Recap / Asterix and the Black Gold
For the twenty-sixth Asterix
volume, Uderzo turns a satirical eye to both the Middle East and spy stories.
Getafix anxiously waits for Ekonomikrisis the Phoenician tradesman to arrive, because he needs some rock oil for the magic potion. As it turns out he forgot to bring it along with him, causing Getafix to go mad with anger and suffer a heart attack in the process. After calming down a bit he explains the situation and Asterix and Obelix decide to travel along with Ekonomikrisis to Judea (Israel/Palestine nowadays) to get the urgently needed fluid. Meanwhile, a Roman spy named Doubleosix travels along with them, disguised as a druid, trying to sabotage the mission...
- All Jews Are Ashkenazi: In 50BC.
- The Bible: This story has several Biblical references. Note that Asterix' adventures take place four or five decades before the year of Jesus' birth.
- Ekonomikrisis sails the Gauls to Judea as he gave his word back in Gaul and tells them triumphantly: "The Promised Land!"
- Asterix and Obelix spent the night in a stable in Bethlehem.
- Pontius Pilate is seen, irritating Doubleosix with his irritating habit of "washing his hands."
- Saul ben Ephishul mentions the story of David and Goliath.
- Call-Back: Ekonomikrisis still dupes people into becoming the ship's rowers, only instead of lying contracts, it's Metaphorically True pitches.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Sure they were the villains, but seeing Doubleosix and Surreptitius smeared with honey and about to be stung to death by bees is a rather graphic image for an Asterix comic. Usually we just hear a bad guy's going to be thrown to the lions for his failure, not seeing it the second before it happens...
- Fly in the Soup: The Roman espionage communicates through a trained fly. And it impressively always delivers messages by crash landing on soup plates.
- When the oil is accidentally spilled into the ocean a sea bird gets the entire fluid sprayed upon him. He then shouts back: "Oh no! Don't tell me you're starting already!", referencing the oil tanker spills in the 20th century (and beyond) - more specifically, the Amoco Cadiz one in 1978, as the narration even mentions "the first oil spill in Brittany".
- The fights between Sumerians, Assyrians, Hittites and Medes reference the conflicts in the Middle East today.
- Instant Messenger Pigeon: The delivery fly.
- Interspecies Romance: Evoking how Doubleosix's inspiration is a Chick Magnet, the delivery fly is totally enamored of him (too bad he finds her annoying).
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: Ultimately, Asterix fails to bring back any rock juice for Getafix, which doesn't matter as the druid found a replacement ingredient after some experimenting.
- The character of Saul Ben Ephishul is drawn to look like René Goscinny, who had died a few years earlier. It was one of several tributes Albert Uderzo paid to his friend in the Asterix books after taking over as writer.
- Doubleosix is a caricature of Sean Connery and a Shout-Out to both the James Bond and Mission: Impossible series (the fact he wakes up Getafix by giving him Caledonian grain liqueur - i.e. Scotch whisky - even evokes Connery's homeland). His companion in Rome, Surreptitius, is a caricature of actor Bernard Blier.
- Pontius Pilate is a caricature of actor Jean Gabin.
- While trying to climb over a wall in Jerusalem Doubleosix drops himself on the ground and pretends being hurt in order to alarm Roman troops. Asterix tells him to quit "wailing next to that wall", a reference to the Wailing Wall.
- Vacation Episode: Asterix and Obelix travel to Judea, aka Israel.