The good news: After six years and seven volumes, the “Mechanicsburg” arc of this series has finally wrapped up. Though utterly interminable in the length of its serialization, the arc was not without its moments of wild imagination and smashing humor. Now for the bad news: Nothing seems to have been accomplished with its end. With a story that has gone on for this long and incurred so many changes and complications to its cast and story, you’d think that now would be the time for creators Phil and Kaja Foglio to dial things back a bit and start taking stock of everything that has transpired in the series over the years. That doesn’t happen here. No sooner than the Siege of Mechanicsburg is broken, Agatha is thrust a short ways into the future and the next major arc of the series.
While I can understand the Foglio’s desire to keep the momentum of their title going, it feels like they’ve made a major miscalculation in how it should be done. Putting Agatha at the mercy (however short-lived) of an ass like Martellus von Blitzengaard fosters nothing but irritation, as does the revelation of the fate of Mechanicsburg after the time-jump. If that was the plan for the city all along, then what was the point of the multi-volume siege of it? In short, the transition from the previous arc to the current arc is genuinely awful and left me wondering if the Foglios had finally lost the thread for their signature series. (My annoyance is magnified by the fact that, like the previous volume, I participated in the Kickstarter for this one.) I will say that after that mangled transition, the narrative does become more focused and offers a clear direction for the series from here on out. There’s also that last-page twist that sets up an interesting dynamic for Agatha and Gil in the future. I’m not about to write the series off yet, but that could change depending on how the next volume plays out.