Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Published by HarperTeen on May 12th 2015
Genres: Graphic Novel
The graphic novel debut from rising star Noelle Stevenson, based on her beloved and critically acclaimed web comic, which Slate awarded its Cartoonist Studio Prize, calling it "a deadpan epic."
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.
I originally didn’t plan on reading Nimona. I did not know about its history as a webcomic before sitting down to read it, and didn’t know what to expect beyond the hype. But when I got it in a subscription box, I thought I’d give it a go. Ultimately, as per usual, the hype did the story a disservice.
I was actually surprised by how “meh” I felt about this story. First of all, I don’t care for Noelle Stevenson’s art style. Although I don’t judge a graphic novel completely on its art style, it does have a slight impact on my enjoyment. Secondly, I found the characters to be mostly flat. Judging from the title, I thought this story was going to be about Nimona first and foremost, so I expected to feel some level of attachment to her. This story ended up focusing more on Ballister Blackheart, which in and of itself was my preference. I enjoy him as a character the most. But that also left Nimona to feel very one note. Also, I found the plot to be fairly predictable in a lot of ways.
Lastly, I found myself annoyed with how Blackheart and Goldenloin weren’t depicted in a way that blatantly showed they were gay. While, yes, it is obvious to most people, I have seen plenty of people say they are just “best friends.” Fans of the webcomic may not have picked up on this, as I know that Noelle has since come out and said she is regretful for not making it blatant and does frequently show fanart or even her own art of them looking couple-y on her blog. Their romance (and friendship) was the heart of the story, and I felt it didn’t quite achieve what it could because it held back.
Overall, I found Nimona to be a cute story, but it did not live up to the overwhelming amount of hype and I’ve found it to be forgettable since I’ve read it. I’m more likely to recommend other graphic novels, even to new graphic novel readers.