*Girl Genius: The Beetleburg Clank — Recommended

Girl Genius is a fun “gaslamp fantasy” starring a young woman just discovering her abilities. The first volume, Agatha Heterodyne and the Beetleburg Clank, establishes the setting and characters for the ongoing steampunk adventure series.

Agatha’s world is one of mad science, run by privileged nobles who display the Spark needed to work steam-powered technological magic. She’s a lowly lab assistant in this Cinderella story. No one, including herself, yet suspects that she possess the Spark, and quite powerfully, too. Right now, she’s a klutz just trying to do her best as the Baron visits her bosses’ laboratories.

Girl Genius cover
Girl Genius: Agatha Heterodyne
and the Beetleburg Clank
Buy this book

The Baron persists in setting tests for his heir, Gilgamesh, to determine his abilities. The frustrated son thus has a motive for not following his father’s directions exactly and a reason for our sympathy. He also seems more clever than his father, because he’s more willing to consider possibilities that fall outside the rules.

Foglio’s art is as jam-packed and energetic as ever. Future volumes are in color, which may assist the unfamiliar reader in better following the action, but the brown-and-white work here gives a lovely old-fashioned feel that suits the material. The Jagermonster commander is a particular hoot, a feral beast man (with fangs!) who speaks in Eastern European accent. His jaded, seen-it-all attitude contrasts amusingly with his monstrous exterior and comic opera uniform.

By the end of the volume, all the pieces are in place for an inspired romp. The steampunk-flavored action is punctuated by comedy in a setting where over-the-top seems plausible. Agatha is a wonderful character, smart, pretty, beset by unfair circumstances she struggles to triumph over, and admirable in her determination.

The collection contains a bonus color story showing an older Agatha, one aware of and more confident in her abilities. The grave-digging premise makes her seem like Buffy (will), Giles (knowledge), and Angel (history) all rolled into one.

More information is available at the publisher’s website, or read the ongoing webcomic.

6 Responses to “*Girl Genius: The Beetleburg Clank — Recommended”

  1. Justin Says:

    I preordered the Omnibus and I cannot wait. Looks like good stuff. I appreciate that your review is here, as it has gotten me even more excited.

  2. Phil Foglio: Sex and the Smart Woman - from The Zero Boss by Jay Andrew Allen Says:

    […] While I’m on the subject of Phil Foglio, let me just give props to his other magnum opus, the Girl Genius series. Here he has created a steam-powered world where Mad Science reigns supreme. Lowly lab assistant Agatha Heterodyne discovers her hidden talents against the odds. You can read much of it online. Johanna Draper Carlson, as usual, has a useful review. It’s a fun book, full of Foglio’s trademark wackiness — you can definitely see the same lively mind that was behind Xxxenophile. This, however, will appeal to a much more general audience (although Aunt Phyllis may still find it alarming. Aunt Phyllis should stick with Garfield, perhaps). […]

  3. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Agatha Heterodyne, introduced in the first volume of this charming “gaslamp fantasy” series, encounters a brand-new group of terrific characters in this chapter, Agatha Heterodyne and the Circus of Dreams. […]

  4. Olga Says:

    This is an excellent comic series which seamlessly combines action, intrigue, and romance as our lovely heroine leaps from one catastrophe into another. The characters are all spunky, fresh, and a little bit insane. The wit is sharp, the story strong. You will not regret reading this!

  5. Girl Genius 2 » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Agatha Heterodyne and the Airship City follows the first volume with the addition of color. […]

  6. Good Books to Budget For: Comics Out August 4 » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] you haven’t already tried Girl Genius Volume 1 (Airship Entertainment, $22.95), the reissue of the first volume is an excellent starting point. […]




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