Webcomic / Nimona

Shapeshifters and fancy knights.

NIMONA is a webcomic (and later a Comic Book) by Noelle Stevenson, about a shapeshifter girl, Nimona, who joins a supervillain knight, Lord Ballister Blackheart, as his sidekick. Cue Ballister's surprisingly orderly villainy; he seems to just have more of a rivalry with the "hero" of the series and his antagonist: Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin, who's actually much more of a jerk than Ballister.

Only the first three chapters of the comic is currently available on the website due to the comic being licensed to become a graphic novel, which was published in May 2015. An animated film adaptation by Blue Sky Studios has been announced for release in 2020.


  • 24-Hour Armor: Nimona, assuming it's really armor and she doesn't just shapeshift it into being.
  • Action Girl: Nimona, even when not a girl. Also, Gloreth.
  • Alliterative Name: Ballister Blackheart
  • Anachronism Stew: The series' main character is a knight with a robotic arm. In several other instances, medieval and technological themes combine, so smoothly that readers have confessed to not even registering that anything was off for several chapters.
  • Annoying Arrows: Discussed and subverted. When an arrow hits Nimona in the leg, Ballister treats it as a serious injury. Nimona thinks he's over-reacting, and wants to get back to fighting right away.
    Nimona: Will you chill out? No-one ever got killed with one little arrow!
    Ballister: Actually, they have. That is kind of the purpose of arrows.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: When Ballister stands over a fallen Goldenloin during a fight:
    Ballister: What if I cut off your arm right now? Then you'd see how fast the Institution would cast you aside. Just like they did me.
    Goldenloin: You wouldn't.
    Ballister: No, I wouldn't. And I'm the villain. What do you suppose that says about you?
  • Artificial Limbs: Ballister's right arm. Goldenloin shot it off after losing a joust. Though later on, it's revealed that The Institution forced Goldenloin to shoot Ballister.
  • Badass Cape: Considering they're both knights, Goldenloin and Ballister both have one.
  • Bank Robbery: Among Ballister and Nimona's schemes. It's probably one of the most evil things Ballister has really done, and even then he leaves most of the gold out for commoners to grab.
  • Bar Brawl: A short one starting page 9 of chapter 7.
  • Beard of Evil: Ballister sports a goatee, while Goldenloin is clean-shaven. Although later in, Ballister don't trim it any more and it gets closer and closer to a full beard.
  • Berserk Button: Nimona reacts very badly to the suggestion that she could be examined to find how her power works, even For Science!. She's nobody's Guinea pig.
  • Big "NO!": Ballister, when Nimona's head is cut off.
  • Bishōnen: Goldenloin is a very pretty man with long, flowing hair and feminine features. He's the only man in the entire comic who is depicted as such.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Ballister and Goldenloin are reconciled and redeemed, the Institution is dismantled, and Blitzmeyer gets a fancy new lab with Ballister. However, Nimona's vengeful rampage killed many innocent people, and there's only a slight possibility that she and Ballister will ever reunite.
  • Black Knight: Ballister's portrayed as one. Kinda.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: One of Goldenloin's soldiers is Dual Wielding such blade and quite skilled with them, beheading Nimona's monster form.
  • Blood Knight: Nimona loves killing. Ballister, being the Noble Demon he is, has to tone this down at times.
    • Later deconstructed, as her violent tendencies stem from a combination of killing before she understood the consequences of her actions, being put in a situation where killing was the only way out, and then defining herself as a killer due to her past.
  • Boyish Short Hair: Nimona has sidetails and bangs, while the rest of her head is shaved. Takes a darker tone as it appears to be mimicking a Traumatic Haircut from her past.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Blackheart's arm being blown off at the joust. Although there turns out to be a deeper layer to this, as the Institute deliberately set this up for Blackheart. They made sure he would be injured, then used his injury as an excuse to get rid of him.
  • Chest Blaster: One of Goldenloin's soldiers has such a weapon integrated in his armor.
