... smaller jabs at political or social issues, in the mere form of throwaway anachronistic winks. ...
Always loved those :) I think it was Asterix and the Chieftain's Shield perhaps (not sure) where in one panel, as Asterix and Obelix are walking past an aqueduct under construction, Asterix makes a comment about how the Romans are ruining the landscape with their modern buidlings :D
They are usually as discreet as they are deep or heartbreaking. In "The Mansions of the Gods", the Gauls manage to protect their forest against a huge commercial architectural complex (promoted by a double-page leaflet that reminds me of the double-page touristic prospectus middle in Tintin's "Ottokar scepter"). They eventually destroy the construction and re-grow the trees, but at the end, as they stand contemplatively in front of the ruins, Asterix asks "O Druid Getafix, do you think we can always stop the course of events as we have just done ?". The druids answers "Of course not, Asterix". And adds in the next panel "But we still have time, plenty of time". That is so melancholic, for anyone in the 20th/21st century with a bit of ecological sensitivity.
Another kind of vertigo happens in the end of "The Great Crossing", as Asterix and Obelix come back from their grand accidental adventure in the Americas. Getafix wonders where they got lost, and Asterix dismissively mentions "some kind of island, over there", showing the horizon. In the next panel, Getafix is shown scrutinizing the west, thoughful, mumbling "Over there... A kind of island... well well well...". He's the only one realising the oddity and significance of it, sensing a mystery that would change the world 1500 years afterwards. But it's just one short frame, it's implicit, it's not heavy-handed. It's just passing by. But I find it striking, and deep. Suddenly grounding the "what if" story in a historical perspective through the least naive character.
Lots of little moments like that. Getafix coming back from an annual conference, mentionning that druid Statistix offered interesting insights on the future of their profession.
But again, you also have whole albums hammering on that stuff. Like "Obelix and Co" on economics, social-fabric-shattering individual profit, speculation and consumering... driven by a caricature of young Jacques Chirac. Ah, lots to say, on the underlying worldviews in those comics. Peyo and Delporte's Smurfs, in their first ten albums, were also interestingly loaded with social satire, in a somewhat similar way. Thanks to having a village's micro-society as a character in itself.
But yes, you could arge that both Tintin and Asterix are more grounded in reality than each other. Asterix by anchoring itself in genuine contemporary politics and societal issues, through its cartoonish fantasy caricature. Tintin by aiming at realism in terms of graphics and characters. Both relate to reality in very different ways, thematically or stylistically. In that sense, Goscinny belongs more to the "Marcinelle school" of the Journal de Spirou (more about laidback, absurdist, and poetic fantasy) than to the "Brussels school" of the Journal de Tintin (more about respectability and realistic educative traditionnal art), even though he's been hired by "Tintin" to compensate this image of seriousness (and later ended up doing his own stuff with the "Pilote" journal, developing more adult humour). Different worlds, different sensitivities. I love them all. And I love the history of french/belgian comics from the 40s to the 80s. So filled with completely opposed ways of being awesome.
Hergé's realism allows for very impactful humour, because it's very relatable. Goscinny's absurdism (or, elsewhere, Delporte's militant poetry) is served better by Uderzo's incredible art - his over-expressive bodily attitudes are unmatched, not even Gotlib get close (and Greg, or Turk/DeGroot push it too far beyond materiality - Uderzo still makes you feel the weight of his drawings). But when it comes to physical humour, no surprise, I still consider Franquin the best.
Franquin is the best at everything.