Thursday, January 20, 2011

Benedict Steelbreaker

Benoît Brisefer (French for "Benedict Steelbreaker") is a Belgian comic strip created in 1960 by Peyo (best known for the Smurfs) about a little boy whose peaceful, innocent appearance, charm and good manners covers his possession of superhuman strength similar to that of Asterix. Since Peyo's death it has been continued by other artists and writers. Parts of the series have been published in a number of languages around the world.

Benoît Brisefer is a blond-haired little boy who always wears a beret, a blue scarf, a red jacket and black shorts. He is very polite, honest and well-mannered, works hard at school and likes to help people in need. He hates crime and injustice and has an intense dislike for firearms.

What makes him really exceptional, though, is that he possesses superhuman strength: he can lift tremendous weights, leap huge distances and run extremely fast. However, if he catches a cold he loses his strength and becomes "the well-behaved little boy that every parent would love to have."

Benoît lives in the little town of Vivejoie-la-Grande (French for "Big-Lovejoy"). No mention is ever made of him having parents or guardians of any kind. His last Peyo-written adventure, Le Fétiche, showed that a lady called Madam Minou took care of his house and served him his breakfast, but lives in another part of town. Other than that, his only known relative is his Uncle Placide whom he sometimes stays with during the holidays.
One curious thing about Benoît's abilities is that his adult friends are completely ignorant of him: they always have their backs turned when he uses his strength and fail to believe him when he tries to tell them about it, simply muttering "Of course, Benoît, of course". On the other hand, adult enemies, such as crooks, spies and gangsters, learn to their cost what happens when they try to attack a seemingly harmless little boy who follows a quick punch with a morale taught to him by his teacher: "The schoolmistress always says that you should not attack people who are smaller than yourself". 
A certain amount of pathos was included in the early adventures in that Benoît was unable to make friends his own age. His strength meant that he kept unintentionally breaking the other kids' toys: simply kicking a ball would cause it to burst. Later stories played down this aspect of his character, with Benoît making friends and he and other children enjoying a good time at summer camp.

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