Review by Frank Plowright
It’s convenient for the British King that Lieutenant Hubert Brussel-Sprout has arrived in England accompanying Ompa-Pa on his mission to acquire horses for the Flatfoot tribe. It gives the King the opportunity to send back a secret message of the utmost urgency that can on no account fall into enemy hands. Ompa-Pa taking horses back to America will provide the ideal cover. As seen by the sample art, the enemies aren’t that easily fooled.
The British setting enables René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo to take some potshots at the British upper crust, whose customs if one stops to consider, are patently more ridiculous than the those of the Native Americans they sneer at. Uderzo draws some fine chinless wonders around the palace, but the creators don’t pack the jokes as densely as they later would for Asterix in Britain, and the story ends up as a lengthy chase sequence. This is energetically drawn by Uderzo, with some fine panels of Ompa-Pa on comedy horses, so much so that they give the feeling that better time might be made if Ompa-Pa carried the horse instead, long before a variation on that joke is used.
Just as the comedy opportunities of the British aren’t fully exploited, neither are the openings provided by Ompa-Pa being a stranger in a strange place. He comes to terms with his surroundings very quickly, be they urban or rural, and is dignified as he points out why there are differences. It’s all very subdued considering what might have been, although Uderzo is impressive all the way through.
What’s the secret message about? We discover that in Ompa-Pa and the Prussians.