Review: Nimona

Stop what you are doing. Go read this comic right now.

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I like Noelle Stevenson. She is a great writer and an amazing artist. I’m a big fan of the series Lumberjanes and I unwittingly followed her tumblr for a long time without knowing who she actually was (she has a really great tumblr). And so it was with this knowledge that I picked up the physical copy of her web comic  Nimona.

This story is excellent. I could not put it down. It’s funny, touching, sharp, and just beautifully drawn: like I am drooling this is so gorgeous beautiful. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. The book was nominated in 2015 for an Eisner Award and was longlisted for the 2015 National Book Award. Not too shabby.

Our story begins when Nimona, our young, sassy, shapeshifting protagonist, shows up on the metaphorical door step of resident supervillain Lord Ballister Blackheart wanting to be his sidekick. Together they wreak havoc and commit general villainy. Ballister is a one-armed renegade with a score to settle and really excellent facial hair. He regularly faces off with his nemesis Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin, he of the golden curls,  as well as fighting the goons of the oddly malevolent Institution of Law Enforcement.

The story takes place in a world rooted equally in science and magic, which is a neat change of pace from your typical fantasy story. It’s got all the medieval fantasy tropes one expects (kings, jousting, peasants, swords), but they are matched with sci-fi bits (laser guns, glowing things, laboratories, EXPLOSIONS). And just when you think you have a hold on what this book is about, it pivots just slightly, just enough to keep you guessing. It is a delight. The dialogue is very well written, completely engaging and smart. Stevenson does an excellent job of portraying her characters. They are full of life, so much so that I find myself laughing and despairing with them. Nimona is just too much: hilarious, impulsive, completely and entirely spitfire and badass. So much respect. And then there’s Blackheart, who works against your expectations and is so much more than the typical villain. The relationship between the two is beautiful. These two juxtapose nicely with the corrupt Institution and the overly earnest Goldenloin. The story of Goldenloin and Ballister and how they became nemeses is simultaneously fun, amusing, and heart wrenching.

Nimona is an adventurous romp that makes you laugh out loud and fly through the pages. But be careful. They are full color and very pretty. Don’t tear anything. Get a hold of yourself. It’s hard to go too much more into the details without feeling like I’m giving too much away. The less you know is probably for the better. Pick this graphic novel up and let it surprise and delight you.

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