Collects the first three Girl Genius Collections: the Beetleburg Clank, the Airship City, and the Monster Engine.

Writers: Phil & Kaja Foglio
Artist: Phil Foglio
If you like at least two of the following, you should do yourself a favor and try Girl Genius: adventure, mad science, humor, female protagonist, steampunk. The comic is available for free at: http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/

What can I say about Girl Genius? It’s just great. It might be confusing at first because we’re just thrown in without explanations to the weird world of Agatha Clay. She’s a student at the Transylvania Polygnostic University but she isn’t doing too well. She’s very interested in all things mechanical but nothing she builds works and she has a lot of trouble concentrating. Still, she’s Dr. Beetle lab assistant. On her way to the uni, she’s mugged. Two soldiers grab her most valuable possession: the locket which she always carries. Then the local tyrant, Baron Wulfenbach, appears and Dr. Beetle is killed. Agatha is sent home. She wakes up in her foster father’s workshop in her underwear holding a wrench and covered in motor oil. Surely she couldn’t have built the new mechanical monstrosity walking on the streets of Beetleburg? Especially in her sleep? (The underwear is in Victorian style so funny rather than seductive.)

The world is kind of an alternate universe but with Sparks who can build machines which can bend the laws of physics. We’re told that many of the Sparks go mad so there are numerous mad scientists running around. In previous times the Heterodyne family kept order with negations when they could and smashing monsters and doomsday devices when they couldn’t. But the Heterodyne boys disappeared years ago. The only person keeping order (at least in Europe) is Baron Klaus Wulfenbach. He was a friend of the Heterodynes but his current methods are far more… bloodthirsty. He tries to talk when he can but he’s not a diplomat and his Jägermonsters are eager to fight.

The comic has lots of interesting characters, like the Emperor of Cats and Bangladesh Dupree who is a former pirate queen but without a crew. She works for the Baron now which makes her no less bloodthirsty and treacherous. Also, the Baron himself and his son Gilgamesh are more complicated than we realize at first glance. I find both quite entertaining. However, some characters do appear quickly and sometimes disappear quickly, as well, especially in the first volume (which was first published 8 years ago).

The only magical elements (if you can call it that) are the Sparks.

Phil Foglio’s art is not very sleek; it’s closer to manga style. But it fits the story well. The first few pages are black and white but the rest of the first collection get more color. About 1/3 through and onwards the real colors are used. There’s a very good in-world reason for this.

The Jägermonsters talk in a quite thick fake German accent which I find sometimes hard to understand but they’re quite entertaining otherwise.

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