Asterix and Obelix all at Sea (1996)
La galère d'Obélix
Obelix discovers that childhood's not all it's cracked up
Presenting a pretentious thematic undercurrent...
Explores the logistical consequences if people's wish for rejuvenation were actually to be effected.
- Crustacius: Roman Admiral.
- Nautilus: Vice Admiral.
- Spartakis: Leading Slave-Revolter.
- Gluttonus: Roman Chef.
- Absolutelyfabulos: High Priest of Atlanta.
Continuity; lack-thereof and other gaffes...
- Cleopatra's third appearance (p1).
- By-now-obligatory joke-ruining footnotes and translations (pp2, 8, 26, 31, 32 and 35).
- Revolting slaves comprise the same stereotype-reunion as those in The Mansions of the Gods. Hispanics, Belgians, Goths, Africans, Portugese and Britains are all present and correct; and so are their attendent languges and mannerisms (begins p3).
- Asterix first: Flashback sequence (to Asterix in Britain). (p4.)
- Nose-to-nose A&O argument (p5).
- Actual danger of Obelix overdosing on potion is revealed as a tendency to get stoned (pp9 and 41).
- Panacea returns: curiously seems actually to have some sort of fancy to Obelix, much to Asterix's distaste (p13).
- Unsubtle-shield-gag: this time from a sedentary position (p15).
- Asterix first: Obelix's buttocks (p17).
- Asterix second: Obelix's buttocks (p18).
- Different approach to Gothic speech: slave Goth speaks same language but with German sentence construction (p23).
- More Life of Brian-esque disgusting Roman foodstuffs (see Asterix the Gladiator): on Gluttonus's menu is 'Hawkmoth caterpillars preserved in Acacia Honey'; 'Earthworms fried in Castor Oil' and 'Cows Udders cooked plain or in a sauce' (p25).
Cleverness and contemporaneity...
- JC reveals his literary aspirations (p2).
- Spartakis is indeed a caricature of Kirk Douglas (begins p2).
- Legionary threatens to becomes a 'turn-toga' (p8).
- Obelix has only reverted physically to childhood; mentally he's still adult: explaining Geriatrix's disgust when his wife removes the towel (p19).
- Relative to Geriatrix both the child Obelix and the adult Asterix are 'guttersnipes', 'tramps' and 'little imps' (p19).
- Self reference: Obelix repeats comic-strip helmet-clashing effect 'cling, clang, clong' as actual words (p21).
- Nautilus ironically comments that Obelix is 'not exactly a fat cat of a hostage' (p21).
- Rampaging Fulliautomatix and Unhygienix are armed with their identifying weapons (p23).
- Race-prejudice is actually addressed via one of Uderzo's stereotypical Africans (p23).
- Asterix does deal with pirates, them being very much the lesser of two evils beside the Romans (p29).
- African lookout finds his metier via a drum solo (p30).
- The imagery in the Altanta sequences is a reference to the 'Pastoral Symphony' episode of Disney's Fantasia (by some distance the worst part of that film) which accounts for its rather cloying tweeness (begins p32).
- The Altantaean dinner table is comprised of a single gargantuan fruitbowl: Obelix is singularly underwhelmed by this healthy diet (p34).
- Mentally-grown-up notwithstanding, Obelix is not above childish insult (p35).
- The regrown Obelix conversely has a childlike mentality (p43).
- Cacofonix tied to usual tree (p44).
Exactly as with The Mansions of the Gods
Obelix has a tender side...
- Child Obelix defends his adult-former-self's 'not-fat' status (p19).
- Usual response to being kissed by Panacea (p19).
Those Obelix-raison d'etre-ridding shrinkage consequences in full...
- Can't fit into clothes (p18).
- Can't eat three boars at a sitting (p19).
- Can't lift menhirs (p19).
- Can't bash Romans (p21).
Summa jus, summa injuria = The most justice, the most injustice (p27).
What has by now become 'The African lookout's retort'...
'And quite some juicy injury too....'
More Classic Pegleg...
Nunc est Bibendum = Now it is the time to drink (Horatio: Carmina 1, 37, 1-2). (p36).
Piratical role-reversal: Classic Redbeard...
Felix Qui Potuit Rerum Cognoscere Causas = Happy be he who can recogonise the cause of things (Virgil, Georgica 2, 490). (p37.)
The African lookout's retort to Redbeard...
'Never mind the potty causes now!' (p37).
Good or what?
This worst of Asterix books seems to show a decline in Uderzo's creative powers; and if the rumours are true that this is to be the last one that is, on the evidence of it, no bad thing. On the other hand it could just be a blip (after all the previous Asterix and the Secret Weapon wasn't bad); and the other contradictory rumour of a new Asterix book in the offing could therefore be a welcome heralding of a return to form. Let's hope so.
Whatever the reasons - this book suffers from a greater reliance on overstretched continuity-jokes than ever before, these in lieu of any satirical bite whatsoever. The storyline is particularly contrived, self-resolving (Obelix just becomes cured for no particular reason) and has the disastrous effect of removing the character of Obelix from the narrative. The whole Atlanta sequence is pretty limp too, having no basis in historical or present reality. The African lookout's drum solo is about the only amusing part of the entire book.