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Graphic Novel Review

Book Cover

Tank Girl
World War Tank Girl (Paperback)


Writer: Alan Martin
Artist: Brett Parson
Publisher: Titan Comics
RRP: UK £13.99, US $16.99
Age: 17+
ISBN: 978 1 78585 526 9
104 pages
Publication Date: 21 November 2017

We’re coming back for you… just hold on, okay?” It’s the grand finale of Tank Girl’s first ever trilogy, from creator Alan Martin and mind-blowing artist Brett Parson. Tank Girl and the gang travel back to World War Two, in an attempt to save their strangely haunted friend Sub Girl. New allegiances lead them astray, ending up in a battle of epic proportions. Join Tank Girl, Booga, Jet Girl et al, as they jump the shark, nuke the fridge, and give the Third Reich a right good bloody nose…!

This volume collects all four issues of World War Tank Girl and is the culmination of a trilogy of graphic novels. A more plot-driven piece than the previous one, Tank Girl Gold, the saga resumes right where Tank Girl Gold left off, with Tank Girl, Barney and Booga having journeyed back through time to 1945, in search of the missing Jet Girl and Sub Girl.

As in the Terminator franchise, our heroes arrive completely naked and need to steal or improvise clothing – though I don’t recall Arnie ever saying, “Please, try not to bleed on your trousers.” Though the friends arrive at the same point in time, they are spatially separated, with Tank Girl materialising in a Nazi-occupied village, Barney finding herself aboard an American plane alongside a squad of paratroopers without a parachute (or any other fabric), and Booga setting down in the secret kitchen of the Third Reich’s secret headquarters in the (not secret) Bavarian Alps.

Don’t be too disappointed when our heroes get dressed, because a further temporal trip towards the end of the book results in even more nakedness, with eight pages’ worth of prolonged outdoor nudity! It’s mainly boobs and bums, nothing full frontal, but we are offered glimpses of Jet Girl’s and Sub Girl’s pubic hair (though it seems that Tank Girl has gone for the full Brazilian) and Booga’s ball sac (if that’s what floats your boat). Yes, there’s plenty for old pervs (like me) to enjoy as Tank Girl and her pals return to the bush. I mean the Australian bush, of course – blimey, you lot have got filthy minds!

The wartime setting allows for parodies of films such as The Great Escape and A Bridge Too Far. After insulting a bunch of high-ranking Nazi officers at the Eagle’s Nest hideout in Bavaria, Booga is imprisoned in Coldtitz Castle and vows to escape. He notices a British prisoner emptying dirt from his trouser leg – actually he has just crapped himself, but he is impressed by Booga’s way of thinking! But can Jimmy the Snitch be trusted…? Well, what do you think? Meanwhile, Barney makes contact with a British officer, Colonel Prentice Merton (who looks like a balding Mark Bonnar). You can tell he’s British, because he wears a bowler hat, smokes a pipe and carries an umbrella. He tells Barney that they must prevent the Germans from blowing up the Bridge at Arndale.

The book also includes a cut-out Tank Girl mask and a spoof one-page advert for a crappy toy soldier set, “Made of inferior plastic, each with its own problem … Have your boys come home in a box”.

However, the funniest bit for me is when Barney has the idea of sneaking up on the Nazis with the aid of a pantomime horse and a gorilla costume. The result looks like an am-dram production of Planet of the Apes, and it made me laugh out loud.

Tank Girl may be out of her usual time and place, but she’s still a tank girl at heart. As luck would have it, World War Two is quite a good place to find tanks, and it’s not long before our heroine has captured a German King Tiger. Later, she takes control of an even bigger tank, a Jagdtiger heavy tank destroyer.

The Titan Comics website describes the genre of this publication as “Action/Adventure / Comedy / Girl Power”, and the latter category has never been more accurate than when Tank Girl is disheartened to find that the US Army has a load of shiny, spanking new tanks in the field, but no one to crew them. The troops are down to fewer than a dozen men. “But on the bright side,” says one optimistic female engineer, “we’re sorted if anything breaks down or anyone gets hurt – we’ve got eighty Women’s Army Corps mechanics, and a hundred and fifty nurses!” Tank Girl’s modern mentality sees the obvious solution when the 1940s personnel do not – she crews the tanks with women, taking the Germans well and truly by surprise!

Meanwhile, we learn more about Sub Girl’s double life as the Hollywood actress Gloria Swanage. I had assumed that the two women were one and the same, with Swanage being an identity taken on by Sub Girl while she was in the past – making her trip back in time something of a causal loop, since she was already aware of Swanage’s fame. However, it turns out that the actress exists in her own right, and Sub Girl is her spitting image.

The climax of the book pays off on this and numerous other plot elements from across the entire trilogy, including the Furry Road and Tank Girl’s present-day arch nemesis General Fletcher. These require a fair few explanatory text boxes along the lines of “Note – see issue…” until eventually Tank Girl loses patience and tells us, in a little box-out of her own: “Note – see issue… oh, for f***’s sake. This is the final episode of the final book of a trilogy. Just go and read the other comics first, why don’tcha?” She has a point! The culmination of the saga leads to a surprisingly satisfying tying up of loose ends – which I won’t spoil for you.

What I will say, though, is that Martin and Parson maintain their seemingly inexhaustible supply of comedy sound effects and exclamations, which this time include “Grint!”, “Gnu!”, “Stuff!”, “Titten!”, “Butter! Butter!” and “Ping! Pong! Poo!” So all in all, it’s another successful mission from Titten – sorry, Titan – Comics. With plenty of extreme violence (lots of Nazis getting blown up), bad language (“You f*cking Nazi c*nts!”) and puerile humour (“My buttocks!” cries an American soldier as he is shot and drops a couple of live grenades, “Ah… buttocks fingers!”), this graphic novel is not for children, but it should appeal to childish adults – like me!

World War Tank Girl, huh! What is it good for? Quite a lot, actually. It’s the most entertaining Tank Girl tale I’ve read in quite a while.


Richard McGinlay

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