Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Prisoner: Shattered Visage review

    A wholly unnecessary graphic novel sequel to The Prisoner's final episode.

    Also, one which doesn't "get" the finale and actively attempts to retcon it out of existence. It exists solely for telling a coherent ending to an incoherent series and I find that notion vaguely offensive. You might wonder why I'm doing a review for a twenty-year old graphic novel. Well, the reason is because it's new to me and I (semi)enjoyed reading it. The Prisoner is one of the seminal works in television history and, to me, the best work about spies in fiction ever done. It's completely ridiculous but deconstructs the inherent authoritarianism in the genre.

    Patrick Mcgoohan was aware that there's something of a real life danger to spies being treated as superheroes. That they exist outside of the law, can break any laws, and somehow the world becomes better because of this. Patrick believed that people, especially those in the government, attempted to control the masses with a variety of flim-flam techniques. Every government system, even democracy (especially democracy), functioned on getting people to look past their own interests to support their superiors mindlessly.

Who is Number One? You are, Number 6#.
    The Prisoner ended with Fallout, a surreal episode demonstrating the central theme of the series through metaphor. Faith, music, human interaction, and love were all keys to expressing our humanity. Also, the greatest enemy of freedom was not some all-powerful government creature but ourselves. We would not be enslaved by those in power if we chose not to be. The Prisoner's refusal to be enslaved results in him becoming truly free.

    This graphic novel has nothing to do with any of that. The novel goes out of its way to try and explain away the surreal ending as the result of the conspiracy using hallucinogens. It also retcons the ending where Number Six escaped to one where he goes mad and stays at the Village when everyone else didn't. Furthermore, it sends his illegitimate daughter (he was only engaged in the series) back to the island to recover him. There's also a nonsensical plot regarding nuclear weapons hidden at the village.

    The graphic novel insists on an ending to The Prisoner which makes coherent sense, more in the style of the original episodes, than the latter. The thing is, the novel isn't all that more coherent than anything else in the novel. It explains the British government was behind the Village, more or less, and gives answers to questions which really didn't need them. None of the mysteries answered make things more entertaining--only answered.

    The art in the book is lovely with a very good color scheme as well as designs. The colors evoke emotion and the artist has successfully captured both Patrick Mcgoohan and Leo McKern's likenesses. It's just a pity the book doesn't really have anything interesting to say or add to the mythos. I don't recommend fans of The Prisoner check it out. The series stands alone.


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