Asterix and the Secret Weapon (1991)
La rose et le glaive
Once more unto the breeches...
Presenting a pretentious thematic undercurrent...
Evaluation of the Gaulish code of gallantry.
- 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).
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).
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).
'One more Latin tag and I'll drown you!'
Good or what?
Good proposal of dubious message.
Uderzo's second 'Village under crisis' story sees a return to good satirical form.
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.