Lord Ballister Blackheart is a former knight turned mad scientist who gets his kicks kidnapping royals and being a general thorn in the side of the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics. He was content to launch elaborate evil schemes and battle his nemesis (the insufferable Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin) until one day he got something he didn't particularly want: a sidekick. Shapeshifting Nimona is smart, conniving, and needlessly violent, but she might also be just the thing Blackheart needs to expose the true evil in the land: the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics.
Noelle Stevenson's Nimona opens, appropriately, with Nimona herself, who has shown up in Blackheart's lab uninvited to apply for a sidekick job. Blackheart is initially reluctant to hire a kid for the gig, but ultimately decides that a shapeshifter might be handy to have around. But Nimona has a very different view on villainy than Blackheart does. For him, being a supervillain means careful planning, plots that will yield him the most income, little to no death toll, and courtly duels with Sir Goldenloin, who wronged Blackheart back when they were both knights. Villainy has rules. But for Nimona, being a supervillain means killing and stealing, and she wants to get the most out of it.
While Blackheart may not approve of Nimona's tendency to go off-book during their schemes, he admires her results. He's begun to develop suspicions that the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics is engaged in some dangerous activities, and Nimona might be just the person to help him expose them. But he's not sure if he's gained a powerful ally or a dangerous weapon.
Stevenson opts for a light, sketchy style with her artwork, which sets up the tone of the comic. Nimona is a slightly silly genre mashup; it's set in a high fantasy-esque setting, but one filled with television sets and giant robots. Blackheart himself has a mechanical arm, genetically engineers his dragons, and has trouble accepting the existence of magic. And Blackheart and Goldenloin's insistence on the rules of heroism and villainy is reminiscent of The Venture Bros.. Like The Venture Bros., though, it's clear that Stevenson has a deeper story to tell, one about the nature of heroes and villains, and the choices these characters make. It's hard to say who will end up on what side by the end, but at least a long the way, we'll continue to see Nimona turn into a shark. It's hilarious every time.