Teenage gunsel-cum-aspiring-hero Mitzi (last name unknown) breezes into Heropa with twin 9 mm pistols blazing - only to be targeted for recruitment, betrayal and assassination. French femmes fatale, an out-of-touch super-powered elite, and one hell of an underlying mystery, figure heavily in this fusion neo-noir, science-fiction dystopia. Interweaving the scrappy one-liners is a story much more than the sum of its parts, concerning questions about grand creative process.
REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
Sassy manga-style characters and noir attitude makes this a fun read. ~ Michele Martel, Bandelier Girl Reads Everything
"Tokyo-based, Australian-born Bergen draws from an unbelievable range of sources for this novella, based on the graphic novel series of the same name. References to classic film noir sit alongside ones to Showa era Japanese kitsch, early 60s American superheroes, and the early history of Melbourne – did you know, for instance, that Australia’s second largest city was almost called Batmania, after one of its founders, John Batman?
' Readers who love spotting references, particularly readers who enjoy graphic novels, will find Bullet Gal a rewarding, even exhilarating read." ~ , Crime Fiction Lover
High octane and fun, Bullet Girl was a thrill ride that I enjoyed from start to finish... the story itself was just so interesting i couldn't put this book down. ~ Max Baker, NetGalley
In this book there is a flow of information and emotions going straight to our heart, the point of view changes continuously and we do not know much more than what the character knows in a complex world into which we get projected suddenly and inexperienced. Why it is a good read? Because it leaves a mark. ~ Delio D'Anna, The Perfumed Garden
Wow, me likey that cover art... If you like shifting points of view (and I do if done properly) then this novel makes a check on the ol’ entertainment balance sheet. This had mostly what I would call conversational shifting POV, where in a discussion between two people, the POV shifts chapter to chapter. The action is really good when in play and Mitzi burning up the barrels of her pistols should have remained the entire theme of the novel. More vigilante than super hero. I’m giving this 4...stars.
~ Koeur, Koeur's Book Reviews
selected for review ~ PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, http://www.publishersweekly.com/9781785355622
Anti-heroines are a fascination to me. It started with Carmela of the HBO series 'Sopranos' and has since grown to recent characters like Olivia Pope and Piper Chapman. But what of characters outside of television? That’s where Bullet Gal/Mitzi comes in. She’s part Lisbeth Salander of the 'Dragon Tattoo' book series, part Lara Croft, part Jessica Jones. She fierce, rough around the edges, yet undeniably cool. This is someone you fear yet would also love to get drunk with.
Andrez Bergen’s ‘Bullet Gal’ is a dark film noir/dystopian story. Our female lead finds out her vigilante lifestyle has consequences: a mark on her head. The chapters of this novella are from different character’s viewpoints. This technique gives the reader contrasting perspectives which makes for an investigative experience. The reader must piece the puzzle together and try to make sense of Heropa, just as Bullet Gal/Mitzi is doing.
Pop culture enthusiasts will love the references to comics and will see a conglomerate of influences in this work. Andrez Bergen captures the film noir essence while keeping a steady flow of humor and intrigue. I was immersed into the world of Heropa and quickly found myself yearning to hear more from my new favorite anti-heroine, Bullet Gal. ~ Amanda, PopCultHQ
In 'Bullet Gal' (the novel) Andrez Bergen expands on the universe created in the original comic. This is an adaption that not only extends on the characters’ depth but also gives the readers a more humane look into Heropa itself, and the “phonies” living in it.
The Bullet Gal in question is the guns blazing anti-heroine Mitzi, who has just arrived in Heropa to serve her own brand of justice. After putting a few holes in some unsuspecting gangsters, thus saving a little girl from child trafficking, Mitzi is surprised by a “bop” (or “cape”, as these super powered heroes like to be called) called Lee.
He’s been keeping his eyes on Mitzi as she has blasted her way through Heropa’s criminals. Lee explains he’s there to offer her a chance to join the Crime Crusaders Crew; the knock off of Avengers in this universe. An offer Mitzi initially refuses, but as she starts seeing the advantages there are in joining such organisation, she eventually, though somewhat reluctantly, accepts it.
