Written and illustrated by the up and coming graphic novelist Rhys Prosser, NJXP flips on the scene as his first published works, and takes a quirky over-the-top spin on an everyday job – delivering packages!
In NJXP, we follow Sonya Moon, an aspiring Ninja Transporter who ever since witnessing her delivery heroine Claudia Castiliago in action, has wanted to join the illustrious Ninja Express and prove that she has what it takes to be a courier kunoichi. However, after finally landing her dream job, she finds out she’s been relegated to backroom sorting duties and coffee runs. That is, until a special package lands on her lap and she’s the only one available to deliver it! It won’t be easy though, because on her route she’ll run into talking cats, shape shifting ninja, motor head hillbillies, and demon summoning greasers that want nothing more than to relieve her of her priceless parcel.
We all know the thrill of opening a much anticipated package, but let’s see if NJXP can deliver on the goods!
Unlike other forms of media like video games and movies, graphic novels are unable to benefit from flashy things like trailers or deep voiced narrators, so that makes their cover art that much more important. In a lot of ways it can make the difference between passing a book by, and picking it up to give it a chance, and NJXP does a great job of drawing your eye.
With its flat shading the pink and turquoise palette really pops, and makes you wonder why a large silhouetted cyclopian hand is looming over a pair of characters running to the edge of what might be the roof of a tall building. I also appreciated how the characters contrast against the colorful background, giving you an idea of what to expect visually once you turn the page. I will say however, that the cover does not communicate what this book could be about, especially since instead of being called something like “Ninja Express” we just see the 4 large letters N.J.X.P.
That said, once you dive into the book the style we were introduced to on the cover perpetuates throughout (minus any coloring) with bold lettering, action scenes that do a great job of portraying motion, and impressive full page spreads of fun and intimidating monsters. However, where it fell a bit short for me, were the occasional inconsistencies of the illustrations from scene to scene. In one case a scene could be beautifully detailed with perfectly readable action, while in another it could feel cluttered and rushed. With that in mind, the style, although not particularly to my taste, did suit the aesthetic of the book and reinforced the humor the author was trying to enact.
In a lot of ways, my take away with regards to the dialogue and narrative was similar to my thoughts on the art in NJXP. It had potential with a fun and unique concept, and I really enjoyed the idea of the “monster of the week” style hijinx our protagonist went through on her way to her destination, but it didn’t always flow in a consistent manner. Plus, a lot of the humor just didn’t hit the mark for me.
When it came to the interactions with the various antagonists, it felt like I didn’t have enough time to get to know them, and there wasn’t enough motivation to grow attached to them. I mean, you knew what each of the bad guys wanted (to steal the package), but you were never really told why. Most of the larger encounters don’t last longer than a few pages making them feel rushed, or like you’re missing something. Which is too bad because some of them were super interesting! I would have loved to see the book split up and serialized, with each edition expanding on those characters and the individual encounters.
With all that being said, I did enjoy my read of NJXP, and I especially liked the fun twist at the end. Although I didn’t gel with everything it had to offer, it’s still more than worth a read and as a debut effort it impressed me in more ways than one. I think if you’re in the mood for something light hearted and quirky, this might just be what you’re looking for and I look forward to seeing more from the Ninja Express universe and what other shenanigans Ryhs can come up with!
If you’re interested in checking our NJXP for yourself, you can find it right now on Amazon both in digital and physical forms!