Asterix in Belgium
|Asterix in Belgium |
(Astérix chez les Belges)
|Date of publication||1979|
|Preceded by||Obelix and Co.|
|Followed by||Asterix and the Great Divide|
Asterix in Belgium (French: Astérix chez les Belges, lit. 'Asterix among the Belgians/Belgae') is the twenty-fourth volume of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations).
It is noted as the last Asterix story from Goscinny, who died during its production.
After fighting the Belgians in the northern part of Gaul, Caesar states that they are the bravest enemies he's ever faced (historically this statement really was made by Caesar). His soldiers agree with him, to the point when they consider being posted to the camps outside Asterix' village as a period of leave.
Chief Vitalstatistix is aghast at the idea that his village, which has been the terror of the Romans for years, is now looked upon as relatively harmless. He is further outraged when he hears of Caesar's remarks. He claims that his villagers are in fact the bravest men of Gaul, and travels to Belgium to prove his point. A reluctant Asterix and Obelix go with him after Getafix tells them not doing so could make the story come to a sticky end.
After crossing the border, they encounter a village of Belgians who rely on brute strength (and a regular diet of meat and beer) to successfully scare off Caesar's troops. These Belgians are led by two chiefs, Beefix and Brawnix (though Brawnix comes across mainly as a second-in-command).
To prove that the Gauls are the bravest, Vitalstatistix proposes a competition. The contest consists of raiding and destroying Roman camps on either side of the village. The Belgians and Gauls destroy the camps, telling the soldiers who they are. By the end they have destroyed an equal number of camps, and word is sent to Rome. Meanwhile the Pirates' ship is wrecked when Obelix throws a boulder catapulted at him too high, causing the Captain to complain, saying he and his men are neutrals. Word is sent to Rome, though the facts are exaggerated, talking about vast hordes of Gauls, a savage pack of hounds, and a mysterious fleet of neutrals. Caesar goes to Belgium himself to restore order unaware of the fact that the whole thing is to get him to decide once and for all which side is the bravest.
Outraged at being reduced, in the eyes of the Gauls and Belgians, to a mere umpire (as opposed to emperor), Caesar furiously declares that he will meet them in battle. The Belgians tell the Gauls to stay away as it is now a purely local issue.
Through the use of catapults the Romans get their way in the early stages of the battle. But then the three Gauls, and their magic potion, join the Belgians after they thwart an attempted attack on the Belgian lines from behind through a forest, and, by combining their efforts, the Gauls are the final victors.
Caesar decides to leave for Rome. On his way he comes across the Gaulish and Belgian chiefs. Caesar proudly announces that he will lay down his life, but they say that they are there to remind him of their competition and want to know who is the bravest. Caesar angrily declares them simply all crazy and leaves. Vitalstatistix and Beefix laugh the incident off. They have to face the fact that they are all equally brave and, after a victory feast, part on good terms.
- Beefix's wife, Bonanza (Nicotine in the French version), is a caricature of Walloon actress and singer Annie Cordy.
- This album features a small cameo from the two detectives Thomson and Thompson from the world famous Belgian comic strip Tintin, who characteristically mispronounce the name of Julius Caesar. The scene is even drawn in a ligne claire style similar to that of Hergé, the writer of the Tintin comics.
- It also features the famous cyclist Eddy Merckx as a messenger.
- Goscinny died halfway through writing the comic; as a homage to him, Uderzo drew darkened skies and rain into the comic for the rest of the album, to mark the point at which Goscinny died. This also serves as a spoof on the Belgian weather.
- The entire final battle between the Gallo-Belgian and Roman sides is a parody of the Battle of Waterloo, in present-day Belgium. In the French edition, the text scrolls and quotes on them are a stylistic parody of Victor Hugo's text Les Châtiments, about the Battle of Waterloo; whereas even the English edition contains references to the same battle. During the battle the Roman commander is depicted as saying "La garde meurt mais ne se rend pas" ("The guard dies, it does not surrender!"), a quote attributed to the French general Pierre Cambronne at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The pose he takes while saying this is similar to Cambronne's statue in Nantes.
- Of all the Asterix books, this one contains the most literary references to earlier works, including Plutarch's Lives, Caesar's own Gallic Wars, and (in the English translation) Shakespeare's Tragedy of Julius Caesar.
- The picture of the victory feast at the Belgian village is a parody of the Flemish painting The Peasant Wedding (De Boerenbruiloft) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.
- The small child that is last seen running to urinate somewhere is a reference to the iconic Belgian statue Manneken Pis.
- A further tribute to Goscinny appears in the very last panel of the album: beneath the banquet scene, to the left of the panel, a rabbit glances mournfully at Goscinny's signature.
In other languages
- Catalan: Astèrix a Bèlgica
- Croatian: Asterix u Belgiji
- Czech: Asterix u Belgů
- Danish: Styrkeprøven
- Dutch: Asterix en de Belgen
- Finnish: Asterix Belgiassa
- German: Asterix bei den Belgiern
- Greek: Ο Αστερίξ στους Βέλγους
- Italian: Asterix e i Belgi
- Norwegian: Styrkeprøven (The test of strength)
- Polish: Asteriks u Belgów
- Portuguese: Astérix entre os Belgas
- Serbian: Asteriks i Obeliks u Belgiji (Астерикс и Обеликс у Белгији)
- Slovenian: Asterix pri Belgih
- Spanish: Astérix en Bélgica
- Turkish: Asteriks Belçika'da
- Indonesian: Asterik Di Belgia
- Swedish: Asterix i Belgien
- "Astérix chez les Belges - Astérix - Le site officiel". www.asterix.com (in French). Retrieved 2018-10-04.
- René Goscinny - Asterix in Belgium - Hachette Children's Group.
- "Annie Cordy, Nini la chance". Focus on Belgium. Belgian Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
- "Asterix in Belgium (Asterix, #24)". www.goodreads.com. Retrieved 2018-10-04.