This is how Bullet Gal’s path to becoming a true cape begins. Nevertheless, nothing is ever as it seems in Heropa.
Bullet Gal will have to deal with a lot more than the criminal couple – French femme fatale Brigit and gangster boyfriend Sol – coming for her because of her misdemeanours. Something just isn’t right in this great city of superheroes. And her mentor Lee is keeping a few too many secrets.
Just what exactly is going on beyond the closed doors of the Crime Crusaders Crew? What is Heropa hiding from its citizens? And how does Mitzi fit in all of this? Good questions, and the novel answers all, although in different ways than you might expect.
We are given diverse perspectives throughout the novel. However, we start out with Mitzi, and her first person narration remains throughout the book. Even if the perspectives change to friends, allies, and even enemies, all others narrate in third person. Further proof to Mitzi’s involvement in the chaos that always reside in Heropa. Something that she doesn’t realise till the very end.
Nice touch, Andrez. Nice touch.
The author has created something which dives into full on meta territory with the noir genre and the golden age of superhero comic books. This novel adaption may not have the unusual but captivating photo manipulations the comic had – which plays an important role in the storyline’s twists and turns – but this actually works in its favour, by extending the dialogue and characters interactions we have a much bigger understanding on Bullet Gal‘s universe.
If you’re a fan of the genre noir, superheroes and self-aware meta, then 'Bullet Gal' must be on your next purchase list. Though I still recommend picking up the comic. In fact, to read the novel alongside it. This, I believe, will make Bullet Gal‘s story more impacting and clear up a few things you may have found confusing in your first read. ~ Carol Days, Cultured Vultures
A number of themes and motifs surface here, including the aesthetic influence of film noir and Frank Miller on Bergen’s work and the entertaining juxtaposition of noir tropes with Australian colloquialisms and inflections.
Of additional interest here are Bergen’s sly digs at super-heroism... By the middle the story takes a turn for the meta, questioning the basis of reality in the city of Heropa. This turn towards the meta is both an intriguing story development and, in light of Bullet Gal’s aesthetic construction from multiple pre-existing and mismatched parts, a wholly appropriate instance of content mirroring form. Count me intrigued. ~ BD Kooyman, Australian Comics Journal
Bullet Gal, by Australian author Andrez Bergen, is fascinating to just fall into. Bullet Gal is a neo-noir science fiction dystopia, set in the fictional city of Heropa. However, the series is meant to be much more than its plot: the really important parts are concerned with deeper questions about the creative process.
Mitzi is a seventeen year-old new arrival to the city of Heropa, a new city founded just after WWII. With her father’s two pistols, she adopts the identity of Bullet Gal, and begins assassinating the city’s criminals. This attracts attention from the city’s heroes, including Lee, a man split into eight identical copies of himself, and the city’s villains, including French femme-fatale Brigit and her gangster boyfriend, Sol Brodsky. Yet there’s something else that’s not quite right about Heropa, and Bullet Gal is trying to figure out just what it is that seems off about the place.
The series is almost like an anti-comic book, in the sense that it tackles and subverts many of the tropes in comics. One of the subverted ideas in this book is the role of influence on the creative process... We’ve all read books or seen movies with characters that are clearly clones of somebody else (I’m thinking of the sheer number of Joker-inspired bad guys following The Dark Knight). Bullet Gal seems to be mocking that. The self-awareness of the characters, both in terms of popular culture and the genre that they are a part of also comes off as a form of loving parody.
Is the series critical of the possibilities for artistic interpretation? In some sense, but more to the point, it’s honest about what makes movies, comics, and books work. All creators are working with ideas borrowed from other sources, but this particular world is literally made up of art and styles from other places. Without spoiling the ending, the message is deeply critical of meddling in a created world. Purists and fans, as represented by the comic’s villains, want to preserve settings that they love just the way that they originally found them. In doing so, they end up stifling any possibility of creative growth, which you see reflected in some of the characters in this series.
