15th Jun2015

’21st Century Tank Girl #1′ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Alan Martin | Art by Jamie Hewlitt, Jim Mahfood, Philip Bond, Brett Parson, Jonathan Edwards, Craig Knowles, Warwick Johnson-Cadwell | Published by Titan Comics

21st_Century_Tank_Girl_1

Tank Girl to me is a character very evocative of a certain time in history, the late 1980′s/ early 1990′s, when she became something of a counter-culture icon. she seemed to arrive at the perfect time, when British students were rebelling against the previous decade of conservatism in all things. I remember, as a student then, Tank Girl T-shirts and posters pretty much everywhere. Her ‘death’ as a cultural icon probably came about with the 1995 movie Tank Girl, which (whisper it quietly) wasn’t really very good. But I digress….
21st Century Tank Girl sees Titan bring us new adventures of Tank Girl, having published all things Tank Girl for many years.

Original writer and creator Alan Martin is at the helm, writing the entire issue, and original artist/ co-creator Jamie Hewlitt illustrates ‘Space is Ace’, the first story. The rest of the book consists of two other main stories, some illustrated text (which I am guessing is supposed to be a sort of children’s book pastiche) and  a poster page. Other contributors with previous ties to the character include Jim Mahfood, Philip Bond, Brett Parson, Jonathan Edwards, Craig Knowles, and Warwick Johnson-Cadwell. A four-colour reunion of sorts.

I can truthfully say that reading 21st Century Tank Girl #1 was almost like reading the Tank Girl strip in Deadline again. The strips frequently made little sense, had no real continuity as such, but concentrated on humour and giving the characters great dialogue, usually involving sexual innuendo. Alan Martin obviously thinks this is what the readers still expect, so is happy to give it to them. I wonder though, in this age when readers are just that bit more sophisticated, if such an anarchic approach still works? It felt to me as though the dialogue was written first, and a (pretty weak) plot then assembled around. Worked ok with the first story, not as well with the last. ‘Easy’ , the middle story, had no dialogue, and was 7 pages of screwball action that nearly outstayed it’s welcome.

The artwork throughout, though not classically good, suited the character and tone well. Jamie Hewlett is obviously the big draw, and his work remains distinctive, with strongly designed pages and quirky figures. the rest of the art struggles to find that level, but is competent enough to work.

On balance, I was a little underwhelmed by the package as a whole. I would imagine like everyone else, I enjoyed the nostalgia of Martin and Hewlett on Tank Girl for the first time in 20 odd years, but nothing else really added much to the character herself. I guess though that that is the point. Tank Girl is like marmite, she is what she is, and you either love her or hate her for it.

*** 3/5  (mainly for Jamie Hewlett’s return!)

21st Century Tank Girl #1 is available now from Titan Comics.

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