  • Christmas Episode:
  • Code Name: Played for Laughs, during the bank robbing scene.
    Nimona: (over radio) Red Fox to Tin Man. Come in, Tin Man, do you copy!
    Ballister: I can hear you, Nimona.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Goldenloin wears majestic gold and white while Blackheart dons black and red.
  • Creator Cameo: Noelle is visible in the background of one page.
  • Cute and Psycho: Nimona is a cute, plucky, adorable young girl who is disturbingly eager to kill and maim people.
  • Death by Origin Story: Nimona's parents, again, along with her entire hometown.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Nimona's parents. However, subverted in her true backstory, where it's implied that she might have killed them herself.
  • Designated Villain: Ballister is an In-Universe example. He's held up as a villain and the top threat to the Kingdom, but his schemes never involve killing anyone and doing the absolute least harm possible, and shows far more morals and compassion than the Institute does, especially for common citizens. The people gradually come to realize this over the course of the comic, and by the climax the people accept him and his leadership during a crisis without question, despite all the propaganda that has been defaming him over the course of the years.
  • Destination Defenestration: As part of the Bar Brawl above.
  • Doomed Hometown: Nimona's town was destroyed by raiders from the west. It's part of her backstory on how she became a shapeshifter. Though, with the most recent updates, it looks like she was lying about that.
  • Dramatic Unmask: The Director throwing away her hood reveals Pointy Ears and a bald head, showing she's probably not human. Nimona later guesses that she's a goblin, although The Director refuses to confirm or deny it.
  • Emerald Power: Dr. Meredith Blitzmeyer's Anomalous Energy Enhancer, which harvests the same infinite omnipotent energy source used by the sorcerers of the mountains... and does nothing at the moment except glow green.
  • The Extremist Was Right: Inverted. The true extremist of the story is The Director and the Institute, which she controls. They're the ones meddling with tools of dark sorcery which are extremely dangerous and have the potential to poison the entire country. Ballister is actually much more moderate, less callous with the lives of others, and he attempts to talk Nimona down from her rampage instead of trying to do nothing but kill her.
  • The Face: Goldenloin is this for the Institute. He's the handsome Knight in Shining Armor that the everyday people can admire as a hero and make the Institute look good, all while they carry on with much darker schemes under the surface.
  • Fiery Redhead: Nimona herself. Though it might be dye.
  • First Law of Tragicomedies: The series started off with a silly sense of humor paired with occasional pathos, then gradually got more serious and character-driven.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Goldenloin to Ballister, as part of the Bar Brawl above.
  • Healing Factor: Nimona's arrow wound healed rather quickly. It's a shapeshifter thing. turns out she could have healed much more quickly, but was misleading Ballister as to the extent of her powers.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Ballister, again. At one point we see that the Academy from which he was expelled (and consequently turned "villain" because of this) is stocking big amounts of a highly poisonous plant, making him worried about possible poisoning of the kingdom's food.
  • In the Hood: Along with a fake beard, Ballister wears a hooded cloak as a disguise at the Science Expo.
  • Instant Awesome: Just Add Dragons!:
    • Ballister's evil plans commonly involve genetically enhanced dragons.
    • Nimona's first shapeshift is of a dragon, too. It's her favorite one.
  • Kill and Replace: At one point, Ballister and Dr. Blitzmeyer talk about a legend of a knight who supposedly fought and killed a shapeshifter like Nimona. Blitzmeyer mentions an alternate theory, that the knight wasn't victorious at all, but that the shapeshifter killed her and then took her shape in order to throw off suspicion and prevent further attacks.
  • Knight Templar: The Director, who believes she is doing everything she does to protect the kingdom.
  • Leave Him to Me: Blackheart says this to Nimona, referring to Goldenloin.
  • Living MacGuffin: The Director and Goldenloin at least in beginning, think Nimona is this.
  • Loony Fan: Nimona joined Ballister because she was a fan of his work. She's much more competent than the usual version of this trope.
