If you listened to the podcast where I interviewed Kurtis J. Wiebe, then you know that when we talked about Peter Panzerfaust Wiebe pointed out that one of the overarching themes of the book was the exploration of children growing up, and growing up quickly, during times of war. Children and teens often believe themselves to be immortal in ways that adults don’t because they’ve experienced something that knocked them over the head with a bat reading REALITY. Some people, however, never grow up. Peter, in his own way, is one of those people. He may have a firm grasp on the seriousness of the war, but as far as showing concern for his own mortality he still thinks he can fly. In Peter Panzerfaust #19, we see the extent to which Peter’s overconfidence takes him through the eyes of Tiger Lily as she receives her own reality check.
Instead of giving us any filler on what happened directly after Peter’s rescue by Tiger Lily at the idyllic cabin in the woods, Wiebe and artist Tyler Jenkins jump ahead slightly to Vichy, France, a town turned war zone where they’ve tracked last of Hook’s Hunters. Incidentally, I got to see the layout of this town at Emerald City Comicon and Tyler was excited to see what colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick would bring to his inks. Let me tell you, she didn’t disappoint. Back to the story! Lily is laid out on the first floor of a building, bleeding after the roof has been blown off by Viktor Strauss, his platoon of men, and the panzers moving through the town to capture them. The final Hunter, Ralf Gerber, hasn’t surfaced but the trio don’t have time to think about his whereabouts when it seems their entire plan has gone the way of the dodo. Julien insists that they fall back and regroup, but Lily and Peter are intent on continuing the hunt regardless of their initial plan failing. Peter, as always, has a backup plan, though one that he regularly neglects to inform his companions of. In order to stop the platoon and the panzers, Peter develops a new plan. One that could have deadly consequences for him and his friends.
Most of this arc, save for the previous issue, has been told from Lily’s journal entries at the time of the events. A reserved woman of action, Lily’s writing reveals more about her contemplative and loving side, especially when it comes to her husband. The odd couple marriage of Julien and Lily has been one of the highlights of Peter Panzerfaust and the two are in top form as they play backup to Peter’s ludicrous plans. In this issue, however, we learn a great deal about how Lily thinks. Not only is she motivated by revenge against the men who murdered her father, but she’s scared of being alone because of what she saw happen to her father after her mother died. In the beginning, it was about her selfish need to not lose people, but through her journal entries it becomes clear that Vichy finally made her think about not just the possibility of losing Julien but the reverse as well. Julien’s kindness, compassion, and practicality makes him somewhat Lily’s opposite, but it’s those traits that Lily loves most and forces her to see that in her rage to avenge her father she could lose everything else. Though she never considered herself immortal, Lily approached her hunt for Hook’s men as if she had nothing to lose, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
In contrast Peter’s time in captivity has given him a greater idea of what he can and can’t accomplish. His Devil-may-care attitude comes out full force as he withholds his contingency plans from Julien and Lily and throws himself right into the line of fire because he knows Hook’s men won’t let him die. It doesn’t stop him from getting injured, mind you, but in light of the news that he’s pretty much off-limits to the soldiers gunning them down, it only encourages Peter’s adventurous spirit and inflated sense of immortality. On the one hand, he uses it to his advantage by trying to keep his friends safe. On the other hand, the more reckless he becomes the more he puts his friends in danger. It’s a double-edged sword, but one that appears to be working for the time being. It even earns him his titular name given not by one of the Lost Boys but by Tiger Lily.
While Peter Panzerfaust has always been full of action-packed moments, this issue is definitely heavy on the up close and personal fighting style that gives the trio, and Peter especially, a chance to get in some good one-liners that would make Sylvester Stallone nod his head in approval. Kudos, though, to Tyler Jenkins for every punch, kick, and dive Peter, Lily, and Julien take. The choreography is fast-paced with enough tension to keep the reader guessing about what will happen next. The more Peter puts himself in the line of fire, the more we wonder how lucky he’ll remain.
Rating – 10/10
Final Thoughts: If I ever need someone to negotiate for me, it’ll definitely be Tiger Lily. Her diplomacy is very effective.