Thursday, 3 July 2014

Peter Panzerfaust, Volume 1: The Great Escape Review (Kurtis Wiebe, Tyler Jenkins)

Peter Panzerfaust is a retelling of JM Barrie’s Peter Pan set in Nazi-occupied France in 1940 – and it’s really good!

Told from the perspective of one of the orphans Peter liberates in the opening chapter, who’s now an elderly man, The Great Escape follows Peter and the boys as they fight their way through Calais to the docks before realising escape to Britain is now impossible. Turning around, they head toward Paris in the hope that somehow the Nazi threat will be repelled and the capital will remain unscathed. But the war is only escalating and for Peter and the boys, their story is just beginning…

The Peter Pan angle isn’t that heavily played up and the only really overt reference is when Wendy Darling appears and reveals her name – without that, you could easily read this book and not notice it’s the Peter Pan story. But once you know the angle, you can see all the references: Peter, the orphans (or “lost boys”), the wolf howls, and Captain Hook who here is, of course, Kapitain Haken, an SS officer whom Peter engages in a swordfight and mutilates his left hand. 

But this is definitely not a kids’ book as there’s a plenty of violence and killing which you’d expect from a WW2-set story. It’s also a thrilling survival story of a small group of teenage orphans in war-torn Europe, dodging the Nazis – and killing a fair few - who find a new family amongst their friends. There are some awesome action scenes as the boys outwit the Nazis in the streets of Calais, and Kurtis Wiebe creates some excellent characters in the group, not least of whom is the charismatic Peter.

Peter Panzerfaust Volume 1 is a highly enjoyable book and a great start to this promising series. Remember this name: Kurtis Wiebe, because between this book and Rat Queens, he’s one of the most interesting comics writers around at the moment, publishing some of the best, most original titles. Check out Peter Panzerfaust for an enthralling tale of adventure and fun set against the darkest of times.

I wonder if a crocodile with a ticking belly shows up later on…

Peter Panzerfaust Volume 1: The Great Escape

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