Comics

Tank Girl Rides Again! – 21st Century Tankgirl Reviewed

21st Century Tank Girl #121st Century Tank Girl #1 cover

Alan Martin, Jamie Hewlett (creators)
Brett Parson Warwick Johnson-Cadwell, Johnathan Edwards, Philip Bond (pencillers)
Titan Comics
June 2015
WWAC reviewed 21st Century Tank Girl #1 with an advanced review copy from Titan Comics.

Titan’s been regularly putting out Tank Girl comics for the past few years, but this one is a little different. It’s a return to short story form, for one, rather than the longer adventures of Bad Wind Rising or Carioca, and it’s got a whole gaggle of artists, including Jamie Hewlett, Tank Girl’s other dad. While Alan Martin’s kept up with Tank Girl, writing comics and even a novel of her escapades, this is Jamie Hewlett’s return to his creation for the first time in 20 years, and Martin & Hewlett’s first Tank Girl reunion since their original run in Deadline Magazine.

This three-issue miniseries has a huge line-up of artists, and all the participants in issue #1 have drawn her before, making this book a little like a gonzo high school reunion. There’s a really interesting mash-up of art styles, and a whole lot of murder, packed into the issue’s four separate stories.

It kicks off with “Space is Ace,” the long-awaited reunion of Hewlett and Martin. The story is simple: Tank Girl must battle aliens to get get interstellar tank fuel. I wish it had been more of an ensemble story so we could have him draw up the whole gang for more than a few panels; his art is softly familiar and nostalgic, but it doesn’t quite pop how I expected it would. The art is more relaxed and less frantic then the tight black and white of the originals, and the coloring is less bombastic than it could be for a space story. The story itself is fairly generic, too–there’s nothing that particularly distinguishes it from the other stories in this book, or makes it particularly memorable. I’ve a long time fan of Tank Girl who came into her via the movie and then gobbled up the comics, but I’ll admit I haven’t kept up with her continued adventures in years. I was hoping to feel the same spark, but it was just a comfortable visit with an ex, not a renewed infatuation.

It’s followed by a wordless story of Tank Girl getting to actually tank around a bit, “Easy,” drawn by Warwick Johnson-Cadwell. The art is frenetic but sometimes hard to parse. The third story is a bit longer, a take on The Running Man (“The Runny Man”) with art by Brett Parson. He brings the gore handily as Tank Girl must outrun her fellow death row convicts for a chance to have her sentence remitted.

The book closes with a strange little story, “Sundrenched Martian Superholiday,” where each page is a fond memory of Tank Girl’s (and Booga’s), illustrated by Jonathan Edward’s like a styalized, weirdo children’s book. There’s also a nice Philip Bond pin-up of Booga included (he hangs to the left).

All of the stories are charming in a “cheap beer with friends” kind of way, but nothing about Martin’s writing is sharper or cleverer than normal. It’s weird to say run-of-the-mill Tank Girl, but this issue is an unchallenging return to the silly stories of a girl, her tank, and her friends. The miniseries will be a fun read for fans who have stuck with her through the years, and Hewlett’s art will be a big draw for fans,, but it’s nothing fresh. Then again, Tank Girl herself has never been too concerned with being anyone but herself, and that’s who you’ll definitely get.