The Other is the ostensibly undisputed villain and common foe of the protagonists of the main Girl Genius narrative. However, the precise nature of the Other is unknown, so "the Other" is little more than a synonym for what is called in another forum "the ".
It has been fairly well-established that Lucrezia Mongfish was acting as "the Other" during the Other War, and in fact most of the main characters have come to use "the Other" as simply a synonym for Lucrezia. However, the cult of the Geisterdamen considerably predates Lucrezia, and Klaus states that the works of the Other than those produced by Lucrezia before he was banished. Furthermore, Lucrezia has been known to inhabit multiple bodies, not all of which are under her complete control. And there is evidence that time travel is affecting the plot.
When all of this is put together, it's not clear where the Other "really" comes from, but Lucrezia Mongfish remains the most likely candidate, not least because, in her "calling" within Agatha Heterodyne, she apparently assumes that all the Other's creations, as well as the Geisterdamen, owe their allegiance to her.
The Other War Edit
Main article: The Other War
Nineteen or so years prior to the beginning of the Girl Genius story, the Other came out of nowhere, attacked and effectively destroyed Castle Heterodyne, kidnapped Lady Lucrezia Mongfish Heterodyne, ravaged Europa, destroyed forty-three major Sparky houses, and harried the normal citizens with Slaver Wasps and the resulting shambling Revenants. During the attacks, accusations were thrown around at various candidates, only to see those on the list of candidates being targeted, until the moniker The Other fell into default use.
According to reports, the Heterodyne Boys did everything they could to destroy wasp infestations and foil the Other. While some people assume that the Heterodyne Boys won the war, all that can be said for certain is that one day, the devastation stopped and the Heterodyne Boys disappeared. Afterwards, Baron Klaus Wulfenbach returned from exile, suppressed the ongoing fighting, and began collecting all devices produced by the Other for disposal and/or study.
At the opening of the narrative, the firmest conception of the Other in the popular imagination is, roughly, "creator of the revenants and ruthless attacker of sparks". The revenants were created implanting a slaver wasp parasite into a person. The slaver wasps are produced by "hive engines". Typical revenants behave like shambling zombies. After the narrative begins, Baron Wulfenbach learns that covert revenants that can pass for normal people also exist; he informs only a few Wulfenbach operatives.
Attacks appeared to consist of the parachuting in of Hive Engines, followed by a direct strike on the target itself by high velocity kinetic weapons, and followed up by the revenants created by the Hive Engines.
The sections below collect the evidence and accusations that each candidate is the Other.
Lady Lucrezia (Mongfish) Heterodyne Edit
Both Baron Wulfenbach and the Geisterdamen believe that Lady Lucrezia was the Other during the war. Baron Wulfenbach concluded that Lucrezia was the Other based, in part, on the extensive study of the Other's devices he undertook after the war. He found that the principles underlying the Other's devices were similar to those of Lucrezia Mongfish, though they were far more advanced. The similarity is not known to many besides the Baron, though Tarsus Beetle at least suspected that Lucrezia's daughter would be able to control slaver wasps. Despite other possible explanations (such as Lucrezia being forced to work for the Other), the Baron concluded that Lucrezia was the Other. It is possible that his decision was influenced by her family , the fact that she drugged and exiled him so that he wouldn't be , and the fact that she spurned him for Bill Heterodyne.
After Klaus is infected with a slaver wasp outside of Sturmhalten, he identifies Lucrezia's personality gloating about the wasp from inside Agatha's body. Lucrezia/Agatha confirms his guess. The incident likely cements his opinion that Lucrezia was the Other during the war and convinces him that Agatha is the Other now (see Possession below). Klaus remains unaware of the "Holy Machine" and Agatha's encounter with it at Castle Sturmvoraus.
