I was contemplating including Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona in my first ever flash review post, but that would be doing this incredible graphic novel an injustice. And also: this is, at this point in time, anyways, my favorite book that I’ve read of 2015, so it needs its own special space for me to spooge all over it.
Nimona is a young woman, curvy in stature and punk as fuck in appearance, who decides she wants to be the dastardly Ballister Blackheart’s sidekick and wreak villainous havoc in a world that is somewhat like ours, but with magic and heroes and shit. At first Blackheart isn’t all that interested in having some punk ass kid dragging him down, but when she shows him her shape shifting chops he begrudgingly accepts her offer of assistance. As the narrative unfolds so does the full extent of her powers and, in parallel, the full extent of the trauma she has suffered as a result of them.
Nimona is my new favorite graphic novel for so many reasons. One, because it has a badass female villain who is not sexualized. This is huge. This insanely huge. She doesn’t have washboard abs, she doesn’t have a metallic lycra suit that might as well be her skin, she doesn’t have conical boobs or two perfect cherries for butt cheeks. She is a curvy, normal looking girl who wears normal clothing. However, the fact that she doesn’t look like your average female character in your standard superhero comic does not mean she isn’t totally fucking badass; she is ferocious, she is lethal, and she is (spoiler alert) pretty much invincible. I can’t say how important it was for me, and I’m sure for lots of young girls and older girls and women in general, to have a fierce hero (well…hero/villain) who looks like a normal person.
Reason number two: the queerness! Oh, the queerness. I picked up on the relationship between x and y (I don’t want to spoil shit) pretty early on, maybe because I am always on the lookout for fuel for future slash fiction, but in this case my hopes for non-heteronormative love were greatly rewarded in a really magical way. I think it’s super important for queer relationships to make appearances in genre fiction without necessarily turning the narrative into a soapbox shouting problem novel; young people, and humans in general, need to see these kinds of relationships and characters doing the same things their hetero/cisgendered counterparts do, and Noelle Stevenson does an excellent job of queering the story without making it the central focus of the narrative.
Last but very much not least, Nimona‘s exploration of the ways in which surviving a trauma can make it an essential part of you that is nigh impossible to release, well, it resonated. Fuck that, it made me cry, a lot. I’ve clung to that monstrous, destructive beast as it incinerated everything around me, and I’m sure many of Nimona‘s readers have, as well. I am not sure I have the words to express how special it was to read/see that experience illustrated in this remarkable graphic novel, other than thank you.
Of course, there are things I would have loved to see more of; maybe I read it really fast, but I would have loved to be a bit clearer on what, precisely, the “Institution” WAS, seeing as it was such a pivotal part of the plot. Honestly, though, I had to sit for a spell and think about if there was anything about this little diamond that bummed me out, because I blazed through the entire thing with a huge grin on my face (except for when I was crying). A+++++++.
For music, let’s do Luca Turilli’s “Black Dragon” because I have literally been waiting my entire life to include that song in a Book Punks review.