Tank Girl is back, in a new series from Titan that turns out to be somewhat of both a departure from and a return to form at the same time. Confusing? Absolutely – within the pages of issue one we are treated to some insane writing that is suggestive of the stuff that fans will remember, and yet the artwork feels like a wild departure from what most will recall.
First of all, if you’re looking for anything that makes logical sense, turn away now. Solid State Tank Girl begins with the title character and her marsupial mate Booga paying a visit to a radio electronics place to get their ham radio fixed. While visiting, Booga takes a look around and inadvertently electrocutes himself, or at least seems to.
Lucky for him though, mate, because the owner of the dive just so happens to be a technical wizard genius galore. He has invented an incredible shrinking machine (taken straight from Inner Space) he has named the Volume Organizing Mutationally Integrated Technology, that he plans to use on the incredible craft called The Significant Triode. But we’ll just call it the Sausage, because the girls call it that in the comic, and it does in fact resemble a good old banger”¦ (god, I miss Aussie barbecues).
Using the shrinky thing, Crofty the radio wizard, does a good old-fashioned "Honey I Shrunk The Kids" job on Tank Girl and her companions inside the Sausage, and injects them straight into Booga so that they can help the poor bugger from his injury. As they travel through the mutant roo’s innards, they accidentally get lodged inside Booga’s TESTICLE. Yes. You read that correctly. And what’s weirder is that within said bollock, they find a baby.
It is nuts, pardon the pun, but I really enjoyed the writing in Solid State Tank Girl. It’s mad, bizarre, extraordinary, and surreal. And so it should be, with co-creator Alan Martin at the script helm – there’s no respect for rules or expectations, it just goes with the flow of the insanity that has always been solid in the Tank Girl series.
There’s a heap of groovy swear words as well – and of course, the ever-present Aussie references as well. (Damn, I keep thinking of that Aussie barbecue).
It’s the artwork, I’m afraid, that lets down this new series:
Gone are the days of perfected penciling and inking, and in its place we have “˜toon-esque roughness that does the series no justice whatsoever. The disproportionate figures work well in places, and are amusing at times, but overall the art feels like it belongs more in a really bad issue of Groo or Mad Magazine. While it fits in with Johnson-Caldwell‘s style, his approach just doesn’t gel with the content or ambience of Tank Girl. In places, it harmonizes the humor wonderfully, but in others it feels very misplaced. It’s like trying to get John Romita to illustrate Peanuts – it just wouldn’t work.
There is a nice segment at the end of the issue that shows a battle sequence of complete FUCKINGFIRE randomness, which is a nice leg back into the classic TG stuff. Despite this, the art again lets it down, feeling more like a misrepresentation and parody of Tank Girl, rather than a nice piece for fans to sink their teeth into.
Overall, the writing of Solid State Tank Girl is fun and mad and brilliant, and yet I cannot help but feel dissuaded by the artwork. This series had a lot of potential judging by the written content, which at times feels very Pythonesque. As an alternative, we have a depressing result in which the writing is brought down by parody art that feels more like a street vendor drawing caricatures of people. Hardcore fans will find some enjoyment in the return of Tank Girl, but I think this one is just going to be for them, and not casual comic readers.