Author: Kurtis J. Weibe and Tyler Jenkins
Publisher: Image Comics
Date Published: September 2012
Synopsis from Goodreads:
A coming of age tale told through the eyes of a group of French orphans during World War 2 who are saved by a brave and daring American boy named Peter. As they travel together, they get tangled up in the French Resistance in Paris, fighting a growing German presence under the leadership of a fanatical SS officer hell bent on wiping them out! Using the Peter Pan story as a touchstone, Peter Panzerfaust reinvents familiar character and plot elements in a unique and creative way.
I’m normally not a fan of fairy tale adaptations, so my expectations were not very high when I picked Peter Panzerfaust Vol. 1 up to read. I’m going to admit, any preconceptions or assumptions that I made about this comic were WAY off base. Right from page one, I was captivated by this touching tale. I borrow the version I’ve read, but this series, unknown to me before I received it from a friend, has been added to my to-buy list (hopefully soon to be owned).
Peter and the lost boys are orphans, their parents lost in the brutality of WWII. Each boy is touched by the war in a different way–some emerging as leaders, others their ingenuity–but they come together through mutual understanding of loss and a desire to survive. The boys are resourceful and they pull on one another’s strengths, acting as a cohesive group. Although they operate as a unit, they understand each boy’s autonomy. Each has the right to make the decisions that may change or end his own life.They do what they can to aid in the survival of the group, but they are not exempt from feelings of fear, sadness, compassion, desperation, etc. These essentially human experiences provoke them to occasionally act passionately or irrationally, often endangering their lives for the hope of escape and the search for freedom.
The story reveals an understanding of the war on a simplified, but extraordinarily clear level. The boys are close in age to many of the soldiers fighting, still innocence, but forced to kill to survive, tainted by a brutality they hoped never to see. Although they dreamed of a Neverland, a place where nothing existed beyond childhood and where they’d never grow old, the war forces upon them an adult perspective that perhaps they are too young to experience. Their childhood calls to them in times of peace where they can relax and enjoy the company of each other. But brutal adulthood calls in the face of violent when the choice is simply kill or be killed, and these boys, living in an institution because they are not old enough enough for independence, hold the lives of the enemy in their hands.
The story is full of action, and the artwork captures the beauty and elegance of motion that is not often portrayed with elegance in fast-paced, action-packed comics. Combined with the images, Peter Panzerfaust is breathtaking and heartbreaking. I found myself pausing thoughtfully, suddenly. I’d be caught up in the action, pages turning furiously, only to have to pause to take in a stunning image. I relished in these reprieves from the action. There is a contemplative juxtaposition between the violence and the beauty, encapsulated in the thoughtfully placed brush strokes. It is a very intentional piece of work.