Noelle Stevenson’s NIMONA is a graphic novel I started reading online, then stumbled across the whole thing in paperback. Ballister Blackheart once aspired to be a hero working for the enigmatic Institute defending his er, medieval-punk country (it’s an odd mix of advanced tech and knightly armor). Then everything changed and he’s now an archvillain working against Goldenloin, who got the hero gig Ballister aspired too. Enter Nimona, a pixie-ish shapeshifter eager to work as Ballister’s sidekick with her shapeshifting powers. But is she who or what she says she is? What is the Institute up to? I don’t think the Institute’s plan really made a lot of sense, but that’s not the center of the book, so this worked for me anyway. I look forward to more from Stevenson.
THE MONSTER SHOW: A Cultural History of Horror by David J. Skal (who provided the commentary on the Dracula DVD I watched a while back) starts off well in the Victorian age but slides into pretension as it approaches the present. Skal’s strength is writing about the genesis of Dracula and Frankenstein, their Victorian reception and their lurching transition first to stage, then screen. After that comes the pretension, such as finding some sort of parallel between mad scientists transforming humans into monsters and plastic surgery recreating people’s faces (he spends several pages discussing Michael Jackson to no good effect) or lots of discussion on AIDS as the root of 1980s horror (he’s writing in 1993). Okay, so what about cancer? Polio, which was a terrifying thing before Salk and Sabine developed their vaccines? Why not more on slasher films which were, after all, a primary form of horror in the 1980s (when Skal does deal with them, it’s to see them as anti-child and ignore the misogynist overtones)? A real disappointment
#SFWApro. Cover by Stevenson, all rights remain with current holder.