If you’re only into comics from the big 2 you might not have heard the name Kurtis Wiebe – he’s just done an X-Men story in the Marvel Holiday Special 2011. Other than that, he’s most well-known for his work with Image – especially Green Wake – and now he’s come up with a new title that’s set to release in February: Peter Panzerfaust, a seemingly straightforward comic set during World War II. A title like that definitely catches the eye, but is the title worth you getting your pre-orders down for it? Thanks to Wiebe, we’ve got an early look to find out!
Peter Panzerfaust. What’s one to make of that title? If you don’t want to head into spoiler territory here and enjoy the tale uninformed like me, you should stop here and I’ll just very quickly say that the tale is definitely worth checking out even though the cover price is on the higher side of comic prices. Thanks for reading!
But for the rest of us, let’s just fly right in – straight on till morning.
So yes. It does get pretty obvious in the title, and if you haven’t realised by now, Peter Panzerfaust is Wiebe’s own take on JM Barrie’s Peter Pan, setting Peter Pan in a “realistic” World War II setting. A Panzerfaust, as Wikipedia puts it, is a cheap, recoilless German anti-tank weapon of World War II. That makes the title doubly apt, not just as a chronistically sound pun on the Pan name, but as an actual descriptive of Peter Panzerfaunst himself. This sets the scene for the clever bits – and it is clever.
Knowing the source material definitely enhances the tale – we get to trace the different references towards the original story. Now, this isn’t your straightforward adaptation of a classic, in fact the magical bits (flying etc) get a rather real-world version right here. Yet, Peter is unmistakably Peter Pan – brash, full of derring-do and confidence. The Lost Boys of the story are French orphans Peter chances upon in his search for Belle, and he quickly takes them under his wing, and saved from certain death but having to constantly escape, their adventure begins.
Tyler Jenkins handles the art, and his rough pencils and shadows lend a dynamism to the story. Throughout all the breakneck action (of which there is plenty), nothing gets occluded or messy. If anything, the art is reminiscent of Gabriel Ba’s work in The Umbrella Academy. With Jenkins, I think Wiebe definitely has a good partner to tell his story.
I can’t wait to see how Wiebe transposes the other elements of JM Barrie’s tale into the WWII setting – and even then, I don’t think I can forsee how it’s going to turn out. I just 22 pages Wiebe has already managed to stick close to the source material while also turning it on its head – and that’s no mean feat. And now, the tale is as realistic as it gets (other than some crazy feats that can really just be summarised as being fearless / trying to save your own life) but it feels as if the tale is teetering on the fantastical.
If there’s a weakness, it’s that at one point the story introduces a change from the introspective right back into action. It’s not a horrible thing, and on hindsight definitely gives the chance for Peter to, well, be Peter (in more ways than one) – it’s just that on first reading that took me a little by surprise.
So, consider my interest piqued. Wiebe’s work on adapting the classic into another time and milieu feels fresh and unlike adaptations where transposed moments are tired, each one in Peter Panzerfaust gives you a giddy thrill. The writing, coupled with the kinetic pencils of Tyler Jenkins makes this a pretty great comic that’s worth checking out.