The Wonderful World of Tank Girl issue 1. Tank Girl Strikes Again

Written by Alan Martin
Drawn and Lettered by: Brett Parson
Titan Comics
October 2017

As an alternative kid growing up in the nineties, pop culture was a very important part of my identity. And believe me, I took to my teenage obsessions with true fangirl gusto. The colour of my bedroom wall was a mystery beneath all the Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Johnny Depp posters. I was as enthusiastic about my music icons as I was about comic books and fantasy novels. Tank Girl was a huge part of that.

Any visit to the comic book store in the centre of town would involve a moment spent admiring the trip-bright Dark Horse covers featuring Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett’s defiant punk heroine. My pocket money didn’t extend that far, but I kept returning to the shelf anyway. Tank Girl represented a fantasy vision of a rebellious future me— a parallel version of myself in well-worn Dr. Martens and a cigarette dangling from the corner of my mouth.

The feature film starring Lori Petty as the eponymous gun-loving misfit came out in 1995. For this thirteen-year-old comic book lover, it was life-changing. Tank Girl was the non-conformist, idiosyncratic hero I was looking for. Like Amanda Connor’s Harley Quinn today, she was an unapologetic agent of chaos that existed beyond the gender tropes I, and millions of other adolescent girls, were being exposed to every day. This wasn’t Alicia Silverstone’s vacuous Cher in Clueless or the feel-good innocence of The Lion King. Here was a live-action heroine every bit as cool as her illustrated equivalent. She lived outside of the law. She went both ways. She laughed in the face of danger. She didn’t give a fuck.

Two decades later, I may not be living in a commune or even a tank for that matter, but as a former card-carrying goth with my own customised Dr Martens, I think Tank Girl’s influence is pretty obvious.

To celebrate thirty years of Tank Girl, Titan Comics have resurrected the punk outlaw with a brand new series of standalone adventures penned by original co-creator Alan Martin with art by Tank Girl aficionado Brett Parson. The Wonderful World of Tank Girl kicks off with Tank Girl Strikes Again, a high-octane escapade of mayhem featuring the gun-toting girl gang and Booga, the “useless in an emergency” mutant kangaroo.

Tank Girl’s motley girl gang of misfits comprises Sub Girl, Jet Girl and Barney, who for some unknown reason is completing a training course in plumbing. Other than Barney’s bizarre career choice, the girls appear to live a seemingly carefree existence on the fringes of society and spend their time blowing stuff up, hanging out in bikinis and doing pretty much whatever they feel like. It’s the modern feminist dream.

In the opening scene, the girls are enjoying a rum-soaked fish and chip lunch on the pier when Tank Girl agrees to help a salty sea captain pull off one last heist. Naturally, it doesn’t go according to plan, but it’s great fun to follow the ensuing chaos as the crew wreak havoc with an array of weapons wearing underpants on their heads.

Fair warning, you might have to suspend your disbelief for this one. The plot is held together with used chewing gum at best, and includes everything from semi-automatic surfboards and a missile-equipped submarine to cereal box tracking devices and a Shakespeare-quoting mutant, but that’s part of the gloriously violent story’s charm. Even Barney’s newfound talent for plumbing comes in handy in one incredibly messy scene.

Illustrator Brett Parson brings the plot to life with chaotic enthusiasm. Many die-hard fans might have hoped the anniversary edition would include Jamie Hewlett’s anarchic Gorillaz-style illustrative touch, but Parson’s take is no less edgy. Besides, this isn’t his first rodeo, having already added his own pulp style to the iconic bad girl in Tank Girl: Two Girls One Tank and Tank Girl: Gold for Titan. And while the original writer and artist duo didn’t take the helm together on this one, the influence of Hewlett’s signature style is definitely there.

So far so good. I loved the subtle humour that breaks through the bullet-holed disarray like a cracked smile – the punchline at the end of a great build-up. That’s the essence of Tank Girl for me – her unrelenting bright-side-of-life attitude. For a first issue, it’s a great start and sets a high standard for what promises to be a highly entertaining series. I think it’s safe to say that The Wonderful World of Tank Girl is a fitting homage to a cult icon who remains as relevant today as she was thirty years ago. I for one can’t wait to see what the girls (and Booga) get up to next.

This edition features some cool variant covers including a classic paperback front and back cover that would make a great collector’s item.