Genre: Graphic novel, fantasy
Published: May 12, 2015 by: Harper Collins
Rating: 4/5 stars
CW: abuse, experimentation, minor gore
Shapeshifter Nimona is a spunky villain who vows to remain loyal to her partner, Lord Ballister Blackheart. Together, the duo vow to take down Blackheart's arch nemesis, Sir. Goldenloin, as well as all the supposed "heroes" of the Institute of Law Enforcement. Nimona and Blackheart are determined to set the record straight about the Institution, revealing them to be the true cause of evil in their community. However, as Blackheart begins to learn more about Nimona's past, he will soon realize that their quest for fighting evil with their own unique form of villainy will prove to be more complicated than he originally thought. It turns out, dealing with a shapeshifter is no easy feat.
You'll see me reviewing a lot more comics and graphic novels as I work through reviewing all of the books I had to read in my superhero course. In this graphic novel, Nimona, we follow a spunky villain who can shapeshift into anything, though she mostly presents as a teenaged girl. Together with the unlikely partner of Ballister Blackheart, she seeks to reveal all of the evil that lurks in her medieval-style land. Nimona was an incredibly likable, bubbly character that I couldn't help but root for. Despite her being labelled as a villain, she represents more of a chaotic good side as she delights in taking down evil establishments that have grown a reputation for supposedly being good, though she knows otherwise. Blackheart's and Nimona's dynamics within the unique setting of the graphic novel was an absolute delight, making this a very quick and enjoyable read.
First off, the setting that Stevenson was able to build was incredibly unique. The world in which Nimona lives in is this kind of fictional Medieval-esque world, though with a smattering of technological advancement used by the institution and scientific experimentation. The result is that the future and the past intertwine in this environment to create something I've never seen before. You have knights like Sir. Goldenloin working with scientific masterminds all in the shadow of a Medieval style castle. It was a really cool set-up and I think the lack of a specific time period and more of a drawing of inspiration from different aesthetics played very nicely with Nimona's shapeshifting abilities, as she was able adapt to different situations very well.
I also think the artwork in the graphic novel was really well done. Stevenson plays with soft, light colours, a lot of pale reds, pinks, and yellows, but the graphic novel overall also has a very sketched out feel to it, almost like you can visibly see the sketches with pencil that went into the drawings of the characters. The pictures had a doodled vibe to it, which I loved, because I think it added to the personalization of the graphic novel to Stevenson's specific liking, and I could really see that they put a lot of effort into creating the characters and colour palettes to fit the overall vibes of the graphic, which is a bit spunky, but also whimsical and fun.
I guess the one complaint I would have about the graphic novel was that the plot in my opinion, is a bit weak. It just didn't really captivate me like other comics and graphic novels have done in the past. It was an okay storyline, but definitely not my favourite. I think I took more of a liking to the characters, like seeing what animal of creature Nimona was going to turn into, rather than really focusing on the plot. That being said, it's a very easy graphic novel to get through, and has some very cute moments as well.
Overall, this graphic novel has queer representation, Medieval castles, fun animals, and a spunky antihero at the centre of it all. I think it's a great addition to my graphic novel collection, and I definitely want to read more of what ND Stevenson puts out, particularly, I'm quite interested in watching their show, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. Stevenson is also transmasculine and bigender, so a big plus is that you'll be reading from a diverse author if you pick this one up!
Have you read Nimona? What did you think?
Emily @ Paperback Princess