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Recap / Asterix and the Great Divide

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The Great Divide is the first Asterix album to be fully handled by Albert Uderzo (both writing and drawing) after the death of René Goscinny, and evokes the Berlin Wall.

The twenty-fifth Asterix volume, the first to be written as well as drawn by Albert Uderzo, opens in a Gaulish village whose inhabitants are divided by a large ditch and a dispute in the leadership. The left half support Cleverdix, and the right half follow Majestix. All attempts to settle the argument fail, leaving Cleverdix's son Histrionix and Majestix's daughter Melodrama, who are in love with each other, to lament their plight. However, Codfix, Majestix's right-hand man, claims to have a solution; if he gets Melodrama's hand in marriage, he'll get the local Romans to aid Majestix. While Majestix isn't too keen on Roman interference, he agrees if the Romans will back off afterwards. Melodrama informs Histrionix of this, and on the advice of his father, Histrionix goes to Asterix's village for help. Learning of the plight, Asterix, Obelix, and Getafix agree to protect the village from the Romans and help resolve the divide.

Codfix goes to the local Legionary camp, and learns that there's a labor shortage. He offers the Centurion Cleverdix and his followers as slaves in exchange for making Majestix chief of their village. While not wanting to break the Pax Romana, the centurion gives in. Asterix's crew and the Romans arrive at the village at the same time, but Majestix is outraged when he learns of the deal Codfix struck, and declares that no Gauls shall be Roman slaves. Angry at what he perceives to be a false promise, the centurion has Majestix and his men taken as prisoners, except for Codfix, who remained in hiding.

Asterix, Obelix, and Getafix decide to infiltrate the Roman camp, since they're not as well known in these parts, and offer themselves up as slaves. The sentry makes the mistake of calling Obelix fat and gets his lights punched out. Luckily, Getafix has a healing potion ready - it not only heals wounds, but also makes the taker forget what injured them. However, the druid absent-mindedly leaves the bottle on the grass, and Codfix, who followed the heroes secretly, scoops it up. In the camp, Getafix brews a "Gaulish Soup", and Centurion, suspecting poison, has Majestix and his men sample it. Of course, the soup is Magic Potion and the camp is in ruins shortly after. Once the heroic Gauls have left, the decidedly unheroic Codfix gives the Centurion the healing potion, causing the Roman to forget their injuries or who Codfix is. When he sees the damaged camp, the centurion believes that the Gauls have made an unprovoked attack, and decides to retaliate.

At the Divided Village, Getafix brews a second cauldron of Magic Potion, and it is placed in a house built over the ditch (or, rather, a house through which the ditch was built!), with Asterix placed on guard duty. At night, though, Codfix sneaks into the village and takes Asterix by surprise, knocking our hero out and stealing the cauldron. The next morning, the Romans, having taken the Magic Potion, begin their assault. However, the mixture of different potions in their bodies have side-effects, causing them to inflate like balloons and then shrink in size. The Romans flee, but in the chaos Codfix has kidnapped Melodrama, leaving a note demanding a ransom of one hundred pounds of gold for her safety. With Dogmatix sniffing out the trail, Asterix, Obelix, and Histrionix go to the rescue.

The trail leads to a river, where Codfix and Melodrama have met up with the Pirates, having given up on deep-sea looting. It doesn't take long before a fight between Histrionix and Codfix breaks out, though with their potion-powered strength only the ship is damaged. However, Codfix's magic strength runs out just before Histrionix, and the deceitful Gaul is punched all the way into the Legionary camp, whose Centurion has not forgotten the fishy Gaul this time.

Back at the village, the celebration of Melodrama's safe return is soured by the dispute of leadership. The two would-be chiefs have a duel to decide things, with Asterix as referee, but they're so evenly matched that it goes on through the night. Come morning, both men have fallen asleep standing up, but Asterix has a compromise - Histrionix shall be chief, with Melodrama as his wife! Everyone approves, and with the dispute settled, Majestix and Cleverdix become friends. The nearby river is diverted to fill the divide, the Star-Crossed Lovers have their wedding, and Codfix, most fittingly, has become the Roman camp's sole drudge, doing menial chores. All of them.

This album has examples of:

