If you’re lucky, novelty will sell a first issue before readership drops off in the second. Kurtis J. Wiebe and Tyler Jenkins have enough good stuff here to make Peter Panzerfaust not only surpass the realm of novelty, but to make it one of the more interesting books on the shelves.
Peter and his World War Two-era Lost Boys are back, but this time instead of freeing themselves, they’re trying to free British soldiers being kept prisoners of war.
This second issue has the same basic structure as the first. It starts during an interview with Tootles before going into the story. The issue in general is very similar to the first as well. Wiebe and Jenkins do the same things right as they did before, and the same problems linger into this issue.
The best part of this issue, which was also the best part of last issue, is the subtle character development of Peter. He remains the fearless leader of the group, but has a touch of apparent madness. He has little empathy for his enemies, and he’s almost giddy about getting into fights. It’s an interesting take on the source material, where Peter shares similar characteristics in drastically different circumstances.
It’s easy to center only on Peter as the center of the book, but this book is also about the Lost Boys, who don’t get as much attention. There’s a lot of dialogue from them, but they aren’t much more than faces in the background. They’re still hard to tell apart from each other visually, and the story doesn’t do much to set them apart either, save for Felix. Wiebe’s story assumes its reader has a vast pre-existing knowledge of the Peter Pan lore, and doesn’t do enough to establish the characters in a completely new story.
This issue is the first time we see the Lost Boys in action. They’re major players in Peter’s plan, this time doing things themselves instead of just following Peter. They start slowly, with Peter teaching them how to knock out the Nazi soldiers with the butt of a gun, but by the time they get to the saving of the British soldiers, they’re pulling off the tougher parts of the plan with military skill. There’s not much of an explanation for why they’re so good at it suddenly, which is a bit of a problem. They’ve gone from helpless orphans to carrying guns and grenades in the span of an issue. It wouldn’t be a problem later in the story, but the transition is a bit jarring here.
This is the first time, too, where the plot makes more of an appearance. Peter and the boys are trying to get away from the fighting and find Belle, both of which are developed here. I won’t divulge more details than that, but I will say that it’s the first time we get satisfying plot movement.
Jenkins art is once again one of the stronger points of the book. He has an art style that lends itself to action easily, and both his pencils and layouts contribute to the overall outcome. Jenkins’ pencils aren’t perfect though. Any character that isn’t Peter still doesn’t stand out by themselves, which makes the Lost Boys especially hard to pick apart from each other. The only discernable difference between some characters is what they’re wearing. Much like the first issue, the combination of story and art make the Lost Boys fairly bland, despite having brighter, more distinct personalities in the source material.
Other than the indistinct characters, Jenkins’ art is stylized and never boring. His characters have sharp facial features, and he’ll sometimes break the borders of panels to emphasize the action. Even during conversations, Jenkins is doing something interesting with the pencils. Whether he’s zooming out to show the environment, or zooming in to show emotion, Jenkins’ art is always active.
Peter Panzerfaust is an example of what happens when a writer and an artist mesh, and the whole becomes better than the sum of the parts. Both are stylized, and both have a charm that makes their flaws less glaring. Despite the holes in the writing and in the art, Peter Panzerfaust is a book that I now look forward to the release of every month. It’s an appealing read, whether you’re a fan of Peter Pan or World War Two stories, but it’s worth a shot even if you don’t have a strong opinion of either.