- "So I stopped it. And I did it my way this time. No more negotiating. No more promises. No more second chances. And I did it alone. Because I had to. And it worked."
The Baron Edit
Baron Wulfenbach is the reluctant tyrant  of much of Europa. While he has functioned as the primary antagonist throughout the series and has been Agatha's foil, his character is quite complex.
From all evidence so far, his only surviving family members are his very talented adult son, Gilgamesh, and a mysteriously absent wife, about whom he is quite closemouthed. The Baron himself is a construct. The rules of succession of the Fifty Families may therefore make him ineligible to inherit or retain his title... but he's ruling anyway. The circumstances leading to Klaus's reassembly have not been revealed at this time, but what is known is that the late Baron and Baroness Wulfenbach (re)created their heir from their three sons.
The Baron is one of the most powerful Sparks of his generation. He would much prefer to be off exercising his gift by studying the nature of the Spark instead of engaging in politics, but he sees it as his duty to maintain the Pax Transylvania because he's the only one who can. However, his methods are slightly different from those his best friends, Bill and Barry Heterodyne, used to establish peace prior to their disappearance. While the Heterodynes aimed for more mutually cooperative politics based on diplomacy and second chances, Klaus has had far less patience for those who show themselves to be hostile or uncooperative. He maintains this "overgrown kindergarten situation" with a stern and exasperated hand. Accordingly, the Baron's core policy for keeping peace and order in his empire can be summarized as "Don't make me come over there."
Personal history Edit
In earlier years, he studied with Dr. Tarsus Beetle at Transylvania Polygnostic University. He joined with the Heterodyne Boys and their constructs, Punch and Judy, for adventures — killing monsters, stopping out-of-control Sparks — and generally bringing an end to the chaos running rampant over the land which was ruining the lives of peasants and merchants defenseless against (e.g.) giant carnivorous pea-plants. At some point in this period, he started an affair with Lucrezia Mongfish, the Beautiful Daughter of one of their opponents, the evil Dr. Mongfish. Although he likely knew she had romantic interest in Bill Heterodyne, he was shocked at Lucrezia's acceptance of Bill's marriage proposal. Vowing to stop her from ruining his best friend's life, he found instead that she had drugged him and was about to ship him off to parts unknown. "Parts unknown" proved to be Skifander — for four years.
He apparently accepted his fate and settled down in the "Lost" City as much as someone like him ever will. The Professors have "leaked" a confirmation, mostly via book preorder bookplate sketches, that Klaus was also known as "Chump" while he was in Skifander, and therefore is .
The Other showed up a little over three years after Klaus's disappearance. Some time after this, the Baron reappeared in Europa with a baby boy in tow, to find that all the work he had done with the Heterodynes had been undone, and things were even worse than before.
His family lands were ravaged during the aftermath of the Other War and his ancestral castle destroyed. He built a massive airship which in effect served as his new "castle", a slow-moving floating city in itself, reasonably named the Castle Wulfenbach. He started retaking Europa away from chaos by drawing a circle on the map around his ruined barony and declaring it his. Each year, bit by bit, the circle expanded until he maintained an iron-fisted peace over just about all of the eastern part of Europa.
When Klaus first returned from hiatus, people flocked to him, only too happy to take him up on his offer of protection. However, as time went on, and the Baron had to make increasingly difficult decisions, his popularity waned. People began to whisper rumours that he had been The Other, or speculated that he was responsible for the disappearance of the Heterodyne Boys.
He is now a controversial figure; some believe Klaus is best for Europa and serve him wholeheartedly, others grudgingly accept that he's better than the alternative, and a few brave (or foolish) souls plot his downfall for one reason or another. Popular entertainments mock him as a coward — yet the public does not seem to notice not only the discrepancy, but the fact that he lets these defamations persist unedited.
In general, whatever faults Klaus Wulfenbach may have, what we have seen of the other Sparks of Europa powerful enough to challenge him argues in favor of the belief that he is far preferable as ruler to any alternative. His son, and presumed heir, Gilgamesh Wulfenbach, while as ruthless as his father, appears the value of his father's methods.
And then there's Agatha.
