Review: Tank Girl - Carioca / Writer: Alan Martin / Artist: Mike McMahon / Publisher: Titan Books / Release Date: Out Now
A six part series gathered together between hardcovers, Carioca finds Tank Girl on another one of her loose-limbed, shambolic escapades. Things kick off when TG is dissed on TV by a sleazy game show host called Charlie Happy. Thin-skinned as ever, she plots an elaborate revenge which involves a bloody mode of public execution and a giant Victoria sponge cake. However, a post-mission binge prompts feelings of hollowness and a crisis of confidence. Suddenly going all New Age-y and non-violent, she leads her people (Booga, his clever mate Andy Answers, a few of the regular team-TG girls and a foul-mouthed lemming) into the wilderness on a path of righteousness. But meanwhile a band of assassins is heading her way, so it seems like only a matter of time before said path is littered with the battered bodies of her enemies...
Original co-creator Alan Martin is in the writer's saddle, and it must be said he's on very good form. The plot doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but it provides a decent framework for his off-the-cuff humour – explosively funny moments, there and gone in a flash, which are nigh impossible to explain out of context and which are one of the abiding joys of Tank Girl’s world. The full page panel, for instance, where we meet the aforementioned assassins, an eclectic bunch including a character called The Man Who Ate a Donkey. Or the stream of ferocious put-downs which rolls off the tongue of the lemming – a “bitter lemming”, as Jet Girl points out, although he's quick to say, “Don't try and pigeonhole me, you f@#*!”.
Taking on the artwork this time round is Mike McMahon, and here opinions might well be divided. He doesn't even attempt to replicate Hewlett's sweetness of line, but instead does his own thing, delivering aggressively angular visuals coloured in equally strident boiled-lobster flesh tones. As a result, this is a TG somewhat lacking in sex appeal, especially as the outfits she wears (a green tube top, crumpled overalls and a grubby white robe during her New Age bit) do nothing for her fashion icon status. On the plus side, Booga looks impressively big and beefy, the villains all have a grotesque vitality, and the action set pieces are eye-catching in a flat, spiky, stylized way, like an acid-tinged Bayeux Tapestry.
Even if you're unconvinced by McMahon's contribution, Carioca is still a great, rowdy riot of a graphic novel, and reading it is a cathartic and liberating experience for anyone stuck in the trenches of modern life. That's the thing about Tank Girl: she does wonders for your mental health – always assuming she doesn't knock your head off.