Written by Alan Martin | Art by Brett Parson | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Paperback, 32pp
First things first before I start my review. Tank Girl as a character is not really aimed at me anymore, at my ‘demo’ as the marketing men like to call it. Once upon a time, in the early 90′s, Tank Girl WAS aimed at me, her over the top craziness, her disregard for authority, her disdain for conformity were exactly the appeal when I was in my early twenties. The problem for me as a reviewer is twofold. I have grown up since then, but Tank Girl has not (nor should she). The times which spawned her, and which provided the targets at which she railed, have long since passed, but she aspires to remain the same anti-establishment figurehead for a new, less prone to challenge authority generation. Is there still a relevance to her character, beyond the nostalgia we feel?
With co-creator and guiding light Alan Martin writing I knew what to expect, plenty of outrageous language and situations, satirical sideswipes at things like consumerism and sexual morality, and a plot just solid enough to hang these set pieces on. If you like Martin’s style or not, he’s certainly consistent. This time around, Tank Girl has lost her tank (Non-Tank Girl?), and it has managed to end up for sale in a prestigious art gallery. While Tank Girl and companions look for money to try and buy a new tank, not knowing where her one currently is, it turns out the gallery owner Magnolia Jones is not quite the 9-5 conformist she first appears. While Tank Girl chats to Decaf Dave, Magnolia takes a drastic decision.
Acquiring Tank Girl‘s tank has inspired Magnolia to stick two fingers up at society herself; she shaves her head like Tank Girl, puts on her old Ramones cosplay costume (that did make me chuckle), starts smoking, and steals the tank taking it out on the streets for a rampage. While she makes herself at home in said tank, her assistant assumes the tank has been stolen from the gallery and calls the police. Surveillance footage seems to show Tank Girl stealing the tank, putting the police on her tail, though as we know it is her now-lookalike Magnolia. The police and army are soon on the real Tank Girl‘s tail after Decaf Dave unfortunately sells her out for a lifetime’s supply of decaf coffee. Just when she thinks things can’t get much weirder, she bumps right into Magnolia looking exactly like her, driving her tank.
The funny thing about this issue was that although there were plenty of the things we’ve come to expect, manic chases, boobs, swearing , it all felt a little more planned than it used to feel. Martin actually seemed to put more structure in his story than before, it all feels a little more… corporate. The indie madness of old has become a more controlled, slightly safer style that can more easily be marketed as a brand. I’m not saying this is good or bad, it is just an observation, but personally for me it made it far more readable than if Martin wrote in a 25 year old anarchist style. The purists may argue that Tank Girl has lost some of its appeal by softening the tone, but these are different times and different audiences, and I think Martin has got his approach, and tone, right.
The art, by Brett Parson, is not the type of art I usually like. Very cartoony, almost old-fashioned, but here it is the perfect style of art for this book. It is very reminiscent of the original art and look, and Parson is clearly having fun working in plenty of sight gags along the way. The art increases the sense of fun and madness, and that’s a good thing.
Is Tank Girl still relevant as a character in 2016? Alan Martin has shown that, with some small tweaks and an acceptance that times and tastes have changed, she most certainly is.