Saturday, November 22, 2014

My review of the 12 issue BULLET GAL comic series by Andrez Bergen. Plus, I talk about an important Kickstarter related to the series. Awesomesauce!

Interior art from issue #2 by Andrez.
Although there has been individual issue by issue coverage of Bullet Gal by Andrez Bergen on my blog before, I recently finished reading the entire series, and decided to review it as a whole. My review is spoiler free, as I am dealing with the basics contained in the story, and not going into specific detail. I would like new readers to approach this with their minds wide open, and for them to be able to have the same amazing experience I had reading the series, constantly wondering what new trick Andrez would pull out of his sleeve in the next issue. Every time Andrez sent me a new story in the series, my anticipation was on the same level as a child on Christmas day, and like that child, I immediately tore into my new present. And I was amazed by what was inside... I hope you have the same experience.

 Reading anything by Andrez Bergen is always a distinct pleasure. Case in point- his Bullet Gal comic book series. 12 issues of genre blending goodness, this series is a more than worthy edition to his ever growing fictional universe. For the new reader, here's a mild spoiler... Read through the author's work diligently, as they are seriously interlinked, and you never know who might pop into the current story. That said, any of his works can be enjoyed on their own, but reading them as a whole adds to the overall experience. The Bullet Gal series is a bridge between two of his stories, filling in the events between two fixed points. Sounds simple, yes? The truth of the matter is that it is far from simple, and this isn't in any way filler material. Andrez surprises the reader at every turn, and manages to connect his works seamlessly...

Interior art from issue #3 by Andrez.
The protagonist of the series is a young woman named Mitzi (here's a review of her origin story), who has just blown into the city of Heropa (Here's a review of the Heropa novel. It was my first review for my blog, and I have to thank Andrez for helping me get off my butt with this awesome read.). She has plenty of reasons to hate the criminal element residing in Heropa, and the gal, plus her twin pistols, immediately go to work. As she racks up quite a body count, Mitzi is approached by someone who has a quite different vision for Heropa, a plan that, if it succeeds, will turn Heropa into a virtual utopia...

The author's narrative generously blends sci-fi dystopia, noir, hard-boiled elements, and Golden Age superheroes into a unique blend of storytelling wizardry. Mitzi's initial baby-steps in the new world of Heropa followed in the tradition of pulp heroes, such as The Shadow or The Spider, but she is soon set upon a different path. Although she is initially suspicious of this new element (a man named Lee, who is offering to train her under the auspices of a third party), she reluctantly begins to work with the man. While she still has reservations about the whole situation, she begins to enjoy working with Lee, and comes to think of him as a friend and mentor. The relationship between the two is a genuine focal point in the story, and Andrez nails the characterization of both Mitzi and (her) Lee. Everything isn't sweetness and light, and the two butt heads frequently, but they bring out the best aspects of one another. Together, they are much more than the sum of their parts...

Interior art from issue #4 by Andrez.
While the series is focused on Mitzi's transformative journey, the other characters (major or minor) are not simply roughed in. They all (even down to what could have been filler characters), have their own distinct personality. Two of the issues are dedicated to other character's exploits, and/or backstory, and they fit seamlessly into the narrative. Andrez isn't worldbuilding, at this point, the world has already been built. Instead, he's filling in the gaps between point A and point C. Fleshing out characters, chronicling unknown events, expanding his mythos. Despite knowing where the series ended up, he constantly surprised me with the character's reactions to events, and with the events themselves. The story is akin to a rollercoaster ride, constantly bringing the reader to new highs and lows, emotionally.

Let's talk about the art... If you've ever seen a classic noir film (I'd recommend The Third ManThe Maltese Falcon, and Touch of Evil, among many others), then you have experienced the type of art employed by Andrez in Bullet Gal. Black and white (heavy on the black), yet surprisingly beautiful, and at times serene... Andrez takes both found images, and original art, and then painstakingly manipulates them to match the various scenes contained within this release. As the series moves along, Andrez plays with panel composition and the overall flow between scenes, creating a rather mesmerizing effect on the reader. The feel is very experimental, while also being similar to watching a classic movie, frame by frame. His art style and overall composition reminds me of the cinematography employed in the groundbreaking film, Point Blank, directed by John Boorman. The further you get into the series, the more Andrez pushes the envelope, and the results are amazing. Gaining artistic confidence as he goes, he manages to produce something entirely unique, and gives us a story that is better in quality and execution than a majority of what is being put out in the mainstream market today. Hopefully, we get a collected edition of this series, which brings me to my next point of information...

Cover art for the Bullet Gal collection by Niagara Detroit.
Bullet Gal is published monthly through IF? Commix, a Australian comics publisher. Quite recently, a Canadian publishing group, Under Belly Comics, has picked up the entire series and moved forward with releasing it in a new format... As a complete collected volume, compiling all 12 issues of Bullet Gal, and releasing the physical copies throughout Canada and the States! As a huge supporter of the series, I was dead chuffed to hear the news. Under Belly has recently launched a Kickstarter for the project, which can be found here. I feel that this is a project that needs to reach fruition, and I hope that you guys will stop by, and help this release become a reality. You'll be supporting one of the best comic series out there, and a creator that is moving in areas that are outside the box, as far as the current landscape of comics and genre fiction goes. Get in on the ground floor!

Lastly, I'd like to say thanks to Andrez Bergen for simply being an all around rock star, and blowing my mind with every new story. You're aces with me, laddie! Get some sleep, matey, I don't know how you do it... And to my like-minded compadre Galo Gutierrez from Comic Book Geeks and Project-Nerd (who had a BIG hand in this latest development), you rock, mate! As usual, happy reading, and I'm signing off... Zero Signal.........................

Here's the author's blog. I'm sure Andrez would love to see you pop by, look around, and say hello.

Finally, here's another link to the Kickstarter. Drop in and support indie comics!

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