COVER STORIES for 01/29/2006
COVER STORIES INSTALLMENT #38
Welcome to this 38th edition of "Cover Stories," in which I look at a number of comics covers with a common theme!
This week, it's another edition of... Comics They Never Made!
The first of these is a book that could've been Gold Key's greatest triumph, but instead is a prime example of just "not getting it"... the one-shot of "The Prisoner!"
"The Prisoner" was a series that someone at Gold Key apparently got some advance word about, as this issue came out shortly after the debut of the series in the USA. Number 2 in this episode (in case you're not familiar with the series, Number 2 was more or less in charge of The Village, where Number 6 - Patrick McGoohan - was kept a prisoner. Each episode had a new Number 2, who tried to get Number 6 to tell them why he resigned, among other things) was a familiar face, and indeed, he was the only Number 2 to reappear in the series in the closer. Number 2's plan to break Number 6 is to simply leave him alone for a while, letting him go about his business... but at the same time, having bizarre events occur that aren't directly related to Number 6. For example, he has the menu changed at The Restaurant one day, another day he has the Village vehicles painted a different color. The idea is that he thinks Number 6 will be exerting so much effort to determine how all these things are supposed to break him, that he will actually break!
We see most of the action occur from Number 2's point of view, as he arranges for the little changes (like replacing the flowers in the window of Number 2's house, or even switching numbers on some other houses, also switching the numbers of the occupants therein). All this could have been made very interesting, but the pacing and art make it merely boring.
Finally, Number 2 thinks Number 6 must have had enough, and calls him in to see him. We find out that despite all the effort Number 2 made in this plan, it didn't work at all! You see, Number 6 was so focused on his own day-to-day life (including, no doubt, making plans to escape) that he barely noticed all the little changes!
At least, that's what he says, anyway. As Number 6 leaves the Green Dome (where Number 2 lives), he walks by every thing that Number 2 changed and makes some wry comment about it (for example, he criticizes the color choices for the repainted vehicles, and lastly comments that he prefers the new flowers to the old ones anyway).
Why anyone would think this could be an exciting plot is beyond me... there's no action, no adventure, no symbolism whatsoever - it's almost "Prisoner Light"!
McGoohan's own reaction to the book, reportedly, was simply to dismiss it, and refuses to discuss it, as he refuses to discuss "The Prisoner" at all.
Going from one extreme to another...
Apparently, Dell may have produced several issues of a Gilligan's Island comic, but somewhere along the way, they forgot to actually put issue numbers on 'em! Even the indicia doesn't make it clear which issue this is.
The story in this issue is pretty run-of-the-mill for Gilligan's Island... Gilligan accidentally discovers oil on the island, and the Professor figures he can use it to power an engine that will run a boat to get them off the island! This plot is kind of a riff on the episode where Gilligan finds a hot spring, and the castaways basically bleed all the pressure out of it trying to pipe hot water to all the huts.
Anyway... the Professor is trying to build some kind of engine from palm tree trunks and coconut shells (god knows how), and the rest of the castaways are dreaming about the sudden wealth they'll get (after all, oil is valuable, they discovered it, so they each get a share from the proceeds). Obviously, the Howells are not dreaming of their wealth, because it won't be much more than they already have accumulated, unless they get all the others to agree to sell their oil to the Howell Refinery Company, a division of Howell Incorporated.
They have to make extraordinary promises to the other castaways in order to get them to agree (and the castaways are pretty stupid to fall for the plot)... Ginger goes along with it because Thurston promises her he'll buy a studio to make her comeback movie, with the greatest talents in the industry to write, direct, and co-star in the movie (like she wouldn't be able to do that with the wealth she dreams of)... The Skipper signs when he's promised a fleet of boats to sail around the world... Gilligan just wants a lifetime supply of ice cream... and Mary Ann just wants a big farm with lots of animals.
Like I said, pretty stupid, because if they're all going to be wealthy, they could afford to buy all this, right?
Anyway, the Professor finishes building his impossible engine, and the Minnow is repaired and the new engine installed on it. The oil (which has been stored in barrels made from -- yep, palm tree trunks) is brought to the engine, and poured in... the engine starts up (god knows how), and there is much rejoicing.
However, the engine goes out of control, blasting off away from the Minnow, and ends up crashing into the ground near where the oil was found, creating a huge explosion, and opening up the earth... where we find that the oil that was found was just a single large barrel of oil that had apparently washed up on the island back in WWII, and it was pressures of the island volcano pressing against it that caused the oil within to spurt out.
So, of course, the status quo remains the same!
Join me next time for another installment of "Cover Stories," and in the meantime, you can check out my blog at http://waffyjon.blogspot.com for other musings and ramblings by me, or email me with comments about this column at !