Trying to describe Tank Girl to someone who has never picked up one of these books before is kind of like trying to describe an acid trip. In the most basic of terms, Tank Girl is a girl that lives in a tank in post apocalyptic Australia and dates a mutant kangaroo named Booga. There was a weird movie in the 90s starring Lori Petty and Malcolm McDowell and the source material is far weirder. I’m giving you this introduction because while 21st Century Tank Girl marks her return, they don’t really do anything to ease newcomers in. Instead, we have a series of short stories starring our titular character in a number of strange situations.
The thing that makes Tank Girl interesting is they’ve written her and her world in such a way that they can really do anything they want with her, and this book is no exception. The diversity in the short stories in terms of both content and approach is fantastic. Space is Ace and The Runny Man are the more straight forward stories of the bunch, with Easy and Superdrenched Martian Superholiday being a bit more experimental in approach. Space is Ace starts with Tank Girl in space on a mission to get “Udagawa Crystals” to fuel up her tank. Easy is silent, save for a few sound effects sprinkled throughout, and features Tank Girl going through a war zone, shooting and blowing up everything in her way. The Runny Man is a Running Man parody that includes a crazed cannibal nazi named Adolf. Finally, Superdrenched Martian Superholiday has Tank Girl recollecting on past events, and is laid out almost more like a children’s book than a comic.Overall the artwork is great here, and each story boasts a different artist with a radically different style to the others. The highlight is definitely Tank Girl co-creator Jamie Hewlett returning for Space is Ace. By this point in time people will more than likely know him better for his work with The Gorillaz, but seeing him finally doing Tank Girl again just feels…right. Brett Parson’s work on The Runny Man is the closest to Hewlett’s in terms of style, and the others are much different. Jonathon Edwards’ work in Superdrenched Martian Superholiday feels like something much closer to children’s book artwork, which fits the overall theme of that story. Warwick Johnson-Cadwell might be the most divisive of the bunch. His art is loose and almost sloppy looking at a glance, but its chaotic and expressive nature fits the world of Tank Girl well. Still, I could see people more used to traditional comic book art having an issue with it.
21st Century Tank Girl is a solid revival of the Tank Girl comic. The stories are varied and each enjoyable in their own right. Hewlett’s return and the gory slapstick of The Runny Man both serve as some of my favorite moments in this book. It’s not a great starting point for the uninitiated since there’s little to no introduction to who Tank Girl is or what this world is about, but for longtime fans it’s great to see them pick up right where they left off. It does give a really good idea of the type of humor this series is known for and the anarchic, almost surreal nature of Martin’s writing. This is definitely worth checking out if you’re curious and I’m certainly excited to see more in the following issues. 21st Century Tank Girl hits shelves on June 10th.