Collecting the girl’s most recent four-ish mini-series, Tank Girl: Skidmarks (Titan Books) is a rude and ruddy exercise in comic book mayhem that’s enjoyable even through a half-assed “preposterous” ending. I reviewed the first issue of this series as a floppy comic and was pretty much on board for all the cheerfully heartless ultra-violence then, but once writer Alan Martin and artist Rufus Dayglo more fully inserted a comic book version of the late, great Dee Dee Ramone into the plotline, I was thoroughly hooked. Best “real-life” guest turn in a comic since a thinly disguised Don Rickles popped up in the pages of Jimmy Olsen.
The toss-it-all-against-the-wall plot concerns our heroine’s participation in an Outback crossing race called the Watermelon Run, a take-no-prisoners race where “The only rule of this race is there are no rules.” (“Seriously?” our girl replies. “That old cliché is the best they could come up with?”) TGirl is in the contest to win the money for a pricey operation on her old school chum Barney (yes, we get an amusing flashback to our punkette heroine’s school days). Her accident-prone friend is lying comatose from a skateboarding incident, so our heroine, accompanied by her mutant kangaroo companion Booga, plunges into the race with her tank’s drive shaft held together by a pair of cheap plastic knickers.
Through the race our duo comes up against a variety of pop icon-y figures: an Aussie ladies’ man resembling Burt Reynolds, a trio of shapely lady detectives recalling Charlie’s Angels, plus a gibberish spouting billionaire in a monster mask and Star Wars-inspired helmet. Beaucoup demolition and flying body parts follow, but Tank Girl keeps her eye on the prize, even if scripter Martin doesn’t keep his on the story.
Dayglo’s art builds upon original co-creator Jamie (Gorillaz) Hewlett’s nicely, though his vision of TGirl is slightly less grubbily punky than Hewlett’s. The mini-series is printed in color, though the collection also features two separate shorter entries in mechanically toned black-and-white. These two outings prove even more outlandish (in the first, the Tank Girl strapped for cash in “Skidmarks” suddenly has the wherewithal to erect an amusement park in her name), but, then, you don’t come to a work like this for serious consideration of the post-Apocalyptic condition. You come for the panels of severed heads with dismayed comical expressions on their faces.