Klaus and Agatha Edit
Klaus first met Agatha when she was a student at Transylvania Polygnostic University. At that time, due to the effects of the locket she had been wearing, she was held in general contempt by most of the students and faculty there who were acquainted with her, and this colored Klaus' initial impression of her.
When Agatha broke through, constructing her first clank, she did so in her sleep, and did not herself realize that she was the one who had constructed it. Neither did Klaus, who assumed, when he captured both her and Moloch von Zinzer, that Moloch was the Spark who built it, and that he was her "spark boyfriend trying to get revenge of Dr. Beetle's death".
Klaus finally learned who Agatha really was at the same time as Agatha herself learned it, when he encountered her with her adoptive parents Adam and Lilith Clay — actually Punch and Judy. As this was the occasion of her escape from Castle Wulfenbach, his opportunity to make use of this knowledge was limited. He sent Captain Bangladesh DuPree and his son Gilgamesh to retrieve Agatha (none of that romantic nonsense, got it?), who were both deceived by Master Payne's Circus using the burnt body of a circus member who was killed by a rogue clank. Klaus reconstituted the body out of curiosity and found out the deception, but far too late to locate the circus again.
Even under the best of circumstances, Klaus regarded a new Heterodyne heir wandering about on her own in Europa as a grave menace to the peace which he had managed to establish. Given attempts by House Valois to establish a false Heterodyne heir as part of an attempt to conquer Europa, he wasn't far wrong.
The circumstances, however, soon deteriorated from the best to the worst. The next time Klaus faced Agatha in Sturmhalten, Agatha was under the control of Lucrezia Mongfish, whose personality had been superimposed on her brain. And she had with her a miniature hive engine containing a very special wasp that could enslave a Spark, with which she made Klaus a revenant. Ironically, this encounter also had the result of freeing Agatha from Lucrezia's control, as Klaus had Agatha's locket on his person, and Lucrezia/Agatha put it on, thinking it to be nothing more than a trinket. This did not prevent a battle between Klaus and Agatha, in which Lars lost his life saving Agatha's, and in which Klaus was seriously injured by a flying circus wagon falling on him.
He was taken to the Great Hospital at Mechanicsburg and placed under the treatment of his old mentor Doctor Sun where he immediately became a target for numerous assassination attempts. Klaus unsurprisingly proved to be a difficult patient, and was finally placed in forced sleep to regenerate his injuries. In the process of his treatment, he also came under the control of the copy of Lucrezia which had been installed into Anevka Sturmvoraus's clank body, though the extent of that control was never made entirely clear; at the very least, he was able to pass a subtle warning of his fate (and his belief that death would be his only escape and the only hope for peace) to his son via an unwitting courier -- and right under The Other's metallic nose.
Then, during the Siege of Mechanicsburg, the Great Hospital was destroyed while he was still a patient there. Captain Vole claimed that he was dead, but Klaus quickly reappeared alive (and apparently fully-healed) on Castle Wulfenbach - possibly due to "Princess Anevka", though she has not been seen or even mentioned in the strip since the aforementioned story-telling scene.
Klaus's first act upon reappearance was to round up his son and anyone who had talked to his son since Gil returned to Castle Wulfenbach-- and then to test Gil with a Wasp eater. The weasel acted as if Gil was indeed a revenent, but there are severe doubts as to whether or not this was an accurate pronouncement. Klaus also began gathering his forces for a massive attack on Mechanicsburg and the Castle Heterodyne, but it was quickly and universally noted that he was behaving in a very atypical (ie, disorganized and inefficient) fashion, leading to the popular theory that he was deliberately sabotaging whatever orders he had been given by clank-Lucrezia. Following the arrival on the scene of The Real Knights of Jove and the reveal of the true amount of the forces he had (rather chaotically) gathered to assault the city, he was able to convince Gil to submit to a procedure wherein a copy of Klaus's personality was imprinted on Gil, in much the same fashion as Lucrezia was forced on Agatha.
Gil was then dispatched to personally collect or kill Agatha, a failed effort which ended with Gil being expelled from the city by Franz. Following Agatha's full reactivation of the Castle Heterodyne, the rest of Klaus's forces were also repelled. Klaus's reaction to this setback was to collect the Take-Five Bomb from his vaults, drop into the city and set it off in person, creating a bubble of frozen time around himself, Agatha/The Other (or such was the plan) and the city, leaving his "controlled" son "safely" in charge of the Empire.
