TankGirl - My Cult Classic Heroine - Always

Before we get started - I've created a TankGyrl playlist which goes with this post and can be found here. Go put it on if you want a tanky auditory experience to accompany this nonsensical (but fun) post.

I might be giving away my age, but I've been a TankGirl fan since I was in high school. I thought she was just the bees knees. She was unapologetically weird, eccentric, she cursed like a sailor and had a brilliant sense of fun and humour.

Her fashion sense was totally whacked and over the top and yet she just absolutely oozed sex appeal. She wasn't afraid of her flaws or curves, she wasn't overly worried about the fact that her hair was either everywhere or non-existent. She was the absolute rebel - and she rode a tank and shot beer at people who annoyed her. Come on, what's not to love?

But there was actually more to it underneath what I've just described which I admired.

If you watched the 1995 movie Tank Girl (with a cast of Lori Petty, Naomi Watts, Ice T and Malcolm McDowell who all pulled it off really well) you will get a synopsis of the (anti) heroine character Tank Girl. Trust me, she's even more crazy in the comics!

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The movie basically starts with her scavenging in the year 2033 - ten years after a comet strikes the earth rendering it apocalyptic and everything is strictly governed and controlled. There is a single government called WATER & POWER which is directed by the main villain - Kesslee - who owns all the water and has all the power (apparently).

She manages to find a decent pair of second hand boots (read: previous owner recently deceased) for her boyfriend because it happens to be his birthday and seems some traditions don't ever die even after the world as we know it is gone.

TankGirl and her possee have a compound in the middle of the desert which is pretty well set up and nifty. It has a water well, they grow their own veggies, they have 80's style decor everywhere and they wear punk style clothing which is probably easy seeing as the civilized world as it were has gone to hell. Everything is a little bit tatty, a little bit jaded, a little bit skew.

While TankGirl is on watch duty at their compound (she really just doesn't take this as seriously as she probably should) she misses an ambush and then has to witness her people being slaughtered by Water & Power and her niece being abducted before she herself is taken prisoner.

From here on it is basically the story of how against horrendous odds, she manages to plan her escape. While being comical, she gains a trusty ally (Jet) and even through torture and reliving her traumas in "the pipe", will not give in to Kesslee or admit defeat. She'd simply rather die first than bow down.

Fuck, she was awesome!

Just by asking the right questions and being a solid friend, she was able to unlock the goddess side of Jet who at first was geeky and shy - empowered her to own the intellectual side of herself while developing the sizzling hot, confident and saucy side of herself.


That's the underlying stuff that makes her whole character so appealing. She wages psychological war against Kesslee, manages to make allies with the Rippers who are hybrid kangaroo-humans who have a shared agenda to take down Kesslee for killing their creator and mentor. So while crumpets and tea are consumed and there's dancing and general shenanigans, she continues to win over allies by being authentic and sticking it to the man.

Most of the movie is light hearted and filled with comical antics, but the creators were bold enough to insert an issue that I feel strongly about - another reason why I think TankGirl is epic. She takes on a brothel where her niece has been put up for child sex slavery. It's not an elaborate scene or particularly grotesque but I admire the balls it took for the creators to include. A subject most people would rather ignore especially if it were to affect their movie ratings, who knows, they were probably told not to include it and did anyway, they strike me as those kinds of people.

Eventually they manage to overthrow Water & Power and save the rest of humanity from the tyrannical rule of a psychopath while releasing all the stored water.

The movie is a story on its own, the comic books delved deeper into her character - how she is imperfect, flawed, moody, mysterious, she fights with her emotions and often loses, she is just so human, nothing special, she's just her. She is a raw character and doesn't need to layer on Hollywood glamour like so many superheroines. She is authentic and broken, scarred and blunt - with a good heart and a lot of zest and zeal for life.

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Unfortunately her being an alcoholic doesn't match my personal ethos, but considering the events in the comics, her past, her traumas, I can see that it's the typical punk type stereotype being used to mask painful life events with substance abuse - something I don't abide by though.


She would rather be unmistakably weird than just be one of the crowd - a barcode. She is loud, obnoxious at times, but she has an appreciation for the small more meaningful things. She would rather be in great company of the few that understand her, that she knows intimately as true friends than be admired by the masses of mindless fans, followers or sycophants. She has no time for fakeness because life is too short for that nonsense. She has no real super power other than being able to drive a tank, having a wicked sense of humour and an unconventional fashion sense.

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My favourite comic book character, the most under rated super heroine in history. If you'd like to submerse yourself in escapism and nutbaggery for a while - get a few of these comics and try to make sense of them :)

If you could choose a super hero, who would you choose?

Here is a good place to find a shit ton of stuff on Tanky from the comics to the collectors cards.

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These photos are my own, taken of my TankGirl comics - I do not own any of the artwork or copyright thereto and those remain solely with the creators - author Alan Martin and artist Jamey Hewlett who are still to this day producing TankGirl and keeping her alive and (ir)relevant. Much respect!

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