To understand 'V For Vendetta', you have to understand the times in which it was written. Britain of the 1980s was wracked by recession and with discontent against the Conservative government. Hanging over this was the ever-present Cold War mentality.
The premise of this book is that the Conservative government are voted out (as Moore expected at the time, but which didn't come to pass) and the new Labour government insists on nuclear disarmament. So it is that when the Cold War becomes World War 3, Britain is uninvolved, but not unaffected.
As nuclear fallout affects the weather and radiation causes widespread death a fascist regime rises to offer England stability and order. The price for this is the internment and execution of blacks, homosexuals, liberals and all those who don't conform to the fascist ideals. The future Moore paints is a bleak and painfully believable one.
However, one man decides to destroy this new order so that freedom can be rebuilt from the rubble. The man is known only as V. When it comes down to it, V is the greatest element of this book. He's cultured, witty, mysterious, charismatic and ruthless. Also, David Lloyd's design of the character as a man dressed in a smiling mask and Guy Fawkes costume is inspired. My favourite bit of the book is when V sneaks into the home of a child-abusing bishop and confronts the corrupt clergyman with a Rolling Stones quote; 'Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and taste'.
There are numerous other characters integral to the story; the widow Rose, forced to become a stripper; the Leader, an insane fascist in love with Fate, the computer which effectively controls England; as well as the various heads of the Party. However, there are two characters who reveal about V what he never reveals himself.
The first is Mr. Finch, a police officer tasked with hunting down V, who undertakes a personal quest to understand V's mind (which includes an LSD trip in a death camp).
The other character is Evey. At the beginning she is a helpless girl who turns to prostitution to make ends meet. However, after meeting V she begins an education at his hands in the meaning of freedom which breaks her and then remakes her.
At it's most basic level this book is about freedom, both personal freedom and freedom as an abstract concept. Dark, disturbing and thought-provoking, this book still manages to be exciting and uplifting. Certainly one of the best pieces of literature (not just comic-form) that I've ever read.
An excellent graphic novel by the greatest graphic novelist of them all!
This story was first issued in the early 1980's, as part of a British comic book called 'Warrior'. It was concluded in the late 1980's, after 'Warrior' had ceased operating and DC Comics had taken over the title.
The story is set in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic (alternative history) Britain in the 1990s. A fascist state has arisen, led by the Norsefire party. Opponents of the state are rounded up in concentration camps and exterminated. A revolutionist - and anarchist - named 'V' (dressed in black and wearing a Guy Fawkes mask) has designed a complex and elaborate plan to bring down the government, and to convince the people of the need to rise up and rebel. As this plan is put into motion, V meets a young woman, Evey Hammond, who joins him on his quest.
This is an excellent book. The titular character and protagonist - V - is a great anti-hero. The political ideas invoked in the story, centering on anarchism and fascism, are dealt with in a sophisticated manner.
This graphic novel serves as the basis for the 2006 film, which I thought was well done.
I fully recommend this item for those interested in reading political-orientated fiction.
on 23 March 2016
Who is V? A simple and profound question, but one loaded with various permutations.
As with any Alan Moore work, the reader must consciously ask what is missing?
Heaped as it is with layer upon layer of symbolism, ciphers, allegories, and metaphors, V for Vendetta is the logical conclusion of the stereotypical comic book hero we all know.
As with that other genre defying work ( Clint Eastwood's High Plains Drifter) Moore presents us with a 'hero' we think we know, and one who's motivation we think we understand.
Scratch away at the surface, and all our assumptions turn to dust. V's back story may or may not be a complete fabrication. His refusal, or disinclination to reveal the face behind the mask, hints at the nihilism, or the epitome of justice as a whim of the universe that rewards the good or punishes the bad.
His adoption of the name V, is itself a mystery, heaped as it is with all manner of symbolic connections from Beethoven's fifth, to Thomas Hobbes' five organs of the nation state, and famously of course, the Guy Fawkes visage, he of 5th of November fame...
