Set in the bloody, action-packed world of bounty hunting, .357 Magnum Opus traces the journey of bounty hunters Sexx Pistol and Kassius Del Mar. The pair, tasked with delivering notorious felon Lyndon Baines to Vegas set off on a mission packed with sex, violence, and lots of muddled storytelling. Given that the title .357 Magnum Opus is a reference to the .357 H&H Magnum rifle cartridge, it is no surprise that this grisly comic is filled with scenes of an excessively violent underground crime world. Yet, none of the content of .357 Magnum Opus is ever justified by the story.
Plenty of great graphic novels are able to display sex and hyperviolence in a way that meaningfully contributes to the story. Garth Ennis is one creator who immediately comes to mind. Ennis’ work carries a certain irony and self-awareness that makes his work a fun foray into the exploitation genre. However, .357 Magnum Opus lacks this tact. The story is fast paced; unfortunately, it is too fast paced. It seems as though all exposition is rushed through in order to get to the next scene. It is difficult to get a grasp of the motivation for any character. The female characters are noticeably interchangeable, their only value seeming to be in delivering half-hearted one-liners and nude sequences. In fact, the most notable difference between any of the female characters is exclusively established by how much or how little sexual violence they are subjected to. And, yet, this is not the greatest crime of the book. The biggest issue, frankly, is that it’s just bland.
Generic crime comics are a dime a dozen. What often elevates a comic beyond others of a similar caliber, if not the writing, is the artwork. Unfortunately, .357 Magnum Opus does not tred any new ground here either. Though Shen’s artwork is sufficient, it leaves much to be desired. Many of the images look unfinished, as the black-and-white coloring does not lend itself to the many action sequences and occasional nighttime cityscape. The cover of the book, colored beautifully in reds and purples, insists that a full-color version of this story, though a huge undertaking, would be a significant improvement to the visuals of the story.
Ultimately, even improved artwork would not be able to save a mediocre story.
.357 Magnum Opus is a wholly disappointing narrative action thriller and, frankly, one that will not likely drive circulation statistics at your library. The book does not seem to have found an audience yet, and it may never. There is little to define .357 Magnum Opus outside of the generic conventions of the crime genre. And, thus, it may be best to hold off on purchasing your own copy of the book.
.357 Magnum Opus
By Ghezal Omar
Art by MingChen Shen
Artillery Network, 2020
Publisher Age Rating: 18+
Series ISBNS and Order
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+)