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Comic Book Review

Book Cover

The Prisoner #1


Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Colin Lorimer
Colourist: Joana Lafluente
Publisher: Titan Comics
RRP: UK £2.65, US $3.99
Age: 15+
32 pages
Publication Date: 25 April 2018

In the 21st century, the global currency is no longer oil or gold but information, and he who possesses it possesses the world. There is one place on the planet where the most valuable information is mined, a place that prides itself on ‘mental fracking’, promising to extract any secret from any individual using any means possible. It is perhaps the intelligence community’s darkest secret, aligned to no one political system or state, an autonomous institute, free of state manipulation. The identity of its controller, the mysterious Number One, is unknown. It is a place so secret, some believe it to be a myth. It is the Village. Now read on…

It’s been half a century since the completion of the original UK transmission of the cult spy-fi series The Prisoner, and 30 years since DC produced a comic-book continuation in the form of Shattered Visage, so a graphic revival of the concept is long overdue. Be aware, however, that this is not The Prisoner of old.

This is not a flashback to the 1960s. The setting is very much the present day, as evidenced by the refurbished interior of King’s Cross station and references to Airbnb, Millennials, Isis, the Euro and austerity.

The hero is a brand-new Number Six (which makes it a bit cheeky of Titan to depict the original Patrick McGoohan version on many of this issue’s front cover options, including the one shown above, by Mike Allred). The previous prisoner appears in just a single panel, during a gas-induced hallucination – though he is also briefly alluded to by the new guy’s section chief, who states that only one agent has ever escaped from the Village.

In stark contrast to McGoohan’s Number Six, whose identity and motivation for resigning remained an almost total enigma throughout his 17 episodes, we learn a great deal about the main character of this story, an MI5 agent named Breen. Writer Peter Milligan (Bad Company, X-Statix) spends most of this first issue setting up Breen’s background, only transporting us to the Village during the last few pages – though admittedly the location is beautifully recreated by artist Colin Lorimer (Harvest, The Hunt). Compare that with the opening instalment of the television series, which arrived at the Village within the first few minutes.

There are some characteristically surreal touches, though, even before we reach the gilded cage, such as a man in a black-and-white check suit playing chess, and a top-secret artefact accessible only via a transparent walkway to a rocky precipice. Numerical in-jokes are dotted throughout the issue, such as Breen’s vow to be the second person to break out of the Village: “Then… then I’ll be number two.” When we have a flashback to a few days earlier, guess how many days it is. That’s right, six! For a moment, it seems as though the writer is trying too hard to match the original show’s idiosyncrasies, when Breen asks a friend in a pub, “Do you ever have the feeling that there’s something monstrously surreal… just beyond your vision?” However, it soon becomes clear that the agent is trying to attract the right kind of attention with his comments.

With little mystery surrounding the new prisoner or his prison, Milligan sets up a new puzzle instead. What is in the box that Breen liberates from the inner sanctum, the so-called Pandora? That would be telling. We want information…

This new saga has not made me its prisoner just yet, but I’ll be seeing it again next issue to find out more.


Richard McGinlay

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