Beyond the meta-criticism of art and the creative process, Bullet Gal is fun to read if you’re in love with noir tropes (like I am). Bergen has a gift for recreating the dialogue of the great writers, like Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, and passing it on to a femme-fatale. There are some great inserted images from films from the ‘40s; my favorite in particular was a shot of Spencer Tracy. The science-fiction theme seemed to me to be the more important one, though. For all that Bullet Gal immerses itself in noir themes, dialogue, and imagery, the science-fiction elements of the story are what drive its message about creativity and art.
The plot itself isn’t as coherent as the critique, but I don’t think that Bergen wrote Bullet Gal to be a straightforward read. Lots of Raymond Chandler stories fall apart if you look too closely at the details, but the details were never really the point to begin with. In Chandler’s case, he was interested in creating atmosphere and tone. Bergen wants to do that as well, but there are also statements about art here that are interesting.
Spend some time with Bullet Gal and don’t try to rush through. This is a story that you need to move through slowly and deliberately, and don’t give up if it all isn’t immediately transparent. This is a smart book. Give it the deliberation it deserves. ~ Zeb Larson, Flickering Myth
If you love classic noir, you’ll love Bullet Gal by Andrez Bergen - only this isn’t classic noir. It’s a new millennium pastiche of every noir motif there is but done as a stylized, digitized, mind-bending rhapsody that’ll leave you feeling like you’ve been slapped in the face by a French femme fatale.
The protagonist of Bullet Gal is seventeen year-old Mitzi (no last name) with a murkily tragic past who arrives in Heropa with little more than the clothing a Beat poet would carry in her valise and her 9mm Model B pistols with pearl handles. She hates injustice and has seen her share of it so she has no qualms about using those pistols to wreak havoc on the bad guys. Who are the bad guys? Gangsters and composites of every gangster you‘ve ever heard of or someday will. They’ve heard of Mitzi and even though she’s easy on the eyes, they know they have reason to watch their backs.
Lee, a Cape (i.e. member of the Crime Crusaders Crew) is Mitzi’s mentor in this twisted and confusing universe that’s part Gotham/ Metropolis, part futuristic Melbourne, and part Chicago in the 1940’s. Lee gives her advice and vital information, but there are eight versions of him, in varying shades of seriousness, honesty and sincerity, so Mitzi has to rely on her own sharp instincts, smarts and toughness to survive. And man, is she tough. Her worst enemy is one she barely even knows, but who knows her: Brigit, French girlfriend of Sol. He’s a bad-ass gangster but even he defers to the supreme villainy of Mademoiselle (don’t call her ma’am or madam, please!) Brigit. Like Mitzi, tragedy has followed her as well, only she’s the one who deliberately left it in her wake, often using sharp objects.
To say that one reads Bullet Gal is somewhat inaccurate; it’s really more of an experience. There’s sharp dialogue and clever narrative, especially if you like hard-boiled noir, whether set in the past, future, or in a digitized sci-fi world that might get re-set at any time. Like I indicated at the beginning, this is noir run through a blender and spiked with a little something illicit and exotic that’ll send you reeling. At first I felt like I might be missing something, tried to go back and see if there was more explanation that would help it all make sense sooner but then I realized that partaking of Bullet Gal is like looking at an expressionist painting, reading a modernist novel or watching The Big Sleep; if you look too closely it doesn’t make sense. You have to take a step back and get lost in it; feel it.
After all, confusion, liquor, cigarette smoke, and too much coffee late at night are all integral to the mood of noir, along with a vague sense of paranoia, longing, and wicked humor. Mitzi’s world is awash in all these things but she is a creature of it and navigates the dark stairways, lonely hospital hallways and deadly streets with self-assurance and confidence — and those two polished nickel 9mm Star Model B pearl-handled pistols. Mademoiselle Brigit, beware. ~ Nevada McPherson, Flickering Myth
Take a '40s crime drama, mix in just a tad of superhero talk, and you have got the basis for Heropa, the primary setting for Bullet Gal. A lot has happened to turn the city on its ear but, as always, life tries to return to normal. In a dangerous city, sometimes shooting first and asking questions later is the only way to survive.
In what has to be one of the best noir I have ever read, I was stunned by the turn of events and found myself getting more excited to see where the story is going next.
