Monday, December 16, 2019

The Hugo Initiative: Girl Genius (2009, Best Graphic Story)

Dossier: Foglio, Kaja and Phil. Girl Genius and the Chapel of Bones (Volume 8) [Airship Entertainment, 2009]

Filetype: Graphic Story

Executive Summary: Agatha Heterodyne is the protagonist in this series and up to this point has been portrayed largely as a bit of a klutz. There is a mystery surrounding her birth and many believe she is a holy child as the Heterodyne line was thought to have died off. We open this chapter with her hiding her true identity as she is trapped inside of Castle Heterodyne with others.  

Meanwhile, on the outside of the castle, Gilgamesh Wulfenbach partners with the Jagers as his father battles injuries and the threat of The Other. Gil is clearly dealing with issues associated with his status and living in the shadow of his father.

The idea of the living mechanical castle leads to some interesting drama within the castle walls as Agatha, via a blood test, is able to demonstrate she is the proper heir and gain control over the castles expansive weapons system. She needs to repair it in order to restore all functionality and that is no easy task.

Gil returns in a triumphant moment at the end claiming he intends to aid the true Heterodyne heir after surviving a barrage of attacks from the castle's air defense system.
Girl Genius is a true independently created comic from husband and wife Kaja and Phil Foglio.  It was originally published as a free online comic and it built up enough of a fan base to win three Hugo Awards and multiple successful Kickstarters.

This series began in 2002 and was ahead of its time in its representation of women in the comic book industry. Filled with witty quips, heavy steampunk vibes, and fantasy-esque action sequences, it is not shocking that a series with this rabid of a fan base has had such a successful run.

In Retrospect: While the themes and story-telling remain relevant today, the art feels dated and I am surprised that it managed to beat both Fables: War and Pieces and Y:The Last Man, Volume 10 to claim the first graphic story Hugo award.

For its time: 4/5.
Read today: 4/5.
Gernsback Quotient: 8/10.

POSTED BY MIKE N. aka Victor Domashev -- comic guy, proudly raising nerdy kids, and Nerds of a Feather contributor since 2012.