Round four of Free Comic Book Day’s best, worst and most bizarre offerings focuses on two franchises that have had very different levels of success in recent years. Riverdale has been a surprise teen drama, subverting the wholesome old Archie comic books by updating it in surprising ways. Tank Girl started out in comic books by subverting the genre with pure anarchy, but the film adaptation years ago proved to be a disaster – despite gaining a small cult following.
Could Riverdale’s comic book adventure continue its astonishing success, or could the original non-conformist comic book anti-heroine bounce back to kick ass once more?
It’s time for a little more information on Pop, his legendary choc’lit shoppe and some more strangeness exists in Riverdale. Pop Tate, the slightly meta figure of doom and gloom, spins a yarn for Betty Cooper about some of the visitors that have eaten at the diner over the years. Was Bonnie and Clyde’s patronage a bad omen, or were they doomed from the start? Is there a mysterious Loch Ness Monster-style creature living in Sweetwater river, or is it just superstition? And did Pop Tate really meet the devil one night and sell his soul to ensure the diner’s success? Like many things in Riverdale, things aren’t quite what they seem…
What starts out as a rather mundane story becomes a fascinating example of what the show has succeeded at for two seasons. It develops into something different, moving in ways that the reader doesn’t quite see coming. Is it a campfire-like story, something just to give the reader the creeps? Is it canon? It’s hard to say, but it sure is one of the spookier stories on offer this Free Comic Book Day. It’s not an essential read, but if you’re not a regular viewer of the show it could easily inspire you to tune in and give it a go. It also does a great job of promoting the comics themselves, and is a surprising little gem.
(A Brief History Of) Tank Girl:
It’s Tank Girl’s birthday, so she’s going to treat herself. She does this every year, giving herself the wonderful gift of punching her old childhood bully in the face. The problem is that her old nemesis Steve Goldman has finally grown tired of this repeated abuse and is on the run. Tank Girl, frustrated, is forced to celebrate her birthday with her good friends Booga, barney, jet Girl and others as they recount the meta adventures of her life. Covering various comic book incarnations from small indy press hero to America’s publishing giants, as well as her failed movie, it’s a not-so-wonderful life for Tank Girl. But her birthday isn’t over yet…
Tank Girl is everything that your mother warned you about when it comes to comic books. At the best of times, it’s dangerously subversive and more fun than it arguably has a right to be. While this isn’t exactly Tank Girl at her best, it’s a warped meta commentary on the character’s successes and failures that provide some demented self-deprecating jokes for long-time fans… and will probably mystify newcomers. However, it does a good job of explaining who she is and what she is, and the gleeful chaos she offers is always fun despite some occasionally weak writing. By rights, she should be at Deadpool’s level of fame right now and, with luck, her antics will connect with a more accepting modern audience.
The winner has to be Riverdale, just for the way it delivers a story that keeps evolving as you read it. It’s no fault of Tank Girl’s that it’s outclassed here, that Riverdale comic would have been hard to top regardless of the competition. It’s more than likely that Riverdale will carry on being the surprise success story it is and, hopefully, Tank Girl will be building up steam as it continues on the comeback trail too. The world (and comic books) needs more Tank Girl right about now.