I am very picky about my graphic novels. It comes, in part, because of my raging feminist nature – there’s not nearly enough female characters in most mainstream graphic novels and comic bind-ups for me to really love. It’s why I became so quickly obsessed with Rat Queens and Saga. But it wasn’t just the female characters I loved. Their worlds were fascinating and the plots hooked me in.
Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona doesn’t have a dark of a world as Saga and it doesn’t have as many characters as Rat Queens. But it’s fun and fierce, with characters that no reader will soon forget.
Nimona is a shapeshifter who decides that she needs to be the evil villain Lord Ballister Blackheart’s squire. Blackheart accepts (albeit reluctantly and only because Nimona’s murdering people left and right) and together they pair up to take on the Institute of Law Enforcement and Heroics and its golden boy Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin. Along the way, Blackheart discovers there may be more to Nimona than a girl with magical powers; Nimona discovers that Blackheart’s heart might not be black; and Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin looks fabulous and struggles with the guilt of deeds long past.
It’s an amazingly fun story and a wicked fast read. (I devoured my advanced copy of the upcoming printed version at a diner over ice cream. Reading Nimona with ice cream is the best way to read Nimona. Reading anything with ice cream is the best way to read anything.) I absolutely loved the dynamics between Goldenloin and Blackheart, and Nimona’s determination (and habit of shapeshifting into large destructive dragon-esque creatures) endeared her to me. I’ve been talking about the characters and giggling with other fans ever since I finished it.
Nobody should be surprised that Stevenson’s Nimona is so memorable. It was her first work and what landed her on the map. Now, with her comic Lumberjanes and her absolutely amazing Wonder Woman issues, those who haven’t read Nimona certainly need to go back and read it.
But perhaps the best thing about Nimona isn’t the comic itself, but how much fun it continues to be once you put it down. There is no bigger fan of Nimona‘s characters than Noelle Stevenson herself, and so following her on Tumblr and Twitter means that the series never really ends. She’s constantly sketching the characters in alternate universes, where Nimona is a little older, or Blackheart and Goldenlion are her gay dads, or the Director is a giraffe. (She does have an impossibly long neck.)
Nimona was originally a web-comic that could be read for free online, but with the release of the book in May, only the first three chapters are available online. But trust me – you’ll want to own this one.