Two and half in-story years later, the failure of this plan is on full display: his empire has mostly collapsed, Gil is slowly unraveling mentally, Agatha is still free, and the use of the Take-Five has attracted the unwelcome attention of a Hideous Extradimensional Being: Type 1.
Klaus's spark EditEvery spark has a recognizable, somewhat hereditary style. Klaus's spark is more abstract than most: He has the gift of analysis and synthesis, which allows him to identify Sparks simply from their creations, and on a more pragmatic level, allows him to match up personnel with their most appropriate and fulfilling job functions. His preferred application of his ability is the study of the Spark itself, which he does, in part, through brain coring. However, his comments to Othar indicate that he would prefer to simply provide a Spark with the tools they need and observe them over a long period of time. But Othar, being who he is, is far too dangerous to give resources and was moved straight to destructive testing. We have at least one example of his intention to sponsor a spark. He has also shown interest in the work of the Sparky children he fosters and at least one student was sent to live aboard Castle Wulfenbach simply for the experience.
His Spark allows him to study the technology of others, which he then adapts and improves for his own use. This often means the end result is "bigger and better" than the original concept. (Castle Wulfenbach is an excellent example.) His 'bigger and better' tendencies with other people's inventions tends to allow them to be weaponized as well. (Fire-fighting equipment able to freeze objects solid and make materials brittle.)
As a man of science and education, the Baron not only maintains his studies, but occasionally contributes to the body of literature in the areas of his specialties. According to his son, the Baron wrote a monograph on how to communicate in the workplace. It was received with a great amount of... excitement.
Like all Sparks, Klaus has "amusing sparky quirks," such as a love of waffles and a tendency to infect himself and his son with every disease and poison he can find as proof against assassination attempts. Seeing as they are still alive, this may actually be a good idea.
The Works Edit
Relevant outside information Edit
Near the start of chapter 6 the novel Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen is a list of novels. One title on the list is Castle of Wolfenbach. The name was noted, changed slightly, and used as the last name for the Baron, from the initial draft name of "Ujebeck". The novel The Castle of Wolfenbach was written by Eliza Parsons and published in 1793. The Wolfenbach in the story is a Count, not a lowly Baron.
In the early drafts of the Girl Genius story, the Baron was supposed to die in the first story arc. 
For those unfamiliar with nobility rankings in Europe, a baron is the literally the lowest rank, and a baron's fief is typically about as much land as one can see from the top of their castle. It's possible that is what gave Klaus the idea to use a patrolling high-altitude airship as his "castle", as one can see just about all of Europa from the top of Castle Wulfenbach(if not all at once). However, given how Barons are supposed to answer to higher nobility like Counts, it's doubtful that Europan nobility is impressed. Intimidated, possibly, but not impressed. Not that Klaus cares.
- ↑ "Tyrant" here should be understood in its original value-neutral sense
- ↑ See the Mad version of this article for more in-depth analysis.
- ↑ Reddit Ask-Me-Anything, 30 May 2013:
'SFFCorgi: What sort of relationship did Klaus have with his wife before they were separated? Schmoopy, firey, arguments settled at swordpoint?'
'Phil: He is very fond of her.'
- ↑ Word of God:
- ↑ Reddit Ask-Me-Anything, 30 May 2013:
'Phil and Kaja: Yes, he's a construct. Yes, he is really made from three brothers.'
'Phil: He was assembled and revived by his parents.'
- ↑ Reddit Ask-Me-Anything, 30 May 2013:
'Corgi: When did Klaus meet Bill and Barry, and what are their relative ages? Did they all study the same major (or equivalent) at TPU?'
'Phil: Klaus is older. Bill is older than Barry... but not by much. We aren't sure how much older than them Klaus is.'
- ↑ TGT Webcomics Podcast, Interview: Phil Foglio @ 12:00 - alternative link
- ↑ ibid at 12:18
- ↑ Haus of Klaus, "At long last - and it's not even January!", 7 October 2010
- ↑ The story timeline may help understand the order and spacing of events.
- ↑ Word of God:
- ↑ As seen in multiple sketches.
- ↑ Word of God: Kaja at the Girl Genius Q&A at the Nova Albion Steampunk convention