Ode to Asterix & Obelix

Growing up during an era when WWW stood for ‘World War Warplanes’, comics were our life line. Phantom, Flash Gordon, Archie and Asterix were part of our lives from child hood days. Even today, I treasure my collection of their fabled episodes and may have read them over and over again – a zillion times, and will continue to do so in the future.

So, when I saw ‘Asterix & Obleix’s Birthday’, which my daughter had picked up recently, I was almost transported back in time and was drooling to sit down with that book for a few hours immediately. However, with priorities redefined over the passage of time, I set aside a couple of hours on Sunday for the same.

I must admit, the few hours on Sunday were a letdown. Maybe my expectations were too high, maybe the big gap between Goscinny’s death and the recent launch by Uderzo, had worsened the critic in me, or simply, father time, which had caught up with the great Asterix and Obelix in the first chapter of this book, had etched out a stereotyped imaginative expectation, from my heroes. Whatever it was, the zing or the thrill of an Asterix adventure was all at bay.

Actually, I did not really find an adventure at all, leave alone a plot or a story, which my heroes excel and thrive being in the midst of. It was so Un-Asterix like. The great details of the frame like the expression of even the insignificant characters like - the hen, flies and worms were gone, the wonderful researched info about Gauls, woven intricately into a portrayal of their customs, traditions were missing. Instead, the modern ideas, like Obelix on the ramp in Outfits ranging from a Bronx guy to a Pony tailed wimp were simply out of place. The guide pages, which occupies half the book was pathetic to say the least and if it was aimed at being funny, it really was the thought of putting the guide in, which eventually was.

As a die-hard fan of Asterix and Obelix I do think that Uderzo is better off, living on his past glory than going down history as one who started a great cult, but swamped it all in his final years without his partner. I hope he will not write another Asterix book, on these lines again, and if he does, the final nail in the coffin of a great set of characters would have been driven.

There are a set of frames in the book on Page 8, which actually sum up my feelings nicely. “Life loses its sparkle – as time goes by” – mumbles Obelix in a down the dumps mood, when Getafix introduces the man responsible for the 50 years of ageing – Uderzo, in a coat and suit, so out of place in the story. The reaction of Obelix is what sums this up perfectly . . . . THWACK !!!!! and Uderzo is history . . . .

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