The comic has a long, odd history that is retold very well in Chris Hatfield’s “Once Upon A Time: Kirby’s Prisoner“.
These seventeen pages have a peculiar resonance – indeed, it’s tempting to read them as an allegory of Kirby’s own professional situation in the mid-’70s. As Chris Harper has observed, Kirby’s version of No. 6 resembles himself, sometimes remarkably so. That Kirby’s hero should be square-faced and rugged is hardly surprising, yet the resemblance between the Prisoner and the artist goes beyond this in its specificity. The brooding eyes and taciturn mouth recall McGoohan, of course, but the face and figure also recall Kirby’s familiar self-image: broad-nosed, compact, pugnacious. More importantly, the story – about a man resigning his position as “a matter of principle,” only to find that he is once again in the grip of an unprincipled power – seems to echo Kirby’s departure from Marvel, the frustration of his ambitions at DC, and his return to Marvel under a new set of editorial restraints. Such conjectures, of course, fascinate us precisely because they cannot be confirmed or unconfirmed, only pondered.
The comic can be read at Forces of Geeks’ “Read Jack Kirby’s THE PRISONER!”
A hardcover with the comic and other content is available too.