Asterix and the Actress
Created: Sat Mar 20 17:02:25 2010 | Last modified: Sat Mar 20 17:02:25 2010
This is by far the worst Asterix album I have read. There is virtually no story-line in this album. We're introduced to Asterix's and Obelix's parents for the first time in the series and that's the only note of interest in this album. Actually the first half is tolerable because it leads up to some tension (how Asterix and Obelix will find out about their fathers' imprisonment by the Prefect of Condatum) but the second half is one big flop. It almost appears as though Uderzo didn't know where to go with this one, because he's used a lot of ideas and concepts from earlier books, but hasn't found any good way to weave it all into one cohesive story.
The premise is this: Pompey, Caesar's deadly enemy, is in Gaul trying to build an army against Julius Caesar. He loses his sword and helmet (of all things!) and wants to get them back. Somehow they land up in the hands of (who else!) Asterix and Obelix. So he hires an actress/opera diva to disguise as Panacea (see "Asterix the Legionary") to infiltrate the Gaulish village and get the items back. There are several reasons why this story doesn't have a very credible base - first, how on earth do the Romans know about Panacea and Obelix's crush on her? Secondly, why is Pompey so worried about a helmet and a sword when he clearly knows that they won't be discovered by Caesar? There's nothing special about these items, either. After that, even if you read the story several times, you'll find it hard to understand. There's simply no rhyme or reason for the sequence of events as portrayed by Uderzo.
Apart from the above problems, many of the regular characters are also out-of-sync with their normal behaviour. Obelix is a far cry from the early days of Goscinny where he is a genial, good-natured, brawny menhir delivery man. Some of the dialogues he mouths are just too much! Asterix is portrayed more in character, but Getafix's potions cause all kinds of strange effects on him and he goes about like a nincompoop in one sequence. The whole episode where he springs about like a giant flea and gets stranded on a rock in the middle of the sea has got to be the single most ridiculous sequence you would ever read in an Asterix book. Asterix and Obelix's mothers turn out to be real nags and don't evoke any humour or sympathy either.
"Asterix and the Actress" relies too heavily on past jokes. There are not too many original ideas here and even the continuity jokes are stale. Uderzo also brings in a lot of slapstick which just doesn't feel like the series in the old days when (the late) Goscinny wrote the script. It is embarrassing for a long-time Asterix fan to read this book, particularly because of the glaring difference in quality between this, and say "Asterix the Legionary."
I would rate it 2/5 and that too, only because of the first half which is mildly interesting for its introduction of new characters.