Review by Jamie McNeil
Spoilers in review
Those French icons, Asterix and Obelix, discover the stork has made a wrong turn to their village, more specifically to Asterix’s house. Suddenly clutching a very energetic baby boy our heroes have to find out who the real parents are, keep a scheming Brutus and his peon Prefect Crismus Cactus from getting their hands on that baby, shrug off gossipy women, wry remarks from friends, keep the magic potion out of reach, and not go stir-crazy navigating the murky waters of first time parenting.
Penned and illustrated here by Albert Uderzo, this is the legendary Gallic cartoonist’s third solo outing after René Goscinny’s death in 1977 and one of his better offerings. Uderzo’s art is iconic with simple yet detailed caricatures of people of all shapes and sizes, the colours vibrant, each character’s movements captivating and energetic. His dialogue is full of fun word-plays and double entendres, even if it lacks the energy of Goscinny’s dialogue. Emotion pings off the pages with the frustration Asterix and Obelix feel. One moment they’re yelling at each other, the next laughing at their own silliness. Much like real parents.
What impresses about Asterix and Son is how relatable and fun it is, despite the dark undertone of a baby’s life being threatened. Gossipy women holding court to discuss their (dis)approval, male buddies poking fun at your inconvenience, theatrics arising from trying to get what we want without being blatant about it. It’s funny because most readers are either vaguely or very familiar with these scenarios. Published in 1983, elements of the book have lost their shine over the past few decades. While very unusual and a sure cause for derision at the time, stay-at-home dads, even fathers involved in the ‘motherly’ duties of feeding and diaper-changing, are now relatively commonplace. Likewise, a man dressing in women’s clothing is far from as unusual as it used to be, so you can choose to be offended by the characterisations or enjoy it for the refreshing lack of political correctness.
Take this story at face-value and you get an intelligently constructed tale, with great cartooning that adults and children alike will enjoy. Asterix is a rare multi-generational title, a series that fathers (and uncles) in particular love to introduce to their sons (and nephews) to. If you insist on reading Asterix in chronological order, then Asterix and the Magic Carpet is the next in the series.