Pullbox Reviews: .357 Magnum Opus, defining “high octane” & “mature audiences”

Bounty hunter Sexx Pistol never kept track of the body count, until it was one of her own lying dead on the ground. Struck with grief, she swore she would leave Kassius Del Mar, the man she held accountable for her partner’s death, and her violent past behind.

But it’s hard to pass up easy cash for a quick hit job.

Hey, before we get too far along I’m just gonna get one thing out of the way. This is a mature readers only kind of book. The main character’s name is Sexx Pistol and she’s featured topless on the front cover of the book, having just strangled someone to death with her bra. There are going to be parts of this review that are going to follow suit. Kids, you’ve been warned. Parents, check on your kids cuz they’re probably getting away with something right now. Furthermore, .357 Magnum Opus is a book that will be offending or outright pissing off… hang on, doing the math… a solid 20% of readers brave enough to pick up the book (Disclaimer: This is a made up percentage. Paul’s math skills aren’t really that advanced). If you’re bothered by violence, foul language, nudity, and liberal use of firearms, you might want to move along.

There. Liability avoided, let’s move on.

Yes, it’s that kind of book. In your face, front & center, no punches pulled.

For a book like .357 Magnum Opus to work, the creative team has got to be unflinching. Unapologetic. Not really concerned with where the story takes you, just so long as gets where it’s going. Writer Ghezal Omar would seem to fit every one of those points, as she’s taken a hard dive into a creative realm normally populated by men. Let’s face it, there are always going to be… I’m just gonna call ’em morons… who will look at the cover of this book, get all excited when they see boobs, and then deflate as soon as they realize that “Ghezal” is a girl’s name, and decide that it’s going to suck. Just a heads up, if you think that you may be one of those people, you might want to brace yourself.

Ghezal Omar, an outspoken fan of movies by Quentin Tarantino & Guy Ritchie, comes at this book as though she were staging an assault. Targets acquired, angles of attack lined up, weapons of choice in hand, Omar’s writing is all aggression and attitude and her story takes the same track. From page one, things are in progress and all there is for us to do is hang on and try to keep up. That can be good or bad, as I can see some people getting a little lost in some of the high speed dialogue and perspective shifts. Then again, if you’ve seen either Pulp Fiction or Lock, Stock, & Two Smoking Barrels, I challenge you to claim that you followed everything happening in either movie, the first time you watched it. Like both of those chaotic classics, once .357 gets rolling there’s no stopping it until everyone’s out of ammo and the last shell casing hits the ground.

No time for seatbelts & shotgun does NOT get to change the station!

Here’s where I feel like I need to point out that .357 Magnum Opus was not inspired by a Michael Bay film. It isn’t all crazy explosions with slow motion walkaways, or those weird low angled camera shots looking up at an exhausted hero who looks like they’re trying to remember if they left the stove on. Along with the action, Omar has built in layers of character history, events whose effects are plain to see even if we haven’t been given all of the details up front. Through their actions & responses to what’s happening around them, we get to know the major players as we go without having to fill in every blank or wade through piles of exposition. In this world, the life of the high priced bounty hunter doesn’t always end quietly with old age.

In any case where the two words “graphic” & “novel” are used together in a sentence, it’s a fair bet that many pages of sequential art are going to be involved. That means an artist, and in the case of Sexx Pistol and her band of ne’er-do-wells, a guy by the name of Mingchen Shen is on the job. Shen has a fantastic eye for character design, and is able to show a great deal of personality and depth through posture and facial expression. But after reading the title, there are going to be people out there who have certain expectations coming into this book. So far I’ve featured a handful of panels that I thought outlined some of the points I’ve been trying to make in this review, and those panels should also highlight the fact that Shen can art the shit out of an action sequence. If we’re still not sure about that, I would like to present Exhibit B…

That’s one page of a running fight scene in which the motion is more than implied by a couple well-placed lines. The action directs the reader through the throwdown, leading the eye from one beat to the next and never letting it settle in one place for too long. Shen loads up the scene with enough energy to fuel a trip to the International Space Station and back. The violence is frenetic, often messy, and when the adrenaline rush is over it’s plain to see that everyone involved- win or lose- is going to be feeling it the next day.

Populated with femme fatales, men of mystery, and ruthless crime lords, .357 Magnum Opus is exactly as its title implies. “Magnum” comes from Latin, meaning large or grand. “Opus” is a piece of work, usually musical. As a grand realization of creative energy, orchestrated with rhythm and percussion that can almost be felt through the page, this is a pounding event that’s going to deliver all the shock & awe fans of action could hope for.

Final Score: 12/13

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