Will you love the new Tank Girl? Well, it depends on which Tank Girl you already love.
This new collection of Tank Girl comics is highly charged. The illustrations and writing are both frantic and lacking anything resembling focus. The themes of the work range so wildly that they ultimately net zero, and, while allowing the occasional forced chuckle, aren’t even very funny. The book is 10% poignant, dry social commentary, 90% distracted drivel, and 100% disagreeable. In other words: This is classic Tank Girl.
The 1995 film may not have been very good, but it did bring the Tank Girl comics into the mainstream for many. This psycho girl with big guns, tiny clothes, and a manic disposition, who began her life as a single-page gag strip in a short-run magazine, found herself in the limelight, if only for a while. Those original strips, mostly lusty, bloody, explosive pulp, with only mild social value, got collected into a few volumes for the perusal of fans and other curious readers.
Following those collections, several actual graphic novels followed; tales that mostly retained the style of Tank Girl, but ditched the one-shot jokes in exchange for an actual plot-line, and the character was let to experience some real adventures. The original Tank Girl had its place, but this was a book which had grown up a bit, and was stretching its narrative legs.
Everybody Loves Tank Girl, however, is a return to the old days of Tank Girl, before the title matured. The tales are quick - 1-3 pages apiece, and never get much deeper than the tension on the surface of each character. No depths are plumbed, and no true commentary is breached (though it does pretend a few times). The artist on the title is new, but it feels very much like the old Tank Girl, the immature one.
Writer Alan C. Martin is attempting to undo the growth of the previous titles, writing the character once again as if it belongs in an obscura mag, where the audience only gets one page of it per issue. Filling a whole book with that is a lot to take in at once. The formula of the tiny stories begins to quickly show through the skin of the pages, and the constant tooth-grinding anger of the one-dimensional characters, wears thin one’s patience with them. The desire to see them grow and experience real development distracts from the few messages the book actual does try to impart.
If you miss the old Tank Girl from days of yore, and have wanted her back for all these years, then you have your wish in Everybody Loves Tank Girl, but for everyone else, this book is proof that one can never truly go back to the days of one’s youth.
Everybody Loves Tank Girl is available now from Titan Books.