This wonderfully titled book comes courtesy of Avant Punk, an imprint of the trusty bizarro kings, Eraserhead Press.
The tale begins in McDonaldland, a futuristic dystopia in which the fast food corporation has absolute power and bland conformity is king. We meet our hero, Daniel Togg, a bored machine operator who brews illegal alcohol and soon finds himself banished. Beyond the towering city walls, he finds a dangerous wasteland populated by female biker werewolves, genetic mutants and other renegade fringes of society.
As the story progresses, we discover that the city has terrible secrets regarding the origins and history of the wolf women. Daniel is captured by a heavily armed faction named Warriors of the Wild, not realising that his loyalties will soon be tested.
The post-apocalyptic wasteland has been rightly compared to The Road Warrior. There’s modified vehicles, plenty of weapons action, explosions, tribal atrocity and gruesome deaths. We come to meet many of the individual wolf women, each presented with lascivious artwork courtesy of the author, but there is depth to the characters too. My favourites included the cool and pragmatic Slayer, and the twin axe-wielding, dog-snouted Talon, a very powerful but sensible alpha female who is one of the warrior chiefs. And I’ll never forget the psychotic and terrifyingly childish Pippi whom I grew to love and loathe in equal measures.
As well as the violence, there are some guiltily arousing wolfish sex scenes, and a deftly handled angle of lost love that is surprisingly poignant.
It’s not a faultless book. There are several glaring text errors, which are always disappointing. And while the action is mostly a blast, a prolonged swordfight near the end didn’t work for me on the page, and I ended up skimming until I found its conclusion.
I was also slightly disappointed when we left McDonaldland behind. It’s a fascinating idea. Here, the smiley, brightly-coloured facade of a fast-food environment – that masks the disillusionment or brainwashing of its automaton workforce – now infects every walk of life. The opportunities aren’t wasted, whether they be light-hearted fun or deeper social commentary, and I would’ve loved to have seen this concept explored further.
But the matriarchal wasteland itself is a fresh and exciting vision, and there’s considered gender politics at play; it’s not just cheap thrills for the boys. This author always manages to blend twisted bizarro japery with substance.
Despite its minor flaws, Warrior Wolf Women of the Wasteland is one of Carlton Mellick III’s stronger works. The conclusion is unpredictable, but without resorting to contrived twists, and nicely seals a subversive, intelligent and entertaining read.