Asterix and the Black Gold (1981)
The village grinds to a halt as the price of petrol escalates.
- M Devius Surreptitius: Head of M.I.VI.
- Dubblosix: Druidical double agent. (Uderzo is clearly a Connery fan when it comes to matters Bondian.)
- Joshua Ben Zedrin: Jewish traveller.
- Saul Ben Ephishul: Jewish guide.
Presenting a pretentious thematic undercurrent...
Commentary on the modern-day dependency on oil and fuel.
Continuity; lack-thereof and other gaffes...
- Apparently dedicated to Goscinny. Not in my English edition, it isn't. (Kessler)
- Dubbing joke repeated from Asterix and Cleopatra (p1).
- J. Caesar mentions first triumvirate, though that should have been disolved around the time of Asterix the legionary. By this time he's outright dictator.
- Return of Ekonomikrisis from Asterix the Gladiator. This time his galley slaves are holidaymakers on a package tour (as were the gauls on their olympic excursion). (p8 and on on.)
- Get-a-druid-to-cure-a-druid-plot-device re-used from Asterix and the Big Fight (p9 on).
- Hitherto-unknown-component-of-magic-potion-is-unavailable plot re-used from Asterix and the Great Crossing (p14).
Cleverness and contemporaneity...
- Note the family of birds forced out of their home by the combined efforts of a beaver and woodpecker (p1).
- M Devius Surreptitius is indeed a caricature of actor Bernard Lee (p3).
- Dubblosix's title is an indication of druidical failure, not spying prowess (p4).
- Surreptitious and Dubblosix offer variant of gladiator's greeting:
Ave Caesar Lucratori te salutant = Hail Caesar we who are about to get rich quick salute you (p4).
- Dubblosix receives a message on self-destructing papyrus (p5).
- Itinerent family of birds seeks an end to its accommodation worries at the Gaulish village (p5).
- Dubblosix's particular restorative potion is Scotch Whisky, Causing Getafix to put on an air before suffering the inevitable hangover (p12).
- Dubblosix's carrier fly has fatalistic predilection to fall into bowls of soup (p16 and on).
- Economikrisis presents fighting the pirates as a holiday entertainment (p17).
- There is a Frankenstein-monster pirate with a sword instead of bolts (p17).
- Good vista of Tyre (p22) and a quite fabulous one of Jerusalem (p26).
- The heroes stop over in Judea's most famous inn-adjacent stable (p27).
- Jewish merchant has to adopt a Roman-sounding name (p 30).
- Saul Ben Ephishul is an affectionate caricature of the late Goscinny - who was Jewish (p30). (Kessler)
- Pontius Pilate washes his hands literally as well as symbolically (p31).
- Obelix enjoys some flotation therapy (p31).
- More Biblical allusion: A&O are to spend 30 days and nights in the desert (p32 on).
- A&O caught in the crossfire between countless (well actually five) warring tribes (p32).
- Asterix quotes Byron (p34).
- Dogmatix's curiosity saves the day again (pp 35-36).
- Role-reversal: A camel is borne by Obelix (pp 36-37).
- Obelix brings about world's first oil-slick (p41).
- Asterix repeats the book's opening frame caption, now in narrative form (p44).
- The family of birds finally moves into its new home: Cacofonix's tree by invitation of its owl (p44).
That Aston Martin chariot in full...
- Collapsible structure.
- Retracting blades.
- Smoke-screen propellant.
- (faulty) Wings.
- Optional 'trunk' setting.
That army recruitment drive...
'Join the light cavalry they said...' (p 11).
Jews handled sympathetically as thematic comrade-in-arms, understandably considering the underlying theme of wartime collaboration versus resistance in Asterix books, most explicitly Asterix and the Big Fight.
Obelix has a tender side...
- Treats with utter contempt the idea that he may be frightened of Romans (pp 10-12).
- The hypersensitive heavyweight breaks free from the written page to vent his anger at the word "fat" in a frame caption (p19).
- Non omnia possumus omnes = we can't all do everything (Virgil, Eclogue vii.63 attrib to Macrobius Lucilius, Saturnalia vi.1.35)(p18).
- ave atque vale = hail, and farewell evermore( Catullus 87-54 BC, Carmina ci) (p41).
'Well I saved the ship didn't I?'
The African lookout's wittier retort...
'Whatever he means, I vote we play possum next time!'
Good or what?
'Asterix in the Holy Land': Best solo-Uderzo 'Asterix in...' book by virtue of it's original setting and on-target James Bond and Biblical humour. Relative lack of continuity jokes that tend to mar Uderzo's other books; and the ones that are there (e.g. return of Ekonomikrisis) are handled very well. Almost as good as a Goscinny/Uderzo book.