If you’ve been reading Peter Panzerfaust, then you’ll agree with me when I say that the book has become far more than just a reimagining of Peter Pan set in World War II. While there are moments that seem larger than life, it’s only because Peter has become such a figure to his friends. His ongoing battle of wits and wills with Kapitan Haken, or “The Hook”, is practically a story within a story since the focus of each arc remains on the people who surrounded Peter. They saw him risk everything, concocting crazy schemes with unbelievable confidence and a smile, but they also witnessed the extent to which he would sacrifice himself to protect the people he loves. The manner through which Peter’s story is framed also gives Kurtis J. Wiebe the ability to expand upon the stories of the Lost Boys and the Braves, adding the human element needed to ground the book in the reality of war and the effect it had on each person interviewed by the reader’s surrogate, John Parsons.
Picking up the narrative from the previous arc, Wiebe and artist Tyler Jenkins backtrack a bit as we see John Parsons visiting the Lost Boys’ former homebase, the Sticks, which is now under the care of a kindly old woman. While Parsons is walking the grounds and examining the rooms, we get the juxtaposition of the past and present as we see Peter and the others defending their home that’s come under attack from Hook’s Hunters. Surrounded by gunfire, the rebels have two options: fight or run. Peter opts for the latter, knowing that Lily’s father, the deceased Chief, would probably be annoyed with them if they stuck around and died for no reason. Unfortunately, they have to leave the Chief’s body behind and in order to give his friends enough time to escape, and give Lily time to say goodbye to her father, Peter “casts his own shadow” and takes Hook’s Hunters head on.
In the previous arcs, Parsons spoke with Tootles, Julien, and Felix but this time around we pick up the story from Tiger Lily’s point of view. Unlike the former Lost Boys, Lily’s story isn’t one she’s willing to speak about. Instead, she gives her journal and various documents to Parsons so that he can suss out the details for himself. Lily’s reasons for declining an interview reinforce the point Wiebe has been making throughout the entire run of the book. War changes a person. It’s cliché, but it’s true. War brings out aspects of human nature that we’re often unprepared to deal with and, in Lily’s case, this particular chapter is all about revenge for the death of her father. She’s not proud of who she became during this portion of the war, but at the time it was necessary, something she had to do and any solider, any person caught up in a war for that matter, could say the same. What I find intriguing is the way Lily’s story will be told. Tootles, Felix, and Julien were recounting their time during the war from memory, which you could argue colors the story. Lily’s will be told from her journal. Though still capable of containing embellishments and there’s always the issue of recalling something when writing it down after the fact, Lily’s journal is an immediate, reactionary, and primary source. Through Parsons’ research, the reader will get to dive into Lily’s head in a way that might have been different if she’d sat down for an interview like her husband.
As always, Tyler Jenkins art is stunning and gorgeous and I’m definitely going to run out of adjectives the more I do the reviews for this book. Suffice it to say, when Wiebe lets the silence do the talking, Jenkins art guides you just as deftly as Wiebe’s words. The opening sequence is testament to that fact. Like I mentioned earlier, the juxtaposition of Parsons exploring the Sticks while we see the events unfold from the past is a brilliant piece of storytelling. The present-day Sticks and Parsons are warm and inviting while the Sticks from the past is colored in darker tones of grey and blue that emphasizes the dire situation through the lens of memory. Again, gorgeous.
Rating – 10/10
Final Thoughts: The hunt is on. One down, four to go.