It may have taken six decades for it to happen, but it finally has. The Adventures of Asterix comics finally welcomed its first-ever female hero in November, 2019, and fans can’t get enough of her. In the latest book (Album 38), titled Asterix and the Chieftain’s Daughter, readers are introduced to a feisty, young, energetic and defiant teenager named Adrenaline. The daughter of Gaul chieftain, Vercingetorix, with her braided red hair and headphones flung around her neck, Adrenaline is perceived to be quite the rebel. Having been sent away to hide from the Romans who have captured and defeated her father and are now out to get her, she has been kept under the protection of our two favourite Gauls, the teeny powerhouse, Asterix, and his giant, wild boar-eating sidekick, Obelix.
What started off as a French comic created by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo in 1959, the Asterix comics have gone from being a French pop culture phenomenon to a global one. Reflecting the story of David and Goliath, the books follow Asterix and Obelix, who are the guardians of a little Gaulish village in the middle of the mighty Roman Empire, which they tirelessly fight. One can’t help but marvel at the duo who take on the empire and always manage to outwit it. It helps that the Druid, Getafix (read: Get-a-fix), concocts potions that give Asterix great powers, and that Obelix fell into the potion when he was young, giving him everlasting strength. The comics have sold 370 million copies worldwide and have been translated into dozens of languages, including Hindi. It has been a favourite of both the boomers and millennials, who have grown to love it for all its eccentricities, including and especially, its wordplay with character names which often are descriptors of the characters. Now, in what seems to be a move to engage with Gen Z and carry forward the series’ 60-year-old legacy, writer Jean-Yves Ferri and illustrator Didier Conrad created Adrenaline, a character that is nothing like the rest of the Gauls. She isn’t a sexualised, decorative female character — a well worn stereotype. From language to demeanour, Adrenaline’s character is that of an honest teenage girl — confused, rebellious, intelligent, quick witted and ambitious (as Gen Z seems to be).
However, with her arrival, comes a conundrum that the creators must acknowledge. Adernaline didn’t need any saving. In fact, she doesn’t even like the violence that the comic is full of. So, what do the guardians of the Gauls do now? Only time will tell if the comic goes back to its old tropes of Asterix saving the day alongside his trusty Man Friday. But for now, step aside Asterix and Obelix, Adrenaline can look after herself. And, by Jupiter, are we excited to see what she does next!
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