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Recap / Asterix and the Picts

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Asterix and the Picts (Astérix chez les Pictes) is the first Asterix comic book not to be written nor drawn by any of the series' creators (Albert Uderzo, who handled the series on his own since the death of writer René Goscinny in 1977, retired prior to it), with the series now being handled by the new team of Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad. They reprised the "Asterix & Obelix visit a foreign country" satirical tradition, in Scotland this time around.

One winter's day, while searching for oysters, Asterix and Obelix find a young man frozen in ice washed up on the beach. They take him to the druid Getafix, who by the stranger's clothes and tattoos identifies him as a Pict, residents of Northern Caledonia (now Scotland). Getafix is able to restore the man, but the Pict has lost his voice and is unable to express himself, even in sign language; a gold ring clenched in his hand is the only clue to his background story. An only minor complication ensues when a Roman census officer, Limitednumbus, arrives at the village to record the Gauls' activities, which Vitalstatistix allows him to do.

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Even with Getafix's administrations, the young Pict remains unable to talk. One day, he carves out a map on one of Obelix's menhirs leading to his home, and with this clue (and additional enticement provided by the village women's increasing fascination for the handsome young man), Asterix and Obelix are tasked with taking him there, along with some healing elixir for the Pict's throat. As they leave in Unhygenix's fishing boat and encounter (and fight) the pirates, the Pict finally recovers his voice. He introduces himself as Macaroon and tells them how he was ambushed by Maccabaeus, the chief of the Maccabee clan, tied to a log and thrown into the Loch near his home because Maccabeus is longing for the hand of Macaroon's fiancée Camomilla, the adopted daughter of Mac II, late monarch of Caledonia, in order to make himself king of all Picts. In order to consolidate his claim, Maccabaeus has pleaded for an alliance with Rome and secretly invited a Roman legion to his coronation.

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After a playful encounter with Loch Androll's monstrous resident Nessie, who steals the gourd with the elixir, they land and go to visit Macaroon's family. However, Macaroon learns there that Camomilla has been kidnapped by Maccabaeus shortly after his disappearance, and that Maccabaeus is going to be crowned king the next day. Asterix motivates him to challenge Maccabaeus, but Macaroon loses his voice again. Asterix and Obelix go to retrieve the gourd from Nessie, but in the process they stumble upon a tunnel which leads them straight to the Red Picts' dungeon, where Camomilla is kept captive. They rescue her and escape through one of the underground tunnels.

The next day, all the Pict leaders assemble for a voting as to who would become their next king. As Maccabaeus advances with his Roman allies and promotes himself, Macaroon and his family arrive at the island and confront Maccabaeus; but the challenge is declared void because Macaroon has yet to recover the full use of his voice. Through a tunnel emerging right onto the assembly island, Asterix, Obelix and Camomilla arrive at the nick of time to defy Maccabaeus, and the sight of Camomilla restores Macaroon's voice. The Gauls and the Picts unite and fight the Romans and Maccabaeus (with some help from Nessie), crushing them. Maccabaeus and the Roman task force's centurion then suffer the same fate Macaroon did, being chained to a log and tossed into the freezing Caledonian waters, and Macaroon is made king of the Picts.

The Gauls return home in triumph. Meanwhile, Limitednumbus has become frustrated by the constant movement of the Gauls, which does not allow him to count them properly. Obelix is about to tie him to a tree trunk and send him to the Picts, when Asterix reminds him that there is an easy way of counting Gauls: the banquet at the end of the story.


