Nico was an ordinary Japanese-American teenager with ordinary parents... or so she thought. One night, while hanging out with the kids of her parents' friends as they do annually, Nico and the others discover something shocking: their parents are a cult of supervillains called The Pride.
Moreover, Nico learns her parents are actually dark wizards, and she comes into the possession of her mother's Staff of One — a mystical artifact that casts spells once ever, and only when its user sheds blood. With the Staff in tow, Nico and her fellow runaways flee home, hoping to correct the moral wrongs of their parents.
Upon discovering her maybe-boyfriend Alex Wilder is actually a mole serving their parents and defeating him, Nico becomes the Runways' new leader. Over the next few years, she and the Runaways clash with the Young Avengers during the first Civil War, gain (and lose) a few members, and make it through the Secret Invasion.
Some time later, Nico and Chase Stein (another Runaway) are abducted by the supervillain Arcade and forced into the Avengers Arena, where she and other young characters of the Marvel Universe (like X-23 and some of the Avengers Academy) must kill (or be killed) in order to escape. Nico actually dies at one point during this ordeal, but thanks to the Staff of One, her death isn't permanent. With the help of Chase and their fellow captives, most (but not all) of them manage to make it out alive.
But Wait, There's More! Months after escaping Arcade's Murderworld, Nico is understandably distraught, having quit the Runaways and condemned Chase for becoming a media sensation in light of those events. When she and the other survivors find Cullen Bloodstone (another Murderworld escapee) conspiring with the Masters of Evil in Bagalia in order to take revenge on Arcade, Nico is reunited with a resurrected Alex and very nearly seduced to joining the dark side with him. After months of struggle, Nico and the survivors are rescued with the help of S.H.I.E.L.D..
When the Marvel Universe is destroyed by a final incursion with Earth-1610, another Nico exists in the Arcadia region on God Doom's Battleworld, and serves on their team of law enforcers called A-Force. Alongside She-Hulk, Medusa, Dazzler, and a cosmic entity called Singularity, they investigate the wrongful arrest of America Chavez and take down the amoral Lady Loki.
When the Marvel Universe is restored, Singularity (who migrated from Battleworld to Earth-616 in the wake of the Siege on God Doom) locates her friends from Arcadia — despite none of them remembering Battleworld, or Singularity herself — to reform A-Force. Together, they meet Dazzler Thor (another Battleworld holdover) and start adventuring together.
Unfortunately, they soon get drawn into Civil War II, which starts with She-Hulk (their leader) being put in a coma. Afterwards, Nico winds up living on her own again, at a loss for anything to do...until Chase shows up with an unexpected guest, kick-starting a new Runaways series.
Outside of the comics, Nico joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Hulu's Runaways (2017) released in November 2017, played by Lyrica Okano. Interestingly, Nico's mother Tina (in a nonspeaking cameo role) appears in 2016's Doctor Strange (2016), played there by Linda Louise Duan, as well as in the Doctor Strange Prelude comic. In the actual series, however, she is played by a different actress, Brittany Ishibashi, and given an entirely separate storyline.
Notable Comic Books
- Runaways vol. 1 (2003 — 2004)
- Runaways vol. 2 (2005 — 2008)
- Runaways vol. 3 (2008 — 2009)
- Avengers Arena (2012 — 2013)
- Avengers Undercover (2014)
- A-Force vol. 1 (2015)
- A-Force vol. 2 (2015 — 2016)
- Runaways vol. 5 (2017 —)
- Runaways (2017), played by Lyrica Okano
- Marvel: Avengers Alliance (2013)
- Marvel Future Fight (2015)
- Avengers Academy (2016)
- Marvel Puzzle Quest (2017)
- Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 (2018 DLC pack)
Nico Minoru provides examples of the following tropes:
- An Arm and a Leg: She lost her left arm during Avengers Arena, replacing it with the Witch Arm after her resurrection. In the 2017 relaunch, however, her arm is back to normal, which is eventually revealed to be the work of "the One."
- Artificial Limbs: Her Witch Arm.
- Belated Love Epiphany: Nico doesn't realize she might actually have feelings for Karolina until she leaves for another galaxy.
- Blood Magic: The Staff of One only appears when Nico is bleeding, though it's not too picky on how.
- Boxing Lessons for Superman: During her and the Runaways' stay with Doc Justice, she ends up learning how to fight with the Staff of One in combat. She's becoming pretty good.
- By the Power of Grayskull!: "When blood is shed, let the Staff of One emerge." This seems to be involuntary.
- Cartwright Curse: Downplayed - Alex and Victor have both died and come back, although in Victor's case they'd been broken up for a while by that point. Karolina got Put on a Bus less than an hour after trying to kiss her. Then there's Topher (turned out to be a vampire Sixth Ranger Traitor and died the same night he kissed her.)
- Childhood Friend Romance: With both Alex and Karolina, although prior to the start of the series they only saw each other once a year.