The Geisterdamen are introduced to the narrative when they take an interest in what
looks sounds like Lucrezia standing in the woods, until they determine that it is . This is the first indication of a connection between the Geisterdamen, who serve the Other, and Lucrezia. Later, High Priestess Vrin explains that she remembers when her goddess appeared in the Geisterdamen temple "in great distress", carrying the Holy Child.  After the child was taken from the Geisterdamen, the Other returned and led the Geisterdamen to the Shadow World (i.e., Europa) to fight for her in the war. Geisterdamen are seen carrying in the sewers of Sturmhalten following the death of Prince Aaronev VI (presumably their ), suggesting a further connection with Lucrezia. Agatha realizes what Vrin has been telling her means and Vrin essentially Lucrezia as the Other.
Tarvek tells Gil that his father worked with Lucrezia.
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach Edit
Klaus Wulfenbach, a major Spark from a minor house, was a fighting comrade of the Heterodyne Boys. Though absent from Europa during the Other War, he shortly thereafter to fill the power vacuum left by the destruction of the Spark houses and the disappearance of the Heterodynes to establish a vast empire. To be sure, he cleaned up the mess of leaderless wasps and revenants, but he also demanded that all the Other's devices be turned over to him. Though he claimed that this was for public safety, he is known to have studied some of these devices rather than destroying them immediately. Further, his personal passion is the study of the Spark, often by capturing and destroying Sparks. The Other was likewise interested in Sparks.
Thus, some people entertain the notion that the Baron himself is the Other. These rumors are no doubt enhanced when a giant hologram of Agatha is projected above Sturmhalten, accusing the Baron of being the Other.
T'otheron of Mars Edit
The Other was active for only about one year and few people were privy to his/her/its identity. Eighteen years later, the Other has blurred into horrifying legend. This allows Theopholous DuMedd (incidentally, nephew to Lucrezia Mongfish) to create the character T'otheron, Dragon King of Mars, that meshes with popular beliefs about the Other. Though children are amused by it, educated adults as fiction. Notably, nowhere in the main narrative does Mars appear. , however, of .
Othar Tryggvassen, Gentleman Adventurer Edit
Othar Tryggvassen is a spark who is popularly considered to be a hero. Despite the similarity of the name ("Othar"↔"Other") and Othar's self-imposed mission to destroy all Sparks, few readers and no characters would seriously entertain the notion that there is any stronger relationship between them.
Agatha Heterodyne Edit
Even prior to her encounter with the "Holy Machine", Agatha displays some ability to command the Other's servants. Aboard Castle Wulfenbach, she tells Mr. Rovainen to ' Rovainen, apparently believing that he has received an order from the Other, in one of the labs. In the course of battling the hive engine with Gilgamesh Wulfenbach, Agatha discovers that the warrior wasps defer to her command voice.
The late Tarsus Beetle had apparently been aware of Agatha's command voice. He had acquired a hive engine and was apparently preparing to put it into service, perhaps using Agatha to control it. What Beetle intended to do with the engine is unclear, though he certainly wanted to throw off the Wulfenbach yoke.
In Sturmhalten, Agatha commands audience members to kneel and Anevka uses a copy of Agatha's voice to very nearly control Vrin (even though she knew at the time that Agatha was distinct from her mistress).
For a description of Agatha after her encounter with the "Holy Machine", see Possession below.
House Sturmvoraus and the Geisterdamen manage to capture Agatha when she passes through Sturmhalten, the Sturmvoraus seat. Vrin, the Geisterdame High Priestess, uses a machine that she has rebuilt (badly) to 'download' The Other's personality into Agatha's body. This 'Other' Lucrezia; it is unaware of the events transpired in the last 18 years, including the rise of the Wulfenbach Empire. It is unclear where this personality has been preserved during those years, perhaps in the "Holy Machine".
Agatha and the Other struggle for control of Agatha's body. Though the Heterodyne music aids Agatha, the Other eventually seizes complete control. During periods when the Other is dominant, Agatha's voice completely controls of all the Other's servants.
