Girl Genius 12: Agatha Heterodyne and the Siege of Mechanicsburg
Agatha Heterodyne and the Siege of Mechanicsburg is the 12th volume in the Girl Genius series. I last talked about that comic with the sixth volume. In the five books in between, Agatha has been journeying through her ancestor’s fabled castle, a self-aware creation with a plethora of deathtraps and a split personality, and interacting with a motley gang of prisoners, geniuses, warriors, and imaginative creatures.
Now, she’s finally taken control of the property, and the Doom Bell acknowledging her as the rightful ruler has rung. Which means it’s back to being able to hold and protect the town of Mechanicsburg. The father of her prospective boyfriend, Gilgamesh Wulfenbach, is trying to lay siege to the area, and the heir to the Storm King title, another local power, is also helping Agatha and competing with Gil for her attentions.
At least the people welcome her, because she’s been recognized as their ruler for “two minutes, and she hasn’t killed anyone!” Leaders, in addition to being inspired inventors with a spark of genius, tend to also be a bit crazy. That’s why this is subtitled “a gaslamp fantasy with adventure, romance, and mad science”. At this point, it’s a mishmash of all of the above, well-cartooned and full of sprawling events and storylines.
I doubt anyone could start reading at this point. It’s much like a manga series in that fashion, with a convoluted history, creative occurrences, and a ridiculously large cast. Many of whom unfortunately resemble each other — I can only tell the two boyfriends apart by the fact that one wears glasses. (That’s them facing off on the cover.) For those who have been following along, though, the yearly volumes (or the continuing webcomic) make for a fun reminder of havoc-based humor and adventure.
Particularly when events involve my favorite characters, the Jagermonsters, a tribe of blood-loving beings that speak in comic-opera middle-European accents and live for mayhem and outrageous hats. They’re loyal to the Heterodynes, Agatha’s family line, so they’re loving her return. Especially since it means fighting the various attempted attackers.
There’s more plotting and conspiracy than battle here, actually (unless you count the two dragons going at each other). The two princes try to work together for her sake, in spite of hating and distrusting each other, while Agatha’s friends are all convinced that they know what’s best for her. Meanwhile, she’s trying to get the castle back up to speed, since its years of stubbornness have drained it of power. It all leads into the 13th volume, which concludes the city-based part of the series.