  • Animal Motif: Codfix looks like A Running Gag is the constant allusions to fish.
  • Balcony Wooing Scene: Melodrama sends a message to Histrionix asking him to meet her at her balcony at night. She's initially only does it so she can warn him about Codfix's plan to bring the Romans in, but the scene turns romantic and she kisses Histrionix for the full Romeo and Juliet (complete with quote of "Histrionix, Histrionix wherefore art thou Histrionix" first).
  • The Bard on Board: This story has many allusions to Romeo and Juliet. Even lampshaded when Obelix, after hearing Histrionix's story, bursts into tears;
    Obelix: Sniff! I get all upset by love stories with unhappy endings! Sniff!
    Asterix: But this story's only just beginning, and if Chief Vitalstatistix will let us, we're going to help Histrionix solve his problems!
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: One important part of the story is the love story between the attractive Histrionix and Melodrama. Meanwhile, the bad guy, Codfix is Obviously Evil to the viewers because of his non-standard ugly design that gives him green-ish skin and a fish-like face.
  • Body Horror: G-rated, but still; due to drinking both the healing potion and magic potion at the same time, the Roman soldiers first inflate like balloons, and then shrink in size. Fortunately for them, it wears off eventually.
  • Bound and Gagged: Melodrama briefly.
  • Combat by Champion: Melodrama yells at the chiefs to fight each other for the chieftainship instead of the villagers; the subsequent battle lasts until sunrise the next day and ends with a draw.
  • Damsel in Distress: Melodrama towards the end, where Codfix kidnaps her and holds her ransom.
  • Double Meaning: When Asterix, Obelix, and Getafix claim to be offering themselves as slaves to the Romans and promise to cook them a meal to show them their skills, Getafix' description of the menu is basically one long coded speech for "We're going to thump the hell out of you." Obelix doesn't catch on until the violence actually begins.
    Getafix: For starters, a fortifying soup.note  The meat course... a really nice cut! Say chump chop, stewed in your... I mean, in its own juice. And we won't make a hash of it. If you fancy poultry, we can cook your goose for you! Game for anything? Then grouse and quail. After that, you get your desserts: a fool, well beaten, perhaps some instant whip, and a few raspberries. All washed down with the Gaulish beer we call wallop... it packs quite a punch!
  • Everyone Has Standards: Codfix offered Cleverdix's supporters to the Romans as slaves, but Majestix will not have any Gauls be slaves to Romans, even to become chief. Similarly, Cleverdix isn't comfortable with becoming chief after Majestix and his lot are captured, and when Codfix briefly abducts Melodrama, Cleverdix offers his rival his sincere condolences for his current loss.
  • Evil Chancellor: Codfix. He is the stereotype of a leader's right-hand advisor who appears loyal but plots against his master.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Majestix, to the point where it's tempting to say that Cleverdix was the more qualified to be chief of the village, simply because he wasn't dumb enough to have anyone like Codfix as an advisor.
  • Hour of Power: Codfix drinks some of the magic potion when stealing it from the village, and Asterix offers Histrionix a sip of potion in anticipation of confronting Codfix after he abducts Melodrama the following morning. After their duel has caused serious damage to the pirate ship where they were fighting, Codfix's dose of potion wears off while Histrionix still has superhuman strength, leaving Histrionix to punch his foe so hard that Codfix is sent flying from the river to the heart of the Roman camp some distance away.
  • Identical Panel Gag: Of the Book Ends sort; the beginning and end of the story have some kids picking apples from the hanging branch of a tree, while an old man protests from the other side of the ditch. The two panels are absolutely identical, dialog included, except that in the second, the ditch is filed with water.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Sort of. Histrionix looked at Asterix's village and envied that it was much more peaceful and the people living in perfect harmony... only to be greeted by a fish flying to his face and he witnessed a in-village brawl that happened only occasionally and much lighter than what his two villages experienced. It was more harmonious than his and Melodrama's villages, but not perfectly harmonious.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Codfix bribes the Legion army with the promise of having the other half of the village serve the Legion as slaves. After the village has been saved from the Romans, Codfix ends up becoming the camp's one and only slave.
  • Made a Slave: Codfix's ultimate fate, not that he didn’t deserve it.
  • Obviously Evil: Codfix. He has a pale, deformed face and is stated to smell of fish.
  • Only Sane Man: Histrionix and Melodrama seem to be the only people on either side of the ditch who think that the current situation is stupid and want it resolved for more reasons than just settling the contest between their fathers, with everyone else just trading pointless insults with the other side.
  • Reused Character Design: Melodrama has a strong resemblance to Panacea (albeit more expressive), while Histrionix is basically Tragicomix with a mustache (though Tragicomix would later get a more distinct redesign in Asterix and the Actress). Oddly, early printings of the book give Melodrama copper-red hair in the first few pages, only for her to suddenly acquire the same blonde hair as Panacea by the time Asterix and Obelix arrive at the village.
  • Separated by the Wall: A Gaulish village is divided by a large ditch, with two lovers from the separate sides divided. Author Albert Uderzo has said he was inspired by the Berlin Wall, which still stood at the time this album was written.
  • Shout-Out: Majestix strikes the famous Louis XIV pose and says: "I am the village", a paraphrase of the quote attributed to Louis XIV: "I am the state."
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Histrionix and Melodrama.
  • Take a Third Option: When even a duel fails to settle things, Asterix decides that the chief of the united village will be Histrionix, with Melodrama as his wife. Everyone approves.
  • You Wouldn't Hit A Guy With Glasses: Codfix tries to invoke the principle of this when he and Histrionix are fighting on board the pirate ship and the magic potion Codfix drank has worn off while Histrionix retains his superhuman strength. In response to Codfix's pleas for mercy, Histronix hits Codfix so hard that he's sent flying through the air and crash-lands in the middle of the centurion's tent.