After a two-decade hiatus, Tank Girl returns in full excessive force with a standing army of new artists and writers hell-bent on absurdity and a poignance that leaves us shaking in our aviators and combat boots.
We know exactly what we’re in for from the first panel: a shot of Tank Girl’s intergalactic phallus-shaped starship called the Ballbag, whose co-pilot is none other than Tank Girl’s marshmallow-like imaginary friend, Mister Shoob Shoob. From then on, the book takes us through several episodes of similar bafoonery. We meet Tank Girl’s lover, an anthropomorphic kangaroo named Booga Bukowski, who has a knack for wrecking vintage cars and unlocking the mystical properties of a particular pair of divine tighty-whities. Jet Girl is the perpetually stoned and trigger-happy best friend. Barney… I’m not altogether sure what Barney is, just that she isn’t quite right. And of course we have Tank Girl herself: shaven head, short shorts, and all the social graces of a cigarette-smoking, missile-shooting wolverine. Together, the quarrelsome quatro lead us by the ass of our pants on an alcohol-impaired ride through a world of anarchy, hijinks and, of course, tanks.
And it was absolutely phenomenal. The writing was brilliantly crude, razor sharp and hilarious. What I didn’t expect was to see so many meaningful ideas buried under the mile and a half of snicker-inducing and perfectly British foul-isms I’d have trouble repeating in front of my mother. Tank Girl lives entirely on the principle of freedom: the need to escape from a world regulated by big-brothers, corporations and instant gratification. We see these preoccupations reflected in the drastic variety of art styles throughout the book, as well as the intermittent use of poetry and short fiction to push the boundaries of conventional comic book form. We also discover a side of Tank Girl we don’t see in the rugged, impervious, gun-toting exterior: the Girl before the Tank, whose parents have disappeared, and who wants nothing more than to discover her true identity.
But in the end, my inner violent streak won out and I really was just distracted by the mayhem and the explosions and the bullets. So. Many. Bullets.
Over all, 21st Century Tank Girl marries senseless belligerence with warm feelings and a whole mess of stuff all wrapped up in one. It brings a whole new kind of crazy to the table, and if crazy is what you’re looking for, then you won’t be disappointed.