Peter Panzerfaust #1: Lost Boys vs. Nazis

The story of Peter Pan set in Nazi-occupied France.  It makes more sense when you know that.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Peter Panzerfaust #1

Up front admission:  I've never seen, nor have I read, Disney and/or J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan stories.  Thus, when the fun looking cover of Peter Panzerfaust #1 by Kurtis Wiebe & Tyler Jenkins caught my eye in the store yesterday, I did not make the connection between the two.  I just saw a smiling, gun-toting dude perched on a tank and thought 'yes, I'd like to read the story of a guy with his own tank messing with Nazis.'  Who knows what it is, but some of us never get tired of stories set in World War II.

Even reading the first issue, I thought it was pretty cool and interesting and still did not put the two together.  It wasn't until I located the cover image to use above that I glimpsed that it was an adaptation of Peter Pan and was immediately sort of crestfallen (not to mention feeling head-slappingly stupid). That's the trouble with not having read a lot of important pieces of literature – you are more readily fooled into thinking you're reading something original.  Now, through cultural osmosis, I know the general beats this story will eventually hit, and will be less surprised.

Then again – perhaps I won't, since I was able to read the whole first issue without recognizing the story.  Maybe I know little enough about Peter Pan that I'll be kept guessing, but I know some limbless villain will show up soon as Haumptmann Hookengardt or something and it will dampen my excitement.  Still, it's about a group of scrappy French orphans in Calais scrambling around to try and avoid Nazi patrols, while an upbeat and charismatic American boy named Peter leads them around and protects them as best he can, while searching for a girl named Belle.  Framed as a tale told by one of the survivors (judging by hairdos, I'm guessing it's Julien) to someone interviewing him in silhouette (will it turn out to be an un-aging Peter?) – and my initial response to that was that it was an overdone trope.  Now that I know it's an adaptation of a classic, though, it's more acceptable.

It's not a kiddie story, though, as Peter is shooting Nazis down and about to kill a few more when the story abruptly ends with a howl.  This sudden stoppage made me go 'uh, okay, whatever' at first, but now that I know the truth, I realize it was supposed to be A Moment.  Peter's also not actually flying, but he makes a hell of a leap between buildings to inspire the others to do the same, so it looks as though this will be firmly grounded in reality.  Wiebe's script is engaging and just cool, though, and Jenkins' art is great at setting the scene and the mood of the tale's contrasting emotions of misery and hope.

So I'm on board for the story of Peter Panzerfaust, but he really better kick some ass with a tank by the end of it.