Webcomics Watch: "NIMONA" by Noelle Stevenson
One of my close guy friends encouraged me to buy a hard copy for this published webcomics series, and I obliged because I heard really good things about it, particularly since Felicia Day herself had recommended it in her The Flog vlog. I've been getting into webcomics lately for this year, and have found great ones so far, and it's safe to say that Noelle Stevenson's endearing series NIMONA is one of the better ones out there, which never ceased to be enjoyable in its 275-paged run, as well as able to possess flashes of brilliance alongside its emotional resonance. I could recommend this to most people because part of Nimona's charm is its niche setting that combines medieval fantasy and science fiction elements. It's essentially set in a land with both magic and science (read: technology).
What made this webcomic such an instant hit, however, is its titular anti-heroine. In an interview online, author Stevenson herself confessed that she liked the idea of Magneto-Mystique villainous partnership in the X-Men movies, and Nimona was partly inspired of this concept. The titular spunky girl in question is also a shapeshifter but one who is not only limited to imitating the forms of humans but also a wide range of creatures both mundane and mythical. The most memorable of which was a panel sequence where she tried to convince the bad-guy genius Sir Ballister Blackheart to hire her as his personal lackey and sidekick:
Stevenson definitely wrote a charming cast of characters who have enough quirks, insecurities and chemistry with each other that readers will definitely have fun going through each chapter breezily. I like everyone in the comics; from Nimona herself who is unique, balls-out insane at times, and intriguing to her boss Sir Blackheart who is such a fucking softie it's unbelievable at times, and may not be the bad guy everyone else in the kingdom had saddled him the role of; and even the literal golden-boy Sir Ambrosius Goldenlion who seemed vapid and conceited in the surface but who actually does posses a moral code and was merely blinded by his ambition to be recognized as a hero that he betrayed his only friend.
This was no doubt an entertaining comics series you can buy a copy for yourself, and bring along during a vacation trip, or share among your friends and have an endless source of good times with. However, that's not to say that Nimona is perfect in every way; I do have a few noteworthy criticisms about its overall plot, narrative and conflict resolutions, but nitpicking it to death would be such a bore, wouldn't it? I know Nimona herself won't be so happy about being deconstructed and judged (which was what 90% of the people around her have done in this book), much like this book should not be taken for its flaws but rather more for its merits which is has a lot of that they may be enough to outweigh the not-so-impressive qualities. The selling point of this series is the nuanced relationships among the three:
I found that Nimona was at its finest in the later part of the series when things eventually did get gritty and high-stakes, and the core relationship between Nimona and Sir Blackheart was tested to its limits. There are certain issues and themes of trust and forgiveness that Stevenson tackled in these parts, and it was definitely resonant and meaningful. Once you've learned to enjoy and be invested in the dynamics between not only Nimona and Blackheart, but also Blackheart and his former friend-turned-enemy Sir Goldenlion, then it's easy to get swept away by the drama and action provided. I was also quite happy to learn that Stevenson confirmed herself that Blackheart and Goldenlion were childhood friends who had a romantic history. And here I thought I was just wearing ship goggles again!
That being said, I will admit that the criticisms some people may have who did not connect with this series do hold weight. I agree on their nitpicks, whether they're about the overall content of the story; the rushed arc and conflict; the lack of more world-building; or the ambiguous explanation of the origins of Nimona's power; and even the style of art for the illustrations. However, I would like to stress that these criticisms should be ignored unless you have read the book for yourself first. I certainly don't want to spoil whatever enjoyment you may find in reading Nimona if you so happen stumble upon this review and find yourself discouraged to pick it up just because of those flaws. Of course not! Nimona is an enthralling webcomics series that have really relatable and endearing characters, and it's worth picking up and experiencing the magic yourself.
I especially like the relationship between Blackheart and Nimona. The development of their alliance and partnership had been bittersweet and memorable. I even mentioned that I've likened them to a villain version of Batman and Robin, and judging by that fan art I found online, I wasn't the only one who thought of the parallels. Their chemistry alone in this story is what made this series a worthwhile recommendation. Stevenson explained in the same interview I found online that she liked writing platonic connection and not merely fanservice romance. She believed companionship is a rare thing that must be treasured. This truly attest in the wonderful, hopeful message at the ending about the many ways friendship can change someone for the better, and give them a chance to be understood or even be saved.
In a nutshell, you can't go wrong with Nimona. Go and see for yourself!