Noelle Stevenson originally began publishing the story of Nimona on Tumblr, but ended up collecting everything in a graphic novel format in 2015. The title character is a girl that also happens to be a shapeshifter; she’s invested in becoming an evil villain, so she kind of forces herself into the sidekick role with the villainous Lord Blackheart. Much of the book’s humor comes from the predictable setup: she’s the exuberant, impulsive one; he’s the depressed, uptight one; clashes ensure, followed by hijinks! But Stevenson really nails these characters to perfection, both in her writing and in her art and the comedy just really lands. This is the funniest book I’ve read in a few years, probably since Where’d You Go, Bernadette, and all the humor flows right out of character. The relationship feels very real, not like the set-up for a bunch of jokes. Blackheart’s rival is Sir Goldenloin, a heroic knight that works for the monolithic Institution for Law Enforcement. Their relationship turns out to be deeper and sadder than it at first appears. Goldenloin is a funny name, but he’s a serious character. The emotional arcs of the characters are really evocative. When the book first starts, you kind of think it’s going to be a charming adventure-comedy and it is; but it’s also a surprisingly deep exploration of friendship and the ways it can help us grow when it works and send us into a spiral when it falls apart. There’s a messy chaos to the relationships here, but at the end of the day, Nimona seems to argue that embracing even those difficult people that we often clash with helps us grow in the end. This whole “unlikely family” thing isn’t new, of course, but Stevenson manages to bring it to life in a way that really tugs at the heartstrings without ever feeling maudlin. And I’m pretty sure Nimona is going to get my Across the Board Award for this year; it’s a book to recommend to everyone from that goth kid in the noise rock band across the street to your grandmother in the nursing home. I just can’t imagine anyone not loving this. 4 stars.
tl;dr – charming graphic novel brings hilarious laughs and heart tugging emotions, all based on well-written, deep characters; hard to imagine the person who wouldn’t like this. 4 stars.