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Baron Klaus Wulfenbach/Mad

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Character Analysis Edit

SaintKlaus
TV Tropes aptly lists him among other classic examples of the Anti-Villain, an uncommon role in fiction best summed up as “a villain with noble goals”.

While he is feared for his ruthless methods, and he can be extremely dangerous when provoked, his motives are political stability and his love for his son, Gilgamesh.[1] It is his personality and his willingness to commit morally questionable acts in the pursuit of his goals that causes him to conflict with the protagonists. However, his nobler qualities, along with his extremely dry sense of humor and cloistered romantic nature, have earned him a loyal cadre among the fans of Girl Genius.

His role in telling Agatha’s story is vital because his history provides not only the framing, but the continuity between her parents’ generation and her own. Without the Baron’s background, there is little context for naïve, small-town Agatha’s current struggles and the state of her world. He also contributes a “Scylla or Charybdis” dramatic conflict for Agatha to resolve; i.e., some of his actions must be opposed, but eliminating him would make things worse.

In Heterodyne shows within the Girl Genius universe, Klaus is usually portrayed as cowardly or traitorous and functions as the much-abused comic relief. He has also been subject to rumors that he was really The Other or that he fled Europe after being rejected by Lucrezia. The real Baron Wulfenbach seems to tolerate these portrayals, making no attempt to censor them. This comic role is occassionally echoed within the series itself, such as with his foiling by Othar[2], paranoia about female Sparks[3], or manhandling by Bang[4]. To paraphrase the actor who played him in Master Payne’s Circus, he’s comic because he tries to maintain his dignity. However, it is his stoic dignity, which highlights the more tragic elements of his character, that makes him so compelling and memorable.

People who support this theory: Mnenyver(more analysis here), Corgi, Billy Catringer


Tropes fitting this character Edit

  • The Unfunny: See comments above on his attempts to maintain dignity.
  • The Lancer: One of the tropes that fits him during his time with the Heterodyne Boys.

What Kind of Tyrant? Edit

Okay, bear with me here. Take in everything that is the Baron Klaus Wulfenbach. His birthplace. His reputation for both ruthless cruelty and unrelenting attempts at fairness. The divided opinions; heartless dictator or just tyrant?

Here’s a story.

A merchant was traveling through a certain ruler’s capital city on business. After hearing about the ruler’s tight reign on the city, he decided his takings would be safe in his wagon while he was spent the night at the inn. Upon his return in the morning he discovered that 160 gold coins had been stolen from his wagon. He immediately asked for an audience with the ruler.

He informed the ruler of the theft and was told by the ruler that the coins would be returned and the criminal punished. The ruler then issued a statement to the city - the coins were to be returned and the thief found or he would have the city destroyed. Later that night the ruler himself returned the coins from his own funds - and added 1 extra gold coin.

In the morning the merchant returned to the ruler and told him the money was returned, but that a single gold coin had been added. The ruler informed him that the thief had been captured and punished, but if he had not confessed as to the extra coin he would have been punished as well.

Guess which ruler I’m referring to. Kalaong 15:00, 8 March 2009 (UTC)

Just in case everybody's scratching their heads, I'm comparing him to Vlad The Impaler! Kalaong 04:05, September 18, 2009 (UTC)

Excellent comparison, Kalaong. -- Billy Catringer 05:18, February 8, 2011 (UTC)

Responses Edit

Except Baron Wulfenbach wouldn't do that. Specifically the threatening bit. If he threatened to blow up every town in which a given criminal was not caught, he would have to follow through.

If, say, any criminal were to skip town before hearing the announcement (or after, even), he would subsequently be obliged to blow up the town, or lose valuable credibility as a ruler. This would quickly devolve into chaos.

I posit that in a similar scenario, what Baron Wulfenbach would be likely to do is commission a forensic investigation, catch the thief, and punish him, without ridiculous trickery. He's more practical than theatrical. He saves massive intimidation tactics and the ability to wipe places off the face of the map (whether with an army or a superweapon) for things like Mechanicsburg.

What I'm basically saying is that your analogy is not apt, in my mind, because it doesn't sound like Wulfenbach to me at all. 49.188.24.43 13:11, November 8, 2013 (UTC)

Theories on Klaus' Spark Edit

Klaus’s Spark: He is a kind of meta-spark, which makes sense if he were in fact built up out of multiple sparks.

People who support this theory: Zarchne


Location of Wulfenbach Lands Edit

Careful study of the map for sale on Cafepress seems to indicate that his lands are on the western edge of the Transylvanian Plateau compared to current/our-universe maps of Romania) - near the city of Cluj-Napoca (a/k/a Klausenburg -- no, really).

