Barry Heterodyne is the younger of the two legendary brothers who went adventuring heroically all over Europa in recent history. As with a lot of that history, it is already becoming difficult to tell fact from legend…
Along with being more science and engineering oriented than Bill, Barry seems to have been the more easy-going, fun-loving, and resilient of the two. After the attack on Castle Heterodyne, it was Barry who took charge of rescuing survivors and so on, before he and Bill left to fight The Other. He then vanished from public view along with his brother, but was able to return secretly without him, evidently with his young niece Agatha in tow. While in hiding, he raised her and when she started to break through at the age of five, constructed and gave to her a device to keep her Spark suppressed. He also apparently issued dire warnings against Klaus Wulfenbach to Punch, Judy, and Dr. Beetle, though why he felt he had to keep himself and Agatha hidden, even from friends and allies (and specifically Klaus), is one of the big mysteries.
Barry set out for some unknown purpose eleven years prior to the events of Girl Genius, entrusting a young Agatha to the loving care of Punch and Judy in Beetleburg. Punch and Judy seem to have been expecting (or at least hoping for) his return at any time.
In the Heterodyne stories, he always ends up with whomever the exotic High Priestess happens to be. However, when Klaus that Agatha is a Heterodyne, he asks if she is Barry's daughter, something that he says would be a "surprise", indicating that for whatever reason, Barry is unlikely to have had any children.
He was somehow familiar with Skifander, and told Agatha about it when she was a child.
He England at some point (without Bill, who as The Heterodyne was forbidden from entering that country), and favorably impressed the country's inhabitants while investigating Ghost Submarines, to the point that the Heterodyne Ban is lifted by the time Agatha later comes calling.
When two mind-copies of The Other get a chance to covertly compare notes during the Mechanicsburg plot arc, they both displayat the idea of Barry reappearing from wherever he disappeared to. (And seem to have no idea where that place might be.)
The print-novel adaptations of the comic offer a few additional details on Barry and his activities. Agatha H. and the Airship City begins with a prologue in which the brothers finally manage to predict and partially thwart one of The Other's attacks. (The only time to date anywhere we've witnessed them first-person.) The scene is told from Barry's POV, and shows his growing worry about his brother's mental deterioration into a silent pillar of vengeance and determination. In the story proper, the reader is told that the returned Barry put Agatha under Adam and LIlith's care in Beetleburg when he belatedly realized how damaging their furtive and nomadic lifestyle was being to his niece. Also he did write some letters home during his mysterious mission, the third and last one arriving battered and travel-stained and filled with disquieting ramblings.
In Agatha H. and the Clockwork Princess, when briefing Bangladesh DuPree, Klaus says that Barry's deciphered (but partially destroyed) notes indicate that the reason Barry hid from Klaus upon his return with Agatha was that he believed Klaus to be working for The Other. (Which, at the time at least, Klaus was most definitely not doing.) Sadly, the source of this belief is not included among the notes which survived.
Questions and Theories
- What did Barry see, or think he saw, Klaus do that led him to warn everyone against him?
- What prompted Barry to leave when he did and what was his mission?
- Where is Barry now?
- Why is Lucrezia so afraid of Barry turning back up after all these years?