She-Ra and Catra: An Evolved Hero-Villain Relationship

This article contains mild spoilers.

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Noelle Stevenson understands characterization.

Last year, I discovered Nimona, an Eisner-nomated webcomic-turned-novel written by Stevenson about a whimsical, enigmatic shapeshifter who befriends an evil figure with an ultimately good heart. I found Nimona at a secondhand bookstore—the kind of store filled with spine-damaged books sporting dogeared pages—and I was surprised by the pristine condition of the copy I found. As I flipped through the beginning of the graphic novel, I saw a collection of glossy, well-preserved, wrinkle-free images.

Then I got to a page featuring a profoundly tense moment between Nimona, the shapeshifter, and Lord Ballister Blackheart, the semi-benevolent villain. The white border of the page was filled with scrapbook-style stars and bold exclamation points apparently drawn by the book’s previous owner.

Later, when I read that page—a page filled with genuine heartache and refreshingly nuanced character interactions—I added a couple exclamation points of my own.

Noelle Stevenson understands characterization, and that storytelling skill is evident in her latest creation, Netflix’s 2018 She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. Continue reading