Fans of violence, drinking, and mutant kangaroos, rejoice! Tank Girl: Carioca is here, collecting the 2011 series of the same name in an impressive hardcover. Don’t know if that’s something you want? This review might (MIGHT) answer you’re questions. Here’s the official description from Titan Books:
Tank Girl returns again in a brand new graphic novel written by original co-creator Alan Martin with artwork by the amazing Mike McMahon (Judge Dredd)! After our heroine is rudely snubbed on a TV game show, she plots the death of the vulgar host in question — unwittingly releasing the vengeance of his embittered wife and a gang of highly trained assassins as a result!
Created by James Hewlett and Adam Martin, Tank Girl’s been around since the late 80s. There was even a Tank Girl movie released in 1995. I was unaware of the character’s long history when I started reading Tank Girl: Carioca, but luckily no prior knowledge is necessary. In fact, Tank Girl seems to rely very little on continuity at all.
Like I said, I can’t speak on any other Tank Girl books, but Carioca is probably an acquired taste. Its humor (or humour) is very British/Australian, which Americans tend to find either hilarious or incomprehensible. I imagine most readers will either love it or hate, without much middle ground.
As might be expected of a story such as this, unexpected plot turns seem intended to create mad situations ripe for humor and visual novelty, rather than contribute to a strong, thematic story arc. Carioca is best enjoyed page-by-page. Anyone trying to formulate a unified opinion of the book from start to finish may be disappointed.
Personally, my favorite aspect of the book was a series of out-of-continuity splash pages featuring poetry of various styles, which are used to separate the individual issues from each other.
The offbeat humor is contrasted with and complemented by a few moments of extreme gore and violence, although Mike McMahon’s somewhat abstract art, which is somehow both better and worse than if the scenes were portrayed with more realism, mitigates this in a way.
McMahon is most well-known for his work on 2000AD. If anything, Carioca is more abstract, with angular, exaggerated figures and solid colors. The characters are all grotesque (in both appearance and temperament), to one degree or another. The backgrounds are generally simple or non-existent, keeping the emphasis on the characters. Several unconventional layouts were particularly interesting to me, and many of the pages or panels might function better individually, as standalone pieces, rather than as part of a narrative.
I realize I’ve failed to describe Tank Girl: Carioca and my opinion of it in perfectly precise terms. This is because I, personally, didn’t care for it, but believe it will be very appealing to certain people. This dichotomy is present with any review, but I think it’s more pronounced in this case, where my negative opinion is based on stylistic choices rather than on quality (or perceived lack thereof).
To close, I didn’t care for Tank Girl: Carioca, but I encourage fans of offbeat humor, abstract art, and Quentin Tarantino films to give it a shot.