Andrez Bergen is phenomenal at his job, since apparently his job is to keep me on the edge of my seat and guessing as to what will happen. Bloodshed and violence are everyday occurrences in the world but he makes it seem darker, more suspenseful.I’m reminded of Sin City but in a much more authentic and grittier way, not to say they are anything alike. I’m just using that to compare the ambience of Bullet Gal‘s setting.
I was stunned by the turn of events and found myself getting more excited to see where the story is going next. Andrez Bergen is phenomenal at his job, since apparently his job is to keep me on the edge of my seat. And if you or anyone you know loves suspenseful detective stories, this is definitely a treat. ~ Gary Makries, Geeks of Doom
It's the era of World War II, 17-year-old Mitzi lands in the dysfunctional, dystopian city, Heropa - a crime-ridden, high-octane city relying on teams of superheroes to save the day. Mitzi (aka Bullet Gal) doesn't have super powers but sees herself as the queen of justice armed with 9mm pistols, surviving using her own wit. She soon meets Lee who happens to have his own kind of super power, but is unsure if she can trust him. Surrounded by drama and tragedy, Mitzi is creating enemies in this bizarre universe. She suffers love and loss but still manages to pull out brilliant quips thanks to writer Andrez Bergen whose snappy dialogue keeps the ball rolling.
Bergen has captured the imagination of many with his latest instalment of neo-noir influenced by sci-fi, pulp fiction and hard-boiled crime stories. This is crime-caping with bags of attitude.
Bergen took Bullet Gal from his previous novel Who Is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? He obviously had a lot of love for the character as she also appears in anthology comic Tales to Admonish with her own story “All Fur Coat, No Knickers”. As Bullet Girl is a prequel to these stories it isn't necessary to read these first, although it will be interesting to see what adventures she gets up to next.
It's been deservingly compared to Frank Miller's Sin City and Ed Brubaker’s Velvet, having successfully turned the femme fatale tropes around and created a kick-ass female character. ~ Samantha Ward, Starburst Magazine
Mitzi is a girl with a grudge. Armed with nothing more than her dad’s old pistols, she’s started cutting a swath through the underworld of Heropa. As the criminals of the city start hunting the mysterious young lady who works as a vigilante in a city full of heroes, Mitzi’s rampage also garners the attention of someone on the side of the angels.
Enter Lee – a mysterious man with an offer Mitzi can’t refuse. A chance to help good people and not have to worry about the rules regarding licensed heroes needing to have a super-power? It sounds too good to be true and it probably is. But Mitzi is content to play by Lee’s rules… for now.
Based in the same world as writer Andrez Bergen’s novel Who Is Killing The Great Capes Of Heropa?, Bullet Gal is an homage to the classic heroines of pulp fiction as well as the noir aesthetic. Comparable to Sin City and Velvet, Bullet Gal promises to be a must-read for all fans of Golden-Age adventure-style comics! ~ Matt Morrison, Kaboooom
There seems to be no stopping Tokyo-based Australian pulp writer Andrez Bergen, the creator of such literary-graphical delicacies as Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat.
His latest ongoing project is Bullet Gal, a comic series featuring a hard-as-nails heroine, and an assortment of strange cohorts such as one-eyed cop Bob Kahn and his partner Irv Forbush.
They’re the latest to take the stage in a land Bergen calls Heropa – a hardboiled cityscape filled with souls of noir. ~ , Crime Fiction Lover
As I started to read the story I thought Bergen was telling an autobiographical story of how the setting was created in his mind. Even after I finished reading it I still think there is some of the real Bergen in the story. I think that kind of honesty and internal connection is necessary for a work to feel real. As always the writing style that Bergen uses is simple dialog. He speaks directly to you, drawing you into his world. His characters aren’t overly developed leaving the reader with plenty of mystery, but still enough to connect with them and actually care what happens to them.
It’s dark and gritty and sometimes even confusing, but in a way that makes you want more. If you love Bergen’s stories about Heropa as much as I do then more is exactly what you want. ~ John Kowalski, Word of the Nerd
Bergen is onto something new here, yet it's something old at the same time.
