An advance review of the new Image ongoing series.
Credits & Solicit Info:
PETER PANZERFAUST is set in the city of Calais, the first city in France to fall to the Germans in the spring of 1940. A mysterious American boy named Peter rallies a handful of plucky French orphans, and they must work together to survive Europe's darkest hour!
W: Kurtis Wiebe
A: Tyler Jenkins
On Sale February 15th, 2012
What if Peter Pan led the Lost Boys as an underground resistance group during World War II? Normally this kind of fusion project ends up as a joke told at some sort of Neverland/Hollywood pitch meeting (like the solicitation for this, which uses Red Dawn as the other half.) That doesn't mean that it can't work- reinventing stories is almost central to the very idea of storytelling- and happily it does seem to work in Peter Panzerfaust. The trick is a neat one- you keep the threat of a pirate (or Nazi) with a hook but now Peter is allowed to shoot back.The problem, as always, is how much to use and how much to leave out. Peter Pan has always been chaotic in nature; here the contrast between that wild side and a successful quasi-military unit leader could lead to some very interesting stories. Peter is clearly a good leader, but by the end of the issue his wildness is also on display. Minor, maybe-not complaint: The story, at least in the preview I read, just stops. I'm hoping that there will be some kind of "Continued Next Issue" text in the printed book. Otherwise it was a good cliffhanger ending.
The story starts with the interview of a now elderly orphan from Calais. The interviewer is asking about "Peter". The action then opens during the fall of Calais to the Germans in World War II when the orphanage is hit by artillery, leaving a small surviving group. The orphans are rallied by Peter, who appears in their bombed out building and encourages them to escape with him.
To the story's credit it is subtle about the Peter Pan connection at first. I first tumbled onto it on page 6, but it's really obvious by the page 11-13 sequence. (I didn't read the solicitation copy beforehand, which makes the connection explicit. I don't think the solicitation helps the story.) This is the balance a fusion story like this needs to strike- it has to stand on its own, and avoid the "See? See? I really mean this!" trap that is so easy to fall into. Peter Panzerfaust strikes that balance.
The art is also a standout- the storytelling is super clear, with the action nicely mixed into the panel layouts. The style is more animated than realistic (as it should be for a Peter Pan influenced book) but with a heavier line that supports the reality of a city being invaded during wartime. Overall I was really impressed by the art, and would really like to see more comics done with this level of thought and skill.
Bottom Line: An interesting twist on a World War II story that strikes the tricky balance of adding the Peter Pan story into the mix. This story seems to have some solid hooks for future stories, so I would like to see it continue for some time.
Review by: BD Montgomery, Outhouse Contributor