Web Comic Catch Up: Studio Foglio’s “Girl Genius”
If you love monsters, mayhem, and mad scientists, “Girl Genius” is the web comic for you.
The nice things about getting into a web comic like “Girl Genius” are A) every page of it is free, so you can go on an archive binge without depleting your bank account, and B) it’s a lot easier to get your hands (so to speak) on the first book of the series than it would be for a comic book. But if you haven’t heard of it, you might want to get caught up so that you can enjoy the current book in context.
The whole thing is a hilarious mixture of alternate history and Victorian-era “Mad Science,” a world where people called “Sparks” create death rays and mechanical monsters, and it’s this world in which we find our heroine, Agatha Heterodyne.
If you’d like to start reading from the beginning, (and really you should—it’s delightful), here’s a link to the first page of “Girl Genius”:
The following is a brief recap of each book, so, you know…Spoilers.
Book 1—Agatha Heterodyne and the Beetleburg Clank
Agatha starts off the series as a student at Beetleburg University. She’d like to be able to invent things, but nasty headaches always mess her up whenever she really gets going. It doesn’t help that the Baron pays them a visit, one that ends with the death of Agatha’s teacher and her developing some anger issues towards Baron Wulfenbach’s son, Gilgamesh. By the end of this book, Agatha is knocked unconscious and taken aboard Castle Wulfenbach: an enormous airship and the center of the Baron’s power.
Book 2—Agatha Heterodyne and the Airship City
Agatha wakes up in the student dorms of Castle Wulfenbach, said dorms hosting the children of many of Europa’s most important families. The children aren’t quite hostages—in fact, many of them forge alliances in the student dorms that will serve them well later in life, and the Baron makes sure they have the best tutors available—but their presence aboard his ship doesn’t hurt his ability to keep the leaders of Europa (i.e. their parents) under control. In this book we see the growth of Agatha and Gil(gamesh)’s relationship, plus, there are Jägermonsters: fang-toothed, hat-wearing, soldiers with funetik aksents.
They are one of my favorite parts of the series.
Book 3—Agatha Heterodyne and the Monster Engine
This book introduces the audience to one of the major antagonists in the series. Agatha hasn’t been happy with the Baron up until this point, but he really just wants Europa to function. True, he’s willing to kill anyone who upsets that order, but most of the time he leaves people alone. Not so with…the Other. It’s difficult to say what the Other is—its modus operandi is secrecy—but many of the series’ antagonists are allied with it (whether they want to be or not). The only obvious creatures under the Other’s control are insect-like, some small enough to take over a person Alien—style, some as big as wolves, and still others the size of small houses. When one of the latter wakes up aboard Castle Wulfenbach, it’s up to Agatha and Gil to stop it.