The Prisoner: Shattered Visage – Dean Motter & Mark Askwith (Titan Comics)

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A common and sometimes extremely frustrating question among professional writers is how the hell do some of us get those good gigs? Those projects you never get a whiff of until they’re out on the shelves. With Dean Motter it was over lunch with DC Comics’ art director, who asked him if he’d be interested in The Prisoner, because the rights were available. Simple as that. Motter says you could have knocked him down with a feather, and you’d have been able to knock me down too, given half the chance. God’s teeth, who wouldn’t be interested in The Prisoner, and in playing with its iconic twosome, numbers six and two, wandering the picturesque lanes of that most unique of locations, the Village? Oh yes, please, hand the spade to that sandpit over – you’d have to be a complete arse to cock it up.

Motter doesn’t cock it up. But neither exactly does he deliver The Prisoner you expect. Co-written by Mark Askwith and drawn by Motter himself, Shattered Visage collects The Prisoner mini-series 1-4, is billed as an official sequel, and is set twenty years after the final events of the television series, in the episode Fallout.  Considered to be a failure by the security services, the Village has been evacuated, abandoned, and lies ramshackle. We don’t ‘arrive’ there for a while because in the real world we’re dealing with the incarceration all these long years of Number Two – that is, the Leo McKern incarnation – and the ramifications of a newly published expose of same titled The Village Idiot. Yeah, I liked that too. Convolutions bring us to the ex-partner of the author being washed ashore on a beach harbouring a strange stone boat near a sea that bubbles strangely and … well, any more would be telling.

It’s a haunting journey, not least through a decayed architectural paradigm fondly remembered. It’s filled with clever wordplay – “Were you born here?” “Borne here, like many others.” – but most of all dares to ask of its main protagonist – for yes, he does appear – how important are you today? In other words, how much how much self-worth, how much stamina, how much strength, can one man maintain when the secrets he knew – the reasons for which he resigned – are decades out of date?

I give this six of one and half a dozen of the other. That’s good. Be seeing you. Mike Wild    

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