Girl Genius 5: Agatha Heterodyne and the Clockwork Princess
The latest chapter in this thrilling “gaslamp fantasy” series by Phil & Kaja Foglio reveals a number of secrets.
Agatha Heterodyne and the Clockwork Princess opens with a narrow escape, as the traveling players (introduced in The Circus of Dreams) are set upon by a huge group of killing creatures. That allows for the sudden entry of three Jagers, my favorite characters. The Jagers as a tribe are bred for fighting, and I find their simplistic, amoral love of killing hilarious, especially when expressed through their faux-Eastern European accents. They take the most direct way through anything — treating hysteria through a conk to the head, for instance.
These particular three are more independent than others, except when it comes to Agatha. For family reasons — the Jagers have a long-standing obligation to the Heterodynes — and out of personal loyalty, they do what she says. They have desires of their own, though, even if they’re simple and direct in their expression. They’re like powerful, violent children, and like many kids, they want to join the circus, leading to plenty of comedy as they interact with the players.
For instance, the guy they conked on the head? They fake up an excuse that he was hit by a piece of exploding bridge. To make their story more convincing, they write on the chunk “I hitt Mr Larz (syned) a brik”. (Maybe I also like them because they spell like the Chick-fil-A cows.)
Agatha’s portrayed as noticeably sexier in certain scenes in this volume, whether it’s her warrior-in-training outfit of a leather halter and loincloth or when she’s captured and stripped down to her corset and leggings. That reinforces the male characters’ tendency to become attracted to her, as most of them do. At the same time, though, she’s also gaining confidence in her abilities, building ever more accomplished clanks (magical robots).
That helps as the story continually becomes more complicated, with a couple of special, advanced clanks seeking each other, an Orson Welles-looking prince demanding a command performance from the carnival, secret plots, prisoners, and a vampire-like group of priestesses. Lots happens and much is revealed, but there’s even more left to find out as the story continues in volumes to come.