Thursday, January 12, 2012

Asterix and the potion of magic

Nothing's fair in love and war or, for that matter, in comics. Now I have been reading Asterix, my favourite comic-book, for more than three decades. Yet, during all these years, I have never given much thought to the obvious flaws in the Goscinny-Uderzo creation. And there are quite a few.

For instance, in Asterix in Britain, the brave Gaulish warrior and his pigtailed friend Obelix cross over into Roman-occupied Britain with a barrel of magic potion to help a small village fight against the might of Caesar's Rome. Now this village has been successfully defending itself against the Romans without the aid of the potion. All that the Britons, as indomitable as the Gauls, drink is hot water, with a drop of milk, till Asterix introduces them to tea with some herbs that Druid Getafix gave him before he left home.

Now hot water with a spot of milk is no match for the druid’s powerful concoction and yet that is all the magic the Britons have to stave off the invading Romans. My point is if one little village of Britons can defeat the Romans without any magic potion, why can’t the village of Gauls, as we know it, do likewise?

On the rare occasion when the Gauls are without their magic potion, they turn to Obelix to guard the village because he fell into the cauldron of magic potion when he was a baby and it had a permanent effect on him. No one among the Britons fell into a cauldron of hot water and even if someone did, the poor man would have been scalded for life. 

Asterix comics are replete with examples of brave and ordinary people who fight the Romans with little other than the clothes on their back. For example, the Corsicans in Asterix in Corsica stare down their Roman opponents while the Helvetians in Asterix in Switzerland scare the hell out of the tin-hat soldiers by blowing into their alpine horns. No magic potion in both cases. It goes to the credit of the Gauls that they are willing to share the potion with anyone who’s up against the Romans. 

See what I mean. If it weren’t for the magic potion, there would be no village of indomitable Gauls and no bashing of Romans and no menhir-delivery man either. Then again, Asterix wouldn’t have been half as funny without the magic potion.

Copyright for images: Hodder Dargaud


  1. Nice site! They're all my favorite things.

  2. Puzzle Queen: Thank you for visiting and for the kind words.

  3. Fair enough, but without the potion we would not have got the 'Well Covered' (not fat) Obleix, isn't it.

    And hey maybe Getafix had a trick up his sleeve and the potion could have been a simple drink which mentally made the Gauls into superheroes. However it does not explain the superhuman strength of Obleix, which I suppose could be put as a coincidental freak of nature.

  4. WordsBeyondBorders: True. The magic potion might be a placebo for all you know. The origins of Obelix's superhuman strength is explained in HOW OBELIX FELL INTO THE MAGIC POTION WHEN HE WAS A LITTLE BOY. Asterix comics, at least as far as the script goes, lost their punch with Goscinny's death in 1977.

  5. I was actually a bit disappointed with 'HOW OBELIX FELL INTO THE MAGIC POTION WHEN HE WAS A LITTLE BOY'. I had expected a full length comic, whereas what I got was a mixture of text and comic.

  6. WordsBeyondBorders: It was more like a guide book rather than a proper comic-book, like THE TWELVE TASKS OF ASTERIX.

  7. I don't see that one over here although I bet I would enjoy it. Our closest is probably "Hagar the Horrible."

  8. Charles, Hagar the Horrible is in a class of his own. I'd love to write about him and Helga some day.