Is Tank Girl Still the Girl You Want?

Is Tank Girl Still the Girl You Want?

Riding on the heels of the successfully crowd funded 21st Century Tank Girl we’re getting another Tank Girl run from Titan Comics–Two Girls One Tank, written by Tank Girl co-creator Alan Martin with art by Brett Parson. But is Tank Girl still the girl you want, or is this new run going to be just as

Riding on the heels of the successfully crowd funded 21st Century Tank Girl we’re getting another Tank Girl run from Titan Comics–Two Girls One Tank, written by Tank Girl co-creator Alan Martin with art by Brett Parson. But is Tank Girl still the girl you want, or is this new run going to be just as dated as that gross viral video the title alludes to? You know that one. Yeah, that happened about a decade ago. But let’s do this.

Disclaimer: I love Tank Girl. She was my idol in high school. She took no shit, had a shaved head and a hella cute mutant boyfriend. She was the only female character in comics that made me feel like I could do and be whatever I wanted to. But in the years since then, so many fantastically flawed and increasingly well-developed female characters have been introduced to comics. Comics is still a veritable boys club, but there are more female creators in comics than there ever have been before. The female readership is growing and it’s being heard. Female voices in comics are louder than ever.There are more voices contributing to the mainstream cultural comics narrative now; more voices telling more stories, more stories presenting a cornucopia of female characters who are strong in their own way, like Jem and the Holograms’ Jerrica Benton, shy and soft-spoken but still running the show. Now that we have Hellcat and Jem and Harley Quinn do we still need Tank Girl–or have we outgrown her? 

Two Girls One Tank, Issue #1 by Alan Martin and Brett Parson, Titan Comics, 2016

Two Girls One Tank, Issue #1 by Alan Martin and Brett Parson, Titan Comics, 2016

Most female comics readers can attest to being burned by how predominately male creative teams have handled their favorite female characters. It is an ongoing problem, not just something some dudebro was doing in 1998. Within the last year it was revealed that Roc Upchurch, the co-creator/artist of the Rat Queens, abused his wife. Rat Queens features a group of brawling female mercenaries who fuck and fight and are just as flawed as they are strong–but how can that be genuine when one of the initial driving forces behind this title has abused women? And then we have the highly anticipated Paper Girls, written by Brian K. Vaughan, with art by Cliff Chiang, who said in an interview “these aren’t like other girls”–but how can one profess to be genuinely invested in the stories of girls when they validate their girl characters by saying they aren’t like other girls? I mean, Tank Girl has been around for nearly three decades and even with the collaborative tome that is 21st Century Tank Girl, which features a slough of writers and artists from multiple continents, there hasn’t been a single female artist on any Tank Girl book (yep, Ashley Wood is a dude). With an all-male creative team, Tank Girl could easily careen into the same ugly arena of dudes making media capitalizing on women with no real respect for women at all. Feel me?

Tank Girl was Deadpool before Deadpool was Deadpool

Comics have changed since Tank Girl made her debut in 1988, but if 21st Century Tank Girl is any indication, Tank Girl has not. Not really. Maybe that’s your thing. Maybe it’s not. I think it’s part of her charm. It may not be 1980-whatever anymore, but Tank Girl is still punk as fuck. Reading Tank Girl is analogous to reading Deadpool, though let’s be real–Tank Girl was Deadpool before Deadpool was Deadpool. Her comics are still absurd, and over the top anarchic. They’re fun. They’re lewd. So many people are getting punched. Things are exploding. It’s sort of exhausting to look at. What’s happening in this issue is unlikely to be mentioned Tank Girl is the girl we need, but she may still be just the girl you want. Did you hear about the wildly successful the 21st Century Tank Girl Kickstarter campaign? We’re talking like, all the stretch goals successful.

Is Tank Girl little more than a vessel for our aching nostalgia for the years us nerd girls spent yanking fresh fishnets out of the package only to tear holes in the crotch and throw a pair of steel toed boots over them, because that was the only way to be a strong female character–or you know, person? Or for a time dudes wistfully recollect as rife with comics where female characters were always half naked, blow shit up and DTF? Maybe Tank Girl doesn’t need to be relevant. She’s punk like that. But she was revolutionary when she started gracing comic book shop shelves. The only character I can think to compare her to now is problematic fave Harley Quinn, though Tank Girl lacks the tragic backstory that defines certain versions of Harley Quinn. Tank Girl does whatever the fuck Tank Girl wants, and she is who she is of her own accord. And there’s still something to be said for that.

Two Girls One Tank hits the shelves May 18th, and while I don’t know if I can forgive them for the “Two Girls One Cup” reference, I do know I’m going to pick up the first issue. Whatever this new Tank Girl brings, it’s gonna be one helluva ride–whether it’s a ride I want to be on or not, I don’t know. But I’m excited to find out.

Two Girls One Tank, Issue #1 by Alan Martin and Brett Parson, Titan Comics, 2016

Two Girls One Tank, Issue #1 by Alan Martin and Brett Parson, Titan Comics, 2016

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