A Look Back at “The Prisoner” Comic Book Series
The Prisoner was a British TV series from 1967 starring Patrick McGoohan as a spy who is held prisoner on a mysterious island known as “The Village”. His name never being revealed, McGoohan’s character (known simply as #6) is being held so that his captors can retrieve “information” from him – most specifically – why he abruptly resigned from his position as a spy.
In its original run, The Prisoner didn’t attract much of a global audience, although it was very popular in its native Britain, as well as Canada. Over the years, however, the show has developed a very large cult following. It has made its way into several other media, including a 2009 remake of the series starring Jim Caviezel, a song by Iron Maiden, being spoofed in an episode of “The Simpsons”, and multiple comic books devoted to furthering the story due to the abrupt, oft-maligned ending of the television series.
This will be a quick look back at each comic book series that were produced based on The Prisoner TV series.
The Prisoner (1988) Four Issue Mini-Series by DC Comics
The first officially-released comic book sequel to The Prisoner is still the best. Written and illustrated by Dean Motter and co-written by Mark Askwith, this is a direct continuation of the television series. The story picks up years after the final episode of the series and expands upon the mythology of the Village.
DC Comics’ The Prisoner series is presented in prestige format (square bound), and each issue provides 52 pages of full-color intrigue. The artwork is competent but it’s the story that really is the standout of this series. It’s tough to review the series without giving too much away, but it’s clear that the writer of this comic clearly had a deep understanding for the source material. When you discover the secret of the Village, you’ll have a whole new perspective on the show.
If you’re a fan of The Prisoner television show and if you pick up DC’s follow-up series, you’ll certainly never look at the show the same way again.
Overall Grade: A-
The Prisoner (2018) Hardcover Artist Edition by Titan Comics
This 64-page, over-sized hardcover reproduces original artwork by Jack Kirby & Gil Kane for a planned series based on The Prisoner that never saw print. Kirby only provided six pages to the project, which was inked by Mike Royer. The remainder of the book contains pencils by Gil Kane, with no inks. Written by Steve Englehart and including a bonus feature by Englehart & Bob Wayne, this “Artist Edition” published by Titan Comics is an interesting look at what could have been. As an art book alone, it’s exquisite. Unfortunately, if you’re looking for something to provide you with more expanded lore surrounding The Prisoner television series, this is not for you.
Overall Grade: C+
The Prisoner (2018) Four Issue Mini-Series by Titan Comics
To coincide with the 50th anniversary of The Prisoner being broadcast in the US (along with the above-mentioned artist edition), Titan Comics produced a four-issue mini-series of The Prisoner written by Peter Milligan and artwork by Colin Lorimer. The books were released with a series of variant covers, and the standout was indeed Lorimer’s artwork, which invoked the era of the original show. Unlike the TV series which attracted its audience in syndication, Titan Comics’ mini-series failed to catch on with fans and likewise failed to gain much mainstream attention. Titan has produced several other fine series based on licensed properties (most notably Blade Runner), but unfortunately, their take on The Prisoner series was forgetful.
Overall Grade: C-
I wouldn’t recommend reading any of the above books without first watching The Prisoner television series in its entirety. However, if you have seen all 17 episodes and are thirsty for more, I recommend checking the books out and judging them on your own.
Have you read any of The Prisoner books mentioned above? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Be seeing you.