Pick of the Week
What did the
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Art by Tyler Jenkins
Size: 32 pages
That was easy enough. Long time readers will know I’m a sucker for World War II stories, but even I have to admit, there can be a bit too much of them from time to time. I’ve read plenty of bad WWII stories that I don’t mention along with all the ones I do. The key is to explore some other aspect of the War, from a different perspective, or bring a new twist to it. I would say Peter Panzerfaust #1 definitely accomplished that, but it also existed in the reality of the war. I was hooked almost instantly.
The ground the story covers is quite small, and if you’re looking for answers in this first issue, you’re not going to get many. But you will be introduced to a group of French orphans and a peppy American chap named Peter who seems to be a bit more than normal. If you’re like me, you’re also going to read Peter as being David Tennant, and even if that wasn’t intended, I’m totally cool with it. All you need to know is that it’s 1940, and Germany is making a mess of the French town of Calais, and the orphans are on the run, when they are helped by the mysterious and charismatic Mr. Panzerfaust. It should be noted that the Panzerfaust is a German anti-tank weapon. He also helps the boys jump a much farther distance than would seem possible. It’s obvious the Peter Pan part of the story is here, but just how isn’t exactly known yet.
What I enjoyed most about the issue was the way it was laid out, both graphically, and how the events progressed. Sometimes when it comes to warfare and action, in both comics and film, we get a series of explosions and call it a fight sequence. Such was not the case with this comic. We could track the specifics of the action, and the chase. A German tank was after the boys. We knew where they all were relative to one another, and what was happening. It was choreographed, and clear. This comes down to bother the planning in the script and the artist’s ability to clearly define these elements, and it’s harder than it seems. Because the issue wasn’t trying to cram a ton of information down our throats, as first issues often do, we could get to know the characters and situation through the action, rather than some endless inner monolog, spoonfeeding us everything it can about who the main character is and all their motivations. In a few sparse words of dialog, we know Peter is looking for someone, and the boys have nowhere to be, and have to get out of town. That’s all I needed to know. Other than that, I just sat back and enjoyed the comic book craft on display.
I was unfamiliar with Tyler Jenkins prior to this story, but he’s got a lot going for him. One of the best things about Image Comics these days is the plethora of diverse artistic styles their books offer, while at the same time, we’re seeing very strong storytelling. The pages were a lot of fun, and plenty happened, but they were also sparse enough to be able to breathe. There were a few silent panels here and there, such as when they introduced the orphans, and we, as readers, were signaled to let this scene soak in, and feel some of the quiet. The figures themselves are a little exaggerated and cartoonish, but in the all the best ways. And lest you think the artist is only able to do cartoon figures, he comes in the other side with pitch perfect renderings of a wrecked French city, and spot on German Panzer tanks that Chris Weston would have approved. If this is what I have to look forward to in future issues, I cannot wait to see what is in store. On the other hand, we should take a moment to understand the massive amount of research and reference the poor guy will have to comb through. I suppose he made his bed.
If you’re looking for a jaunty boys adventure book with a vintage feel, but modern sensibilities, I can think of nothing on the comic shelves that will fill the need better than Peter Panzerfaust. After impressing anyone who read Green Wake for the last year, writer Kurtis J. Wiebe may have another critical success on his hands, and hopefully the sales that deserves. Only a few pages into this issue, I was confident I’d found my Pick of the Week, and the rest of the pages didn’t disappoint. Plus, the Disney version of Peter Pan was never so good with a Springfield rifle.
Read Peter Panzerfaust #1 on Graphicly: