27th Apr2018

‘The Prisoner #1’ Review (Titan Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Peter Milligan | Art by Colin Lorimer | Published by Titan Comics


You know something has a place in the national consciousness when it keeps reappearing every generation. The Prisoner has become just such a cult hit, its fans every bit as passionate as those of Star Trek or Star Wars for example. Just so happens I’m a fan of all the above, but The Prisoner is a truly unique concept. I loved the uncertainty of it all. Is what’s going on real? Who are the bad guys? Who can you trust? It originally tapped into a late 1960’s distrust of authority, and it didn’t hurt that it also embraced the spy genre, going through James Bond-fueled popularity at the time. The TV show was surprisingly brief, just 17 episodes, considering how influential the show is, but the show was just the beginning as it turned out.

There have been other TV series (not very good), audio books, even novels, but the field most relevant to my review is of course comics. The Prisoner was always ideal for the comic book medium, and Dean Motter even wrote an authorized sequel, in comic book form, for DC Comics back in the late 1980’s. Check it out, it’s very good. Titan have now picked up The Prisoner‘s reins for the upcoming 50th anniversary, publishing both this book, and the near legendary jack Kirby and Gil Kane unpublished adaptation later in the year. So, I assume most people know the story, but if not the quick and easy answer is that The Prisoner tells the story of a former spy who wakes up in a mysterious village, peopled by others who are also prisoners there. The why’s and wherefore’s make the story interesting, much like its spiritual child Lost.

Straight away Milligan lets you know this is about the concept of the original, but with a new contemporary twist. Information is the currency of choice, and The Village is a place where ‘mental fracking’ (what a great phrase) can take place. The Village is in and of itself. No allegiance to any particular state, philosophy, or religion. If you end up there, you are on your own. Which is probably why our main character, and MI5 agent called Breen, is about to have a very bad day. Exposed as a traitor, he has gone on the run. Why? Turns out a recent mission he was on, with a female agent called Carey, seems to have been a set-up. They took her, but wanted him. A series of recent thefts, disappearances, and assassinations has MI5 thinking The Village is up to something, and that Carey’s abduction was deliberate.

Breen is pretty distraught about events, especially as he was having a relationship with Carey, and offers to get himself in The Village to rescue her. When told he must liquidate her, Breen refuses. He then makes a very public show of disaffection with his job, to try and entice The Village to make a move on him, as he knows they are watching. Then, he steals a top secret item called Pandora, to give him something he can trade for Carey’s life. Hence being labelled a traitor. Well, Breen’s plan works, as he wakes up in The Village, wearing that jacket. Game on.

Absolutely pitch perfect. Peter Milligan here crafts an absolutely perfect opening chapter, giving us a sympathetic new Number Six (I’m assuming Breen will be) and a suitable air of paranoia and mystery. Classic, yet fresh. The dialogue is spot on, and the story moves along at a nice pace, allowing us to anticipate what’s to come while enjoying what has been and is. The art, by Colin Lorimer, is superb, as is the colour art by Joana Lafluente. It looks and feels like a movie, with nearly every panel a work of art. Long shots, close ups, big panels, small and wide, angular and straight. The art makes everything feel just a little bit off, which is the perfect approach for this book. The final three full page panels are worth the price of admission alone. Perfect. The various covers, also perfect.

I am not a number, but my reviews are, and this gets a hands down perfect 5.

***** 5/5


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