Advertisements

Tag Archive: prestige format comic books


Review by C.J. Bunce

The Prisoner: Shattered Visage was one of the first prestige format comics from DC Comics.  Having the publication style of the recently released Batman: The Dark Knight Returns from 1986, it beckoned this teen reader with the very same mystery and appeal that The X-Files would tap seven years later.  But in the pre-streaming world, The Prisoner–the 1960s British television series upon which Shattered Visage would stamp a final chapter–was long gone, possibly never to be seen again, when the comic book was released two decades later.  So five decades later and The Prisoner resurfaced again last year with a new tale in comic book form as The Prisoner: The Uncertainty Machine (see our review here at borg).  And as luck would have it, the 16 episodes and a pilot of The Prisoner are now freely there to watch over and over thanks to Amazon Prime.  As a further celebration of 50 years of The Prisoner, in two weeks Titan Comics is reprinting The Prisoner: Shattered Visage in a new edition, with bonus never-before-published artwork, and an afterword by writer Dean Motter.

The 1967 spy show was written by, created by, and starred Patrick McGoohan, and British, followed by American, viewers were dropped for the first time into The Village.  A spy quits the spygame and is soon abducted, trapped in a quirky seaside resort known only as The Village, where he is interrogated and exposed to the oddest sorts of psychological manipulation to get him to spill his secrets.  Filmed on set in real-life Portmeirion, the look of The Village cemented the show as a TV classic.  In 1988 Shattered Visage writer Dean Motter with The Prisoner enthusiast Mark Askwith created a new four chapter arc in comic book form, as immensely satisfying and compelling as the show, re-introducing the characters of Number Two and Number Six.  But this story finds them at the end of their journey as the next guest of The Village arrives, an ex-spy named Alice Drake, whose sailing vacation takes a strange turn, leaving her marooned in The Village with them.

The setting of The Village is only part of the original show that was perfectly recreated for the 1988 comic book series.  Artists David Hornung and colorist Richmond Lewis were required to have each page of the story approved by McGoohan and they and the writers later received a further endorsement from the show’s co-star Leo McKern.  The photo-real images of both actors bolster the story, shown in the story both at the time of the show and as aged twenty years later.  Objects, colors, even props from the original show appear throughout the story, immersing the reader in this strange world of manipulation, conspiracy, privacy, challenges to freedom, and mind control.  Motter and Askwith include new secrets about The Village, and 33 years after the comic book release it remains compelling stuff with or without exposure to the TV show.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Review by C.J. Bunce

Comparable in every way to the team-up with Green Lantern and Black Canary in the famed Dennis O’Neill and Neal Adams run on Green Lantern in the early 1970s beginning with Issue #76, Mike Grell would take over the artwork on the O’Neill/Adams run sporadically for the next ten issues and create more than 80 issues about the bow-wielding superhero for the next two decades.  A four-issue series featuring Green Arrow would prove relatively unnoticed in 1983 (without Grell onboard), but in 1987 everything in comic books would change as Grell returned to Green Arrow with his three-issue series The Longbow Hunters Hot on the heels of the previous year’s groundbreaking, prestige format series The Dark Knight Returns, The Longbow Hunters was the perfect dark and gritty follow-up story only this time it presented the superhero lead inside the ongoing narrative of the DC series at the time.  It was Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance, relocating from Star City to Seattle, and the DC Universe became more grounded in reality.  The success of The Longbow Hunters gave Grell the opportunity to take Oliver Queen (referred to in-story as Green Arrow only once in his stories) to the next level in the late 1980s, cementing the superhero as a title character in his own right.  DC Comics has reprinted The Longbow Hunters, and in recent years it has been peppering the market with reprints of Grell’s fantastic storytelling and sometimes artwork for 80 issues from 1988 to 1993.  DC Comics has now released the last of Grell’s incredible run on the Green Arrow monthly in its ninth collection from the series, Green Arrow: Old Tricks.

Green Arrow: Old Tricks is an even greater DC release because it also bundles in Grell’s last work of the era on Green Arrow in the 1993 four-part mini-series Green Arrow: The Wonder Year.  Unlike the past few years of the monthly series, which was illustrated primarily by Rick Hoberg and inker John Nyberg, Grell both wrote and illustrated the official Post-Crisis on Infinite Earths origin story in this mini-series along with inker Gray Morrow.  Along with the origin story that would stand until writer Andy Diggle and artist Jock’s mini-series Green Arrow: Year One in 2007, we see a flashback of Oliver Queen in the heyday of his 1970s “man of the people” political activism.  As for the story at the end of Grell’s run on the monthly comic and the mini-series, Grell went out with a bang.  The stories both hone in on the women in Queen’s life, primarily Dinah, but also Shado and a fling with a local woman half his age, all while Queen is out battling bad guys inside and outside of the city.   Grell’s story is great and the artwork by Hoberg and Grell equally vivid and compelling.

In the section of Green Arrow: Old Tricks reprinting the monthly ongoing series are four stories: the two-part “Trigger,” the single-issue “Auld Acquaintance,” the three-part “Killing Camp,” and the two-part “New Dogs Old Tricks.”  The most memorable to readers of the series will be the New Year’s Eve story “Auld Acquaintance.”  After 80+ issues of Oliver Queen messing up his romance with Dinah Lance, she finally says “goodbye” for good in the series pretty 75th anniversary issue.  Oliver then gets away from it all thanks to a story that calls back to Grell’s own real-life intelligence work, as Queen teams up with Eddie Fyres in a good ol’ James Bond-inspired adventure.

Continue reading