This novel is a prequel of sorts to his 2013 novel, Who Is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa?, but... another influence that goes unmentioned is T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, in that Bergen is taking scraps of popular culture from decades past and juxtaposing them to help tell a story.
The story concerns a young woman who becomes a noir-like hero in the city of Heropa. I won't give anything away, yet Bergen is definitely inventive and the book looks great. You don't need to have read any other Bergen books to enjoy Bullet Gal, but if you pick it up you many want to find out more about the worlds Bergen has been developing. My favorite book of his so far was One Hundred Years of Vicissitude (2012), followed by Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat (2011). He also does other comics from his home in Tokyo, though with the flavor of his native land of Australia.
Give Bullet Gal a try. It's not like much else you'll see these days! ~ Jack Seabrook, Bare*Bones Zine
For anyone who knows Bergen, you know he may be one of the busiest people in the industry. In between releasing music under the moniker Little Nobody, novels and short story collections, he’s founded IF? Commix, releasing 12 issues of Bullet Gal, and after a successful Kickstarter, Under Belly Comics released them all together in a collected paperback.
An Australian living in Japan with a wife and child, Bergen spins so many plates I’m surprised his day job isn’t supplying them to a restaurant.
Bullet Gal is a homage to all things pulp and noir. It acts as an expanded look into the character of Bullet Gal – original name Mina before she inherited those two pistols in each hand – from Bergen’s 2013 novel ‘Who Is Killing The Great Capes Of Heropa‘? ...Though don’t worry, no prior knowledge of the canon is required, because Bergen lures us in with interesting characters and storytelling so tongue-in-cheek you’ll be surprised it doesn’t pierce through to the other side.
Like any great short story collection, it breathes with different voices, rather than falling into one single tone. It’s obvious that these stories were developed across a period of time because each issue adds something new to the expanding mythology that the reader is introduced to, or already familiar with.
Bergen’s voice as the narrator and through the characters is another example, of many, about what shines through in this. Bergen speaks with a bizarre mix of Australian slang, Gentleman’s English and Japanese politeness. Oddly enough, it works. A vocabulary that you thought was left in the world of cassette tapes is resurrected back into the mind, filling you with a bliss state of nostalgia that only exists in old movies and stories your grandparents told you.
Bullet Gal herself is an extremely interesting character: witty and deadly. Her archenemy is femme fatale, a French assassin, so deadly and beautiful she makes Uma Thurman’s The Bride look like she could learn a thing or two. Though, Bergen show’s his mastery of the pulp and noir genre by not letting these women fall victim to the tropes and clichés that we see so often in homages. These are powerful women, more powerful than the men who they choose to work for.
Bullet Gal is a collection of everything that Bergen knows best, and he knows it. These beautiful words all come together to create one fantastic expansion of the universe that Bergen creates. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for Blade Runner of The Matrix because, in these pages, something exists for you, calling to you, with a pistol aimed at you, just to be safe. ~ Jay Slayton-Joslin, Cultured Vultures
"Featuring one of the toughest chicks on the planet." ~ , Nevada McPherson
"Andrez Bergen captures the film noir essence while keeping a steady flow of humor and intrigue. I was immersed into the world of Heropa and quickly found myself yearning to hear more from my new favorite anti-heroine, Bullet Gal!" ~ , PopCultHQ
"This is a (comic) adaption that not only extends on the characters’ depth but also gives the readers a more humane look into Heropa itself, and the 'phonies' living in it... If you’re a fan of the genre noir, superheroes and self-aware meta, then Bullet Gal must be on your next purchase list." ~ , Cultured Vultures
"I finished reading 'Bullet Gal' last night. Damn, that was a good read. It was as if Andrez Bergen wrote a book just to entertain me. 'Bullet Gal' is a collection of everything I like wrapped up in a tortilla." ~ Barry Huddleston, Attention Earthlings!
