The ninth installment of Asterix comic book series, Asterix and the Normans, brings an outsider to the village for a change. Others have visited briefly, but in this tome, Justforkix (the nephew of Vitalstatistix) has come to stay with the tribe for a while.
Originally conceived by Goscinny and Uderzo as a story about a band of Normans (Norman Mailer, Norman Schwarzkopf , and Norman Gentle) waging underground warfare against the might of Rome. The idea was that the “Three Normans” would operate with subterfuge against Caesar’s plan to build new and terrible instruments of war. The weapons were decried by even the highest echelons of Roman society as barbaric because of the magnitude of their ruinous properties and the capability they had to inflict indiscriminate and massive destruction on civilian populations. Captured during a particularly valiant but doomed attempt to prove to the Senate that Caesar had developed a horrific strain of bubonic plague, the Normans were sentenced to die in the Circus Maximus. In a mocking gesture, Caesar allowed the trio to perform before the masses for their lives. A new type of Colosseum game pitted circus prisoners against each other in a performance competition. The elimination format allowed the mob to rate a performance; if it was superlative, they competitor would advance in progressively diminishing rounds. The ultimate winner of the competition would be set free. The remaining performers were sentenced to die. Unfortunately, in spite of the jaunty little number the boys led off with, the crowd savaged The Normans’ performance and they did not advance to the next round. Shamed by their humiliating loss, the three resigned themselves to their fate and demanded to be sacrificed to the lions.
The fiction couldn’t write itself any better, but in the end Goscinny and Uderzo felt that the story was too dark and didn’t focus enough on Asterix’s and Obelix’s attempts to rescue the Normans. Instead, the story was completely re-written with a humorous stab at Vikings. Incidentally, in 1966 (the year this album was published), Fran Tarkenton played the last season of his first stint with the Minnesota Vikings. The star quarterback spent the next several years helping the New York Giants improve their competitive position until being traded back to Minnesota in 1972. Hitting his stride in the 1970’s, Tarkenton had successful seasons with the Vikings, leading them to three Super Bowls. Sadly, the Vikings lost all three. Combined with one other Super Bowl appearance (in 1969 without Tarkenton), the Vikings have never won a Super Bowl.
Anyway, back to the Normans of the Asterix story. They are actually an anachronism given that Normans were descendents of the Nordic and Gallo-Roman people that rose to prominence about 1000 years after the stories of the village take place. But no matter. In the Asterix stories, history serves to promote the fictional timelines not the reverse. And there you go.
… or take me to a list of other Asterix reviews.
… or how about the cover gallery?