The third Asterix volume is the first one in which the heroes leave Gaul's borders, as Goscinny and Uderzo turn a particularly vicious satirical eye to France's wartime enemy, Germany.
Getafix leaves for the druids conference in the forest of Carnutes. Since the road could be dangerous, Asterix and Obelix go along as an escort. Meanwhile, a group of Goth barbarians enter Gaul and attack a Roman patrol. They're also going to the forest of Carnutes, planning to kidnap one of the druids there.
At the conference, Getafix shows off his magic potion and wins the top prize. The Goths quickly kidnap him. When their druid doesn't leave the forest, Asterix and Obelix become worried and start looking. Finding a visigoth helmet lying in the grass, they realize what has happened. However, an encounter with some legionnaires causes the two Gauls to be mistaken for the Goths, and soon the local Romans are looking for the duo while ignoring the very obvious Goths trekking towards Germania.
Both Goths and Gauls enter Germania. While Asterix and Obelix pose as Goths and end up falling in with a Gothic company, Getafix is taken to the Goth leader Metric. Metric demands for the druid's magic through interpreter Rhetoric, promising that if Getafix refuses, Rhetoric will die with him. Naturally Getafix refuses, and Rhetoric lies that Getafix agrees, buying a week to escape. Along the way, Rhetoric bumps into Asterix and Obelix and all three are brought before Metric. It's here that Getafix reveals that he can speak Gothic, and that Rhetoric was lying to Metric. The four (Asterix, Obelix, Getafix, and Rhetoric) are thrown into the dungeons, awaiting public execution. Getafix has a plan to throw Germania into chaos, and asks for the ingredients to the magic potion, under the ruse of final meal. Rhetoric is powered up, and uses his strength to overthrow Metric. The Gauls then go on to give magic potion to Metric and other Goths, creating what are known as the Asterixian Wars. With the Goths busy fighting each other, they will be of no threat to Gaul, and our heroes leave for home.
Tropes present in this work:
- Always Chaotic Evil: The Goths.
- Artistic License History:
- Valueaddetax pulls fries out of boiling oil to demonstrate his anesthetic, even though potatoes had not reached Europe yet.
- Goths didn't live yet in Germany and never did. Historical Goths in 50 BCE actually should have lived in Central Europe (Poland). The German tribes who at the time lived next to the Gauls were more similar to Franks, ironically those folks from whom modern France takes its name.
- Bad Boss: Kuningaz Metric.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: You wanted to see Getafix' magic, Metric? By Tīwaz, you got to!
- Beleaguered Boss: Provides the trope image. Asterix and Obelix pull a Mugged for Disguise on two Roman soldiers (who think they're the invading Goths). When news gets around that the Goths are disguised as legionnaires, they start arresting each other for the reward (and since the Gauls have since gone back to their own clothes, they aren't bothered by the Romans either). The Roman general understandably has a breakdown. In the original French, his name was Nenpeuplus, phonetically meaning "can't take it anymore".
- Bilingual Backfire: Happens to Rhetoric when it's discovered Getafix can speak Gothic.
- Characterization Marches On: Getafix has strangely little to no concern for Rhetoric, who is understandably afraid of being killed alongside him if he refuses to make magic potion. Getafix in later albums would act more understanding.
- Darker and Edgier: The tone is darker than previous comics, as Getafix is kidnapped by a hostile tribe. Goths are not depicted as humorously as the Romans and Getafix tricks them into a civil war with little empathy for them, something that he didn't in all the other comics.
- Dressing as the Enemy: Asterix and Obelix do this twice; first as legionnaires, and then as Goths.
- Early Installment Weirdness: While the Asterix books usually depict a foreign country/culture all in good fun with sympathetic locals, this early one basically has the Goths as Always Chaotic Evil, and the Gauls have no qualms with letting them hurt or kill each other.
- Enemy Civil War: Getafix decides that the best way to protect Gaul from a Goth invasion is to instigate a civil war between the Goths, and does so with liberal distribution of magic potion.
- Have a Gay Old Time: In the French version, Getafix asks for "un druide debile" to demonstrate his potion of strength. "Debile" used to mean weak and feeble, but nowadays is used almost exclusively to mean "dumbass" or even "retard."
- Henpecked Husband: When we meet Euphoric, his wife is yelling at him to go on an errand.
- Historical In-Joke: Getafix mentions at the end that the Goths are now too busy to fight between themselves to think about invading Gaul before a few centuries. In 1870 Bismarck unified Germany under the leadership of Prussia mainly through a war with France. For that matter, the scene where all the Roman soldiers suspect each other for espionage, taking turns in betraying each other, can easily be interpreted as a Cold War joke, because of the constant fear of East Bloc infiltration.
- National Stereotypes: The Goths (Germans) are depicted as obese, militaristic war mongers.
- No Name Given: Three of the rival kuningōz.
- Sequel Episode: Getafix mentioned the upcomming druid conference at the forest of Carnutes in the previous album, and this was the main reason he needed a new golden sickle fast. This story starts with him going to the conference.
- Sinister Silhouettes: The Darker and Edgier tone is instantly set with the Goths being shown only with their shadows lingering on the border with Gaul, and Asterix staring grimly at them.
- The Starscream: At least nine of them. To be fair Getafix is deliberately looking for subservient, bullied potential rivals.
- Surrounded by Idiots: Poor Cantankerous, after his troops start accusing each other of being Goths: "They're all quite thick, and I'm their leader! (Sob! Sob!)"
- Symbol Swearing: Explained as Gaulish and Gothic cuss words, and handily translated in the text boxes.
- Tactful Translation: Each time Getafix refuses Metric's order to brew the magic potion for them, Rhetoric translates his answer as "Yes" to avoid angering his boss (and being executed alongside him). Getafix, who speaks perfect Gothic, finally snaps and tells Metric that Rhetoric has been lying to him.
- Take That!: The Goths (Germans) in this story are represented as purely villains. This story was drawn only 20 years after the end of World War II when anti-German sentiment was still strong. Uderzo apologized for this one-dimensional portrayal and in later Asterix stories Germans are shown far more sympathically.
- Time Marches On: Asterix talks how the Goths are divided in a Western and Eastern part. Visigoths and Ostrogoths did exist back in Antiquity, but the joke is aimed more at Germany in the 20th century, when it was divided in a Western and Eastern part from 1949 to 1990. Since 1990 Germany has been unified again, making this reference outdated. Another thing that makes this story particularly outdated is the general anti-German atmosphere, typical for post-World War II stories.
- Vacation Episode: This is the first album in which Asterix and Obelix travel to another country, in this case Germania (Germany).
- You Have Failed Me: You Have Failed to Buy Off the Druid, Rhetoric.
- You Keep Using That Word: The Gothic people as such did not exist yet — in fact, there was only one Germanic language in those days.
- These Goths are crazy!