Asterix and the Secret Weapon (1991)

La rose et le glaive

 

Presenting a pretentious thematic undercurrent…

Evaluation of the Gaulish code of gallantry.

Notable Nomenclature…

  • Bravura: feminist bard.
  • Manlius Claphamomnibus: envoy of Julius Caesar.
  • Ziegfeldfollix: Lutetian impressario.

Continuity; lack-thereof and other gaffes…

  • Another role-playing-children opener introduces “war of sexes” theme (p1).
  • First portrayal of Cacofonix as teacher since Asterix and the Golden Sickle
  • More joke-ruining footnotes and translations (pp 3, 4, 7, 20, 31, 34, 36 and 38).
  • Vitalstatistix going along with Bravura’s insistence that Obelix attend school is just a tad unlikely at this juncture (p4).
  • The ever-changing rulebook for appointing a village chief throws up two more variants: Coup d’etat and pebble-ballot. (pp17-18).
  • Asterix first: Asterix bashes a woman (p19).
  • First sight in Asterix of Dogamtix “cocking his leg” (p21).
  • The Gaulish code of gallantry will not allow them to bash a woman under any circumstance (p25); although Asterix has already transgressed this (p 19). This Roman strategy has a strange reflection in their subversion of British custom in Asterix in Britain.
  • Bravura’s unfeasibly extreme character development begins p 32.
  • Cacofonix’s newly-acquired rainmaking facility put to plot-resolving use again (pp 33-34).
  • Self-referential comment by Asterix (p40).
  • Impedimenta has commandeered the shield, so Vitalstatistix has to be borne by hand before being unsubtly dropped (p42).

Cleverness and contemporaneity…

  • Reversal humour: Cacofonix bashes Fulliautomatix for asking him to sing (p3).
  • Obelix cannot keep his hysteria within the bounds of the comic frame (p4).
  • Bravura is wearing ‘Levix Djeans’ (p4).
  • The dust in Cacofonix’s hut is comprised of printed notes (p5).
  • Getafix expounds his feminist stance – then immediately qualifies it (p6).
  • Obelix is singularly underwhelmed by a canape (p6). Dogmatix, however, is less picky (p7).
  • Bravura references the Early Music movement (p7).
  • Bravura’s drum-beating is as … well … cacofonous as Cacofonix (p7).
  • Bell/Hockridge cheekily sneak a Lesbian reference (‘Cardia and Mytili’) into Bravura’s version of ‘Cockles and Muscles’ (p8).
  • Bravura’s teaching-methods are conversely old-fashioned learning-by-rote ones (p9).
  • Shakespearian misquote medley on page 11: Bravura begins an adapted version of Anthony’s oration from Julius Caesar whilst Obelix accredits a cooked pig with the nomenclative and olfactory qualities that Juliet attributes to a rose.
  • First symptom of Bravura’s subversion: the women begin to wear breeches (p12).
  • Bravura makes pass after Asterix: his expression post-bottom-slap is priceless (p14). She makes another one (p19).
  • Given the choice of bashing-fodder , Asterix has to vent his frustration on Unhygienix (p14).
  • Cacofonix’s list of ‘barbarians’ is not restricted to mortals (p15).
  • Impromptu male-banquet sees Cacofonix tied-up ahead of time (p22).
  • School area has been transformed into a catwalk (p27).
  • Bravura presents the Dreamy Dolmen evening dress from the Diorix collection (p27).
  • Touching sequence where “enfranchised” women are obsessed about the welfare of their menfolk (29).
  • Lady Legionaries turn out to be extremely precious (p33).
  • The village is given over to “Great Trade Fortnight” devoted to Lutetian fashion and attended by markets of presumed female interest: hairdressers, jewellers, perfumiers and lingerie shops (p 37).
  • Bizarrely enough – a leather handbag is given the brandname “Herpes” (38).
  • An unidentified voice refers to the “Good Potion guide” (p41).
  • The female century has taken Lutetian gaiety back to Rome (p44).
  • Cacofonix is given a qualified invitation to the banquet (p44).

Those combined Male/Female bardic ditties in full…

  • ‘Amorica the beatiful’ (p7).
  • ‘In Lutetia’s Fair city’ (P8).
  • ‘Sergeant Peppus’ Lonely Heart Club’s Band’ (P15).
  • ‘OOOGNNNAAHRRRROUUUAAHOOHIIIIIIIIARHHYOUUAAARR’ (an Anacreonic Ode transcending the verbal dimension). (P 33).
  • ‘AAIIIIIIIIIIHOUOUOUUUUUHAAAAYUUU’ (poetical onomatopoeical work). (p43).

Non-PC World

Where to begin? See “good or what?”

Obelix has a tender side…

  • Usual confusion over ‘fatso’ tag (p17).
  • Misunderstands Asterix’s line about liking the new bard better. Fears that he’s about to lose his best friend to a woman (p31). Spreads rumours to that effect (p32).
  • Has a crisis of confidence when the womenfolk manage without him (p38).

Classic Pegleg…

Desinit in piscem mulier formosa superne = So that which is a beautiful woman on top ends in a black and ugly fish (Horace, Ars Poetica 3).

Redbeard’s Retort…

‘One more Latin tag and I’ll drown you!’

Good or what?

Hmm.

Uderzo’s second ‘Village under crisis’ story sees a return to good satirical form.

However…

Following the seeming radicalism of The Mansions of the Gods and Obelix and Co.¬†Urderzo’s agenda here seems to be a conversely reactionary “feminism doesn’t work” one. Bravura is a stereotype butch man-hater straight out of Carry On film iconography; and the village crisis more or less resolves itself when the various “emancipated” women revert to fighting-is-best-left-to-the-menfolk-so-lets-all-go-shopping-for-clothes type. The usual village-regulars dynamic is nonetheless handled very well, resulting in some fabulous comedy. The overall effect does slightly grate though.