|Asterix and the Secret Weapon
(La Rose et le Glaive)
|Date of publication||1991|
|Preceded by||Asterix and the Magic Carpet|
|Followed by||Asterix and Obelix All at Sea|
Asterix and the Secret Weapon is the twenty-ninth volume of the Asterix comic book series and the fifth by Albert Uderzo alone. It parodies feminism, gender-equality/relationships, and military secrets.
The story begins when a female bard named Bravura is being hired by the women of the village, who think that Cacofonix is giving their children a poor education. Upon hearing this, Cacofonix secludes himself in the forest nearby. When Bravura arrives, the women are stunned by her singing and the men laugh at it; much to her annoyance. Over the next few days, Bravura exhorts Impedimenta (and later other village women) to resist the authority of her husband. Impedimenta then quarrels with Vitalstatistix, who joins Cacofonix in the forest. Impedimenta is then made chief by the women, while the men do not dare vote against their wives.
Meanwhile, Julius Caesar, to take over the village, sends his agent Manlius Claphamomnibus, with orders to bring the "secret weapon" over the ocean discreetly. At the village, Bravura's reforms spread discord among all the locals. Asterix, troubled by all of this from the start, is met by Bravura, who offers to marry him and assume joint chieftainship; whereupon Asterix accuses her of coming to the village to seize power. When she kisses him, Asterix hits her out of reflex, but feels shame and regret immediately after. For striking a woman, Impedimenta expels Asterix from the village; when Getafix objects to this, Bravura insults him. Immediately, Getafix and the other village men join Vitalstatistix in the forest.
Claphamomnibus's ship lands at Gaul, and he reveals the secret weapon: female legionaries, whom the Gaulish men would refuse to fight for fear of being dishonored. Asterix, when he learns of this, is sent to warn the village women of the threat, whereupon the women supply him and Obelix with warm clothes for their husbands. Bravura tries to meet the women as an ambassador, but she is refused, and Claphamomnibus insults her. At this, Asterix approaches Bravura with a plan. His initial step is to have Cacofonix sing onomatopoeia in the forest, causing rain and scaring all animals (in one scene exposing a dragon), which in turn terrifies the female Roman scout parties. When the Roman women eventually attack the village, Bravura converts the village into a shopping mall where the women buy clothes and get their hair and makeup done. In the meantime, the men of the village defeat the male soldiers stationed around the village; and finally, Cacofonix sings again to expel the women. Julius Caesar is made the laughing stock of Rome, and Bravura leaves for Lutetia, reconciled with Asterix.