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Bullet Gal #8

Review by Paul Bowler

After ringing in the New Year with a psychedelic-techno-induced glimpse into the dark wonderland of Heropa’s origins, Bullet Gal #8 pulls us back from the rabbit hole to relative normality, as Mizi’s life hangs by a thread while two newcomers with vengeance in mind stalk the streets of the noir shrouded metropolis of Heropa. Bullet Gal #8 is the new issue in this prequel IF? Commix book series from Australian author Andrez Bergen, the writer of the critically acclaimed superhero noir-themed detective novel Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? , IF? Commix series Tales to Admonish, and the graphic novel Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat. Following the release of his new novel Depth Charging Planet Goth, Japan based writer and artist Andrez Bergens latest offering from IF? Commix, Bullet Gal #8, will be published in print form in January 2015 in Australia.

While last issue led us outside the box to explore the secret digital reality of life in Heropa, think hardboiled pulp-style adventure entwined within an eclectic noir-spliced version of the Matrix films, Bullet Gal #8 returns to the here and now to deliver a brooding tale of revenge and justice while Mizi clings to life in hospital after being gunned down by Brigit’s hoodlums. This issue also introduces two new characters, the honest no-nonsense cop Bob, and his loyal partner Irv Forbush. Meanwhile, Lee, the man with seven identical duplicates, has to deal with the police investigation into recent events, and Mizi’s life slowly ebbs away in hospital at deaths door – or perhaps not?

BULLET GAL issue 8 Feb 15_COVER small

Blind Side is a deeply evocative and intense issue of Bullet Gal from Andrez Bergen. The introduction of one-eyed cop, Bob Hahn, finds the dedicated law enforcer tracking down and dealing with the hoods that ambushed Bullet Gal – cutting her down in a hail of bullets and leaving her for dead in the gutter while the Police turned a blind eye. Bob Hahn’s lone trek through Heropa’s dark streets, taking in cruel graffiti, gives us a fascinating insight into this character. His world-weary understanding of how this vast metropolis woks, its history, and the justice he ultimately meets out to Mizi’s assailants is honed by a time-worn matter-of-fact simplicity that gets the job done in this city where trust is a currency of little worth for those noble enough to clear up the mess the Capes leave behind.

The clandestine meeting between Lee and Detective Hahn in Heropa’s Memorial Hospital is a stylishly crafted moment between the honourable eye-patched cop and the enigmatic doppelganger. Bob offers Lee a candid report detailing the “felons” demise, however, the detective also managed to gain information about the person behind the hit; the French “Femme Diabolique” Brigit, the lover and personal assassin of the ruthless crime boss Sol Brodsky. The tension between Lee and Bob is almost palpable, it seem to hang in their air like a cloud of cigarette smoke, and the uncanny symbiosis of their professions is portrayed as a necessary – though clearly unpalatable – alliance between those who must walk this blurred line of the law in order to bring justice to Heropa’s streets.

Detective Hahn’s assumption, that Birgit is the real driving force behind Sol’s empire, is also bang on the money, and reinforces the deadly Femme Fatales position as a major player in the shady echelons of Heropa’s underworld. We also get to see Detective Bob Hahn’s partner, Irv Forbush, towards the end of this issue. They clearly share a strong bond, its evident they’ve worked together for a long time, and Forbush’s wry sense of humour polarises his view of Capes like Lee while simultaneously ribbing his boss over his visual impairment and lack of business acumen. Bob and Irv are a great double act, their banter is snappy, and their introduction here certainly makes them a welcome additions to this IF? Commix titles diverse cast of characters.

Andrez Bergens art for Bullet Gal #8 continues to push this series striking visuals to a whole new level of excellence. The stunning use of bold black and white imagery, a haunting blend of stylish photomontage and subtle digital enhancements, makes this one of the most impressive issues of Bullet Gal to date. With its Dadaist influences and diverse pulp-noir themes Bergen’s work continues to impress on all levels. The bird feather that tumbles softly down the front cover exemplifies this, coaxing the imagination, it delicately passes unseen through the finer subtexts of the issue, before drifting back into view in time for the beautiful postscript that elegantly embodies Bergen’s artistic vision in the gleaming aesthetic of a single teardrop on the cusp of death.

This issue wraps things up with a quick round-up of the reviews this innovative IF? Commix series has received, along with a reminder of where it all began – the cover for the novel Who Is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? Finally there’s also Post To Pistolero, along some words from the writer and artist himself, Andrez Bergen, in Soapbox D’Andrez, a Bullet Gal pin-up by artist Joe Badon, and great back cover by L .@ .K.art. 2015 has already gotten off to a great start for Andrez Bergen with Bullet Gal #8, and with the 340 page Bullet Gal trade paperback collecting the entire series, Its Not You Its Me, from North American publisher Underbelly already in the works, there’s never been a better time to check out Bullet Gal’s thrilling prequel series from IF? Commix.

Bullet Gal #8, is published in print form in January 2015 in Australia, along with the digital version, and available direct from the IF? Commix website.