What I thought of 21st Century Tank Girl #1

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A couple of decades ago Tank Girl co-creator Jamie Hewlett drew his last Tank Girl strip, not to mention pretty much exited mainstream comics (Hewlett had also worked for DC Comics as well as in Deadline, the magazine where Tank Girl first appeared in the late 80’s) for the world of being Damon Albarn’s mate, and eventually the co-creator of the vastly popular ‘cartoon’ band, Gorillaz.

It’s hard now to describe the impact Deadline had in the late 80’s as comics are so ubiquitous these days, but then this was new, and unlike a lot of material coming out now people were prepared to take risks. And a female lead in a British comic series was a massive fuck-off risk but the late 80’s and early 90’s was a golden age for British comics with not only Deadline, but Crisis, Toxic!, and Revolver being just some of the comics that tried to break the mold. It was Tank Girl though that lived on past the demise of the scene back then as co-creator Alan Martin took the strip to US publishers like DC Comics and Dark Horse for the odd mini-series but nothing came near to the Martin/Hewlett strips.

It’s now 2015 and all us Bright Young Things that were involved in the beating heart of the British comics scene then are older, perhaps grayer and larger, but there’s no escaping the fact that for a number of years Tank Girl was the biggest character in British comics.The stories were often stream of consciousness efforts riddled with pop culture references, but unlike the habit of hipsters dropping a reference into a comic (or song, film, etc) to look cool and relevant, Martin and Hewlett would drop in anything that they liked, even Kylie Minogue who at that point was hardly beloved of the Cool Police.

This is a 4-issue mini-series from Titan Comics that doesn’t just feature the original creators, but guest ones including the vastly underrated Philip Bond, another Deadline contributor. Hewlett only draws the one story, Space is Ace, that tries to recapture that glorious ‘fuck you’ attitude of the old strips but it quickly becomes clear this is an exercise in nostalgia.

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This isn’t all bad, but it feels laboured, and when an obvious visual gag pays off it’s not a grin but a sigh passing across my lips. The humour struggles which is a pity as Hewlett turns in some fantastic art in this story that at times does recapture the attitude of 25 years ago.

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As a package it’s all right. It’s a diversion into the past but it’s not ever convincing, mainly because it’s created by a bunch of middle aged men whose angry phase passed some time ago and this is an approximation of that phase. As for the non Hewlett material, it’s not especially very good, especially The Running Man spoof that feels like a rejected 2000AD strip from 1993.

I wish I could be in my early 20’s shagging, drinking and not giving a fuck but that’s gone, and although I try to pretend I can still do all that I have to admit I’m not up to that in the intensity I used to get up to so at best, I can only have an approximation of my former glories, just exactly like this comic.

Sadly this promises more than it delivers but for a bit it does give a jolt of thrills for a second, but afterwards you’ll feel tired and little bit sad that things really were better back in the day but you can’t ever really go back.

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