The Wulfenbachs themselves could be of the Transylvanian ethnic group called “Saxons”, Germans hired in the 1100s as mercenaries to guard borders and as miners to improve the local economy, who settled and flourished in their new lands.

People who support this theory: Corgi, Mnenyver, Bosda Di'Chi


Status as a Construct Edit

Klaus von Wulfenbach is a construct, because the Foglios have stated this. However, so far, his status as a construct has not been referred to in the story itself. The power he wields with an iron fist could, of course, be sufficient reason to account for this.

But there is another consideration. In the Girl Genius universe, the term “construct” is apparently a broad one.

Thus, the Jägermonsters are also classed as constructs. Again from outside information supplied by Kaja Foglio, we know that they were living people who obtained their great strength, fearsome appearance, extended lifespan, and superior sense of smell through drinking a potion.

But apparently a typical construct is a being such as von Pinn or Zon or Torsti Lechwa or Agatha’s guardians at the beginning of the story, Punch and Judy. That is, an artificial human, constructed from pieces taken from corpses, and animated by the use of electricity, like Frankenstein’s monster.

Even Punch and Judy, who raised Agatha from childhood, and successfully posed as normal humans for many years, and who could therefore be assumed to be among the best of constructs, admitted having mental limitations. Apparently, this type of construct lies somewhere on the continuum between a normal human being and a clank. Much closer to a human being than to a clank, it is true, but still without a fully-developed free will, still at least partially mechanical in thinking.

Klaus von Wulfenbach exhibits no sign of any such limitation. But he does have big stitches holding pieces of his body together, just like Punch or Judy.

My conclusion is that if he qualifies as a construct because some of the pieces from which he was patched together were not originally his, it is still the case that his brain either wasn’t revived from death or at least wasn’t dead long enough to require the normal method of revival used when a corpse’s brain is placed in a construct, and so the impression that might be given by terming Klaus a construct would be a genuinely unfair one in his case.

He wasn’t patched together from (relatively) long-dead corpses by a member of the Wulfenbach family in desperate need of an heir. He isn’t the typical construct that first comes to mind on hearing that word.

(It may also be noted that while we know that the rules of succession of the Fifty Families would disqualify Zulenna once she is revived from the dead, we have not been explicitly told whether, after such revival, she would be classed as a construct. However, if Klaus is included in that category, it would seem likely.) -- Quadibloc

As Wulfenbach is a house, with ancestral lands and a castle (since destroyed), it is unlikely that he is entirely artificial. Given his penchant for biological engineering, it is possible that he reconstructed himself to be faster, stronger, and maybe even sparkier.

It is also possible that the Wulfenbauchs, while a noble family, do fall outside the 50 families.

Responses Edit

  • Adam and Lilith do not admit to "mental limitations" by comparison to the general run of humanity; they say they aren't "equipped to deal with" a situation that involves a long-suppressed Heterodyne breakthrough right under the nose of Klaus (whom they believe to have been working for Lucrezia, no less) and his imperial forces. I think very few people would consider themselves adequately equipped for that.


A Theory on How the Baron Became a Construct Edit

Including speculation on his family, especially his parents, presented in the form of a work of storytelling.(fanfiction) In short, the theory is that Klaus was reassembled by his parents, as opposed to Bill and Barry. This was developed primarily from:

Klaus's parents were both Gifted scientists who ran their small holdings well, used their talents for the good of their people and for the most part kept out of the politics so common among the Gifted. This couple is said to have had three sons, all Sparks of varying degrees, who worked in the lab alongside their parents. Klaus is the only one that anyone has seen in years. SB

And also in small part from:

All the Wulfenbach Sparks are known for their outsized machinery...
People who support this theory: Corgi, Mnenyver


Counter-theories Edit

  • Isn't it possible that after a lifetime of dangerous adventures and assassination attempts, he's simply been injured both severely and often enough that the repairs required for staying alive have pushed him over the border between strictly human and construct?

Counter-Counter Theory Edit

The Baron has been dissecting the brains of Sparks for years. Could he be keeping parts of these brains?
And adding them?


To himself?


This might explain his meta-Sparkiness, very, very well.

People who support this theory: --Bosda Di'Chi


Meta origins for the Wulfenbach Brothers Edit

As is well known, Kaja identifies strongly with her Nordic ancestry and is therefore well-versed in its legends and folktales. She would have run across the story of "Wayland the Smith" at some point. The full story of Wayland and his brothers is told in the poem 'Volundarkvitha' which forms part of the Poetic Edda. Quoting from Wikipedia:

In Germanic mythology, Wayland the Smith (Old English: Wēland; Old Norse: Völundr, Velentr; Old High German: Wiolant; Proto-Germanic: *Wēlandaz) is a legendary smith...

