"An Invasion?! Blast it, Klaus, this is My City-!"
"Wrong. This became My city years ago. I merely let you administer it."
"But... But why?"
"Withholding a Hive Engine isn't enough?"
Beetle and the Baron [1]

The day that the narrative of Girl Genius begins, Doctor Tarsus Beetle is the Tyrant of Beetleburg and Master of Transylvania Polygnostic University. (By the end of the day, many things have changed..) He is a strong spark in his own right and an acknowledged authority on the works of Van Rijn and the concept of mechanical and organic interfaces. Beetle is an older man and is as unusually short , a fact which is something of a trigger for him.

History[edit | edit source]

Dr. Beetle's badge, a scarab beetle

Much of the following information comes from the Girl Genius print novels, as well as The Secret Blueprints, rather than the comic proper.

Prior to the Other War, Dr. Beetle had been a teacher and friend to, among others, the budding young sparks William and Barry of House Heterodyne, Klaus of House Wulfenbach, and Lucrezia (scary but true ) of House Mongfish. Nothing is known about Beetle's actions during the war, but when Klaus returned as Baron to begin his pacification of Europa, he trusted his former professor to (continue to) rule Beetleburg and the university for the Empire, after coming to the city's aid after a disastrous winter ruined the food supply. Beetle gave every appearance of being an obedient and competent administrator. He had a reputation for condemning criminals to bell jars to serve as experimental subjects and/or to be put on public display. He also constructed the (eventually outdated) clanks of the City Watch and the gigantic Mr. Tock, who served as gatekeeper to the University. He hired Silas Merlot as his second-in-command; it was speculated that he used the latter man's prickly personality to do any needed dirty work and thus boost his own popularity.

Unknown to Klaus, however, Beetle had also received a trust from Barry Heterodyne. Beetle was one of the few to whom Barry revealed his return to Europa from wherever the brothers had disappeared to. According to Beetle's posthumously-decrypted notes[2], Barry had given Beetle reason[3] not to trust Klaus. When Barry left young Agatha in the care of Adam and Lilith Clay (some eleven years prior to the start of the narrative), Beetle agreed to help shelter and hide her from everyone, including Klaus. He was also aware of the suppression of Agatha's Spark via the locket that Barry had given her. At TPU, Agatha "Clay" was fond of Beetle as her loving mentor, but remained unaware of her Heterodyne connections to him. Beetle in turn encouraged her education, insisting that she be present during experiments, giving orders that she was to have free run of the University despite her evident mental failings, and aggressively shooing away any fellow students who might take an interest in her, in any sense of the word.

He and Master Payne had some sort of contact over the years, though when the subject comes up Payne comments he didn't really trust Beetle.

It has been stated, again outside the comic, he also found time at some point to sire a daughter, Octavia, who may yet appear in person.

Octavia Beetle, determined

As events approached the start of the comic, and in secret defiance of the Baron's Peace, Beetle acquired a functioning Hive Engine and smuggled it into the University, perhaps hoping to use it as a defense against future Wulfenbach aggression.[4] It was also likely he knew that Agatha might be able to control the Hive's inhabitants.

Seemingly less importantly, he foisted off onto Marlot and Hugo Glassvitch the Baron-assigned construction of the Dihoxulator.

The Story Proper[edit | edit source]

Beetle at bay

And so, as the comic begins, the Baron arrives at the University with Gilgamesh Wulfenbach in tow, to conduct his latest test of his son using the Dihoxulator et al as a bit of window-dressing. Already upset by this dangerous distraction, Beetle's mood is not improved when he learns that Agatha's locket has been stolen. He attempts to send Agatha away before her Spark begins to manifest, but gets overruled by the Baron, and the test proceeds. Unfortunately, Merlot's realizing the true nature of all this is the last straw in his long-suffering service under Beetle, and he reveals the presence of the Engine.

This leads to Beetle attempting to take down the Baron and Co. using Tock and the Watch, but very unsurprisingly, Klaus came fully prepared for this (he already knew about the Engine), and in a last desperate act, Beetle throws a flying bomb which Gilgamesh swats back at him (not that that's an excuse), causing Beetle's near-complete disintegration. Merlot is unwillingly placed in charge of the University, Agatha is expelled, the Baron's forces directly occupy Beetleberg, and events gradually spiral out of control from there, all the way across Europa.

Though Gil initially believes that the bomb was aimed at him, by the time he meets Agatha again, he has concluded that Beetle was trying to kill Agatha. For her part, she blames Gil for Beetle's death and considers him monstrous. But when he takes her advice about his flyer, and invites her to work with him, she doesn't let her feelings about Beetle get in the way.

The Works[edit | edit source]

Don't touch the control group.

Dr. Beetle is depicted in The Works with a stern visage, looking straight out of the bottom of a frame for which he is too short. Three of the infamous bell jars loom in the background, a dead or asphyxiating prisoner in each. The doctor is described as Hero and Spark. However, the instructions on the card constrain the player's actions (as is typical of Villain cards) rather than benefiting the player (as most Hero cards do). Thus, both the Art and the Instructions suggest Dr. Beetle is an ambiguous hero at best.

See also[edit | edit source]

Secret Blueprints: Dr. Tarsus Beetle & Transylvania Polygnostic, which puts a positive spin on Beetle's description, as would reflect Agatha's perception at the start of the story, even as it add facts of which she was unaware.

Possibly relevant outside information[edit | edit source]

The non-explosive variety.

A sketch[citation needed] appeared with Beetle's coat of arms and the motto "Beloved by God". This appears to be a reference to the famous quip attributed to the early 20th Century evolutionary biologist J. B. S. Haldane (who can safely be assumed to have been an atheist): when asked what biology teaches about the mind of the Creator, he replied, "I'm not sure, but He seems to be inordinately fond of beetles."

The Golden Jewel Scarab is a highly sought after beetle with collectors and found from the southwestern edge of the United States as far south as Ecuador. Over 100 Jewel Scarab species are known, and not all are, as yet, named by science.

Questions and Theories[edit | edit source]

  • Why was Beetle so distrustful of Klaus? Apparently Beetle had been told by Barry not to trust Klaus because Barry though Klaus was a servant of the Other (said in the novelization), making the hiding of the discovered hive engine at TPU less sinister and more prudent. The information appears to be mystifyingly inaccurate to Klaus after he reads Beetle's notes, so one has to wonder about the source. Was it Lucrezia trying to smear Klaus' name after packing him off to Skifander, making sure he wouldn't be believed by the Heterodyne brothers if he ever made it back and told the tale of her kidnapping him? Or some other source that had its own agenda at work? Did Barry come from a future where Klaus had already been wasped?
  • Assuming she is still a canon part of the comic, where is the current location of his daughter, Octavia?
  • Why did Beetle believe that Agatha would be capable of controlling the slaver wasps?[5] Could he have believed that Agatha was the Other? Supposing that Barry told Beetle about Agatha's true parentage, did Beetle believe that one of Agatha's parents was the Other?
    • Alternatively, could Beetle have known a great deal more about the Other, the Other's devices, and the phenomenon known as Command voice than has currently been revealed to the reader?

References

  1. The fall of Dr Beetle
  2. While Silas Merlot claims to have burned the notes, Klaus had seen at least some of the decrypts.
  3. A reason, which, according to Klaus, made no sense .
  4. "Against . . . myself, probably. "
  5. Klaus cracks Beetle's notes
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