Volume One of Girl Genius is now available in full glorious colour (to match the rest of the series, which is at Volume Twelve and not slowing down anytime soon) but I happen to own the original version, which is done in sepia and white, with a full-colour short story at the end. If you like collecting things, get both - if not, I think the colours (by Cheyenne Wright) are absolutely superior - down to the arc of a line. When you compare the two versions, you realise a colourist is a true artist in their own right.
This particular series has won so many Hugo Awards that they had to bow out of the contest altogether for a while to let the rest of the world catch up to their level of brilliance.
They deserve every accolade they've received. This is, quite simply, comic perfection. The story is multilayered and manic; the characters fly out of the page and never stop being who they are; the world is utterly original, complicated and compelling, and the art is top-notch.
Also, as you may have guessed from the title, there is a female protagonist, proving rather neatly that (a) girls read comics and that (b) boys are perfectly happy to read comics with female heroes.
If you've heard of the term "steampunk" (loosely defined as "Alternate Victorian era" - although the only consistent part is "Alternate"), then this is most definitely steampunk. The authors prefer to call it "Gaslamp Fantasy" simply because they don't like getting bogged down in genre arguments.
The story begins in a small town where the orphaned Agatha fails at every mechanical task she attempts to do, and no-one can figure out why. She's well known to be "damaged" in some fashion - quite a label in a town where science experiments gone wrong beg on the street. But Agatha is not at all what she seems. The title of the series gives you a teensy clue as to her future.
This is a rollicking, action-packed, and utterly hilarious series. I get tired just reading it - possibly from all the laughing.