Weyland had two brothers, Egil and Slagfiðr. In one version of the myth, the three brothers lived with three Valkyries: Ölrún, Hervör alvitr and Hlaðguðr svanhvít. After nine years, the Valkyries left their lovers. Egil and Slagfiðr followed, never to return.

Smiths in northwestern European mythologies are usually regarded as the most skilled and nearly magical technicians of their cultures, presumably because of divinely-granted talents to work with the most difficult of materials. This is not a poor parallel to Klaus Wulfenbach's position in Europa, and his particular Spark and the application thereof. Certainly other Sparks could be considered 'difficult materials'.



Also, the two brothers who, as vaguely hinted at by the Secret Blueprints Volume One, disappeared and were never seen parallel Wayland's brothers. In the Wulfenbach case, the smithy imagery is repeated as the three brothers are, by some theories, 'forged' into one legendary and superior being.

There is another Nordic myth that might have inspired the union of three brothers in the form of a construct. The god Odin is the best known of three brothers (the others named Vili and Vé), that are considered a trinity.

All Things Skifander Edit

Missing Years: Klaus was sent to Skifander Edit

It has been confirmed[5] that, after Lucrezia drugged Klaus and shipped him off, he ended up in Skifander. One common theory suggests that Klaus then married someone of Skifandran descent and fathered Gil. Points in favor:

Hence, the specific place Lucrezia sent Klaus was Skifander.

People who support this theory: Mnenyver, Corgi, Quadibloc, Axisor, DryBrook, Zarchne,

Woodclaw, Bosda Di'Chi

Counter-theories Edit

Though we can now accept that Klaus was in Skifander, Gil's parentage still rests on circumstantial evidence. After all, Klaus could have gone to additional places during the lost years and fathered Gil there. Although a lot is implied by the behavior of Zeetha and Klaus, very few of the facts are concrete. It's possible the readers will be thrown a curveball and the assumed version of events will be Jossed.

Confirmation Edit

For four years -- Word of God via TGT Webcomics Podcast, Interview: Phil Foglio @ 12:00 and 12:18. Long enough to father a daughter and a son as well, if they were not sororal twins.


Queen of Skifander Edit

At one point, Klaus mentions having a wife . It's worth noting that he uses the present tense when referring to her. Some have speculated that she is the Warrior Queen of Skifander, based on both Zeetha's reactions and the idea that if Klaus married anyone in Skifander that it would be the Queen.

People who support this theory: Mnenyver(natch), Quadibloc

Counter-theories Edit

It does seems more likely that he would attract the attention of a powerful female Spark (who, of course, would then try to kill him ), but the bases stated above are the flimsiest possible reasons. Zeetha is also not necessarily the only heir, given the possibility of an electoral royal family, a pool of heirs (primogeniture is rather patriarchal). More crumbs are needed for this to be other than sugarspun wishful thinking.


Zeetha is Klaus's daughter Edit

Based on both the Skifander theory and the idea that his wife is the mysterious Warrior Queen, some fans speculate that Zeetha is therefore his daughter. Points in favor of this theory:

  • Zeetha's exact age is unknown, which could make her either younger, older, or even a twin of Gilgamesh.
  • Her behavior is consistent with a brother/sister relationship.
People who support this theory: Quadibloc, Mnenyver, Bosda Di'Chi

Counter-theories Edit

  • If the whole Skifander theory is true, and Zeetha is almost certainly the daughter of the Warrior Queen, it's also possible that she's merely a half-sister to Gil and that they do not share the same father.
  • Unlike Gil, Zeetha has not exhibited any Sparky tendencies. However, it's also possible that she never broke through because she was never trained in sciences, that her spark favors swordwork and not hard science, or that the Baron's spark was simply not passed along to her.
  • This is exactly the sort of thing where the Foglios throw the hardest curveballs. The idea does have strong appeal sans data or other hard reasoning.

Confirmation Edit

Zeetha, Daughter of Chump can be conclusively proven to be Klaus's daughter.

This does not, unfortunately, prove the identity of Gil's mother, address their respective ages, Zeetha's seeming lack of Spark or confirm her mother's identity. However, the likelihood that Zanthabraxus, Queen of Skifander, is not the other parent of both is diminishing rapidly as bookplates come to light.

Word of God also implies heavily that Zeetha has a twin brother, although this will not be explicit until the reveal within the story.

