books

Girl Genius

Agatha Heterodyne and the Bettleburg Clank (2002), Agatha Heterodyne and the Airship City (2004), Agatha Heterodyne and the Monster Engine (2004), Agatha Heterodyne and the Circus of Dreams (2006), Agatha Heterodyne and the Clockwork Princess (), Agatha Heterodyne and the Golden Trilobite (2007), Agatha Heterodyne and the The Voice of the Castle (2008), Agatha Heterodyne and The Heirs of the Storm (2010), Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian Muse (2011), Agatha Heterodyne and the Hammerless Bell (2012), Siege of Mechanicsburg (2013), Agatha Heterodyne and the Sleeping City (2014)

 

Agatha Heterodyne and the Bettleburg Clank (2002) Phil & Kaja Foglio

I came across the Girl Genius comic online, and got completely sucked in. After reading a good bit from the start of the story, I realized that I could purchase this in actual book format, which would be 1) easier to read and 2) support the artists.

So we picked up volumes 1 through 3 at the local comic store, and then ordered 4 through 6 online, because it was a whole lot cheaper that way.

The Girl Genius series is a Steampunk comic. (If you don’t know what Steampunk is, check out that link. I already tried to explain it to my parents this afternoon.) Considering my love of The Wild Wild West, it’s hardly surprising that I’d be fascinated by the Steampunk genre.

Agatha Clay is a student at Transylvania Polygnostic University where she is attempting to learn to create clanks–mechanized objects and creatures that resemble many modern inventions. The Mad Scientists who can create such objects are said to have Spark–an extra special something that allows them to create and animate these creatures. Agatha’s terrible luck is seemingly leading her to a life as a lab assistant, but her love of Clanks keeps her trying, despite her continued failures.

Agatha Heterodyne and the Bettleburg Clank introduces us to Agatha and her world, as well as several other characters. Primarily it is an introduction to the world and how things operate, but there are several important hints made in this volume that will make sense later in the series. And I have to admit that going back and reading the first volume really clarified some of the questions I had.

Although I have to admit that I simply have a hard time reading on-line. E-books are never going to become popular with me, no matter how much more convenient it is to carry a PDA rather than a book.

Although the story was a bit confusing the first time through, it still pulled me in despite the confusion, and thigns got good enough that I had to go out an purchase the series. (Also, Michael read all three books in less than 24 hours.)

I think the only thing that really bothered me about the series was Agatha in her underwear. I mean, all things equal, Vistorian bloomers really didn’t expose that much flesh.

But otherwise, if you think that Steampunk is at all your interest, then you’ll want to check out the Girl Genius series.
Rating: 7/10

Agatha Heterodyne and the Airship City (2004) Phil & Kaja Foglio

After being taken prisoner by the Baron Wulfenbach, Agatha is now living on Castle Wulfenback, and despite her anger, is slowly becoming friends with Gil. She also meets the other kids who live on Castle Wulfenbach, some of who are friendly, and some of who are nasty twits.

Again, one I got into the story it was hard to stop reading. As with the first volume, I found it much easier to read the comic in book for than on-line. But that’s almost certainly just me.

Despite the fascinating story, and the ever increasing cast of characters, there were a couple of things that kind bugged me. First was Agatha’s underwear. Again. I mean, you’d think she’d learn to sleep in her clothes. The second were some of the names, because I’m still not sure why those names are being used. To me at least, Gilgamesh and Sleipnir (especially Sleipnir) bring to mind very different characters than the ones portrayed here, so I found the names a bit jarring.

However, those are really petty issues in comparison to the story being built here. We learn a bit more about Agatha’s past, and her blooming powers. We also begin to learn that the Baron is a very complex man, and that all may not be as expected on Castle Wulfenbach.

There is also a major change in volume two–the story is in color. And there are some very interesting uses of color in this volume that I really liked, especially in the storytelling and dream sequences.

If you’ve read Girl Genius volume 1, then you won’t need me to tell you to read volume 2. You’ll already be searching for it.
Rating: 7/10

Agatha Heterodyne and the Monster Engine (2004) Phil & Kaja Foglio

Now that Agatha is settling into Castle Wulfenbach, she is beginning to come to terms with her abilities. Now, she must learn about her heritage, and how her skills and her family’s past will change her life. We also see Agatha slowly starting to fall for Gil, despite her initial apprehensions, primarily because he allows her to do what she really wants: build clanks.

