Chapter 33. Asterix and the Falling Sky

Rene Goscinny

Albert Uderzo

English Translations: Anthea Bell & Derek Hockridge


Two rival outer space alien ships appear above the Gaulish village. The evil aliens Nagma want to know the secret of the great weapon the Gauls have, which is "known throughout the universe", in order to conquer more planets. However a Tadilsvian called Toon comes to the village with the mission to destroy the weapon.
A break with the more or less historical setting in previous albums. The aliens are styled on the Walt Disney and Marvel Comics superheroes of the American comic book style on one side, and futuristic robot and insect-like Japanese manga style on the other. Arguably, the most politically controversial Asterix book. The book caused a controversy when it was released. It was perceived as having an anti-Bush (, Geroge W.) and anti-American message possibly because it was released in the year following the controversial invasion of Iraq by America for supposed possession of weapons of mass destruction.

Table 33.1. Asterix and the Falling Sky - Annotations

Page, Panel Comment
Page 0, Panel 0 Dedication to Bruno Uderzo. This is probably the only Asterix book dedicated to someone.
Page 2, Panel 10 Notice Dogmatix looking at the cockerel. See Asterix and the Class Act
Page 6, Panel 5 Tadsilweny: An anagram of 'Walt Disney'
Page 6, Panel 6 "Shrinking violet" = (informal) A shy or retiring person. (alt.) A reference to the DC comic book Superhero of the same name.
Page 6, Panel 8 "Take the Mickey" = To tease, to ridicule. Also shortened to take the mick. An abbreviated form of the Cockney rhyming slang take the mickey bliss, meaning 'take the piss'. The usage here is also a reference to Mickey Mouse — a popular character of Walt Disney.
Page 7, Panel 1 Superclone = A caricature of Superman. Interestingly, in the case of Superman, his super abilities come from Earth's gravity being weaker than on Krypton. In the case of Superclone, Earth's gravity is said to be stronger than on Tadsilweny. The face is a caricature of Arnold Schwarzenegger known for his action films.
Page 8, Panel 4 "Reclone him,..., as either a spider or a bat superclone" = A reference to two other popular superheros — Spiderman and Batman.
Page 8, Panel 6 "You able do me little favour" = I think this pidgin English is intentional. Obelix never speaks in such ungrammatical tongue usually.
Page 8, Panel 6 "Big girl's tunica" = Even though this is footnoted, it is not really clear what this means. ???
Page 9, Panel 6 "If I had a hammer" = The Hammer Song (words and music by Lee Hays and Pete Seeger)
Page 13, Panel 2 "all spaced out" = Spaced Out is a little-known Canadian animated series about the Martins — a family from Earth living in a space station-clad neighbourhood, which is built and owned by a mysterious "Krach" corporation. The whole station is a gigantic experiment made by Krach — its inhabitants are isolated from the outside world and are from time to time a unconscious subject of corporation's marketing; "a galaxy of 50 stars" = a reference to the 50 stars in the US flag representing the 50 states.
Page 13, Panel 4 "Galactic council of the wise" = A reference to the United Nations.
Page 13, Panel 4 "the Nagmas" = An anagram of 'Mangas'. Manga (literally meaning 'Involuntary sketches') is the Japanese term for 'comic book' or graphic novel.
Page 17, Panel 1 "planet Gmana" = Another anagram of 'Manga'.
Page 22, Panel 9 Notice the Mickey Mouse-ears on the Cyberats.
Page 34, Panel 2 "Nihil conveniens decretis eius" = ???
Page 36, Panel 1 "Anacreontic" = Celebrating love and drinking. After Anacreon, a Greek poet in the 6th century BCE, noted for his songs in praise of love and wine. The US national anthem 'The Star-Spangled Banner' is set to the tune of the English song 'To Anacreon in Heaven' which was the 'constitutional song' of the Anacreontic Society, a gentlemen's music club in London.
Page 44, Panel 5 "Doo aah diddy diddy diddy doo" = Reference to the song "Doo aah diddy diddy" originally performed by Manfred Mann.

Table 33.2. Asterix and the Falling Sky - Names

Name (in order of appearance) Comment
Polyantus Primula polyantha — florists' primroses; considered a complex hybrid derived from oxlip, cowslip, and common primrose.
Toon A popular shortening of the word Cartoon.
Hubs An anagram of Bush.
Akoaotaki Anagram of Takao Aoki, author and creator of the Manga "Beyblade".