21st Century Tank Girl Hardcover by Philip J. Bond, Jim Mahfood, Warwick Johnson-Cadwell, etc. (graphic novel review).

November 29, 2015 | By | Reply More

This is an odd book. Odd, not funny, at least not to me. It might be funny if you are of an age where you think swearing is inherently funny, along with mentions of ‘evil smelling farts’ and ‘dark, creepy, unnatural shits’. It is odd because there are a few comic stories done in the usual style, with panels and dialogue balloons but these are mixed with text stories and splash pages with pictures of Tank Girl and the rest of the cast, Booga, Barney and Jet Girl. There are far too many of these splash pages. The text that accompanies the bad pictures is not worth reading. A sample:

How fucking brilliant am I?

I pluck clouds from the sky

When I sleep I can fly

When it’s breakfast I fry

How fucking brilliant am I?


As I like good comics I was hoping the stories might be better. They are but not much. In the first one, ‘Tank Girl’ goes to a mining asteroid to steal the valuable fuel ore she needs to power her tank in an upcoming race against an evil crime lord. In the second, she gets involved in a plot to steal God’s underpants, an Indiana Jones style relic in a museum. There are multiple cultural references to television shows, films and some minor British celebrities, which will baffle any U.S. audience. I confess, I stopped reading after that.

To be fair, this sort of off-the-wall black humour is par for the course in certain ‘2000AD’ strips, along with graphic violence and a generally anarchic political attitude. Done well, it can be entertaining but this is not done very well. To be even fairer, one of the great redeeming features of even a badly scripted comic for me is the art. The stories at least had a plot and made sense and I might have read more if the pictures were pleasing to the eye but I didn’t like the art here. Comic artists have various classic influences nowadays: Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, John Buscema, Neal Adams and so on. The influence here seems to be a five year-old boy trying to do Picasso. The resulting doodles may impress intellectuals but give little pleasure to someone reared on the aforementioned pencillers of American super-hero adventures.

Physically, this book is well packaged with a hardback cover and fine, glossy paper. It seems odd that such quality production has been used up on such dire material but that’s publishing. At this time of year, all sorts of stuff appears in the bookshops from celebrity memoirs to joke books by current comedians. Someone must buy it. Presumably someone will want this as well but I really don’t recommend it to anyone over the age of twelve and the bad language makes it unsuitable for anyone younger than that. However, teen-agers have been buying stuff deemed inappropriate by old fogeys since Elvis started releasing records. My parents hated ‘Monty Python’ and I don’t like ‘Tank Girl’. If you do, then go ahead and buy it and when you’re an old fogey, like me, something else will come along and your kids will love it and you will hate it. Time marches on.

Eamonn Murphy

November 2015

(pub: Titan Books. 112 pages hardback graphic novel. Price: £35.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78276-661-2)

check out website: www.Titanbooks.com


Category: Comics

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