Girl Genius 6: Agatha Heterodyne and the Golden Trilobite
The big battle set up in the previous volume here occurs as promised.
In Agatha Heterodyne and the Golden Trilobite, the Baron’s preparing to attack the town where Agatha was taken prisoner. Even though the town’s prince is dead, his son Tarvek is carrying on in his stead, plotting to control the area. Most importantly, the long-lost Lucrezia Mongfish, a woman fabled just as much as the Heterodyne Boys (and an old acquaintance of the Baron’s), has returned, as a personality taking over her daughter, Agatha.
The two women battle for control of the physical form, but there’s much more at stake. There’s a scary form of monster infection called slaver wasps. They take over people and turn them into revenant monsters. Nothing can stop them… but Lucrezia’s voice controls them, making Agatha even more desired by those pursuing her. The voice is also able to order around the jaegermonsters, previously loyal to the Baron.
(Convenient for cheesecake fans, Lucrezia’s one of those female villains who dresses scantily with the excuse that it’s another way to exercise power over men. This also helps explain the number of male characters who fall in love with Agatha. Although it’s refreshing to see that many of them desire her brain as much as her body.)
This is something of an overwhelming read. Plot points from all the books so far are incorporated, and the mythology of the entire webcomic series underlies it all. In addition to the forces I’ve mentioned, there’s also a group of vampire priestesses searching for Tarvek’s robot sister, who has a connection to the traveling theater group introduced in book four, one of whom is leading a rescue party to find Agatha, a motley group composed of three jaegers, a warrior princess from a lost civilization, and a talking cat.
Many times, plans and encounters are successful because “that’s what the stories say”. I really admire the way the Foglios have incorporated fiction into their fictional world, making it a significant motivating force for many of the characters They’re either inspired to live up to the stories of the Heterodynes or reacting to how the tales differ from the true reality or creatively making up their own versions or judged differently because of how they might be a part of them (or at least grounds for a sequel).
This book is certainly a lot of value for money, with bits of just about every kind of adventure series included in one glorious mish-mosh. So many characters appear and disappear that the reader might want a scorecard. Various factions fight, then team up, only to be betrayed when a secret motivation comes to light. It’s all portrayed with the trademark Foglio sense of humor, too. It culminates in chaos, which results in Agatha’s transformation into a new heroine, ready for the next chapter.