In Volume 3, the story starts to become even more complex. Agatha’s powers are developing, and events around her are taking off, including what is really up with Othar Tryggvassen, her relationship with Gil, the fate of the Hive Engine, and the power of Revenants.

One of the things I particularly like is that it Baron Wulfenbach remains a complex character. Although we learn a great deal about him in this volume, but it is still unclear whether he is good or evil. His motivations remain unclear and his actions are confusing. I really like that. He is definitely an “ends justify the means” kinda guy, and although I soundly disagree with that, I can understand it.

I also like that Agatha was mostly clothed through this volume.

The other thing I like is that there are subtle hints as to things that are going on, many of which I missed reading the comic on-line or because I tend to focus on the words and not the artwork. I’m also very curious as to what is really going on with Agatha, and how she is going to get herself and her new friends out of the situation into which they have gotten themselves.

And now I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of volumes 4, 5 and 6, so I can continue the story. Of course, once I finish six, I’ll have to wait awhile, since that’s the last published volume.

Maybe I’d better read more slowly.

If you’re lucking for a series that’s fun and entertaining, then you should check out Agatha Heterodyne. There is a brief synopsis at the start of each volume, so you can come in anywhere to figure out what’s going on. But of course I always think it’s best to start at the beginning.
Rating: 8/10

Agatha Heterodyne and the Circus of Dreams (2006) Phil & Kaja Foglio

I got lucky and the next Girl Genius came today (well, volumes 4 and 6 arrived. 5 should be here tomorrow.) I ended up tearing through volume 4–so much for drawing things out. Of course as soon as I finished, Michael asked, “can I read that now?” So I don’t think it’s just me.

After escaping Castle Wulfenbach, Agatha and Krosp trying to get to Mechanicsburg to meet the other students from Castle Wulfenbach. Unfortunately, as in previous volumes, events transpire to keep her from achieving her goal.

As good as the previous volumes were, I really enjoyed Agatha Heterodyne and the Circus of Dreams. There were several places where I laughed out loud, and many parts that I just adored. Especially the Mimoths. That’s fantastic.

I also liked the way that things appear in passing, either in the art or mentioned by the characters that you know mean something, but which all the characters just ignore or don’t see. Of course it’s also frustrating because for every question that is answered, many more are raised, so this series will probably go on forever and ever. Which is okay, except for the fact that I hate waiting.

It’s actually getting very difficult to write about how much I am enjoying this series, without giving major story plots away. So let’s just leave it at this was a wonderful addition to the series, and I can’t wait until volume 5 arrives!
Rating: 8/10

Agatha Heterodyne and the Clockwork Princess Phil & Kaja Foglio

Agatha Heterodyne and the Clockwork Princess is the fifth volume in the Girl Genius series. Agatha is still traveling with the Circus of Adventure, Gil still thinks Agatha is dead, and Agatha still wants to meet up with her friends and newly discovered family.

Unsurprisingly, she doesn’t make it to Mechanicsburg.

Although I didn’t think it was possible, I enjoyed The Clockwork Princess even more than The Circus of Dreams. Both Michael and I laughed aloud at times. (I particularly loved, “I HITT MR LARZ (SYNED) A BRIK”). It was also a pager turner. Just as you think that Agatha couldn’t get herself into any more trouble–things get worse.

I was almost afraid to start reading volume 6, then I remembered that it’s on-line, so even if volume 6 ends in a cliff hanger, I can read the start of volume 7 on-line.

But I have to admit that I prefer reading them in paper form.

If you haven’t read any of the Girl Genius series, head on over to the website and read through an issue or two. Then you can run out and buy the whole available series, just like I did.
Rating: 8/10

Agatha Heterodyne and the Golden Trilobite (2007) Phil & Kaja Foglio

When we last left Agatha, she was possessed by the spirit of her mother, who seems to have plans to take over the world. Gil still thinks Agatha is dead, and the Circus of Adventure has not yet decided how to proceed–especially since they’re still stuck with the Jaegermonsters.

Just a word of warning, Agatha Heterodyne and the Golden Trilobite is the last published book in the series, although you can read the current story on the Girl Genius website. Luckily, this volume didn’t end quite as badly as volume 5. The story is nowhere close to finished, but at least we aren’t left wondering about Agatha’s safety.
I have to admit that the Jaegermonsters are starting to become my favorite characters in the series. They’re literal, they’re brash, and they seem to be unfailingly loyal. Plus, they’re awfully amusing. I think the purplish Jager is my favorite, but that could change at any time.

