Asterix and the Big Fight (1966)
Le combat des chefs
Presenting a Pretentious Thematic Undercurrent…
- Reference to French wartime collaboration as represented by the Gallo-Roman village of Cassius Ceramix.
- Plentiful jokes about modern psychiatric procedure.
- The entire ‘Big Fight’ sequence is a parody of high-profile boxing fixtures.
- Nebulous Nimbus: Roman Centurian.
- Felonius Caucus: his Advisor.
- Cassius Ceramix: Gaulish collaborator.
- Prawnsinaspix: schoolboy.
- Infirmofpurpos: Roman patrol leader.
- Psychoanalytix: druid, specialising in the mentally ill.
- Miss Bicarnobateofsoda: his nurse.
Continuity; lack-thereof and other gaffes…
- Vitalstatistix first presented as a vulnerable character (throughout narrative).
- Surely the re-Gallicised village of the reformed Cassius Ceramix hasn’t a hope without the equivalent of Getafix’s potion? (p43).
- Then again … Kessler cites this last detail as an important thematic development in Asterix. The Magic Potion is ultimately an irrelevance: it is the self-belief that matters. Therefore in this book Vitalstatistix beats Cassius Ceramix without potion (albeit with a lot of gamesmanship in the form of running him around till he’s knackered) and in the subsequent book the Britons will beat the Romans without potion. In this scheme of things the new rebel village should do just fine.
Cleverness and contemporaneity…
- Obelix offers customers express-delivery of his menhirs (p5).
- A class at Professor Berlix’s school for modern-languages is made to conjugate the Latin verb Mensa by rote (p11).
- The punning of Goscinny/Bell/Hockridge really comes to a head here. Wordplay at the expense of a fish-smelling cauldron is sustained over two whole pages; and a similar page-length is devoted to puns about the unfortunate Infirmofpurpose’s colour-changes (pp21-23).
- The Druid Psychoanalix runs a surgery replete with a ‘Consulting Hut’, a ‘Waiting Glade’ and a patient who thinks he’s Napoleon (p27).
- The Big Fight itself carries side-show attractions and fairground rides, including ‘Dodgem Chariots’ and a ‘Switchbax’ roller coaster (p34).
Obelix has a tender side…
Becomes very distraught about his weight problem (p28).
Good or What?
The first of the great “Village under threat” stories. Much of the humour is derived from the undignified treatment of the usually venerable Getafix; and its repetition in synchronism when a second Druid becomes unhinged. The comic timing, whereby Obelix thinks he has cured Getafix via a second decking with a menhir is superb. A book full of first-rate droll humour – every last bit of which is forsaken in the dreadful animated film version which also contrives to ruin Asterix and the Soothsayer.