The year is 50 BC. All of Gaul (now France) is occupied by the Roman Empire. All of Gaul? No, one little village of die-hard Gauls is holding out against four Roman legions. Powered by a magic potion that gives them superhuman powers.
We follow Asterix and Obelix as they adventure all the way to Caledonia (Scotland). On a quest to reunite a mysterious Pict named MacAroon with his lady love, Camomilla.
Our heroes end up fighting for the crown of Scotland itself. Can they keep it out of the hands of treacherous chieftain MacCabaeus and his Roman backers?
Kilts, the Loch Ness Monster and two Gaulish hell raisers! What could possibly go wrong? Will the Franco-Belgian adventure comedy classic live up to its reputation? How will the new creative team handle a series loved around the world? Read on to find out why…
Indomitable Gauls, Frozen Kilts and Regime Change
Asterix and the Picts is the 35 volume. In one of the longest running Franco-Belgian graphic novel series. Delighting the world since 1961. Asterix is one of Europe’s most loved graphic novel characters!
This volume of the series marks a changing of the guard. Albert Uderzo hands the story over to the new creative team of Jean-Yves Ferri & Didier Conrad.
On to the story…
While walking the beach during the height of Gaulish winter. Asterix and Obelix find a man frozen in an ice cube.
Once the stranger is melted out of the ice by the village druid Getafix, the mystery deepens. The Stranger wears a funny, square patterned dress and has exotic tattoos on his body.
Getafix thinks that the stranger must be a Pict. From a far northern land called Caledonia (Scotland). Things are made more difficult by the fact that our Pictish friend seems to have lost his voice. He also randomly keeps freezing up every now and then.
With a bit of pantomime and after some medical care courtesy of Getafix. Our heroes find out that the Pict is called MacAroon. He says he was ambushed and thrown into the water by Clan MacCabees.
Chief MacCabeus wants to marry the dead kings daughter, Camomilla. And claim the throne for himself. All with the help of the Romans.
Asterix and Obelix are always up for helping people in need. Beating up Romans is just an added bonus. So with the blessings of their chief Vitalstatistix. Our duo sets out to escort MacAroon back to his native Caledonia.
Will MacAroon arrive in time to rescue Camomilla and foil MacCabus’ evil plan?
Will Asterix and Obelix be able to beat back a Roman invasion of Caledonia??
What sort of ancient horror lurks beneath the cold waters of Loch Ness?
You’ll have to read the graphic novel to find out!
A New Take on a Classic Series
Asterix and the Picts was an easy and fun read. I was a bit concerned about the new creative team.
Asterix set the standard for globetrotting adventure comedies. The original run by René Goscinny and Albert Underzo is a European graphic novel cult classic!
When Underzo continued the series after Goscinny died in 1977 some fans were disappointed. They felt that the new stories lacked Goscinnys’ style and humor.
Yet Asterixs enduring popularity seems to prove the opposite.
The The Art and Writing of Asterix and the Picts
So how did Ferri and Conrad do?
Asterix #35 is definitely an Asterix book -through and through:
- Random, semi-demented, rambling of village elder Geriatrix -check.
- The continued musical misadventures of village bard Cacofonix -check.
- Chief Vitalstatistix’s quest for dignified and respected leadership ending in calamity -check!
Asterix and Obelix continue to bicker and argue in the most inopportune times. But are still BFFs. There is globetrotting, with country specific landscapes, national stereotypes and characters.We see the Roman military leadership fumble while their foot troops suffer the consequences.
All is as it has always been in 50 BC, according to Asterix.
The cameo by the unlucky pirate crew that always gets their ship sunk by Asterix and Obelix was a niche touch. So was Dogmatix’s (Obelix’s little dog) crying whenever anybody talked about felling a tree.
This volume definitely respects its history.
I enjoyed Ferri’s writing although the pacing of the story was a little off at the start.
Most Asterix books set the scene. Then have our brave Gauls travel the world or get into trouble at home within a few pages. Asterix and the Picts took 17 pages to setup the story and see our heroes off on their journey.
Ferri nailed the dialogue and characters though.
I really feel like he got them down pat. His Asterix has chuckles, in a dry and subtle style. This is a little at odds with Goscinny’s Asterix. The classics used slap stick and situational comedy with dry wit to inject humor into the story.
Conrad’s art is true to Underzos’ style. But he doesn’t just copy Underzo, he’s his own artist while remaining close to the original. His art uses the clear line style so beloved of Franco-Belgian graphic novels.
While his characters are minimalist. They express so much through their gestures, posture and facial expression. Therefor, this simplicity does not take away from the art. Everything is lively and dynamic. You actually feel the story move across the pages!
Conrad creates an atmosphere of different landscapes, climates and buildings with very little detail.
As a kid, Asterix took me to faraway places like Spain, Greece or India. It always had this power to make you feel like you were there with Asterix and Obelix. Going on an exotic journey around the world. Conrad taps into this.
I really felt that I was walking over the moors and hills of ancient Scotland.
All in all, Ferri and Conrad made a good show of it.
It isn’t easy to take up such a popular series with so much history. They did well continuing the Asterix story from where the original creators left it.
Asterix and the Picts is a nice lighthearted read.
This is a great pallet cleanser.
Dark and gritty graphic novels like The Dark Knight Returns are fun. So are emotional roller coasters like Mouse. But sometimes we all need to laugh and enjoy something with some innocence.
If you are an old fan or completely new to the series doesn’t matter.
Asterix and the Picts (Asterix #35) is a great place to reconnect or start with the series.
Get it now, you won’t regret getting in on one of Europe’s must read graphic novel series.
Enjoy your reading!
PS: Click here to order Asterix and the Picts (Asterix #35) in paperback today.