Peter Panzerfaust #3

If you’re like me and you’re lucky enough to live in a city with a really good comic book shop, then its likely you’ve learnt that when you are recommended a book by one of the staff that it’s most likely worth checking out.

If though, they enthuse about it to the point that the only way to actually end the conversation is to walk away with the book in question in your hand, then its likely that your about to read something a little bit special. Such was the case 3 months ago with the first issue of this book.

Peter Panzerfaust by Kurtis Wiebe and Tyler Jenkins, and published by Image, was a book that almost passed me by. A cursory glance at the first book showed a “boys own” tale of daring do in war time France, albeit with lovely art. But I’m not entirely sure that glance alone would have been enough for me to pick it up. So after reading the third installment of this action packed adventure story, it’s pleasing that it’s developed into one of the most readable books in my monthly haul.

It’s a story that’s likely to feel familiar on a couple of levels. Firstly the war time setting just as the allies are pulling out of Calais is one that any British comic book reader is likely to have seen about at least once in an issue of Commando, or the like.

But that’s not the nagging familiarity you feel while reading this, it’s a significantly better known tale that inspires this book. We’ve all read, or watched a movie adaptation, of Peter Pan at least once I’m sure.

The Peter of the title is as mercurial as you’d expect him to be, seemingly prepared to take on the Nazi’s single-handedly, and the lost boys are a group of orphans he helps escape a ravaged and bomb ruined Calais.  In the first issues the similarity is subtle, and although it is rather telegraphed in the title, it wasn’t until it was pointed out to me I had actually realised that it was a highly original adaptation of the childhood classic that I was reading.

The tale itself is narrated by one of the lost boys being interviewed in the near present day, and helps give a level of detachment that the larger than life story of young boys fighting their own war needs. This third issue cranks the action up as the boys take on a German advance party to escape to Paris after failing to make it to the boats of the escaping English troops.

Pan(zerfaust) is on typical form and takes on a swarthy looking German commandant that I’m sure we’ll see more of as the story unfolds, but even more delightfully we are introduced to another key character of Peters world towards the end which makes for a highly satisfying conclusion to this issue. Leaving the reader wanting more is the trick all creators of serial fiction try to achieve; here it’s played perfectly, trading well on the story’s now comfortable familiarity.

Wiebe and Jenkins have pulled off quite a trick here in breathing fresh life into a now very old and well told story. The art complementing the words in perfect partnership, the images have an urgency and dynamic nature to them that makes each page seem to speed by. In fact the art style is key to making this feel detached enough from pervious tellings of the Peter Pan story to make it feel fresh and urgent. It juxtaposes the soft rounded lines of the Disney adaptations, for a more angular and dynamic feel.

Although I’m sure this book will collect into some very satisfying trades, it fits the monthly serial format absolutely, and with only 3 issues out there’s still time to catch up.