Tropes

  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Maccabaeus has a sickly green skin color. It’s actually lampshaded by Macrobiotix, the druid of Macaroons tribe, who thinks Maccabaeus has a liver disease.
  • Brick Joke: Upon hearing Macaroon's story, Obelix bursts into tears, because he gets so moved by love stories with sad endings. Asterix reminds him that the story isn't over yet, and of course they proceed to reunite the lovers and sort everything out. Whereupon Obelix bursts into tears again - because as it turns out, he gets just as moved by love stories with happy endings!
  • Chick Magnet: Macaroon is quite admired by the women of the village, who find him a welcome change to their oafish Gaulish men.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The Pict clans all have their own distinct color. Macaroons tribe is blue, and Maccabaeus tribe is red.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Impedimenta tells a jealous Vitalstatistix that the pict reminds her of a certain red-headed young warrior who once made her dream. Vitalstatistix completely misses the obvious fact that she is talking about him, and angrily demands to know who this warrior is.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: The men of the village are clearly NOT amused by Macaroon (unintentionally) impressing all their women.
  • Enemy Civil War: On the day of the voting, when the Romans arrive at the island to help the Maccabees, the various Pict clans are already fighting each other. However….
  • Enemy Mine: No sooner have the Romans shown up, or the Pict Macstock convinces all others to stop the fight and unite against the invaders first.
  • Every Episode Ending: Slightly averted; Cacofonix is tied up, but still sitting at the table. He’s quite surprised by Obelix’ tale how the Picts respect their bards.
  • Everything's Louder with Bagpipes: The pict bards use a bagpipe as one of their instruments, and they sure are loud.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: Following an underground tunnel that starts in Nessie’s cave, Asterix and Obelix arrive at the dungeon of the red picts, just in time to overhear some Romans talk about their village. They call Asterix an aggressive dwarf and Obelix a fat fool. No points for guessing how well that ends for them.
  • Excuse Me While I Multitask: Macaroon tells Asterix and Obelix his story while they casually beat up the pirates.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Getafix is so occupied with finding the ingredients for treating Macaroon, he completely misses that Macaroon has thawed out, regained consciousness, and leaves Getafix’ house.
  • Fluffy Tamer: Macaroon’s little brother, Macmini, has a close connection with Nessie. The monster actually comes when summoned by the boy, and listens to him.
  • Foreign Culture Fetish: The Gaulish women are so impressed by Macaroon and his kilt, they adopt the picts’ clothing as a new fashion trend in the village. By the time Asterix and Obelix depart for Caledonia with Macaroon, several of the men in the village are dressed in kilts (much to their chagrin).
  • Harmless Freezing: Being frozen in a block of ice had no ill effects on Macaroon other than a temporal loss of his voice. The same probably cannot be said about Maccabaeus and the centurion at the end of the book.
  • Human Popsicle: Macaroon the Pict is found frozen in a block of ice by Asterix and Obelix at the start of the story. At the end of the story, the same happens to the Roman centurion leading the invasion of Caledonia.
  • Hurricane of Puns: All the Gauls collectively come up with tons of ice and melting related puns once they see the block of ice with Macaroon in it.
  • Irony: A Roman legionary in Caledonia complaints about how he should have picked a cushy job like his cousin Limitednumbus. The next panels shows Limitednumbus being beaten up by Fulliautomatix.
  • Les Collaborateurs: The Maccabees, led by Maccabaeus, ally themselves with the Romans.
  • Man in White: One of the many Pict chieftains attending the voting is completely painted white. He is also absolutely neutral.
  • Mistaken Identity: When returning to his village, Macaroon accidently mistakes his great-uncle Mclaren for his little brother Macmini, and fears he must have been frozen in the ice for years. Fortunately, the misunderstanding is quickly cleared up.
  • Not-So-Innocent Whistle: The pirates look the other way and whistle nervously while their captain tries to talk the Gauls out of beating them up. Later, one of the Picts looks away from Macaroon and whistles when Macaroon asks where his fiance is.
  • The Prophecy: Apparently, Macrobiotix the druid predicted that Macaroon would return, accompanied by two magic Gauls.
  • Shout-Out: When Macaroon begins to recover his voice, he tries to tell his story by making snow statues and yells “Jingle bells”.
  • The Speechless: Macaroon starts out as one due to his time frozen in ice. His attempts to use sign language instead lead to quite a lot of misunderstandings between him and the Gauls. He recovers his voice eventually due to Getafix’ elixir.
  • Stock Ness Monster: With the heroes visiting Scotland, it was inevitable that the Loch Ness monster would show up in some form. Here, Nessie lives in Loch Androll and is the totem animal of Macaroons clan. He playfully attacks the boat the protagonists are in and takes the gourd with Macaroons elixir. Macmini later leads Asterix and Obelix to Nessie’s cave in an attempt to get the gourd back. In the climax, the monster attacks one of the Roman boats, thus preventing the legionaries from assisting the Maccabees. When Asterix and Obelix leave for Gaul again, Nessie shows up one more time to give Asterix back the Gourd, but since he no longer needs it, Asterix throws it back in the lake. A final panel states that Nessies descendants keep looking for it to this day, hence why they sometimes show themselves.
  • Vacation Episode: Asterix and Obelix visit Scotland.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Vitalstatistix stops Obelix from beating up the Roman census officer, Limitednumbus, since the man is just following orders. Later, at the Pict village, Asterix berates Obelix for beating up a musician, since dreadfull as his music may be, the picts might value their bards more than the Gauls value theirs.
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