Lord Ballister Blackheart used to work for the The Institution and was best friends, hinting at more, with Goldenloin; until he lost his arm due to Goldenloin and was kicked out of The Institution. From there, he vowed to expose for the criminals they are by becoming their "villain". He still has core values that he cannot break, including being unable to kill without cause.
Nimona is a mysterious shapeshifter, determined to help Blackheart destroy The Institution. However, she lacks his core values and is willing to destroy without remorse. Her backstory is slowly revealed, and you pity this young girl for the terrors she has endured. For people's inability to see past appearances to her heart, for fear controlling how people treated her. It is only Blackheart who is able to see past her outward monster to the scared little girl inside. The two of them play well off each other, her making him more cunning and encouraging his abilities, and him instilling a sort of kindness or humanity that she had stripped from her by others.
I loved the illustrations, perfectly capturing the feelings of delicateness, hopelessness and darkness. Nimona is the only rounded main character, the others are all angles; this seems to be another way to express her being different. The comic is so dark throughout, with the only bright spots moments between Nimona and Blackheart, and the memories are drawn in a kind of hazy orange or brown. The epilogue is bright, to contrast the evil of The Institution with the happiness of this new kingdom. The ending was poetic. Sad and beautiful.
Really enjoyed the relationships in this novel. Although, Blackheart and Nimona steal the show, the two of them growing to care deeply for each other; like a father and daughter (hence the moments of coloured happiness in the book). The end of their story is bittersweet, but well thought out, and the only way the two of them could move forward with their lives in this new villain-less world.
The comedic moments interspersed throughout were too cute, helping to lighten the dramatic nature of the story, especially the board games! I also enjoyed the bonus comics at the end, the two Christmas specials. I highly recommend this graphic novel to any fans of comics, of strong females, and of young adult literature.
These were my two favourite spreads. The first being a cute father/daughter moment at the science fare, a break from their mission (brightly coloured); and the second a reddish tinged fight scene with Nimona turning into a Triceratops.