Written by: Alan C. Martin
Illustrated by: Mike McMahon
Published by: Titan Books
Reviewer: Kristian Horn
As a long time lover of Tank Girl I have to say that I’m something of a traditionalist. When I say “traditionalist” I mostly mean regarding the art. Obviously Alan Martin has been the main (or only) scribe behind the adventures of everyone’s favorite post apocalyptic punk girl for years and years but the art chores have been known to change hands time after time. Even though there have been several TG artists there used to be only one Tank Girl cartoonist who ever mattered to me. They say that your first love stays a part of you your whole life and when it came to the art behind Tank Girl this saying rang true for a very long time. Yes, when it came to Tank Girl, there was only one artist for me and if you’ve ever been a fan of this comic book character you know who I’m talking about: Jamie Hewltett.
It wasn’t until I was introduced to the spectacular talents of Rufus Dayglo (artist behind Tank Girl: Skidmarks and Tank Girl: Bad Wind Rising) that I softened up on my hard core “Jamie Hewlett is the only man who should be drawing Tank Girl” stance. Dayglo showed me that Hewlett wasn’t the only one who could do justice to drawing the adventures of an ADD addled hyper violent feminine answer to Mad Max. Sure, Dayglo’s style was very much an approximation of Hewlett’s, but Mr. Dayglo was the man who liberated me from my narrow-minded opinion that only one man could draw the woman who was partly responsible for introducing me to indie comics.
But while Dayglo was a sort of slight adjustment to a new style of Tank Girl illustration, the artist behind Tank Girl: Carioca is like a sudden splash of cold water in the face for this fan. I’m not going to say that Mike McMahon is bad artist…he’s not. As a matter of fact he’s actually quite brilliant. But for someone like me who’s a bit of a hard ass about what a Tank Girl comic should look like…his style took some getting used to. Oh, I know that Tank Girl has been illustrated in different styles throughout the years but I’d always eschewed many of those iterations because of my aforementioned preconceptions of what constituted a Tank Girl book. I will say that by the end of the book that McMahon’s style really grew on me and that I grew to absolutely love his illustration technique. It’s less cartoony than past artists to be sure but there is such a great flair behind it that I found myself just digging his art more and more the further I got into the book. While McMahon was not what I was used to in TG he, much like Rufus Dayglo, converted me into a fan by the time I was done reading Tank Girl: Carioca.
Beyond the art, well, what can I say about Alan Martin’s writing that I haven’t said before in previous Tank Girl reviews? It’s wacky, it’s funny, it’s crazy, and it’s entertaining. It’s not your average comic book and that’s a helluva good thing. Tank Girl remains one of the truly original comic books out there that continues to blaze it’s own trail.
What’s the story about? Well, Tank Girl and her marsupial lover Booga find themselves unsuspectingly pulled onto their favorite television game show. In the course of the show they are mocked and cheated by the ultra popular host and after being kicked off decide to return to wreak vengeance on the soon to be unfortunate host. Before you know it they have gathered many of the usual Tank Girl cast of characters to help them rain ungodly hell upon the ones who have made them out to look ridiculous on national TV. You can imagine that the antics just get crazier and crazier from there.
While Tank Girl: Carioca is a visual departure from the last several outings of the character it’s still the same terrifically entertaining stuff. Martin and McMahon succeed in being able to capture all what is best about previous Tank Girl books while making this a somewhat new take on the character because of McMahon’s art. Fans of Tank Girl won’t be disappointed.