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Comic Book Review
Bulging with brand-spanking-new comic strips, pin-ups, handy hints and tips, and plenty of riotous 100% original content from Alan Martin and a whole host of Tank Girl contributors – both old and new – get your head down, your eyes open, and your loins sufficiently girded for the second stupendous instalment of this scatter-brained series…!
Don’t get too excited about the inclusion of Jamie Hewlett’s name on the front cover, because he only provides a two-page pin-up in this issue.
Never mind, though, because the main strip – the 13-page Nanango ’71 – is brought to us by the decidedly Hewlett-esque Brett Parson, who also contributes the raunchy cover illustration. Parson maintains his sepia-toned ‘aged comic’ look from the previous issue’s The Runny Man, though things get more colourful during a psychedelic 1970s dream sequence. There is some confusion as to whether Booga is supposed to be collecting a five grand or a five million dollar fee for the delivery of a vintage car to a bloke called Bill Shakespeare (cue some Shakespearean references), but then narrative logic is hardly the name of the game in this violent chase narrative, which feels not dissimilar to a Jason Statham movie.
Next up is the two-page Tank Girl Tactics & Booga Manoeuvres. Illustrated by Philip Bond, this is not so much a comic strip as a set of six battle tips, including “Attack From Behind” and “Never Reveal Your Identity” – the latter of which features a nice nod to a famous line from Dad’s Army.
The Seventies theme continues in the ten-page Journey to the Centre of the Tank, which boasts cameo appearances by the likes of Little and Large, pupils from Grange Hill, Frank Spencer, Rod Hull and Emu, and the Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker versions of Doctor Who, plus a fleeting reference to Muskie the muskrat from Deputy Dawg. Appropriately enough, Jonathan Edwards’s artwork is highly reminiscent of a kids’ cartoon, with Tank Girl looking not unlike the animated version of Karl Pilkington during moments of confusion. Our heroine ventures further inside her tank than she has ever done before as she searches for armaments, revealing a TARDIS-like realm of unexplored inner space. A couple of years ago, Doctor Who made a Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS, and I think that show may have been a source of inspiration for Alan Martin as much as Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth, as evidenced by the fact that Tank Girl has to speak her real name as a password (we don’t get to hear it), just as the Doctor had to do in another episode from 2013. Tank Girl’s typical approach to finding stuff is rather like my own within my cluttered flat: “I usually just skim whatever I need off the surface layer, and if it’s not immediately to hand I go and buy a new one. Not a good way to live, admittedly, but it’s so hard to keep up with life sometimes.” This really speaks to me!
Finally, Tank Girl and Jet Girl (and, I dare say, Alan Martin speaking through them) have a good rant about getting older and young people’s assumed sense of worth in the single-page You’re Young Now, But You Won’t Be For Long, which features eccentrically misshapen characters drawn by Jim Mahfood. I think Jet Girl speaks for many of us when she says, “Everybody’s young nowadays, everybody. It’s f***ing boring. So don’t wave your youth in my face like it’s something you’ve earned, something you’ve strived for, something you’ve achieved. Because it isn’t. That bullsh*t might’ve worked for all the little sh*ts in the Fifties and Sixties, but it doesn’t wash with me now.” Getting old is the new cool, apparently. Amen to that. I’m off now to put my slippers on and smoke a pipe…