Asterix busts open a sickle smuggling racket
15 April 2012
Well, it turns out that the second Asterix book is actually really entertaining. It is a little difficult to compare them to Tintin though, especially since the first Tintin books appeared in the 1930s while it was not until the 1960s that the Asterix books began to appear. However, while it took a few albums for Herge to begin to set Tintin on the path that he was going to go, it appears that Asterix reached that position pretty quickly. However, and I will have to revisit this statement a bit later when I have read a lot more of them, the Asterix books seem to become a little ho-hum down the track.
Anyway, this story involves Getafix breaking his golden sickle, and he needs it not only to make the magic potion, but to also go to the Druid's conference in the forest of Carnutes. Therefore Asterix and Obelix set out to travel to Lutetia (Ancient Paris) to attempt to get a new sickle. However, when they get there they discover that Obelix's cousin, Metalurgix the sickle maker, has gone missing and nobody wants to talk to them about it.
We begin to see the subtle humour that is being drawn into these comics, where they begin to treat the Roman civilisation as akin to our own, with all of the bureaucracy and the infrastructure that we see around us. One scene has them walking past an aqueduct that is being built, and them commenting about all of the eyesores that are being put up. Then there is the Roman road they travel along with the slaves repairing the road and thus a slow sign being put up, and the chariot driver who speeds past and then is later pulled over by a Roman soldier and given a fine.
This was a lot better than the first one, probably because all of the introductions had been completed and it was time to send Asterix and Obelix on an adventure. However, this adventure has lots of little twists in it as they try to bust open a sickle smuggling racket, who's leadership goes right up to the top in Lutetia. Obviously we also see Obelix with his addiction to wild boar, though I note that Dogmatix, Obelix's dog, doesn't appear in these early albums (despite a write up at the front for him).
I guess I did really enjoy this one, especially since it seems to be a lot more over the top than Tintin. Tintin is comical but more of an adventure story, however while Asterix has its fair share of adventure, it is a lot more comical, and even to an extent farcical. It has been suggested that the writers are using Roman Gaul as a way to make critical comment on our society, however I am not convinced that there is necessarily a much social criticism in these albums as there was in Tintin. However, as I begin to read more of them, we will come to see whether or not that is the case.