Blood, Guts, Flashbacks, and Throwbacks: The Legend of Tank Girl

tank girl

The Legend of Tank Girl: a 30th Anniversary Collection

Alan Martin (writer), Brett Parsons (artist/colorist)
Titan Comics
September 11th, 2018

Tank Girl, everyone’s favorite free-wheeling badass, hits a milestone this year: yep, she turns 30. And what better way to celebrate than with a collection of stories from Tank Girl’s most recent run, brought together by Alan Martin and Brett Parson, The Legend of Tank Girl?

tank girl

In the first story, a delirious exercise in metahumor, coffee and emotion, is the four-part “Two Girls, One Tank” saga. Tank Girl’s tank is stolen while she’s away visiting a dying aunt. She, Booga, and Barney travel the desert in an attempt at getting it back, only to end up having to bargain with coffee impresario Decaf Dave for information and dodging the military he sets upon her. Meanwhile, Magnolia Jones, the gallery owner who has bought the tank and hoped to sell it on her showroom floor, finds herself caught in a drunken trance and—inspired by Tank Girl’s spirit—chops off her hair and takes the tank out on a joy ride, believing herself to be Tank Girl. She is chased by a phalanx of cops who want to recover the tank. As the line between Magnolia and Tank Girl blurs, a showdown is set in the ghost town of Allison Springs. Which Tanky will reign supreme? And could there be more to Magnolia than meets the eye?

As the story progresses, the group’s new addition helps them march into the town of Badrock, which is filled with hair metal lookalike Dieborgs, to grab a chocolate layer cake, which gives them enough fuel to go looking for a signature and long-missing vehicle belonging to the team. With the military still hot on their tails, infighting might get the best of them, or perhaps an evil doctor who holds the key to Magnolia’s past.

After that adventure plays out, other tales include Tank Girl playing Australian Crennis, making a ’50s style B-movie adventure flick, taking a trippy journey to Zulu Dobson’s house, and traveling back in time to kill some Nazis stark naked. Meanwhile, Jet Girl falls in love and fixes a plane. Oh, and there are cut-out paper dolls!

Lavishly drawn, cheekily written, filled with the violence, sex jokes, feminism, and self-mocking cheesecake, this is Tank Girl at her revved up, blood-soaked, wild-hearted best. Our characters are still the same people (and marsupials) they’ve always been. Jet Girl is still a queen of competency, Booga is still filled with inappropriate slang and puns and sexual thoughts, Barney is out of control, Tanky is still chaotic good personified, and Zulu Dobson is chill and bright.

Twisty plots exemplify this issue. You’ll never be able to guess the plot twist coming for you in “TGOT.” I know I couldn’t. The pop culture references fly hard and fast. There’s a bizarre Vertigo/Tender is the Night side-plot (and a huge tribute to Westworld) that’s intriguing with its content and direction. You’ll spend hours counting the cameos in Tank Girl’s World War II saga and marvel at how they manage to tie it together with the dual Tank Girl saga. But the heart of the story is never lost: the loyalty all of the women (and kangaroo) have for one another.

The selection of stories does a good job of encapsulating all of art style is playfully wide and varied, from lush, modernized color panels to newsprint-textured throwbacks to 1970s comics. There’s even a wonderful take off on Mad Magazine gag work, artm and layouts. The thickly-lined art is paired with carefully detailed gore and dreamy pin-ups, colored with brilliant attention to detail.

I do have one complaint, which is probably slightly ridiculous. The nudity is a bit gratuitous in this set of stories, even for a Tank Girl issue. None of the male characters are required to provide a full-frontal shot, but every single female character is seen topless or fully nude from the front. I’m not asking to see mutant kangaroo penis, but a little bit of equality would be nice. Also, for those triggered by dark themes, there is quite a heavy treatise on identity and human captivity that might best be avoided.

Nevertheless, the volume as a whole is a lot of raunchy, funny, over the top fun, a kick in the pants, just as anything Tank Girl related should be.