Peter Panzerfaust, Volume II: Hooked (2013) - Kurtis J. Wiebe & Tyler Jenkins
Collecting Peter Panzerfaust #6-10
Trade paperback, 128 pages
Retail price: $14.99
Amazon price: $11.58
If you haven’t heard of Peter Panzerfaust, you probably will soon. The graphic novels are being adapted into a motion comic and eventually, a BBC TV series. But don’t wait for those formats. This is a graphic novel series you should read right now.
Peter Panzerfaust, Vol. I: The Great Escape begins as a coming-of-age tale of sorts as a group of orphans in WWII France are saved by an unusual American boy named Peter, a teenager who clearly fears nothing, not even the Nazis. No one knows what he’s doing in France, but it’s obvious he’s both a leader and a rebel, so charismatic that you’d follow him anywhere.
While the first graphic novel is a fun and interesting take on the Peter Pan story, Wiebe and Jenkins ratchet things up several notches in the second volume. The interviewer Mr. Parsons returns, this time to speak to Julien as he recounts the tale of how he and the rest of the Lost Boys, led by Peter, trekked across France to find and rescue Felix, one of their own.
Although more elements and characters of the Peter Pan mythos are added here (including Tiger Lily, Wendy Darling, Big Chief, and Captain Hook in the form of Nazi Kapitan Haken), the tone of the second volume takes a darker turn. Wiebe and Jenkins may have pulled us in with a variation on a children’s tale, but the story is now far from light and carefree. It’s evolved into a tale of espionage, courage, loyalty and survival.
We learn more about Peter in this volume. He’s still something of a mystery, but he’s placed in some tough positions that allow his character to develop and mature. At one point, Peter says, “Look, I’m just a weird American kid that happened across the right people at the right time. The Hook... he made me realize something. Probably the most important lesson I’ve ever learned.”
I’m not about to tell you what that lesson is; you’ll have to read it for yourself. You’ll also have to experience the artwork for yourself. The pacing and flow of Jenkins’ work may make you think you’re watching a professionally edited film. It's that good. And some of the one-page images are simply stunning, especially one near the end of the book depicting a gunfight. Heather Breckel’s colors perfectly balance the art, giving the tone of the story added depth and resonance. Yes, this is war, so we expect to see lots of grays and browns, but Breckel’s color choices in the last few pages reminds us that, even in the rain, the colors of beauty and longing shine through. The final page of this volume is a stunningly beautiful combination of art, color, shading, text and hope, all looking forward.