Girl Genius, Volume 2: Agatha Heterodyne & the Airship Cityby Kaja Foglio, Phil Foglio, Mark McNabb
In a time when the Industrial Revolution has become an all-out war, Mad Science rules the World...with mixed success. At Transylvania Polygnostic University, Agatha Clay was a student with trouble concentrating and rotten luck. Dedicated to her studies but unable to build anything that actually worked, she seemed destined for a lackluster career as a minor lab assistant. But then the University was overthrown and Agatha was taken aboard the giant airship Castle Wulfenbach - where it begins to look like she might carry a spark of Mad Science after all.
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Agatha Clay wakes in a room she does not know. Her tormentor, Moloch von Zinzer, greets her with the news: they are both prisoners of Klaus Wolfenbach, the Spark (mad scientist) who rules Europe. He believes Moloch to be a larval Spark; Agatha is just a means to keep him in check. But it is in Agatha that The Spark resides. Moloch and Agatha must keep up the deception while they learn to survive in the Baron's ruthless care. Klaus's dashing son Gilgamesh has figured it out and is determined to make the best of the situation while Agatha learns to negotiate the twisted menage of monsters, heroes and machines aboard the Baron's flying castle. Another agenda is at play. Years before, Wolfenbach accepted the service of the Jagermonsters. Wildly enthusiastic fighters, they were created centuries ago to serve the Heterodyne family. When the Heterodynes disappeared in the great war with The Other, they were left without a master. This new arrangements serves them both. Only ... they take exceptional interest in Agatha. Poor Agatha! Just as things finally start to look up, a new and skeptical ally takes her under his furry wing. This second volume of the series is in color. The color and shading has an airbrushed feel. Phil Foglio's artwork and visual puns keep things lively while the story unfolds in words and images. If you are looking for a story that is over quickly, this is not for you. It has story arcs long and short and not all your questions will be answered in the current volume. Girl Genius will leave you hungry for more. If this is how you like your stories, Girl Genius may become your favorite meal. Phil and Kaja Foglio suggest that Girl Genius be regarded as a PG-13 story. Characters are found in their underwear, and romance and bloodlines are central to the story. But there is apparently no upper age limit for enjoying the story.
In Volume I of Girl Genius, Agatha Clay's comfortable black and white world is shattered, leading to her capture by Baron Klaus Wolfenbach (who has clearly been taking lessons from Niccolo Machiavelli). When she wakes from a drugged sleep on the first page of Agatha Heterodyne and the Airship City her old world is far behind her. Her future looms in living color. To her fellow hostages on Castle Wolfenbach she is a new friend and fellow-conspirator. To the terrifying monster who cares for the children among them, she is a bumpkin and a tramp. To Klaus, she is an old story and a useful tool. To the Baron's son, Gilgamesh, she is a woman who can share his interests and match his intellect. And then there are the Jagermonsters, soldiers who signed on with Klaus when the last of the Heterodynes, their legendary creators, disappeared years ago. To the Jagers, Agatha is a very nice girl. And this time, they are the most perceptive of all.