Revenants, or mummers, are individuals who have been infected by slaver wasps. They are thus servants of the Other, forced to obey the Other's command voice (and to a more limited extent, Agatha's voice as well). There is no known cure, although some limitations to infestation are known:
- Sparks are, for reasons never explained in the comic, immune to the standard wasps' predations (according to the second novel, the Other made a deal with the Knights of Jove and built "Spark-avoidance behavior" into wasps).
- It appears that residents of Mechanicsburg are also immune, or at least no wasp-victims are found when a survey of the city is performed.
- Tarvek has developed a potion that, if taken in advance, theoretically renders any imbiber immune to wasp-attacks.
- At one point Dimo issues a second-hand report that Gil has found an unspecified way to keep the revenants on Castle Wulfenbach from doing what the Other commands.
- Albia (and presumably other God-Queens) can override Other's grasp on her subjects in immediate vicinity with loyalty to herself, but the effect isn't permanent and fades as soon as she is gone.
Note: This page, which identifies individuals who have been or can be forced to contravene their own loyalties and best interests, can be considered especially spoiler-prone.
There are at least three different kinds of revenant, created by at least two different types of wasp.
For a long time, the only kind generally known, seen as produced by the only known kind of wasp. As the name implies, they tend to shamble around a lot and generally act like mindless zombies. During the Other War, rampaging swarms of these caused much destruction across Europa; after the Other's disappearance, they became more aimless and disorganized.
It turns out that this "kind" is only adiverging from the more common behavior.
A more subtle type of revenant does not display any signs of infection until given a command. These are the product of the same type of wasp infection as the first, and are in fact the more common outcome. These revenants can apparently lead normal lives if never exposed to the command voice, although there is still no way of removing the infection. Mr. Rovainen is the first of these to be definitely identified. Presumably it is true of this whole class that even those who have received a command are not rendered mindless. Following a "command" from an annoyed Agatha, Mr. Rovainen finds himself compelled to activate the hive engine aboard Castle Wulfenbach, but he is free to kill Dr. Vg in passing in order (he claims) to spare his friend from the condition into which he himself has fallen. According to Lord Selnikov, the The Socket Wench of Prague audience (who had heard Agatha's acted order to kneel) acted "odd" after the play, but he still protests when Anevka states that, having imprinted on Agatha, they must be destroyed.
A third type of revenant is seen in the town of Passholdt. These are highly mutated, skinny and pale, with bulging red, luminous eyes. According to Lord Selnikov, they were created by a type of wasp developed by Snarlantz, a local Spark associated with the Order who had been in charge of safeguarding many of the Other's hive engines. Snarlantz worked to try to improve the wasps, and managed to produce one tiny engine that would be able to enslave a Spark, but the ultimate presumably unintentional result of his research was the infestation that apparently destroyed both himself and the entire town.
A fourth type of revenant might be formed when a spark is infected with Snarlantz' special wasp. This has already happened; although there is no doubt that the infection was successful, so far no ill effects have been in evidence. Conversely, exactly how far the control extends in this particular case has never been made entirely clear.
Dr. Bren, a minion of Baron Klaus Wulfenbach, likely created the wasp eaters to hunt slaver wasps; before the momentous events of the Siege of Mechanicsburg, they are deployed by the Wulfenbach forces' Vespiary Squad.. Recently (perhaps as recent as Mr. Rovainen's conversion) it is learned that the wasp eaters can also detect wasp-infection; the eater sniffs at the face of a test-subject, and a screech indicates infection.
List of known revenants
- Mr. Rovainen
- 170 members of the staff of Castle Wulfenbach, discovered after Mr. Rovainen was revealed
- The surviving population of Passholdt (Snarlantz' mutated version)
- The entire non-spark population of Sturmhalten
- Lady Vrin (and possibly some or all Geisterdamen)
- Baron Klaus Wulfenbach
- The entire town of Hraggel's Point , possibly as a dry run for the later Paris infection.
- A significant portion of the population of Paris.
- Numerous British troops. (Queen Albia the second-stage Spark is able to temporarily break The Other's control of her subjects.)
- Klaus claims at one point that Gil is infected, but there is every indication this is a blatant fabrication on Klaus's part.
Possibly relevant outside information
The word “revenant” is actually an English word (taken from French for “returning”) meaning “one who has returned”, either from a long absence, or, in particular, from the dead. In the past this latter case generally meant a person appearing either as a ghost or animated corpse, often one who relentlessly pursues an unfinished task from life; in Girl Genius it seems to be used metonymically for “zombie” in the (pre-1968) voodoo sense of a person whose will has been crushed and replaced with that of the voodoo practitioner.