Reviews: guns, explosions, violence, swearing, nudity – World War Tank Girl
World War Tank Girl #1,
Alan Martin, Brett Parson,
(cover art by Shaky Kane)
I’d somehow managed to hear anything about this in advance, but that fabulous Shaky Kane cover artwork grabbed my attention as I perused the week’s new releases, swooping in for my picks like a comics magpie. That deliberately retro-comics styling on the cover, referencing some of those great 60s and 70s war comics and the likes of the great Joe Kubert was too much to resist (can you blame me?), and straight onto my lunchtime reading pile it went. And I am so glad it did.
Time travel tends to phase people out a bit if they’re not Time Lords, takes a bit of getting used to, especially if said chrono-trip drops you into the middle of raging battle action – in this case the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes region during World War II (when the Nazis mounted a surprise attack against the Allies in the middle of winter, when previously they had been retreating). Of course, most people aren’t Tank Girl…
Our opening scene has a group of weary GIs just outside Saint Rockville (a homage to a certain Sergeant, perhaps??), scanning the nearby town and realising they are going to have to have another crack at the German troops there. And that’s when their officer, peering through his binoculars, sees Tank Girl. A naked Tank Girl, streaking (in more than one sense of the word) through the Nazi-held town, and naturally clobbering the hell out of the bad guys as she goes, most of the violence hidden behind a wall of inside a half-track, just the screams (in lurid red speech bubbles!) “No! No! Not that!! Urgh!” and fountains of blood gushing upwards from the partially hidden scenes, as TG dispatches the Germans and grabs bits of their clothing for herself (“please try not to bleed on your trousers” she tells one Nazi before riddling him with machine gun fire).
She reaches the Allied lines, and fills the stunned soldiers there in on the lay-out of the Nazi forces in town, which includes a bell-tower sniper and a Tiger Tank in the town square, in what I’d imagine is a nod to the classic war film Kelly’s Heroes. Naturally TG is aiming to grab the soldiers to go back in there and kick the hell out of the Nazis (also she clearly likes that German tank). Cue some delightfully over the top cartoony violence, orchestrated by TG who instructs her new recruits to utter weird battle cries that make no sense, just to confuse the enemy even more. This leads to some wonderfully bonkers deaths, such as TG kicking a grenade like a football, straight into the mouth of a Nazi officer (one of the best exploding head scenes since Scanners!).
Meanwhile we start to see some of the rest of TG’s motley crew, who all appear to have arrived in the midst of World War II totally starkers (a reference to the “you go naked” time travel of Terminator, perhaps? Or just for the fun of it!). Barney, who could give Harley Quinn a run in the who’s maddest race, appears nude on a Dakota about to drop a bunch of paratroopers and gleefully leaps out the plane without even a parachute, grabbing hold of a soldier on the way down to hitch a parachute ride, leading to the great line “Shit! Naked mad woman!” from soldier, who is understandably somewhat surprised to have a naked woman leap on his body while falling from a plane. Booga, it appears, has arrived through time in the kitchen of Nazi headquarters, where, hiding his nudity with a kitchen apron, he is mistaken for the chef and ordered to make lunch for visiting dignitaries (hey, we’ve all had that happen, right?).
Is the time travel just an excuse to have TG and gang in a World War II setting? Maybe. Does it matter? Hell, no, not when it’s this much fun! Lashings of very cartoony uber-violence, lots of inventive swearing, full on gratuitous human and kangaroo nudity, I mean what’s not to love? Like Kane’s cover, Parson’s artwork nicely references the many “boy’s own” war comics many of us grew up with, right down to the subdued, muddier colour palette of the older 70s printing presses and the paper itself has that pinky-yellow rather than pure white colour, making it look like the cheap newsprint Sgt Rock, Warlord etc were all printed on back in the day, which is a nice detail, although I don’t recall any of my boyhood war comics having naked women slaughtering Nazis. Certainly not in Victor or Warlord, not even Action went that far… References and homages to classic war comics and films mixed with Tank Girl’s OTT violence, swearing and nudity, this is just a totally fun ride!
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