  • MacGuffin Super Person: The Director considers Nimona to be this.
  • MacGuffin Title: If you subscribe to the 'Nimona is a MacGuffin' view above, like the Director does.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: While in her dragon form, Nimona takes an arrow to the leg during the Bank Robbery scene, and doesn't notice (even after she shifts back to human) until Ballister points it out to her. Even then, her reaction is a simple "Oh." Played with: when the arrow is extracted, she reacts with considerably more pain — but it turns out she was faking in order to mislead Ballister as to the strength of her powers.
  • Meaningful Name: Goldenloin, along with his golden armor, wears a golden codpiece.
  • Minimalist Cast: The cast page shows all the characters with both a name and a recurring part. That list is exactly five people long.
  • Morality Pet: At first, Nimona seems to be an inversion of this for Ballister, since she's constantly nagging him about his self-imposed ethics and code of honor; as the story advances, however, it starts looking more and more like Ballister has been Nimona's Morality Pet all along.
  • Morphic Resonance: Nimona is a redhead, and many of her alternate forms have red or pink tones. Unlike many examples of this trope, she actually plays with it once by using a rat painted pink as a diversion. Subverted when she turns into a human however, as she is perfectly able to change herself into form with different hair colors. She even changes both the color and style of her haircut in her default form.
  • Noble Demon: Ballister does what he does just to "prove a point" instead of being actually evil.
  • Nostalgia Filter: Towards the end of the comic, Ballister accuses Goldenloin of having this.
    Goldenloin: I just meant... there was a time. Before. Things were simpler. We were together. It was... good.
    Ballister: It was never that good. You always remember things as being better than they were.
  • Not So Different: In the end, Nimona and Ballister. Both were abused by organizations that study magic scientifically and emotionally manipulate others to their own ends. Both were taken in by said organizations as children and told that these organizations were the good guys for doing so. Both define themselves by how these organizations defined them. The difference is that while growing up Ballister thought he was being groomed as a hero and continues to behave heroically, while Nimona was told she was "sick" and "dangerous" and as such decided Then Let Me Be Evil.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Briefly mentioned as the reason Ballister won't let Nimona kill Goldenloin.
  • Only One Name: If Nimona received a last name from her parents, she certainly hasn't told anyone. This is a tad unlikely, since the entire story was a lie.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • When Ballister informs Nimona (over radio) that Goldenloin has ambushed him.
    • When the sample of Nimona's blood, extracted from inside the force field she's being detained in to the main lab, begins transforming into her monstrous form.
  • "Open!" Says Me: Rather than listen to Ballister's Techno Babble, Nimona's strategy of getting through high-security doors is just to ram through them as a rhinoceros. Ballister's less than amused.
  • Perky Female Minion: This seems to be the essence of Nimona's personality. At first, anyway.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Ballister's facial expression is usually serious. The only time it isn't is usually when he's shocked.
  • Plasma Cannon: Ballister's weapon of choice during the bank robbery.
  • Plucky Girl: Nimona. That is, if by "plucky" you mean "knife-happy punk-ass Blood Knight".
  • Poisonous Friend: Nimona may be this for Ballister; she's considerably more bloodthirsty and willing to kill than orderly Ballister.
  • Powered Armor: Goldenloin is outfitted with an enhanced (and still golden) suit with which to subdue Ballister and Nimona, complete with built-in Static Stun Gun gauntlets.
  • Properly Paranoid: When we're first introduced to Ballister and hear his complaints about his rival Goldenloin and the Institute, it's easy to imagine that Ballister's caught in a case of your standard villain paranoia, and that he and Goldenloin having a bit of a Doctor Doom - Reed Richards situation going on, where Ballister is blowing up an incident with Goldenloin and assuming malicious intent where there was none, and blaming the Institute for things it hasn't done. He's right about both Goldenloin intentionally injuring him and about the Institute, although it turns out he's actually significantly underestimating the Institute's capacity for nastiness, and cruel or careless actions.
