Asterix and the Golden Sickle (1962)

La serpe d’or

Presenting a pretentious thematic undercurrent…

Familiarity with crime literature is the prerequisite to appreciate this tale of skullduggery within the garden-tools industry. Many satirical digs at contemporary Parisian society including running critiques of urban and architectural pollution.

Notable Nomenclature

  • Metallurgix: Parisian sickle-maker cousin to Obelix.
  • Clovogarlix: Sickle trafficker.
  • Navishtrix: Head of sickle trafficking syndicate.
  • Surplus Dairiprodus: Prefect of Gaul.

Continuity; lack-thereof and other gaffes…

  • The multi-hued-haired Cacofonix of the early adventures (here he sports white locks) is first presented in his capacity as teacher (p1).
  • Obelix is introduced properly as a travelling companion to Asterix (p3).
  • First visit of Getafix to the Forest of the Carnutes annual druids’ convention (p2).
  • First running gag in Asterix: A&O; keep getting arrested by the same patrol (pp 14, 21, 34) (Kessler)
  • Anachronistic reference to destruction of Pompeii (p14).
  • First use of cockerel as Gaulish national symbol (p18). (Kessler)
  • First sight of Obelix eating a boar without going through the inconvenience of jointing it (p41).
  • For the first time (the now yellow-coiffured) Cacofonix is inconvenienced at the banquet. In this instance he isn’t even afforded his usual tree spot – the very last frame shows him tied and gagged in a moonlit room, the distant feast visible through its doorway.

Cleverness and contemporaneity…

  • A&O carry on their conversation while they bash a band of bandits (p4).
  • Roman road XII carries a “Danger Slippery Flagstones” sign (p5).
  • Asterix decries the architectural pollution implicit in Roman aquaduct construction (p6).
  • Even in ancient times Paris is overcrowded with traffic jams; and the Seine is polluted with discarded amphoras (p7).
  • Navishtrix’s drinking establishment features a bardic band and a cloakroom (pp 10-14).
  • Traffic on the freeway is held up by roadworks manned by slaves (p19).
  • The fellow prisoner cannot accept the defeat of Vercingetorix (pp 22-23).
  • The multilingual tour-guide recommends a night in the Mola Rubra (Moulin Rouge).
  • The forest will become the Bois de Boulogne (p25).
  • The horde of sickles is categorised into “Small”, “Medium”, “Large” and “Outsize” druids (p30).
  • All it requires for Obelix to smash a gate is to let his stomach hang loose (p36).
  • Metallurgix is facially identical to Obelix (p40).
  • A famous seasonal Paris song is seemingly already extant (p42).
  • A rural village girl thirsts for knowledge of Parisian fashion (p42).

Obelix has a tender side…

  • Displays a big heart to match his big stomach as he weeps buckets over his kidnapped cousin (pp16 and 17).
  • Has an protracted attack of petulence when he loses a bet with Asterix (pp 25-27).

Good or what?

Good as far as it goes.

If Asterix the Gaul introduces “Village under Threat”, one of the two main categories that comprise – more or less – all of the Asterix books; this one introduces the “Asterix in…” category, in which the mismatched double act further the cause of chauvinism in climes new. This one is basically “Asterix in Paris” – and as such is an entertaining adventure without ever aspiring to the comedic heights of later “Asterix in…” adventures.