Tank Girl

Authors: Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin
Artist: Jamie Hewlett
Titan Books
RRP 10.99, US $16.99
ISBN 1 84023 435 0
Available now

The Australian Outback, a few decades in the future. Tank Girl takes time out from her busy beer-swilling schedule to do some bounty hunting, before delivering colostomy bags to President Hogan, taking on the Australian Mafia, and other outrageous adventures...

This volume brings together the first 13 episodes of Tank Girl's exploits, which originally appeared in Deadline magazine way back in 1988 and 1989 (god, that makes me feel old). The artwork has been shrunk down to American comic format, but has the advantage of being printed in full colour. However, it would appear that some of the original art has been mislaid, because certain pages seem to have been scanned directly from a previous printing - shame. A couple of pages from the fifth episode are printed out of sequence, but it is possible that this was how they appeared originally.

It is apparent from the opening instalments that the work of Brett Ewins, Brendan McCarthy and even Kevin O'Neill inspired Jamie Hewlett (who more recently designed the virtual pop group, Gorillaz), but his art quickly establishes an unmistakably zany style all of its own. The character of Tank Girl possesses what has to be the most wicked smile in comics since 2000 AD's Slaine.

The stories range from just plain odd to laugh-out-loud funny, loaded with comical sexuality, violence and post-modern winks at the reader. "How can I hear everything he's saying?" wonders Tank Girl as she chases a wanted kangaroo. "Must be something to do with comics and all that crap!" Many a male reader will fall in love with the heroine's sexy yet grungy outfits - or lack of on frequent occasions. Females will appreciate the character's in-your-face attitude, as she takes no crap from anyone and ruthlessly dominates her kangaroo boyfriend, Booga. A couple of later instalments hint at some higher purpose behind Tank Girl's existence (well, it couldn't have sunk any lower, could it?), casting her in the guise of a kind of Aboriginal Earth mother.

It must be said that the text panels contain rather a high incidence of bad spelling and punctuation, so make sure you're a mature reader, or else this graphic novel might rot your brain. Actually, it'll probably rot your brain anyway, so what the hell...!

With a new introduction by Alan Martin, this volume also includes a cut-out and dress (should you want to!) Tank Girl. If you've never before had the chance to enjoy these early adventures, or if you just fancy a blast from the past, then take this girl home with you now.

Richard McGinlay


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