  • Puppet King: It's implied that the realm's king is one, and the Institute, (specifically, the Director) is the true power. The king being killed off panel while the Director gets a much more significant climax with Nimona all but confirms it.
  • Purely Aesthetic Era: The Middle Ages with computers, TV screens, pop corn, finger gloves, earpieces and ray guns.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • In Goldenloin's joust with Ballister, he was supplied with an unfamiliar, weaponized lance by the Institute. The unfamiliar weight threw him off, and left a hole in his defense that Ballister took advantage of and used to defeat Goldeloin.
    • Ballister goes to great lengths to make his poison non-lethal, but eventually two people who were sick because of it die anyway. As anyone who works in medicine could tell you, there is no illness too harmless to be entirely non-lethal. There's always someone who is immunocompromised enough, or frail enough, or ill enough from something else that some minor illness which would normally not be a big deal can wind up being the last straw that does them in. Although it's possible that this is a subversion. Between the Institute guards at the hospital who had a trap prepared for Ballister, and the second trap prepared for Nimona when she tried to free him, it's possible that the deaths were either the doing of the Institute, or even that nobody died at all and the "deaths" were just a rumor spread by the Institute as part of a Batman Gambit to trap Ballister.
    • In the true and fake versions of Nimona's backstory.
      • Turns out appearing in your hometown as a dragon who can't speak means your friends and family won't recognize you, and then spending a long period of time mastering your powers on your own means you won't actually be there during the raider's next attack and kill everyone.
      • When a six year old girl transforms into a dragon, it doesn't matter that she saved the village from raiders: everyone she knows and loves becomes terrified of her.
  • Riddle for the Ages: We never do learn how exactly Nimona's powers work, or what caused them in the first place.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: In-universe; Word of God has stated that knights choose their own names, and suggests that Goldenloin intended himself to be Goldenlion.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Ballister and Nimona are a villainous version.
  • Schizo Tech: See Anachronism Stew. There's bows and arrows and Death Rays; a knight's armor has built-in radio.
  • Shapeshifter Baggage: Lampshaded by Ballister, who notes that Nimona is able to create extra mass for herself seemingly out of nowhere, and how that should be impossible. It's a pretty good hint that there's more to her powers than she lets on.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock:
    • After being exposed to Dr. Meredith Blitzmeyer's Anomalous Energy Enhancer at the Science Expo, Nimona gets locked in the form of a cat.
    • The trope is also discussed when Nimona says that if she shifted into the form of an inanimate object, she'd be stuck as that object afterward.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Goldenloin has one to the Institute for his entire life, as it turns out. He truly believes in the stated mission of the Institute and is clueless about their more immoral side.
  • Villainous Valor: Say this much for the Director when she has a final confrontation with Nimona, she doesn't beg, plead, or try to hide, she goes out fighting to the end.
  • Villain Protagonist: Well, hello. Though it's not really played straight, as Blackheart only takes the title of "villain" because that's what he's cast as to the public and his ultimate goal is to punish the corrupt system. Kinda more straight with Nimona, as she's much more interested in being evil for the sake of evil.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Nimona's superpower. She can transform at will into any living creature, though they're often still red. Word of God says she can change her colors completely, but that takes more concentration.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Ballister and Goldenloin were the two best knights in the Institution, until Goldenloin shot Ballister's arm off after losing a joust to him. Until it's revealed that Goldenloin was forced to shoot Ballister.
  • Wish Fulfillment: In-universe example, the fake backstory Nimona tells to Blackheart. While it acknowledges that her parents are dead, raiders were involved, and her first transformation involved a dragon when she was six, it removes all of the most painful elements.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Nimona's head gets chopped off by a guard. She gets better. Sort of. She turns into a giant fire-monster and incinerates all of them.
  • Would Not Hurt A Child: Goldenloin refuses an order from the Institution to kill Nimona. Then again, he could be easily replaced... Subverted when he agrees to kill Nimona in exchange for not having to kill Blackheart.