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The Prisoner

Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

The Prisoner: By Hook or By Crook The Prisoner
"By Hook or by Crook"
The Prisoner Book b
Story by Dean Motter and Mark Askwith
Illustrated by Dean Motter
Colored by David Hornung and Richmond Lewis


Alice Drake is made welcome in the Village.


Read the summary of the mini-series at Wikipedia


Characters appearing or mentioned in this issue


Alice Drake

Number 6

Thomas Drake

Director of Operations Ross

Martin Lake (mentioned only, possibly deceased)

Meagan Drake (mentioned only)

Lee West

Number 2 


Didja Know?


This study is of the second issue of the 4-issue mini-series titled simply The Prisoner, published by DC Comics in 1988-89, based on the 1967 TV series. The trade paperback compilation was titled The Prisoner: Shattered Visage.


The individual issues of the mini-series are labeled books a-d (rather than the typical numbering convention). This may be a nod to the episode titled "A. B. and C."


Didja Notice?


This issue it titled "By Hook or by Crook", a phrase used by Number 2 during the opening credits of most episodes of the TV series in stating they will get information out of Number 6, "By hook or by crook." The phrase is an English one meaning "by any possible means".


The cover of this issue features the former Number 2 played by actor Leo McKern in the TV series holding an X'd out photo of Number 6. The photo, with X's, is the one seen during the opening credits of most of the TV episodes, indicating that the operative is no longer with the agency.

The Prisoner #2


On page 4, Alice wakes up in Number 6's old cottage, finding a note reading "Welcome to your home from home." This same message greeted Number 6 in that same cottage in the first episode of the TV series, "Arrival".


On page 6, one of Alice's choices of wardrobe includes a shirt with images of a penny-farthing covering it. There is also a tie with images of a pawn chess piece on it.


The journal entry of "Arrived today...--Made very welcome" that Alice finds in the bureau on page 6 is similar to that found by Number 6 in "Arrival".


On pages 7 and 8, Number 6 says to Alice, "Rise and shine. Life is for living." These phrases were spoken by the Village announcer over the P.A. system in "Dance of the Dead".


The umbrella Number 6 carries in this issue is not the same one he had in hand when he was introduced at the end of "A(r)rival".


Number 6 says that Darjeeling tea is his favorite.


On page 10, Director of Operations Ross asks Thomas if he's having Shreddies for breakfast (as Thomas is shredding pages of documents in a shredder). Shreddies is a wheat-based breakfast cereal, largely sold in the UK and Canada.


The document shredder Thomas is using is a Walton 500. This appears to be a fictitious manufacturer.


On page 11, Ross says the storm that Alice ran into (in "A(r)rival") was hurricane Judith. There was no real world hurricane by this name in 1989.


On page 12, notice that the Mini-Moke that Number 6 drives has a hand-painted license plate on it reading KAR 120C, the licnese plate number of his Lotus Seven in London.


Also on page 12, Number 6 repeats his traditional phrase, "I am not a number. I am a free man."


On pages 16-17, Number 6 asks Alice to pick a number from 1-4 while writing down a number himself on a slip of paper. She picks "3" and he shows her the slip of paper...he correctly predicted she would pick "3", saying almost everyone picks "3" due to subliminal conditioning from civilization. It is true that most people tend to pick "3" when asked to pick from 1-4, though the reason why is not exactly clear. Psychological experts speculate that people tend to not want to choose the outliers in most situations, so that eliminates 1 and 4, leaving a choice between 2 and 3. "3" has more sociological cache than "2" generally speaking; we've heard about 3 wishes from a genie, etc.


On page 18, panel 3, Number 6 and Alice are standing next to the bronze Hercules statue seen in "Arrival".


On page 19, Number 6 tells Alice he "fell out" from the Village, a reference to the final episode of the TV series, "Fall Out".


In the last panel of page 19, Number 2 is seen exiting a room that looks like the Embryo Room from "Once Upon a Time".


When Number 6 places his coat over Alice's shoulders against the cold on page 24, his left hand appears to be drawn with five fingers, not including the thumb!


On page 30, Thomas and Lee meet at the Hope and Anchor pub. In "Checkmate", Number 6 has said the Hope and Anchor is a pub he used to drink at. There are a number of pubs in England by that name, but the one depicted here does not appear to match any of the ones I've found.


Lee tells Thomas that the High Eye tells him that Alice arrived in the Village. Some sources refer to the large electronic eye in the Control Room of the Village as the High Eye.


When Thomas hears that Alice's catamaran was severely damaged in the hurricane and she is now marooned in the Village, he begins to fear that it's all over, but Lee assures him it doesn't have to be another Hasenfus fiasco. This may be a reference to the real world case of Eugene Hasenfus, a U.S. civilian who was allegedly hired by the CIA to deliver supplies to the Nicaraguan Contras, who was shot down in an airplane in October 1986 over Nicaragua and captured, causing headaches for the CIA and U.S. government and helping to uncover the illicit Iran-Contra Affair, which resulted in the indictments of a number of government and military officials and employees and put a stain on the legacy of President Ronald Reagan's administration.


On page 32, Number 2 says, "Well come," as Alice awakens in his office. This phrase was also used as an alternative to "Welcome" in "Fall Out". He then says, "At last! Delighted to see you!" A different Number 2 said the same thing to Number 6 in "Arrival".


A shadowed or otherwise partially obscured figure who appears to be the Butler is seen in Number 2's office. His face is never seen. Possibly, DC did not obtain the rights to actor Angelo Muscat's likeness, or it may be that the face is left obscured as a memorium to Muscat, who was long deceased by the time this mini-series was written.


On page 35, when Number 2 says, "There are many unanswered questions," Alice responds, "Questions are a burden," and Number 2 comes back, "'And answers a prison for oneself.'" An almost identical Village propaganda slogan is seen on a sign in the Labour Exchange Office in "Arrival": "Questions are a burden to others, answers a prison for oneself."


On page 37, Number 2 tells Alice that the Village was a beautiful place, "almost like a world of its own--a Wonderland." This is another reference to Alice in Wonderland. The Village was also compared to Wonderland in The Prisoner's Dilemma, Number Two and A Day in the Life.


On page 38, Number 2 quotes, "Stone walls do not a prison make, or iron bars a cage." This is a quote from the 1642 poem "To Althea, from Prison" by Richard Lovelace. Some speculate this poem may have also been the inspiration for Emily Brontë's 1846 poem "The Prisoner".


Number 2 tells Alice that Number 6 murdered him and shows her a photo on the wall screen of Number 6 kneeling over his body. This is a shot from "Once Upon a Time".


Number 2 states that Number 6 used the aliases of Jacques Duval in France, Friedrich Schmidt in Germany, and John White in Canada (John White was also an alias used by McGoohan's character of John Drake in the Danger Man episode "A Date with Doris"). He also states that the former operative had the code name Uriel and code number ZM-73. The code number ZM-73 was used for him in "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling", but this is the first time the code name "Uriel" has been heard of; it is interesting to note that the name "Uriel" was the name of the one of the archangels of Rabbinic tradition in the Hebrew Bible and a higher group of operatives called the Arch-Angels (not to mention another group called the Gods!) is mentioned by Thomas in "A(r)rival". Was our Number 6 once a member of this Arch-Angels group?


On page 42, the images of Number 6 projected on the walls of Number 2's office are all scenes from various episodes of the TV series.


Also on page 42, Number 2 seems to claim that Number 6 would not bend, so he finally broke and christened himself Number 1 (his version of the events of "Fall Out").

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