Asterix and the Big Fight
|Asterix and the Big Fight
(Le Combat des Chefs)
|Date of publication||1966|
|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 Chieftains") 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 having been humiliated many times by the rebel Gauls, Felonius Caucus, advisor to Centurion Nebulus Nimbus, suggests a single combat in which the victor becomes "chief of two Gaulish tribes"; wherefore, to fight Vitalstatistix, chief of Asterix’s tribe, the Romans enlist a Gallo-Roman Chief, Cassius Ceramix of Linoleum. When Ceramix hears his opponent is Vitalstatistix, he argues that Vitalstatistix would surely win with Getafix’ magic potion of invincibility; whereupon Caucus sends a patrol to capture Getafix before the challenge is made. To scatter the attackers, Obelix accidentally strikes Getafix with a menhir, the impact of which causes amnesia and insanity. Following Cassius Ceramix' challenge, Asterix and Vitalstatistix attempt to restore Getafix’s mind by experimenting in potions; but this produces only a whimsical sub-plot, in which the Roman soldier 'Informofpurpus', captured by Obelix as a test subject, is temporarily rendered weightless. Thereafter Asterix and Obelix consult Psychoanalytix (original French name is Amnesix), a druid who specializes in mental disorders. During an explanation of the cause of the problem, Obelix demonstrates with a menhir, leaving Psychoanalytix "in the same state as Getafix". 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 retains sanity despite Obelix throwing another menhir. He quickly proceeds to brew a supply of magic potion. Having exhausted Ceramix at the site of combat, and upon hearing of Getafix's recovery, Vitalstatistix defeats his opponent with a single blow; but the Romans do not accept this victory, and suffer their own defeat by Vitalstatistix's entire tribe. When Ceramix is reduced to amnesia by another menhir, Vitalstatistix declines his right to take over Cassius' tribe, and sends him home in honor. Psychoanalytix returns to business despite his current state, but remains professionally successful despite "side effects" of his medicines. 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, while Vitalstatistix's tribe celebrate their victories.
In the original French version, Vitalstatistix's opponent is called Aplusbégalix ("A plus B equals X"). In the English translation, his name of 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 inform Ceramix that "Getafix has been disposed of", he is told that Ceramix 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"; and a billboard outside of this tent has a picture of the Marsupilami, a famous Belgian comics character.
Where Pschoanalytix's nurse introduces the conditions of his patients to Asterix and Obelix, one is posing as 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.