Artist: Phil Foglio
Colors: Cheyenne Wright, Mark McNabb, Laurie E. Smith, and Kaja Foglio
Lettering: Kaja Foglio
Series: Girl Genius
Publication Date: February 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
ISBN-10: 0765331322 (Tor Books)
ISBN-13: 978-0765331328 (Tor Books)
Reviewed by: Sheila
Girl Genius, the multiple Hugo Award–winning steampunk webcomic by Phil and Kaja Foglio, now collected in hardcover!
The Industrial Revolution has become all-out war! Mad Scientists, gifted with the Spark of genius, unleash insane inventions on an unprepared Europe. For centuries, the Heterodyne family of inventors kept the peace, but the last Heterodyne disappeared twenty years ago, leaving their ally Baron Klaus Wulfenbach to maintain order with his fleet of airships and army of unstoppable, if not very bright, Jaeger Monsters.
At Transylvania Polygnostic University, Agatha Clay dreams of being a scientist herself, but her trouble concentrating dooms her to be a lowly minion at best. When her locket, a family heirloom, is stolen, Agatha shows signs of having the Spark in a spectacular, destructive fashion and captures the attention of the Baron—and the Baron’s handsome young son, Gilgamesh.
Swept up to the Baron’s Airship City, Agatha finds herself in the midst of the greatest minds of her generation, as well as palace intrigue, dashing heroes, and an imperial cat. Agatha may be the most brilliant mind of her generation and the key to control of the continent, but first, she just has to survive.
Quick & Dirty: This graphic novel is a mix of machines, mad scientists, and mayhem.
Opening Sentence: Now, this isn’t a Heterodyne story like your Mama tells you when she tucks you into bed at night…well, not exactly.
I don’t typically read comics. I have been known to read graphic novels now and again, but usually not straight up comics. They don’t last long enough for me to truly enjoy them. I certainly do not follow webcomics. I wouldn’t even know where to begin to look for them in the first place. That being said, I might start to after reading the Girl Genius Omnibus by Phil and Kaja Foglio. All I can say is…wow. Why am I just now hearing about these fabulous stories? Have I truly been living under a rock with my books and a flashlight this whole time?
These stories follow the (mis)adventures of one Miss Agatha Clay, the last heir to the Heterodyne Dynasty. A student of Transylvania Polygnostic University, she longs to become a scientist, even though nothing she makes ever works. If only she wasn’t plagued with poor concentration and lack of focus. When her locket, a family heirloom, is stolen, she begins to “grow” into her destiny, as a genius with the “spark”. The spark is what one is born with that allows the creator to take leaps and bounds around the accepted laws of the universe. Those with the spark tend to create things that are either monstrous or glorious, and most of the time, a spectacular combination of the two. Now that her talent has been uncovered, she is placed within the midst of other great minds; including royalty, both human and feline, and the handsome and dashing Baron’s son, Gilgimesh. Will her talents opening up a new world for her be for the better or worse? Can she hold her own among others equally as brilliant? Will Gilgimesh get the girl, or will his awkwardness around the opposite sex be his downfall? What will Krosp I, Emperor of All Cats, do next?
The whole setup is awesomely over-the-top. The dialog is witty and playful. The characters are lovable and mischievous. The villains could fit in any of the old Dudley Do Right episodes. The weirdness of all the gadgets built and the uniqueness of the non-humans, like the jagermonsters are fantastic. And you want to laugh at all the antics created by each and every one of them.
The artwork is amazing. The colors match the clarity of Agatha’s mind: Monochromic when she is still befuddled by the locket, and vibrant and colorful when her mind is cleared and the Spark begins to manifest. I really enjoyed this added bonus. It gives a whole new dimension to Agatha’s point of view. It is very similar to the movie, The Wizard of Oz, and its shift in cinematic color from black-and-white Kansas to color OZ. Overall, this omnibus contains a beautiful blend of technical and fantastical drawings that are worthy of even the most diehard fans of steampunk.
Even those who are not on board with the steampunk movement can enjoy the style and comedy of Phil and Kaja. I HIGHLY recommend this to everyone!
The Girl Genius Series:
FTC Advisory: Tor Books provided me with a copy of the Girl Genius Omnibus. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. The only payment I receive are hugs and kisses from my little boys.
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