Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards Nominee for Best Digital/Webcomic (2015),
National Book Award for Young People’s Literature Nominee for Longlist (2015)
Pretty much everything I love about Nimona a graphic novel by Noelle Stevenson, (which is a metric ton), can be summed up by this singular panel:
In brief, the story of Nimona follows the (mis)adventures of a Medieval-ish, mechanical-armed supervillain named Lord Ballister Blackheart and the shape-shifting Nimona, the title character, who shows up one day in Blackheart’s evil laboratory and convinces him to let her be his sidekick.
What follows is a huge heaping series of awesome.
In keeping with the modern sensibilities of webcomics, Nimona is full of snark and metafictional observations like, when asked about who she is and where she’s come from by Blackheart, moans: “Aw, man, do I HAVE to do the tragic backstory thing? It’s such a downer.”
Similarly, a lot of attention is paid to the general fails of super-villainry. The first time Nimona looks over Blackheart’s shoulder at his evil plans, she critiques his lack of follow-through. She basically asks that question everyone even remotely familiar with comic books/evil overlords always wants to ask, which is, basically: what’s with all the convolutions? Why not just kill everyone and take their stuff?
What I love about Nimona, though, is that Blackheart isn’t put off. He give Nimona a patient look and explains: that’s how things are done. We don’t shoot to kill. We’re not really trying to win, not like that, anyway. The POINT is the eternal struggle between order and chaos. Nimona, meanwhile, both pushes at Blackheart’s boundaries while also staying charmingly lovable, despite her darker impulses.
The other thing I adored about this webcomic is the ridiculously flaxen-haired, fabulous hero, Goldenloin. Because, for every punchline he stumbles into, he comes out similarly likable, particularly when the full depth of the relationship between Blackheart and Goldenloin is revealed.
I will say that if you’re not terribly used to webcomics or graphic novels, the art might take some getting used to. It’s highly stylized, and I found the simple lines deceptively complex. The action is easy to follow. The art style actually adds a certain poignancy to some pictures, because body language and expressions are so visceral and immediate.
Likewise, I had to breakout my higher strength reading glasses to read the print. Apparently, the folks at HarperTeen don’t think old people read graphic novels…. Actually, I suspect they were attempting to preserve the crude, homemade feel of the webcomic, which I do think adds oomph to this powerful, emotional story.
Oh, last warning? When you sit down to read this book, have Kleenex at the ready.
Nimona packs many tough FEELS.