favorite comics as a kid and remain so today. They are a perfect light fun antidote for a bad day.
Asterix Omnibus series
by Rene Goscinny, Albert Uderzo
Vol. 1 ISBN: 978144400423
Vol. 2 ISBN: 9781444004243
Vol. 3 ISBN: 9781444004755
Vol. 4 ISBN: 9781444004878
Vol. 5 ISBN: 9781444004908
Vol. 6 ISBN: 9781444004915
Vol. 7 ISBN: 9781444008357
Vol. 8 ISBN: not yet re-issued/coming in 2013
Vol. 9 ISBN: not yet re-issued/coming in 2013
Vol. 10 ISBN: 9781444004250
Vol. 11 ISBN: 9781444004267
Publisher Age Rating: All Ages