cathyr19355: (Haley)
posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 06:57pm on 21/11/2010 under
One evening a week or two ago, when I was feeling too restless to do anything as sensible as sleeping but not alert enough to do anything constructive, I finally did something I've meant to do for a while, namely, start reading the Girl Genius archives.

For those of my readers who aren't webcomics fans, Girl Genius is a comic produced by Phil and Kaja Foglio. It features exquisitely drawn, colorful artwork and a plot along what many people would call "steampunk" lines. The artist/authors prefer to call it "gaslamp fantasy," for reasons I can never remember and don't quite get. If you're interested in checking it out, you can find it here.

I've always been curious about Girl Genius, and I wanted to like it. From what I knew about it, there seemed to be a lot to like. After all, the protagonist, Agatha Heterodyne, is a red-haired (well, strawberry blonde, anyway) young, very female heroine, with a keen mind and preternatural talent for science--and the nerve to use all of those attribute to achieve her goals. Yet she's working in a long dress! In late 19th century Europe! What's not to like?

Yet the more I read of Agatha's adventures, the less I did like. It wasn't the fact that Phil and Kaja seemed to take of every possible opportunity to show Agatha in her underwear. That's not an attraction, at least not for me, but I'd seen some of Phil's other work (some of which was intended to be erotic), so it didn't surprise me, or particularly offend me.

I've been trying to figure out what *did* offend me, and I think I've finally succeeded.

The story features wild, convoluted, Weird Science plots, sometimes based upon backstory being revealed after the fact. I originally thought that was what was bothering me--that I didn't really want the savage roller coaster ride of a Dark Shadows-type soap opera in my fantasy fiction any more.

But that isn't it.

I think what bothers me is that Agatha, isn't really a hero. She's more like a eight-year-old kid, upped by several dozen orders of magnitude. Half the time, what she does causes more explosions than useful progress, on ANYTHING. The other half of the time, she's being possessed by her mother's personality (yes, possessed, "Dark Shadows" isn't as insane a comparison as might appear at first blush) and needs rescuing. Or needs rescuing from somebody else. For a scientific genius girl who can invent damn near anything and commands the resources of the Heterodynes, she sure spends a hell of a lot of time as a rescue object.

To me, that takes most of the fun out of things.

If any of my readers are Girl Genius fans, I hate to rain on your parade. But I can't manage to share the fun, and I've been trying.

(Though some of Agatha's costumes *are* seriously cool. I may try to make one, sometime, while my hair is still red.)
Mood:: 'embarrassed' embarrassed


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