Nimona (2012)


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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.

From: HarperCollins

Notes on This Title



2014 Autostraddle Comic and Sequential Art Award Shortlist — Favorite Webcomic (Continuing Story)
2015 Autostraddle Comic and Sequential Art Award Winner — Favorite Graphic Novel/Book
2015 Eisner Nominee for Best Digital/Web Comic
2016 Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album—Reprint
2015 National Book Award Finalist - Young People's Literature
2015 Nebula Award Nominee - Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy


Starred Review: “Stevenson’s world is fascinating: an anachronistic marvel that skillfully juxtaposes modern conventions against a medieval backdrop. Imbued with humor, her characters are wonderfully quirky and play with many of the archetypes found in comics. The relationships among her characters are complex and compelling: for an antihero, Blackheart dislikes killing and mayhem, while Goldenloin is not averse to cheating and trickery. Stevenson’s portrayal of the relationship between good and evil is particularly ingenious, as is her attention to detail and adroit worldbuilding. If you’re going to read one graphic novel this year, make it this one.” (Source: Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2015)

Starred Review: “Stevenson’s tale presents a nuanced view of morality while offering thoughtful comment on friendship and individuality. Sharp visuals, a nifty amalgam of fantasy and science fiction elements, and relationships drawn with complexity, wit, and depth create a world worth returning to again and again.” (Source: Publishers Weekly)

Starred Review: “Action scenes dominate as Nimona shifts with Hulk-like ferocity from frightful creatures such as a fire-breathing dragon to a docile cat or a timid child. Dialogue is fresh and witty with an abundance of clever lines.” (Source: School Library Journal, vol 61, issue 4, p173)

“Stevenson gleefully plays with classic sword-and-sorcery tropes, adding some mad science for good measure, but it’s her depiction of the impish Nimona that really shines. The irrepressible minivillain is a tyrant, for sure, but Stevenson’s cartoonish full-color illustrations give her such wide-eyed innocence and gleeful facial expressions that it’s hard not to love her, even when she is blowing up buildings. Packed with spot-on comedic timing and heartening relationships, this is perfect for readers who prefer their adventures rollickingly clever.” (Source: Booklist, vol 111, number 16, p40)


National Book Foundation: “Interview with Noelle Stevenson, 2015 National Book Award Finalist, Young People’s Literature”

1 thought on “Nimona”

  1. This should have a “queer main character” tag, since the story is really told from Blackheart’s point of view, with the titular Nimona being more of a mysterious chaotic influence that touches his life and then leaves him again.

    However, the “M/M relationship” tag is stretching it a bit… Yes, it’s heavily implied (not outright stated and not shown, not even in flashback) that the “hero” and the “villain” were a romantic couple back in their school days, and in a moment of panic the “villain” admits to someone else that the “hero” is someone he loves, despite the fact that he’s otherwise always very bitter in his interactions with the “hero” (for good reason) and saying they can’t go back to “what they were” because the “hero’s” betrayal and his long work for the corrupt Institution cannot just be forgiven or forgotten. In the brief epilogue, it’s implied that the “villain” does forgive the “hero” after all – or just takes pity on him because the “hero” is left disabled by the events of the story finale and that sort of makes them even I guess – but the conversations leading to this reconciliation are never shown and there are no kisses or other clear signs that their relationship is back to anything more than friendship. It’s all kept juuust vague enough that I get the feeling the artist wanted plausible deniability so she could say that they were always just best friends – perhaps because back when this was first published she thought she couldn’t get away with blatantly gay romance in a comic aimed at a teen and child audience?

    Genre-wise, this comic is actually more of a superhero parody – kind of like “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” but in a setting that combines high fantasy Rennaissance-Faire clicheés (chainmail clothing, castles, dragons, jousting, the “hero” is a classic knight-in-shining-armor) with lots of anachronistic technology wherever it is narratively convenient (like exposition via TV news or instant communication via video telephone) and the “villain” is basically the “evil genius scientist” trope, despite wearing plate armor (and despite not actually being evil). Mix in your standard “comedic sociopath” sidekick that also fullfills the narrative purpose of a Manic Pixie Dreamgirl (minus the “dream” since she’s presented as a young teenager and the “villain” she is determined to help to success is not actually interested in her in any romantic capacity and instead developes more fatherly feelings for her) and you got a pretty decent light-weight comedy story.

    And then, at the half-way point, this comic develops a serious case of Cerberus Syndrome, the titular character’s entire characterization and backstory is retconned to make her more seriously monstrous, and people start getting burned to death…


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