"In Bullet Gal, Mitzi comes across feisty, tough, sardonic, and somewhat sad. Reading her brings back memories of mid twentieth century P.I.s like Archer, Spade and Philip Marlowe, yet she’s completely different again… A blend that is very twenty-first century in its pop culture sensibilities buried beneath the pathos and wit." ~ , Sequart
“A new millennium pastiche of every noir motif there is but done as a stylized, digitized, mind-bending visual rhapsody that’ll leave you feeling like you’ve been slapped in the face by a French femme fatale.” ~ , Graphic Policy
“Unique, unconventional and brilliant, having successfully turned the femme fatale trope around and created a kick-ass female character.” ~ , Starburst Magazine
"A hard-as-nails heroine, and an assortment of strange cohorts... they’re the latest to take the stage in a land Bergen calls Heropa – a hardboiled cityscape filled with souls of noir." ~ , Crime Fiction Lover
“A warped masterpiece.” ~ , The Cult Den
“Bullet Gal is an homage and a step forward for conventions we know and love, hitting every target it fiercely puts in its crosshairs.” ~ , Cultured Vultures
“Consistently impressive.” ~ , Sequart
“Beyond a meta-criticism of art and the creative process, Bergen has a gift for recreating the dialogue of the great writers, like Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, and passing it on to a femme-fatale.” ~ , Flickering Myth
“Surviving on nothing but her wits, pistols, and razor-sharp dialogue.” ~ , Bleeding Cool
“Stunningly crafted - a mesmerizing blend of noir crime caper and wry sci-fi punk that is utterly sublime.” ~ , Sci-Fi Jubilee
“Comparable to Sin City and Velvet.” ~ , Kabooooom
“Smart and gritty.” ~ , Word of the Nerd
“It’s a universe that’s being constructed and then simultaneously deconstructed... a revelation.” ~ , The Comics Alternative
“Strikingly beautiful.” ~ , Project-Nerd
“An impressively unconventional approach.” ~ , Panels & Pixels
“The female Jason Bourne.” ~ , ComicBuzz
“Awesome!” ~ , All-Comic
“Bullet Gal though is pretty bloody riveting, on par with Warren Ellis and Grant Morrison.” ~ , Merz Dada
“Exceptional.” ~ , Geeks of Doom
“Nothing like it.” ~ , Spartantown
“Bravo for a story that I cannot get enough of!” ~ , NoirCon USA
“A really cool experimental way to do noir.” ~ , Francesco Francavilla (Daredevil, Hawkeye)
“Twisted and warped, with the best influences from pop culture.” ~ , Sons of Spade
“In Bullet Gal we have all the elements of pulp/noir genre we need, with a touch of fiction and dystopia.” ~ , Digital Riot
“Unlike anything else you’re going to read. Ever.” ~ , Fanbase Press
“A great mix of fantastic genres.” ~ , The MacGuffin
“Matt Fraction, Joss Whedon, Ross Macdonald and Ed Brubaker rolled into one.” ~ , Hardboiled Cowboy
“Pushes the outer limits.” ~ , ReGeeken
“Bergen is takes scraps of popular culture from decades past and juxtaposes them to help tell a story. Inventive and great.” ~ , Bare*Bones Zine
“Nobody else today writes with the same dark wit, style, or mad creativity.” ~ , Available in Any Colour
“Mad genius at work.” ~ , Book Reviews by Elizabeth A. White
“Hardboiled, high-octane noir.” ~ , Ryan K. Lindsay (Negative Space)
“Some of the most wildly imaginative places ever encountered in fiction.” ~ , All Due Respect
"A loving homage to hard-boiled noir: the detective fiction and pulp produced in the first half of the 20th Century by writers Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane and Dashiell Hammett." ~ , Geeks With Wives
"A grandiose story fills out these pages: oh-so-heavily noir, it has its fair share of drama, tragedy, mirth and the bizarre, snappy dialogue, and characters you will never easily forget." ~ , Big Comic Page
"Check out this stunning noir, gritty novel - you will not regret it, I promise!" ~ , Daily Steampunk
"I had a great time reading - incredibly enjoyable, full of humour and meta references I don’t usually associate with the noir genre." ~ , We The Nerdy
"I rank Mitzi up there with the great female characters in comics, if not THE great female character." ~ , Graeme Jackson, artist