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Recap / Asterix and the Black Gold

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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 stroke in the process. After recovering thanks to some Caledonian liquor, 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...


  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: The Pirate captain literally falls onto his knees and begs Asterix and Obelix not to sink his ship this time, since he hasn't even fully paid for it yet. Asterix agrees, on condition that the pirates buy all of Ekonomikrisis' cargo.
  • All Jews Are Ashkenazi: In 50BC. Asterix is surprised the Jewish merchant Samson Alius is willing to cause so much mischief for the Romans given that his name sounds Roman. Alius responds that "Alius" is just a name he came up with for business purposes,note  his real name is the improbably Ashkenazi-sounding "Rosenblumenthalvitch" (which is derived from Germanic).
  • 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.
  • The Bus Came Back: Ekonomikrisis the merchant returns after having last been seen in Asterix the Gladiator. Again, he gives Asterix and Obelix a ride to their destination and back.
  • Call-Back: Ekonomikrisis still dupes people into becoming the ship's rowers, only instead of lying contracts, it's Metaphorically True pitches.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: At the end, when Asterix asks that, in future, Getafix conduct his experiments to change the magic potion’s recipe before sending him and Obelix on an arduous quest for a lost ingredient.
  • 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. Then again, considering this is still an Asterix comic, they'll probably just end up covered in lumps.
  • Deus ex Machina: Not revealed until the very end of the story to Asterix, Obelix and the readers; with some experimentation, Getafix was able to substitute beetroot juice for rock oil in the recipe for the magic potion. And just in time before the Romans conquered the village.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The fights between Sumerians, Assyrians, Hittites and Medes reference the conflicts in the Middle East today.
  • Externally Validated Prophecy: When the oil is accidentally spilled into the ocean a sea bird gets the entire fluid sprayed upon them. The bird 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".
  • Fly in the Soup: The Roman espionage communicates through a trained fly. And it impressively always delivers messages by crash landing on soup plates.
  • Forgot About His Powers: Or rather, forgot about their powers. When he sees the pirates, Ekonomikrisis once more panicks and fears for his merchandise, despite having Asterix and Obelix with him on board, and knowing full well from their previous journey together that they can perfectly handle the pirates.
  • Idiot Ball: Asterix and Obelix successfully found petroleum despite interference from the Romans and have captured their Roman spy, Doubleosix. On their return journey, Asterix boast about their upcoming victory in front of Doubleosix who isn't restrained at all. Doubleosix take the opportunity to jump on Asterix and wrestle the waterskin containing the black oil. During the brawl, Obelix joins the fight and the black oil is accidentally lost at sea. You think someone as clever as Asterix would have kept Doubleosix chained and below the boat's deck. All this to create a drama that our heroes failed at their mission and the village is about to be razed by the Romans (Earlier, Doubleosix has secretly leaked the information that the Gauls can no longer make the magic potion to Caesar.)
  • 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).
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Obelix falls on the skin of rock oil, spilling it into the ocean just as their ship is about to reach home. Fortunately, Getafix found a substitute ingredient while they were away.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: If Doubleosix had done the job Caesar hired him for, and immediately informed Caesar the Gauls could no longer make magic potion the moment he found out, the Romans could have conquered the village before Getafix had the chance to find another way to make magic potion. Instead, he keeps this information to himself since he wants to find out the full recipe of the magic potion first, and doesn't tell Caesar until both he and Surreptitius are taken captive by Asterix and Obelix, and the two Gauls have obtained the rock juice they needed. By then however, it's already too late for the Romans, as Getafix has found a new ingredient for the potion anyway.
  • Nobody Here but Us Statues: Doubleosix is introduced disguised as a statue in Caesar's palace, while covered entirely in gray dust. It's surprisingly effective.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The story starts with Getafix acting very oddly, culminating in him losing his shit, beating up Ekonomikrisis and suffering a heart attack - all because he couldn't get any rock oil. This is justified by the reveal that it's one of the ingredients of the magic potion, and Getafix has ran out of both oil and potion.
  • This Page Will Self-Destruct: The scroll Surreptitius gives to Doubleosix when he sets out for Gaul, and which contains his instructions, catches fire just after he read it.
  • Secret Underground Passage: Ekonomikrisis has one inside his store. It leads to a secret cellar at the harbor where he keeps most of his stock, so the Romans won't tax him for it.
  • "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.
  • Shout-Out:
    • 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.
  • The Starscream: Both Doubleosix and Surreptitius. Surreptitius instructs Doubleosix not to give the formula of the magic potion to Caesar once he obtains it, but keep it so they can use it to overthrow Caesar. Doubleosix then reveals (though only to the reader) he has no intention to share with Surreptitius and plans to keep the potion entirely for himself.
  • True Companions: While Obelix could just stay in the village and have freedom to beat up every Roman that comes to attack them by himself, he chooses instead to go along and help Asterix on his quest, valuing Asterix having an ally over having a good fight.
  • Vacation Episode: Asterix and Obelix travel to Judea, aka Israel.

“These Judeans are Crazy!”