Klaus of Skifander is John Carter of Mars Edit

Not literally, of course. But considering:

...the resemblance is striking. Of course, this being what it is, how the tropes will be subverted is the fun part of waiting for the whole story.

People who support this theory: Corgi


 

Storm King StoryEdit

Klaus tells a story to the Storyteller that the Storyteller hasn't ever heard before. It is possible that instead of being an old story, it is instead a message meant for his son. He mentions to the Other that the story was not meant for her. To recap, the story tells of an Ancient Heterodyne (Clemethious) that had lade waste to the land. The Storm King eventually defeated him. The Heterodyne's daughter cursed the Storm King, turning him into a wolf that shot lightning. Gradok the Dour (who is either another Heterodyne or the daughter) then led Reavers into battle and the land desceneded into chaos.

The Nursemaid of the Storm King's son moved him up high in the mountains, where he could be raised in secret (Sound like anyone we know?) He had to try to get the pin from his Giantess nursemaid, (which he had to try and try again, not unlike the multiple tests that a certain father has given). He finally recieved the pin when he realized he just had to be smart enough.

Meanwhile, in the real world, the Daugthter has grown weary, because although the entire world bows to her, they really are bowing the Storm King who is still in wolf form. The Son pretends to be a fortune teller and convinces the Daughter that the only way to get rid of the crown is to use the hairpin (which is the size of a sword). She does so, there's a giant blast of blue light, and niether the Storm King or the Daughter are heard from again.

The Prince took the throne (looking remarkably like Gil ), and ruled for a long time very well.


It is possible that Klaus is trying to tell Gil that the Daughter (Lucentia) of the old evil (her father) has taken control of the ruler of the land/Storm King (Klaus), and that the Daughter will eventually grow so tired of the Storm King's power that she will be desperate to get the authority from him. Klaus is trying to tell his son that Gil should be able to trick Lucentia into killing both herself and the now-controlled Klaus.


Counter-theories Edit

Of course it's a coded message about Klaus, his Wasping and Lucrezia. That was the whole point, to get a message to Gilgamesh under The Other's nose. Knowing Lucrezia so well, he can predict how her ego will play out her grab for power using him as her puppet, and how to use that against her.

Outside World Edit

The Baron has his own fan club, the Klaus Defence League (KDL). He has also established consular missions to several gaslamp/steampunk lands in the otherdimensional realm called “Second Life”.

Quote: “Oh, dear me. Your icon distills the reason I’m in love with Klaus...” -- Corgi, quoting Kaja Foglio.

The meaning(s) of “Klaus Wulfenbach” Edit

[From Wikipedia] The male given name Nicholas is derived from the Greek Νικόλαος, Nikólaos, a combination of the words for “victory” (níkē) and “people” (laós).

The name can be understood to mean victory of the people although some say it means “power of the people”. In addition, “laos” or “λαός” in Greek, originates from the word root “-las”, as found in the word “λα-τομείο” meaning “stone” or “rock”.

(In Greek Mythology, Deucalion and Pyrrha recreated the people after they had vanished in a catastrophic deluge, by throwing stones behind their shoulders while they kept marching on). The name became popular through Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra in Lycia, the inspiration for Santa Claus.

 
Male variations
Variations for males include:
German: Claus, Claas, Klaas, Klaus, Klas, Nickolaus, Nicolas, Nicolaus, Niklaus, Nikolaus, Niklas, Nico, Niko
 
Although the name “Wulfenbach” had been inspired by the gothic romance The Castle of Wolfenbach per confession of Professora Foglio, the name elements can be cheerfully translated as “Wolf Creek”.

The Wulfenbach badge reinforces the idea of his family being Transylvania Saxon (Sachsen). As indicated on The Map, the Wulfenbach lands are not far from where Cluj-Napoca is in our world; Cluj is also known as Klausenburg, and is part of the Siebenbürgen, the seven principal fortified cities of the ethnic Germans brought in as mercenary border troops. The traditional arms for the former duchy or principality of Siebenbürgen include seven very familiar-looking towers.

Reference images: Siebenbürgen coat of arms with Sachsen, Székely and Magyar symbols, Siebenbürgen coat of arms (provenance not given)

Related Articles Edit

Related Forum Topics Edit

References

  1. “I hope it was worth it.”
  2. “...and everything’s on fire!”
  3. “Father — Maybe it’s you”.
  4. “Get me to that window!”
  5. TGT Webcomics Podcast, Interview: Phil Foglio @ 12:00
  6. "Two years and three months"
  7. "The following years saw the destruction... And then the Baron returned." Bolding added.
  8. Note apparent age of child in backpack.

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