Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Girl Genius by Phil and Kaja Foglio
Agatha Clay had never invented anything that worked. All her attempts either didn't work at all or exploded. If only she didn't get horrible headaches when she tried to concentrate! After a particularly strange day, which started off with the locket she's been told never to take off getting stolen, she ends up on board the airship Castle Wulfenbach, controlled by the Baron who rules the land. Could Agatha be a Spark after all? Why would anyone want to hide it from her?
I have mixed feelings about this one. I'm not sure if I'd add it to the Great Graphic Novels for Girls list. It had a lot of potential, and it got better by the third volume, but still...
So I don't think I'm giving anything away by saying that Agatha's locket kept her from becoming a Spark. You'd figure it out like three seconds in. A Spark is an engineering genius. Unfortunately, most of them end up going mad. Once Agatha's locket is stolen, she has a tendency to fall asleep than wake up in her underwear having built some crazy amazing engineering feat. Which means there's a fair amount of time she's running around in her underwear. She's certainly clothed more than she's not, but yeah, a lot of underwear time. And then people making comments about her being in her underwear.
This is an omnibus edition, so it has the first three volumes. The first volume is done in black and white pencil style, and the following volumes are in a greyscape style. As soon as we switch to greyscape, Agatha's chest doubles in size. And it was super noticeable what with her hanging out in her underwear.
So there was that. While Agatha does consistently stick up for herself, she's not much of a character. She's a pawn for most of the first three volumes. Aside from that, I found the world very confusing. The story itself is not, but trying to work out what was happening (What is everyone afraid of? Why are there Sparks? What are the wasps? What is the Baron protecting people from?) in the world was quite convoluted. Maybe this was on purpose. Things didn't start coming together for me until the third volume. Then I started to piece things together and Agatha started to become more of a character and it got better. Perhaps in later volumes it gets better still, and Agatha starts doing some engineering when she's fully conscious and clothed. That would be nice. I generally like steampunk a lot, but this is not one of my favorites.