Agatha does not regain control until the Other puts on the Heterodyne locket. The locket, originally given to Agatha by her Uncle Barry, had recently been repaired by Baron Wulfenbach. Interestingly, the locket now suppresses the Other's personality, but no longer suppresses Agatha's Spark as it used to do.
The Lucrezia Clank Edit
Prince Tarvek Sturmvoraus, with help from the Other in Agatha, also the Other into a high-level clank brain. He appropriates the clank body of his sister, Anevka, to create a second Other. This Other and the Other in Agatha treat each other as allies and refer to each other as "Lucrezia" and "sister". During the Battle of Sturmhalten, the Lucrezia clank escapes into caverns below the city with the Geisterdamen, several Slaver engines and .
It reappears later in the story at the Great Hospital in Mechanicsburg, where it is able to gain at least partial control over fellow patient and wasp-victim Klaus. It has since dropped completely out of sight, at least as far the reader is concerned.
In Castle Heterodyne, Zola convinces the Other in Agatha to copy the Other personality into herself as well. Having been mentally prepared ahead of time for this very possibility, Zola is able to control the personality and access (most) of its memories without any external help such as Agatha's locket. Zola eventually ends up in the Great Hospital where she meets the Other-copy in Anevka's clank. At this point, she presents herself as if the Other personality is fully in charge, but given that Zola's previously mentioned abilities, her training as an actress and her talent for general duplicitousness, it is quite possible that she is fully in charge and taking advantage of the situation rather than herself controlled. As with the clank-copy, nothing more has been heard of her since this scene.
The Queen of the Dawn Edit
The Queen of the Dawn at the Paris costume party. Her ability to rapidly make numerous squabbling European kingdoms all submit to her rule marks her as a likely Other-version, possibly either Zola or the Clank-copy.
The clank-like Enigma before Agatha in a time window while the latter is a student in Beetleburg. It is unclear whether the time-traveling Enigma is the Other, Lucrezia, Agatha, some combination thereof, or someone else entirely.
Questions and Theories Edit
- What are The Other's motives? Why did it attack the Heterodynes and the Sparks?
- Just how big is the conspiracy supporting the Other?
- Could the Other be an outside entity that took possession of Lucrezia 19 years ago, just as it has recently taken possession of Agatha? If so where did The Other first come from?
- Alternatively, is the Other nothing more than Lucrezia, who was really just an evil person all along? Was she a good enough actress to fool Bill and Barry into thinking she had reformed?
- Lucrezia's assistants were murdered and her notes were burned on the night of the attack on Castle Heterodyne, thus eliminating all evidence of what happened inside Lucrezia's lab that night. Did she do this to cover her tracks or was this done by someone else?
- Who was the "Eternal Lady" on whom the Geisterdamen's religion is based? Was is always Lucrezia; if so, did she have time-travel at her disposal? Or, did Lucrezia merely take advantage of an existing prophecy?
- What happened to the body of Agatha's mother?
- What is the that Lady Vrin mentions?
- What was the device the Geisterdamen were transporting when they left Sturmhalten?
- Are the Other in Agatha and the Other clank equal in all ways? Can the Other replicate itself indefinitely with the "Holy Machine"?
- If there are multiple Others in the present, might there have been multiple Others 19 years ago?
- Was Lucrezia also possessed by the Eternal Lady (the Other) late in life, possibly on the night of the attack on the Castle? Who was Lucrezia's mother?
Possibly relevant outside information Edit
The Other is an important concept in continental philosophy. (The term "continental philosophy" itself "was first widely used by English-speaking philosophers to describe university courses in the 1970s [as a name for] phenomenology, existentialism, structuralism, and post-structuralism", etc.) A vague caricature of the idea is: The Other is the (innocent) person whom I make into an enemy in order to improve my Self. Therefore, the fact that the Big Bad in Girl Genius is named “the Other” is another clue that said Big Bad is not a traditional enemy such as T'Otheron of Mars, &c. but in fact an ephemeron.