[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.]
Synopsis. Vitalstatistix’s nephew, Justforkix, is sent by his father to live for a while in the village. His father, Doublehelix feels that the Justforkix has gone soft and wants to give him some time away from Lutetia which he hopes the lad will grow to be a man. Justforkix is a typically arrogant urban teenager with his fancy car and what-do-I-care mop of hair and his craaaaazy dancing and what not. He has no respect for the villagers and he gets on the nerves of our heroes.
Meanwhile, up North where the winters are cold and the men are getting restless, we learn from the authors that the Norse Vikings are troubled by an odd affliction. Nordic men, it appears are quite unused to fear and find that to be a frustrating deficiency. As proud warriors, they wish to dominate all before them. Since fear eludes the warriors, they find it impossible to conquer it. Therefore, Chief Timandahalf and his tribesmen set out on a mission to learn the meaning of fear and how it will cause flight (which they incorrectly assume means they will literally take off and fly about).
The Norsemen’s voyage eventually leads to the shores of Armorica and into the territory of the brave village. They encounter Justforkix and abscond with him intent on learning “fear” from the boy. Justforkix is himself terrified and the Vikings find him quite useless as an instructor. While in the Vikings’ custody, Asterix and Obelix set out to find the missing juvenile. They do and eventually a great battle ensues during which our heroes relieve the Nordic warriors of their prisoner. No story would be complete without an encounter with the Romans, so along the way a patrol attempts to intervene and is summarily thrashed. Ever the helpful hero, Asterix sets out to assist the Vikings in discovering the solution to their query … will fear help them take wing? Asterix devises a solution that achieves the Vikings goal. How? Read the story.
Funny Names. There are several Viking warrior names that are humorous. Like the common name suffix “-ix” for Gaulish men, the Norsemen’s names typically end in “-af.” This play on names leads to such gems as Psychopaf, Nescaf, Epitaf, and Fotograf. The Romans also get their due: Oleaginous is the obsequious new recruit that is eager to follow orders in spite of the protests from his fellow legionaries and decurion.
Details of Particular Interest. The interweaving of popular music continues as Justforkix brings the latest pop sounds from Lutetia. Dogmatix expresses his environmental sensibilities for the first time as we learn from Obelix that our favorite canine doesn’t like harm to come to trees. Fullyautomatix is developed as a mainstay character and in a rare feature, he ends up banished from the banquet instead of Cacafonix.
This book is full of the puns we expect from the series and the Viking characters are interesting enough but the story feels like a sideways step. It doesn’t seem to have as many clever elements as some of the better books. Not one of our favorites but still a good book from the best stretch of Asterix comics.