Now I’m Feeling Nico-fied
Have you ever been so goth that you’ve attended a school with the words “Home for Unwanted Goth Kids” in it? Like so goth that you’ve gone by the name Sister Grimm because everyone knows that two m’s equals extra dark soul-ness? That when you bleed, a super magical staff comes out of your body in the most dramatic and dark fashion? That you tried to do the whole cute Japanese school girl (no gender roles assigned, boys are welcome too!) and that was just not working for you? Despite all this super gloomy attitude of ultimate somber, there’s still an innocent soul underneath all that, right? If this description fits you like your favorite pair of fishnets, you must be Nico Minoru!
We first meet this dismal damsel in unrest in Runaways #1, when she and a group of her peers discover what all kids know all along: their parents are evil supervillians. Goddamnit, I knew it! My powers should be coming along any day now…She is the daughter of two dark wizards, and not to be messed with. Runaways is a teen-and-up story written by Brian K.Vaughan, but it’s really the illustrations by Adrian Alphona that bring it to life. The rest of the story follows the kids as they run away, hence the name, from their parents and learn to survive with their newly discovered gifts. By the second volume, Nico is the one of the only Japanese-American superhero team leaders in the comic book world. She even had her team join up with the Young Avengers at one point.
Nico isn’t all doom and gloom, and actually becomes engaged to one of her team members, Alex Wilder. However, she learns of his ulterior motives, and she lets him know how pissed she is by well, punching him in the face. Despite her strong love for him, and the fact that he was even her first kiss, she sides with her team. She even tries unsuccessfully to bring him back from the dead with a spell, because we all know how true love can be sometimes. A lot can be said for Nico, but she is a person who tries to see the good in people, even when they’ve messed up. Forgiveness is one of her strongest qualities.
Being a powerful witch, she has some pretty great abilities. That nifty staff I mentioned earlier is called The Staff Of One, and emerges from her body when her blood is shed. She had a fellow teammate’s pet dinosaur named Old Lace (I mean, of all the things to name a dinosaur…swing and-a miss) bite her at one point to get the staff to emerge. To cast spells, she must think of something painful, like a memory, or anything that triggers some sort of guilt. Being a witch isn’t all fun all the time. Since she had no inkling of her powers before finding out the truth about her parents, her spells have to be spoken aloud, and can only be spoken once. So if she says something like “strawberry cupcakes” to conjure up a tasty snack, she’d have to say something like “miniature cake babies” to get a similar effect a second time.
She even died once in Avengers Arena, managed to cast one last spell that resurrected her more powerful than before because of the fact that she bled out. Also, she grew a new arm to replace one that she had lost before, which is pretty nice. It was believed that after her death, Nico became a much more ominous person, but her actions prove different when she refuses to kill her friend later in the series, despite the fact that she herself could be killed.
Though Nico may appear dark, she is a very emotionally open person. She admits to her mistakes, which is of utmost importance as a leader. She experiences intense survivor’s guilt after a member of her team is killed when she was the one who was meant to die, which speaks a lot about her as character. In the new A-Force series, we see a softness about her that many of the other characters don’t show, as she accepts a strange being that is literally made out of Starstuff. She really is one of the most open-minded characters around, despite her dark outer shell. From her first appearance to where she is now, we never see her passion waver, whether it be about saving the lives of the other Runaways, or about the love she has for another person. This is a woman who literally has to bleed to get her powers, so there’s no shortage of blood, sweat, or magic here.