Catching Up With The Prisoner #2: You’re In The Village

by Richard Bruton

It’s 50 years since The Prisoner burst onto US TV screens in 1968, a spectacular mix of surrealism and spy fiction invention, masterminded by the creative imagination of its star, Patrick McGoohan. His retired spy found himself, post-resignation, in the Village.

Again, to bring you up to date, the perfect summary of the Village, from issue 1:

“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.”

For this 50th anniversary, Peter Milligan and Colin Lorimer are taking us back to the mysterious Village. Issue one was a massive success, as I told you in the review. Issue two…

In issue one, we saw Breen, a British MI5 agent, on a nightmare mission to the Middle East where he lost his lover and fellow agent, Carey. But she’s not dead, she’s in the Village. And the people behind the Village want the highly classified information in her head.

He’s ordered by his station-head to infiltrate the Village and kill Carey before she has no choice but to spill what she knows. But Breen refuses, quits MI5 and runs, looking to get into the Village for his own ends. To free Carey he plans to trade the secrets of Project Pandora, and in stealing Pandora, he’s now a target for both the Village and his former employers.

Unsurprisingly, by the end of issue one, Breen woke up in a very familiar room. He’s in the Village, and they’re in his head…

Breen’s under psychological torture, daily sessions to attempt to break him, and the others in here with him.

Well, the whole Pandora thing might be a massive macguffin, and yes, the whole Pandora’s box thing is there. But this series is all about spycraft, about the issues of identity besetting any spy. And now that he’s inside the Village, all of that is ramped up so much, with no-one seemingly without their own secrets. Milligan’s carefully layering the characters so that we’re really never sure exactly who is here for what reasons, just as we should be. And, of course, just as Breen does as he attempts an escape wondering if it’s perhaps all been too easy, we’re expecting everything to be turned on its head with every turn of the page.

On which note…the turn of the page to the final, climactic moment of the issue is a shocker. No spoilers, obviously, but it’s going to be fascinating seeing Milligan write his way out of it with anything other than “he woke up and it was all a dream”. But, I’ll be waiting to see just how he does it. Because, just as issue 1 was a great opener, issue 2 keeps it all going, layering on the paranoia, the intrigue just wonderfully.

Lorimer’s art is good throughout the issue, with the expressive tones in flashbacks a real highlight. There’s something of Alan Davis in his figure work, never a bad thing to be influenced by a master. There’s enough in each page to deliver both visual information and strong storytelling, with a good sense of flow through the panels. It’s the sort of artwork that doesn’t necessarily scream “genius” from the page, it’s just incredibly well-crafted sequential storytelling, never flashy, not trying to out-do the writer at every turn, just working in synergy, just as it should.

The Prisoner Issue #2 is out right now from Titan Comics. Written by Peter Milligan, art by Colin Lorimer, colors by Joana LaFuente, letters by Simon Bowland, and editing plus original plot by David Leach.

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