Our search for the best Asterix book continues! Today we pit Spain against Caesar's Gift. Read on, adventurer!
Asterix in Spain
A child throws a tantrum in a supermarket. Do you:
- Shake your head and tut at its mother?
- Drop your shopping basket and go to a more expensive shop so you don't have to witness the depravity of the underclasses?
- Film the incident while laughing?
If you chose the third option, then Asterix in Spain is the book for you! The Romans kidnap a Spanish child to keep his unruly father from breaking the Pax Romana. Asterix and Obelix rescue the kid, and soon wish they hadn't. They suffer through 20 pages of the kid being such a brat that there's no choice but to take him back to his dad. GHASTLY.
Things pick up when they leave their village. They bash some pirates and there's fun to be poked at holidaymakers traveling to Spain for a change in scenery - and promptly recreating their home villages.
Asterix meets Don Quixote, there are some nice images of Pamplona, and the brat kid is finally funny. Having spent so long holding his breath to get what he wants, now he refuses to hold to his breath to cure his hiccups.
There's a seriously weird picture of some druids performing an ancient ceremony - the nighttime version gives us this disturbing image:
Hispanophiles will recognise it as the 'procesion semana santa' or 'Holy Week' but yeah, it's the Ku Klux Klan right there in Asterix, even though it's totally not. It's just that, it kinda IS.
Asterix is captured and is the main attraction in a circus - he invents the capote (not the muleta, because he isn't using his sword) dodge technique while he's at it.
He defeats the bull, is freed, and the end comes abruptly.
Asterix and Caesar's Gift
Do you enjoy watching politicians snipe at each other? Do you roar with laughter when political parties splinter into thousands of unelectable pieces? If so, this is the book for you!
When legionaries finish their 20 year tour of duty, they are given a nice plot of land to retire on. One drunken old reprobate insults Caesar on his last night, and Caesar punishes him in an unusual way:
Caesar's Gift is the plot of land on which Asterix's village is built. The drunken legionary uses the title deed to pay for some drinks, and so Caesar's wrath accidentally falls on a hapless innkeeper. He turns up to claim his property.
Chief Vitalstatistix takes pity on the dupe, and sets him up in the village. The men have a mutual sympathy, but their wives are not pleased by this turn of events.
The frosty voices are one of the more interesting visuals in the comic, since the story quickly turns into one of inter-village politics - chief against wannabe-chief with everyone choosing sides.
The next time it gets fun is when the Roman legionary turns up to try to reclaim his title and has a sword fight against Asterix. It's part Hamlet, part Zorro, part Cyrano de Bergerac.
Spain vs Gift - Who Won?
Caesar's Gift brings some outsiders into the village and gives our characters the chance to show their flaws. Spain is a more traditional Asterix adventure. As annoying as the little Spanish kid is, Asterix in Spain has more going for it visually, is funnier, and is the one going through to the next round.