#10 – Asterix the Legionary (1967)

[Very important note: all of the reviews will be based on the English language publications researched and painstakingly translated by Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge.]

Asterix the Legionary

Synopsis. The beautiful Panacea, daughter of one of the villagers, returns for a visit from Condatum (Rennes) where she has been studying. While there, Obelix becomes smitten and is encouraged by Asterix and Getafix to court her. She is kind to Obelix, but her heart is elsewhere. Soon she receives word that her fiancé has been conscripted (forced into service) to fight in a Roman civil war under Caesar’s banner. Caesar is in north Africa where the emporer is pitted against the rebellious general Scipio and his armies. Desiring to restore Panacea’s happiness, Obelix nobly offers to go to the battle zone to retrieve Panacea’s lover, Tragicomix. Asterix jumps at the chance to join the quest. Obelix decides to leave Dogmatix behind because the journey is sure to be too dangerous for the tyke. He turns Dogmatix over to Panacea’s care which displeases the little dog at first (he had become very jealous of the attention Obelix gave to Panacea), but unable to resist the charms of the pretty girl, he falls in love from one kiss on the top of his head.

The bulk of the adventure is made up of the heroes joining and training in the Roman legion. Their feral nature proves to be a challenge for the platoon leaders. Their bad behavior is amplified by the assortment of other legionaries in the squad: a Greek warrior in search of work, a Briton with a stereotypical love for bad food, a Goth, a Belgian (who’s upturned hairstyle is an homage to Belgian author Hergé‘s boy hero, Tintin), and an Egyptian who does not understand the language and has mistakenly assumed he and his comrades are on a tourist venture. An interpreter is along for the ride and his translations are often not to the liking of the Roman officers.

Finally arriving in the African desert where the armies are preparing for war, Asterix and Obelix sneak out to retrieve Tragicomix who has been captured and held at one of Scipio’s camps. In the rescue attempt, the boys inadvertently sow confusion leading to a battle in which Caesar becomes the victor. The heroes return home to accolades from the villagers and sincere appreciation from Panacea.

Funny Names. Hemispheric, the Gothic legionary; Selectivemploymentax, the British legionary; Gastronomix, the Belgian legionary; Neveratalos, the Greek legionary; and Ptenisnet, the clueless Egyptian legionary. Nefarius Purpus and Dubius Status are the platoon leaders.

Details of Particular Interest. Goscinny and Uderzo continue their interweaving of the Gauls’ adventures with historical elements. Small details like the size of the squad (eight including the interpreter) is accurate, the types of attack configurations of the Roman armies are shown, the civil war between Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio Nasica and Caesar actually happened, and a scene where the pirate’s ship has been scuttled parodies a painting by French artist Géricault titled The Raft of the Medusa. Goscinny also takes the opportunity to poke fun at absurd and soul-sapping dealings with government bureaucracy (see the extended image below).

The legionary training portion of the book is absolutely hilarious. The Gauls see their entry into the Roman army as a necessary evil so they are not about to toe the line or spend a lot of time following decorum. Their comrades in arm are an amusing and eclectic bunch that add to the chaos and silliness. The book’s humor slows down a bit during the final rescue sequence, although the confusion the heroes create is quite amusing. In all, a very funny book.

Rating: 5/5

Asterix Comic Book Pages

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Asterix Comic Book Pages

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Asterix Comic Book Pages

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Asterix Comic Book Pages

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Asterix Comic Book Pages

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Asterix Comic Book Pages

2 Responses to “#10 – Asterix the Legionary (1967)”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Asterix the Legionary Review « Comics A-Go-Go! - March 18, 2012

    [...] #10 – Asterix the Legionary (1967) [...]

  2. Asterix Album Chronology « Comics A-Go-Go! - June 6, 2012

    [...] Asterix and the Big Fight (1966) 8. Asterix in Britain (1966) 9. Asterix and the Normans (1966) 10. Asterix the Legionary (1967) 11. Asterix and the Chieftain’s Shield (1968) 12. Asterix at the Olympic Games (1968) 13. [...]

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