As with previous volumes, one of the things I like best is that it’s very difficult to tell the motivations of various individuals–the more you learn about someone, the more complex they become, and the harder it is to write them off as simply evil.

If you haven’t checked out the Girl Genius series, you really ought to. It’s a good story, fascinating characters, and a lot of fun.
Rating: 7/10

Agatha Heterodyne and the The Voice of the Castle (2008) Phil Foglio, Kaja Foglio, Cheyenne Wright

It’d been so long since the last Girl Genius volume came out, I’d all but forgotten about it. So I was very excited when my copy of Agatha Heterodyne and the The Voice of the Castle arrived today. In fact, I opened the box, pulled out the book, and immediately started reading. And managed to ignore Michael’s consistent complaints of “Read Faster! Hurry Up!”

I swear I wasn’t laughing and giggling as I read just to taunt him with how much I was enjoying this volume.

Agatha is still getting herself in and out of trouble, while Gil is finally growing up–much to his father’s surprise. And of course we got to see my favorite Jagermonsters. It’s not just they’re comic relief, it’s that they’re fun!

Of course this volume ends with a bit of a cliffhanger–however as soon as I finish typing this I’m going to go to the Girl Genius website and get caught up. And you should go quickly to the website, read through some of the comics, and get sucked in–just like I am!
Rating: 8/10

Published by Studio Foglio

Agatha Heterodyne and The Heirs of the Storm (2010)

Rating: 7/10

Published by Studio Foglio


Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian Muse (2011) Phil & Kaja Foglio

It was reading Agatha H and the Airship City that made me realize it had been awhile since I read a new Girl Genius comic. (Yes, I know you can read them online, but I just like having the bound volumes. And I’m sure Phil & Kaja Foglio aren’t complaining about me paying money to read Girl Genius.) so I went and looked and LO! A new volume had just come out! SCORE!

Agatha is still trapped in Castle Heterodyne, she’s still having problems fighting off possession by the spirit of the Other (also known as Agatha’s mother) and if she doesn’t cure the Spark illness that she, Gil, and Tarvek have, they won’t have to worry about any of the other things.

As with previous volumes, I think my favorite characters are the Jagermonsters. They’re just so fun! (PLUS! Bonus Jagermonster story at the end of the volume! Woot!) Agatha and Gil and Tarvek are almost incomprehensible when they speak Spark, but it doesn’t really matter, because everything else is so completely insane, it hardly matters.

Actually, now I think about it, coming up with a coherent synopsis of a Girl Genius volume is an exceedingly difficult thing to do. It’s kinda like trying to explain a dream. “So the Baron gets in the huge battle clank and attacks the castle except Gil is there so he can’t destroy the castle because Gil is his son and Gil and Agatha and the Storm Prince (he also goes by another name) are sick with a Spark disease that makes them turn different colors and they have to build a machine to cure them and… Yeah. So, kinda hard to explain.

Yet, fun!

If you have not read any Girl Genius, DO NOT START HERE. Go back to the beginning and work your way here.

Then go buy all the books so the Foglios can spend more time on Girl Genius and the volumes will come out faster.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Studio Foglio

Agatha Heterodyne and the Hammerless Bell (2012) Phil & Kaja Foglio

Clanks! Fighting! Even smooching!

It’s the latest Agatha Heterodyne book!


Rating: 8/10

Published by Airship Entertainment

 

Girl Genius Volume 12: Siege of Mechanicsburg (2013) Phil & Kaja Foglio

The problem with Girl Genius is that it’s been running so long I forget much of what has happened previously. And the fact that I’ve had this volume for about a year before getting around to reading it doesn’t help.

This doesn’t mean it isn’t good, it just means that I didn’t got back to re-read the previous 11 volumes, and so I know I’m missing things I’ve forgotten.

SnozBut this volume does have some fabulous monsters, and all the best Jagers.


Rating: 7/10

Published by Studio Foglio

Girl Genius Volume 13: Agatha Heterodyne and the Sleeping City (2014)
Phil & Kaja Foglio

Needs more Jagers.


Rating: 7/10
Published by Studio Foglio

 

 

Girl Genius website