It's hard to say when Tank Girl died, and in the comics doesn't count. Some people point to the failure of British mag Deadline in the mid-1990s when it placed all its faith in the Tank Girl film and American expansion. Some point to later efforts like Tank Girl: The Odyssey and Tank Girl: Apocalypse, with Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin phased out in favour of writers Alan Grant and Peter Milligan and writer/artist Philip Bond.
What is clear is that Tank Girl fell off the comics map around 1996. Hell, it never received a "reimagining" for more than ten years, and this is a world where Mister Mind became a universe-eating monster for a cup of coffee. Comics were not helped by Tank Girl's absence.
With Tank Girl: The Gifting (May 2007: IDW Publishing, $3.99 US) Tank Girl co-creator/writer Alan Martin seems to be going back to the basics. Original artist Jamie Hewlett's not back as — well — Gorillaz, but Ashley Wood makes for a credible replacement. The cast seems to be scaled down – the stories mostly centre around Tank Girl, "mutated" kangaroo/former toy designer Booga and escaped mental patient Barney at this point, although Jet Girl cameos.
Most importantly, the visual style that defined Tank Girl has been replaced. The colourful and vibrant look that defined the comic when it went all-colour in the early 1990s has been replaced by a more stylized, muted colour scheme. The art style is still visually dense, but in a different way (read: no notes about what Jamie Hewlett was listening to at the time.)
Tank Girl has replaced her cluttered, skinhead look for a more "retro" (not hip retro, since it's Tank Girl) style. It's a calculated risk by Wood and Martin. In understanding that interest in a Tank Girl series is at least partially fueled by nostalgia, Martin's focusing on the fundamentals of whatever passes for story in Tank Girl. He understands what draws people to Tank Girl and pretty much allows Ashley Wood free artistic reign.
As for the stories, they're enjoyably inconsequential as per Tank Girl standard. "The Dogshit in Barney's Handbag" and "The Gifting" focus around the central theme of the mini-series (sample non-story: Booga buys a too-small bra for Tank Girl so as to get laid) while "Kill Jumbo" and "The Funsters Will Play" focus at least partially around Tank Girl mainstay television.
The nostalgia that fuels "The Funsters Will Play" is interesting – Tank Girl loves a Monkees-like gestalt led by "Ginster" (the hairy one.) She ends up fronting the band in a way I'm not spoiling, but it's a recognizably Tank Girl way. It might be old hat by now since Tank Girl is almost two decades old, but the story is both nostalgic and irrelevant at the same time. It's the story one should expect from Tank Girl at this point in time.
I'd like to know if Alan Martin can keep this pace up for all four issues of Tank Girl: The Gifting, but the initial outing gives me hope that he can. Frankly, Tank Girl was MIA for too long and it's good to see her back.Powered by Sidelines