“What the heck did I just read?” has been a common question I have been asking myself after going through the three remastered volumes of Tank Girl. After being re-released by Titan Books out of the UK with a forward from writer and co-creator Alan Martin, Tank Girl Three is the final volume of re-released original Tank Girl comics from 1992 to 1995. Tank Girl, unlike most comics, has a very loose continuity and storytelling style. Tank Girl is a strange anthology style of storytelling that allows characters and a few general themes to cross over between stories while others come and go as they please.
Some stories may cross over four issues while others stand on their own and don’t make much sense either in the process. But they have an odd charm about them that makes them fun to read. Even if it does feel like gray matter is leaking out the ears as you try to logically piece together what has been laid out in front of you. So, piece of advice, do NOT try and use logic while reading Tank Girl. Logic in Tank Girl is about as useful as it is watching X-Men Origins: Wolverine. As long as you completely block it out of your mind, you can still enjoy what is set out in front of you.
For those who don’t know who Tank Girl is, imagine taking the personality of a British Punk singer from the late 70s, give her a lot of guns, a terrible haircut, the manners of a drunken frat boy, the foul language of a perverted sailor and the sex drive of a porn star and you have just scratched the surface of this British Indie creation. Oh, and give her a giant tank, put her in the Australian Outback and her boyfriend is a former motorcycle gang kangaroo that she once tried to kill Booga. Can’t forget those.
Yes, take a second to re-read those past two sentences because it does take some time to get used to all the ideas kicking around in this and the two previous books. In addition to her horny marsupial boyfriend, Tank Girl’s remaining cast of reoccurring characters also includes her two best friends Jet Girl and Sub Girl. They are a lot like Tank Girl but just drive different vehicles of mass destruction.
It should be noted, if you hadn’t guessed by now that this is not by any means a book meant for children. If you give this to a five year old, be prepared for the massive therapy sessions you will be paying for later. A few sheltered adults might even need them if they come across this series by accident. Most of the humor comes from now no longer timely references to British, Australian and occasionally American pop culture compounded with shock value jokes revolving around or combining the following: sex, nudity, bodily functions, an unreal amount of swearing and epic levels of violence. (You can’t give a girl a tank and not expect it to get violent.)
As far as stories in this volume, there are roughly ten all very different and without a doubt original pieces contained within. The first, and one of the most interesting, called “The Taste of Paradise” followings Tank Girl and Booga as they take a fight directly to Australia’s largest bounty hunter festival trying to kill off the over 700 bounty hunters who would be aiming for the price on Tank Girl’s head. On the other end of the ridiculous spectrum, “Morning Glory” follows Tank Girl as she is being hunted by an intergalactic alien killer while she tries to find a way to cure Booga’s enlarged penis that may explode and kill him if not properly taken care of. Even stranger than the previous story, if that seems possible, is a story focused on Jet Girl entitled with just the F word as she explores the limits of OCD behavior and combining it with her overpowered jet.
Booga also gets a nice focus in this issue where he gets two stories of his own. The first, “The Gospel According to Sub Girl” features Booga becoming a powerful yet inane spiritual leader while “Booga’s Luck” takes him on a journey through a one night world wind romance with a young musician before she must leave on a jet plane the next morning in the ultimate ironic circumstance. In addition, there are various single page character pieces and pinups of Tank Girl and her mates throughout.
Jamie Hewlett, the artist of Tank Girl has a style that really can’t be duplicated. Not working on much other than Tank Girl, Gorillaz and a few various DC projects, Hewlett’s ever evolving and always changing style may be the perfect fit for the eccentric character that is Tank Girl. Some stories are told in black and white while others are translated to color while some feature near photo realistic interpretations as others look like Saturday morning cartoons. This changing style is not to the detriment of the Tank Girl saga though as the anthology style presentation doesn’t need a tight continuity in either storytelling or art style. Unlike some characters who fall in to a constant theme of similar outfits in every issue, Tank Girl’s attire always changes (or disappears) keeping the steampunk style prevalent but never labeling her with one iconic outfit.
Tank Girl is far from a mainstream comic. Most of the content of Tank Girl Three was produced around the time of the Tank Girl movie which is described in Martin’s foreword. As a result, both the language and the imagery get more sexually and violently graphic in this collection than Tank Girl One and Tank Girl Two. Of the three such volumes, Tank Girl Three also becomes one of the hardest to follow as a reader. While the artwork and storytelling of the individual tales has improved, the leaps between the realities of the stories are even larger gaps of weird. Still, Tank Girl can be an enjoyable read for the right kind of comic fan, but it isn’t for everybody (especially those with weak stomachs).
If all you read are superhero books and haven’t liked anything other than capes and tights, this most likely wouldn’t be the right direction for you to tread. If you are a reader who enjoys an original idea with unique artwork, this may be more your cup of tea. Regardless, Tank Girl will seemingly keep doing what she does best not caring whether people like her or not, just continuing to insult, disturb and somewhat turn on in a very creepy way both pop culture and the comic book fan base.