|A villain's world is turned upside down by a pink-haired girl will a big desire for death.
|ND (formerly Noelle) Stevenson
|May 12, 2015
From ND (formerly Noelle) Stevenson, comes Nimona, a fantasy graphic novel story about a shapeshifting being who joins villain Ballister Blackheart and their plot to uncover the corruption of the Institution. Recently, the webtoon-inspired story has received a Netflix release after being canceled by numerous film companies. This review will cover the graphic novel, so readers can have a point of reference to the movie.
Language: D*****, H***, P***
Alcohol/Substance Abuse: Adults are presumed to be drinking alcohol in the tavern
Sexuality/Gender Themes: ND (formerly Noelle) Stevenson is a prominent transgender figure in media and social outlets. They have confirmed the parallels of the story helped them explore their identity. Thus, Nimona’s shape-shifting could be read as a metaphor for gender fluidity. Ballister and Ambrosius have a subtle past relationship between each other.
Violence: Nimona holds no punches (or flame breath) on her enemies and kills people in panel, as well as mentions killing hundreds prior. She has a certain affinity for violence and death. There are sword fights, blasters, and big explosions. One person is scorched to death. Another loses an arm in a jousting tournament.
Negative Themes: As hinted at before, the character of Nimona imbues what Harley Quinn and Jinx (from LoL) are — crazy, sometimes anti-heroes with a penchant for violence and murder. She revels in it, having no qualms doing anything to protect Ballister, or just for fun.
Positive Themes: This story is one where the concepts of villainy and heroics are brought into question and shown in a good way. Good-intentioned organizations cannot force rules on mere say-so, nor can they hide secrets. Meanwhile, the idea of “bad” is often misconstrued and muddled. It’s not easy to see who is good and who is bad.
Spiritual Takeaway: Matthew 5:14 is shown in Ballister’s final moments of the novel. He hopes that Nimona knows there’s always a friend out there for her. Obviously, the topics surrounding this graphic novel and Netflix movie are politically charged, and within our Christian circle, there’s hot debate going on constantly. Regardless of the background of anyone reading this, respect is taught within the Bible for everyone. You don’t have to agree, but you do have to respect the person. We should be lights in the darkness. Our community should be the ones people talk about as loving and respectful, even if we disagree. That’s the love of Christ; save the judgment of God for God alone.
Ballister Blackheart finds a strange new person in his lair. She goes by the name of Nimona and is ready to be his sidekick. Too ready. She joins because she wants to strike fear into the Institution. Blackheart, a man of refinement and class, is taken back by Nimona’s crass behavior. One could say she was more of an evil person than Ballister, the most wanted man in the kingdom.
Well, there’s a reason for that. Ballister was once a knight of the Institution and great friends with Ambrosious Goldenloin, the top knight of the realm. There was a falling out, and both sides blamed the other. It ended up elevating Goldenloin and demonizing Blackheart (who was once Braveheart).
Ballister continues life with Nimona now in the picture. Steadily, the Institution grows irritable, and the public grows restless. The mystery that is Nimona also comes into question, and what everyone discovers changes things. But the rest I will leave shrouded for readers to discover.
The art is as it appears on the cover. It’s very inspired by Adventure Time — little to no shading, small eyes, pointy appendages and features, minimalist and cartoony. As Nimona’s origins are from the webcomic side of art, it’s understandable. That art style is easy to master, highly adaptable, and quick for getting comics out.
The question of whether it’s worth a read is easy. Yes.
At the time of its release, and when I read it some time after the hype went away, I would say, “You’re not missing anything. Anti-hero, good is bad, bad is good, the indie scene is basically a haven for that thought.” But with the Netflix adaptation out, I say it’s good to get a feel for the craft from both perspectives. I personally enjoyed the graphic novel because it got me back into reading, and the movie brought some hilarious moments to life. However, the source material will always have the added depth and natural pace a film cannot allow.
+ A decent story about the dichotomy of good and evil
+ Meaningful characters
- Anti-hero is not a great role model.
- Personally not a fan of the art
- Not enough Shark Nimona
The Bottom Line
Nimona is worth a once-over.