- Combat Stilettos: She actually used them against Victor.
- Costume Porn: Many of the outfits she wears (and her team members) were made by her, and apparently she did this before they all went on the run but only for herself. She also has this reaction to the outfits of the civilians in 1907.
- Drama-Preserving Handicap: The Staff of One can cast any spell only once. To preserve drama, many writers have Nico having cast a potentially useful spell off screen. Though later power ups and creative wording write arounds do appear, many writers forget them.
- Elegant Gothic Lolita: She wears lace, puffy skirts, and frilly clothes.
- Ethnic Magician: Averted. Her and her parents have magical powers, but it's not linked in any way to them being Japanese and her powers actually have more in common with European styles of magic.
- The Fashionista: A gothic version of this trope, since she likes to make her own clothes and they're all gothic in some way.
- Fatal Attractor: Alex was The Mole, Topher was a Sixth Ranger Traitor, and Victor left her for Lillie.
- Flight: Nico gains the ability to fly after Witchbreaker untaps her magical powers.
- Goth Girls Know Magic: Played with — her magic-wielding parents pretended to be hyper-sensitive Christians who greatly disapproved of her new look. They ended up giving her her powers by stabbing her with the Staff of One.
- Green-Eyed Epiphany: Her reaction to Karolina and Xavin. Victor and Lillie, by contrast, merely annoy her.Nico: So you guys are still...together?
- Green-Eyed Monster: Her feelings for Karolina lead to a bad case of this with Xavin and Julie.
- Hot Witch: She is one attractive magic user.
- It Only Works Once: Any incantation she uses. Using the same words twice results in a Random Effect Spell.
- Loophole Abuse: However, she can use the same incantation multiple times if she speaks it in a different language - so if someone who has a thesaurus in their brain/hard drive like Vision II happens to be nearby, the number of uses for one incantation goes from 1 to however many ways she can find to say it in different languages.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Fashionable: Non-romantic version if you exclude the members of the group she has a crush on.
- Lady of Black Magic: She wears elegant and elaborate Gothic clothing and uses the Staff of One to cast magic. She becomes a much more powerful witch after Witchbreaker tortures her.
- The Leader: Once the team reformed after Alex's death, although she doesn't think of herself as one.
- Loyal Phlebotinum: Initially averted. Nico's blood summons the staff, but anyone who took it from her could use it. Although this is no longer possible after she Took a Level in Badass, and if anyone else tries to use the staff, it will eat them.
- Mercy Kill Arrangement: She asks Gert to kill her if she ever loses control of the Staff of One. Gert has adamantly refused any such arrangement.
- Perky Goth: A flashback to a year before the series begins shows that she dressed more or less normally, and even wore glasses, suggesting that her more gothic style of dress was something she took up recently. The "perky" part starts to become more downplayed the more she goes through over the course of the series.
- Raised Catholic: She has a strange relationship with her Catholicism: she seems to look back on it fondly, but the fact that her parents were trying to raise her to be a good Catholic while being terrible criminals unnerves her. She's functionally non-religious, but turns back to her faith for comfort and security, something she bonds over with Victor.
- Relationship Upgrade: With Karolina, as of issue 12 of the relaunch.
- Semantic Superpower: The Staff of One can be used to conjure practically anything (resurrection is an exception), although each spell can only be used once — and if Nico wants to perform a similar magic, she must use a different phrasing of the word. Different languages also work — she's used "heal" in a large number of them.
- Sex for Solace: Though not sex specifically, she has a nasty habit of reaching out for relationships (and kisses) when she feels stressed. She's done this with Victor and Chase - twice. This may also have been the case with her relationship with Alex. She does it again when she tries to kiss Karolina in the 2017 series.
- Shipper with an Agenda: She decides to encourage her then-boyfriend Victor to spend more time with Lillie, because she knows they're both infatuated with each other and she doesn't want to get in the way. It backfires when Lillie gets cold feet and stays in 1907.
- Ship Tease: On-again, off-again with Karolina. As of vol. 5 issue #12, they're officially together.
- Squishy Wizard: Has no built-in durability, and can be hurt or injured like any normal person, despite her magic.
- Team Mom: Takes over as the team's leader after Alex's death, and frequently monitors the budget and allowances for the others.
- Token Wizard: She is the only member of the Runaways whose powers are mystical in origin.
- Took a Level in Badass: Whatever the Witchbreaker did to her has affected her powers in ways that have yet to be fully explored. The most dramatic example is how the Staff of One reacts to people: before, anyone could try to use it. Now, if anyone besides Nico so much as touches it, it EATS them.
- Try Not to Die: The Catch Phrase she devises for the team.
- Two First Names: The name "Minoru" is strictly a given name in Japan. A male-only given name at that.
- Words Can Break My Bones: Nico can use the Staff of One to create any magical effect she can describe (usually in one or two words). However, each description can only be used once.