Comic Review: Peter Panzerfaust #1
Art: Tyler Jenkins
Fairy tale reimaginings are a dime a dozen nowadays. Over the last year or so, we have seen film-reimaginings of Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, and Little Red Riding Hood, with 2 Snow White and yet another Beauty and Beast one on the way. Hell, Disney created an empire on reimagining old stories. It makes sense, I suppose, considering the entertainment industry lives and dies by the trends it creates. The new comic miniseries, Peter Panzerfaust, is another one of these reimaginings, if you haven’t guessed already, of Peter Pan.
The story opens with an old French man being interviewed about Peter. He is referred to as Tootles, a nickname that Peter had given him. He tells about his days living as an orphan during the Nazi’s occupation of France. When all hope seemed lost, the wall of his orphanage is bombed by a passing enemy plane, and he sees a thin American boy holding a rifle standing triumphantly among the rubble with a cocky smile. Tootles says, “He loved a grand entrance. That was Peter’s way.”
I love that line. It is equal parts condemning and condoning, just being in awe of a man who has balls big enough to do something so stupid yet brave. Besides being an all-around awesome line, it tells everything we need to know and probably already knew about Peter. In true American hero fashion, he’s looking for a girl. For an updated piece of fiction, it still very much rooted in the classics. This version of Peter has much more in common with John Wayne’s grand hero from Sands of Iwo Jima. You half expect him to run head first into a group of Nazis dodging bullets and pulling grenade pins with his teeth. Except this time he carries himself with a youthful misconception that he is immortal. He is far from the broken and traumatized soldier that has become popular in today’s war fiction. But they are not really soldiers, they seem more like they’ll be part of the French Resistance. Despite all the “This ‘A’ doesn’t stand for France” jokes about the French giving up, the French Resistance still played a vital part in winning WWII for the Allies, and I am excited at the prospect of them helping disrupt German supply lines and modes of communication. Given that someone is actively investigating Peter, I assume there is more than just a girl in his future.
There is plenty of the Peter Pan groundwork to go around too. He saves a bunch of orphans, destined to be The Lost Boys. At one point, he makes an impossible leap (instead of flying) and right before getting the drop on a trio of Nazi officers, he lets out a rooster call. I’m excited to see where else they draw counterparts, like the alligator and mermaids for instance. The Indians will probably be the French Resistance if I had to guess. But that is all second to seeing Captain Hook inevitably reimagined as a Nazi. Thankfully, despite all of these counterparts, it successfully feels like an original work with a tone and pacing that makes for a quick read.