REVIEW: 21st Century Tank Girl #1

Story: Alan C. Martin
Artists: Brett Parson, Warwick Johnson-Cadwell, Jim Mahfood, Jamie Hewlett, Craig Knowles, Jonathan Edwards
Letters: Jim Campbell (and the artists)

Publisher: Titan Comics
Release Date: June 10, 2015

I’ve always heard Tank Girl has nothing less than a cult following; both the 1995 Lori Petty helmed movie and the British-born comic of the late ’80s. Still, I’d never personally read any of the books or had any real exposure to the character – outside of the film – until recently.

Now that I’ve asked a few more knowledgeable friends, and read a few issues of the comic, my opinion of Tank Girl remains more or less unchanged; cool character, one that I know a little more about now.

21st Century Tank Girl #1, published by Titan Comics, is one of the weirdest collections of micro-stories I’ve ever read and still they somehow convey the different aspects of Rebecca Buck’s personality not only effectively, but pretty brilliantly. Her borderline schizophrenia, her almost supernatural resiliency, her harsh pragmatism – all on display, if only for a few moments.

The first episode, “Space is Ace”, 21CTG_insert_1almost made me completely stop reading the rest of the book. But just when I thought I couldn’t take anymore Asian men of disproportionately minute stature, the story ended, mid-page, and began “Easy” a WWII-inspired snippet rendered by Warwick Johnson-Cadwell.

Thereafter, each story explores Tank Girl’s motivations – in some of the most extreme ways possible –
and to some degree, her legacy. All of the micro-stories were entertaining and brazen (even the Tank Girl in space story succeeds in the latter category). Using so many artists to do something like this, that is, flesh-out an already fairly well-known character, is risky; it helps when you use people with the last names of Mahfood and Hewlett, Knowles and Parson.

21CTG_insert_2

Having one writer tell the story has to help a little, too, right? And when that one writer happens to be Alan Martin, a co-creator (along with Jamie Hewlett) of Tank Girl? Well, you get 21st Century Tank Girl, actually.

21st Century Tank Girl is a creative approach to surveying the (briefly) history and inner workings of a comic’s icon, that couldn’t have been undertaken by a more fitting team of creators.

Titan is the perfect home for it and now is the perfect time for a Tank Girl book. The character has always been unapologetically amoral, outspoken and brash. 21st Century TG isn’t my favorite Tank Girl book, and admittedly I’ve only just begun to explore the Tank Girl Universe, but it is great at doing what it sets out to do – gives readers a compelling reason to get interested in the anti-heroine again and have some fun with the casual mayhem that undergirds her world.

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