Asterix and the Big Fight
|Asterix and the Big Fight
(Le Combat des Chefs)
Date(s) of publication
|Preceded by||Asterix and Cleopatra|
|Followed by||Asterix in Britain|
Asterix and the Big Fight is a French comic book, the seventh in the Asterix comic book series. It was written by René Goscinny and illustrated by Albert Uderzo. Its original French title is Le Combat des chefs ("The Battle of the Chiefs") and it was first published in serial form in Pilote magazines, issues 261-302, in 1964. It was translated into English in 1971.
The Romans have once again been humiliated by the Gauls. Felonius Caucus, right-hand man of Centurion Nebulus Nimbus, head of the fortified camp of Totorum, suggests a Big Fight. This is a Gallic tradition where two Gallic chiefs fight and the winner becomes leader of both tribes.
To fight Vitalstatistix, chief of Asterix’s tribe, the Romans enlist a Gallo-Roman Chief, Cassius Ceramix of Linoleum. Cassius eagerly agrees as he is a Roman sympathizer and Romanizing his tribe. But when Cassius hears his opponent is Vitalstatistix he is not not so eager, because Vitalstatistix would surely win with Getafix’ magic potion of invincibility. So the Romans plan to dispose of the druid long beforehand. In an effort to rescue him, Obelix accidentally puts Getafix out of action with a menhir, the impact of which causes amnesia and insanity.
Cassius Ceramix' challenge therefore comes at the worst possible moment, and Asterix and Vitalstatistix desperately attempt to restore Getafix’s mind by consulting Psychoanalytix (original French name is Amnesix), a druid who specializes in mental disorders. But during an explanation of the cause of the problem, Obelix decides to physically demonstrate with a menhir, leaving Psychoanalytix in the same state. As the two crazed druids concoct a number of skin-coloring magic potions, Asterix tries to bring Vitalstatistix into good physical shape for the upcoming fight. Meanwhile the Romans plan to arrest Cassius after the Fight to stop him becoming too powerful.
As the fight begins, Getafix accidentally makes a potion which restores his mind, and he retains it despite Obelix throwing another menhir at him to try curing him. He quickly proceeds to brew a supply of magic potion. Cassius Ceramix looks sure to win, but Getafix' recovery gives Vitalstatistix the courage to win despite not having any potion. After another tussle with the Romans, who do not accept this victory, and Cassius Ceramix himself getting "menhired", Vitalstatistix returns home victorious to the inevitable feast. Psychoanalytix returns to business despite his current state, but he remains professionally successful (a wry comment on the state of psychiatry). Vitalstatistix generously declines his right to take over Cassius' tribe. Cassius, now in the same mental state as the druids, becomes the most courteous chief in Gaul and the probable originator of French courtesy. His tribe returns to Gaulish ways and the fight against Rome.
In the original French version, Vitalstatistix's opponent is called Aplusbégalix ("A plus B equals X"). In the English translation, his name Cassius Ceramix is a reference to the boxer Muhammad Ali, formerly known as Cassius Clay, who was world heavyweight champion when the story was written. Vitalstatistix's strategy of wearing down his opponent (rope a dope) and his victory dance (the Ali shuffle) is a parody of Ali's style.
When a Roman envoy is sent to Linoleum to inform Ceramix that Getafix has been disposed of, he asks a resident where the chief is and is told that he is inspecting Professor Berlix's school for modern languages, a play on Maximilian Berlitz and his International Language Schools.
In the scene in which an amusement park is set up, one ride is called the 'Slavic Mountain'. This is a pun on the French name for roller coaster, "Russian mountain". A book store called "W. H. Smix" can be seen in the same scene, which is a pun on the chain W. H. Smith. In the same panel is a tent with a sign, "Menagerix — See The Fabulous Animals." A billboard outside of this tent has a picture of the Marsupilami, a famous Belgian comics character.
In the part where Pschoanalytix's nurse introduces the conditions of his patients to Asterix and Obelix, there is one who she says is impersonating someone but nobody knows who. He is in fact behaving like Napoléon Bonaparte.
Relationship with other Asterix books
In the issue of Pilote #260, which preceded the publication of the actual story, Vitalstatistix was depicted hosting a press conference to announce that Asterix and the Big Fight would be the next adventure and that he would play a leading role in it. This scene was reprinted in Asterix and the Class Act (2003) as its introduction.
In this story we see Vitalstatistix’ (as yet unnamed) wife for the first time, fussing over him when he is preparing to meet Cassius Ceramix.
The "menhiring" subplot is reintroduced three decades later in Asterix and the Actress.
An animated film bearing the comic's title was released in 1989. However, the plot is in fact closer to Asterix and the Soothsayer; only the subplot involving Getafix's amnesia is retained from Big Fight.