First of all, I think congratulations are in order for Kurtis J. Wiebe and Shannon Woodhouse who welcomed their daughter, Willow, into the world not too long ago. Mazel tov and whatnot to the proud parents who will no doubt be raised her in the grand tradition of geeky parents – conventions, cosplay, and some black market dealings that I don’t want to get into right now. Willow’s already off to a good start because her daddy is the creator of some amazing female characters. One of which, Tiger Lily, stands out amongst the mostly male cast of Peter Panzerfaust. In a book that is largely about the story of the charismatic and sprightly Peter, as told through past reflections of those who knew him during the war, Tiger Lily’s recounting of her personal “war” on Hawken’s Hunters manages to eclipse Peter’s story while being a reflection of it at the same time.
There really isn’t much to recap in this issue without giving away a lot of spoilers, which I’m not inclined to do. If you’ve been reading the previous issues, then you’re probably certain of how it’ll conclude, but Kurtis J. Wiebe and Tyler Jenkins definitely throw in a few surprise moments. Each arc of Peter Panzerfaust finds a way to end on a poignant note, happy or sad, which works given the subject matter at hand. In times of war we see just how far we’re willing to go, drawing a line in the sand that we know not to cross. Sometimes we stay behind the line for the duration, other times we cross the line and never go back, but there are those times when we cross the line and manage to find a way to crossover again. Lily’s arc is very much about finding peace-of-mind in the wake of her “war” against the men who killed her father. It’s a personal vendetta with an even greater conflict in the background, but it’s a bit metaphorical when one considers how soldiers reacted or adapted to unforgiving combat. Young men and women left home and returned changed in a fundamental way that would follow them the rest of their lives. We’ve seen it within the pages of Peter Panzerfaust. Gilbert and Julien are fairly well-adjusted, though they have their moments of melancholy, Felix is a lonely, somewhat bitter man, but Lily’s arc actually goes further in examining how she moved on once her “war” was over.
The short answer is it’s a constant struggle. The last entry in Lily’s journal, written in 1949, gives us some final insight into the woman who wanted nothing more than revenge and yet saw exactly what consequences her actions had on the man she loves and herself. Throughout the arc, Lily makes frequent mention of her father and his reaction to her mother’s death. The man was lost and, by his own admission, never really recovered. His grief was too strong and it affected his ability to take care of Lily when she was young. Years later, Lily walks a similar path. Lost in her grief, she’s singularly focused on revenge, which Julien and Peter oblige her, but it isn’t until the last Hunter is dead that she realizes the strain her “war” has put on Julien. He alone has been keeping her together, helping her the only way he knows how. It’s taken a toll on him, however, and Lily truly understands in that moment that the war has to be over for the both of them if they hope to stay together. She sees a way back across the line and Julien is the one guiding her home. It’s time that they took care of each other.
Lily’s vendetta is also a mirror of Peter and Hook’s cat and mouse game. Though she isn’t out for immortality, Lily’s war-within-a-war is similar. It isn’t about stopping the Nazis, it’s about killing these particular people; myopically focusing on them to the point of obsession. Hook and Peter display the same attitude towards each other, though Peter is more inclined to derail a plan if someone needs his help. Hook is also willing to deviate his plans if only to gain the high ground or take advantage of Peter. Neither will end it, though. They enjoy it, to a degree, and their overconfidence and pride keep them circling each other. By taking herself out of the war, Lily ends the cycle with the last Hunter. She could have easily continued the fight with Peter and the Lost Boys, but she chose not to. Whether it was out of fear for her soul, losing Julien, or a combination of the two, she makes the choice to leave, dealing with the demons as they come but content that she played her part in ensuring peace for the next generation.
Of course plenty of praise goes to Tyler Jenkins and Kelly Fitzpatrick for their amazing artwork. There are particular panels that stand out for me. One being the parallel two-page spread showing Peter and Gerber giving orders to their men. The feeling of movement, of each commander shouting orders as he walks amongst his soldiers is well depicted without being distracting. I’m also a fan of how Jenkins draws Lily and Julien together. Their embraces and expressions hold so much emotion, but what really gets me is when Lily is turned around, her back against Julien’s chest, and the way they just casually hold each other. They genuinely feel like a real couple. And because this is Lily’s arc, she gets some amazing moments visually. The cover is glorious, showing Lily as the embodiment of Justice with the scales and sword. It pretty much sums up the entire arc so kudos to Jenkins and Fitzpatrick for that! There’s also the moment when Lily approaches Gerber. It’s only two panels but we see her come up the stairs and then a shot of her walking towards him. It’s so chilling, but effective nonetheless.
Final Thoughts: John Parsons will probably have his work cut out for him with the twins when the book returns.
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