Editor's Note: An earlier version of this review had inaccurate information about the licensing of the series.
I like 'Tank Girl'. As much as Hewlett and Martin would roll their eyes, I even like the Lori Petty movie they hate. For the 90's, 'Tank Girl' was behaving badly done right, unrepentant fuck-it-if-it-ain't-fun comics, garage punk of the piss and beer variety. It's now nearly 30 years since Tank Girl's creation, and her comics are still going, every year featuring a smattering of limited series with her name on it. Every iteration is slightly different, but for the last few years of picking through these things I've come to one sad truth. That Tank Girl did the one thing that no counterculture survives.
It became a brand.
It's never been more clear than here with this new series, 'Two Girls, One Tank'. Tank Girl's tank has been acquired by an art gallery surreptitiously, leaving Tank Girl in serious need of some new wheels and the money needed to buy them. Meanwhile, the female head of the art gallery takes her fandom of Tank Girl's brand of anarchic criminality too far, dressing up like her punk rock hero and stealing the tank from her own gallery, heading out on the open road.
This isn't an unreadable comic, feel of a book that was written because the Tank Girl license was laying around, collecting dust. That's it. It's clean, professionally illustrated, and ends on a nice tidy 'tune in next time' ending to get you to read issue two. Tits are bared, explosions occur, eccentric characters are met, and it's all perfectly dull. I don't want to blame anyone too harshly, it's very professional. It doesn't have the ugly stank of skimping that franchise titles from Boom or IDW tend to reek of, but it does feel sad seeing the skanky dumpstersex chaos of the original series distilled into a applicable formula. You can see little attempts in the art to give the book some of the visual traits of the earlier titles, but it comes off as posturing when arranged so neatly and slickly. It's the comic book equivalent of reading in 2013 how Johnny Rotten sold his house for $1.9 million.
And what more should we expect? I've said it before about certain superheroes, but it's even more applicable here when dealing with a counterculture icon; why would we expect the relevance to last forever? The original Tank Girl comics are still great to read, but what was punk in the early 90's just doesn't resonate the same way today, especially when removed from the artists that brought the character to wicked life in '88. Extending Tank Girl's life as property is inevitable I suppose, but disappointing; there are new frontiers in scandal and anarchy to forge and it won't be done in the pages of yesterday's provocateurs. Not that I should have expected any differently, but it's crystal clear now.
Tank Girl: Two Girls, One Tank #1 Writer: Alan Martin Artist: Brett Parson Publisher: Titan Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 5/18/16 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital