Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
My Rating: 5/5 TARDISes
Date Published: May 12th, 2015
Pages: 266 pages
Synopsis: Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones.
Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.
But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.
This is a spoiler-free review.
This was my first experience with Noelle Stevenson’s work and I was completely blown away by her talent. Nimona started out as an award-winning, serialized web comic that was published as a full graphic novel; Stevenson does both the artwork and the writing for it. Given the theme of super villains, I knew right away that I was probably going to enjoy this story. I did not, however, expect to love it nearly as much as I did. The plot, the characters, the art—everything met and exceeded all of my expectations.
I first discovered Noelle Stevenson and Nimona a few months ago through watching Booktube, and I am extremely glad that I did. Finding out that she writes and illustrates her own graphic novels was something that instantly intrigued me. I have always loved the idea of an author being able to do the artwork that corresponds with their text. That personal touch not only allows the illustrations to flow more seamlessly with the words, but it gives the most accurate possible depiction of what is going on in the author’s mind. This can be particularly captivating when it comes to this medium, as it relies so heavily on the visual aspect, and this was definitely true of this novel.
The story itself has a perfect mixture of hilarious and heartwarming moments, and it is completely packed with witty humor. There was also a deepness and complexity to the plot that I was not originally expecting to get out of it. To me, this felt like a sort of caricature of the types of stories where the villains are not entirely evil and the supposed “good guys” are not truly the heroes.
It stars the notorious, not so villainous super villain, Ballister Blackheart, and his reckless new shape-shifting sidekick, Nimona. Nimona’s main mission is to make Ballister into a better super villain so they can cause as much general destruction as possible. On the other hand, Ballister’s main goal is to prove that his friend turned nemesis, Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin, and the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics are far more corrupt than people realize. Ballister is, in fact, quite against creating havoc, and steadfastly refuses to hurt or kill anyone. Obviously, delightfully hysterical shenanigans ensue.
All of the characters in this story are extremely interesting and wonderfully endearing. The relationship between Ballister and Nimona is lovely. She has sort of forced herself into the position of sidekick, and she does a lot of things that he does not always approve of. But they take care of one another, and you can see very clearly just how much they care about each other. Together, they make a great—and only moderately destructive—team. Ballister and Ambrosius’s relationship is beautiful and done to perfection. I really appreciated how Stevenson fluidly works their romance into the plot without making a huge fuss about it; it feels perfectly normal and accepted, as it should.
The best part to me about reviewing a graphic novel is that I get to talk about the artwork, which, in this novel, was absolutely fantastic. The style was colorful and comical, fitting absolutely flawlessly with the themes in and tone of the plot. I loved the fact that she designed her work more like sketches, focusing less on having thorough detailing. The composition of the text itself had a very handwritten feel to it, and matched the overall style nicely. The entire graphic novel was solidly constructed as a whole, and made for an incredibly entertaining reading experience.
I cannot recommend this highly enough, particularly if you are new to graphic novels. I am relatively new to them myself, as I have only begun reading them in the last year or so and have only read a handful. Nimona was one of my first real experiences with them, and an absolutely magnificent one at that. This story has the perfect mix of comedic and heartfelt moments, and beautiful artwork on top of that. It is a hilarious, fun, and captivating read that will put a smile on your face and leave you feeling good long after you have turned the final page. I am really looking forward to reading more of Noelle Stevenson’s work in the future.