And of the story itself? Moore is on record as saying that fascism is the complete abdication of political responsibility, with anarchy it's polar opposite, as V, takes his political responsibility to the next level - destroying the apparatus of an England under the fascist yoke, before famously dying as though his entire life was nothing more than a Greek tragedy.
Moore also famously said that most superheroes were themselves masked fascists, doling out justice, and living by their own code. The irony is not lost on V as he sweeps his foes from the board.
V's death, however, presents us with one of the stories main flaws - the V shaped hole within the story when V departs the stage. Even the welcome, but well worn themes of Bildungsroman (Evie's coming of age, and the inspector's redemption for abdicating his responsibilities) can fill this void. Nor can any explanation of Adam Susan's motives compensate for the fact that although the road to hell is paved with good intentions, it's well worn by the time it reaches V.
That being said, V remains a powerful and thoughtful piece of work, raising the genre above simplistic tropes of good and evil, and going beyond it, in the manner of a well known German philosopher.
on 23 June 2001
I expected a lot of this Graphic Novel, but it was even better. This one really blew me of my socks. What we get to see is an alternative timeline in which Germany actually won World War II and where England has turned into a fascist state. People live very cautious and affraid because everything they say or do is being monitored, and they've been overly restricted by their own government. Then oneday a mystic figure appears and he rocks the city. He murders people of importance, he blows up government buildings, and nobody knows a single thing of who he is or why he does the things he does, except that he's codenamed himself V. Meanwhile V takes a little girl under his wing who he teaches things about his history, about herself and about what is happening. But over time the government is getting closer too. Along the story more and more is explained about who V is, about what moves V, about the real consequences the war has cost and about the value of a free will. All this is illustrated very appropriatly by David Lloyd in a bit of a cinematic style. This makes the flow of the story even better. For me personally this is the best Alan Moore Graphic Novel I've read so far and I would easily recommend it to everyone who is looking for something more than superheroes. Even when you're normally not that much into comicbooks this could very possibly still be one heck of a ride for you ...
on 2 March 2007
First watch the entertaining film.
Then read the wonderful book.
I have recently read the book twice within a month (I borrowed it from the local library but it's on my Amazon wish list) and was blown away by it. I haven't read a comic for years - probably not since I was in my early teens (too many years ago to work out) - but this book was everything a book should be but in graphic novel form. Extremely well drawn and incredibly well written. Intelligent use of language; great plot and great characters. While the story is similar to the film version once you have read the book you realise how much has been changed. I'm past getting too upset over films not following the book as closely as I'd prefer and have long since forgiven Peter Jackson for some major changes to Lord of The Rings. Similarly I'll forgive the Wachowski brothers and James McTeigue for cutting out swathes of the book and changing the story-line to fit 120 minutes or so. However once you have read the book you'll realise how much better the original version is. It makes more sense and while leaving one or two things hanging it feels right.
Warning - just because it's in comic format it doesn't mean it's a child's book. I'd say 12 or over and that would depend on the child's maturity.
The classic story by Alan Moore. The story of Evie and how she meets V in a dystopian Britain under the jackboot of a tyrannical right wing dictator. V rescues Evie from the Finger and helps her to throw off the shackles of the party and become free. This is the book that inspired the Guy Fawkes mask we see in protests worldwide, a meme that unites those struggling against state control and the oligarchs and corporations who avoid taxes while our public services are slashed to fund them.
La lutte continue!
on 3 November 2002
I tend to listen to friends advice very often, and I also happen to like being generous when I by them Christmas presents. So a friend of mine talked alot about how much he wanted to read From Hell by Moore. So I bought it as a Christmas present for him, mostly because I wanted to read it myself. And we both liked it. Later, I owed the same guy some money, and after listening to him muttering that V for Vendetta might just be even more brilliant, I bought it to him too. And it was awesome. I have always been a little scared of superhero books, and I never really liked Batman or Punisher very much. But this was beyond great. The hero is so extremely complex and sophisticated, that any comparison to the more famous superheroes is impossible. And the setting is really one of the best grim futures I've encountered in any literature or movie.
Set in London in some future, the world has been torn apart by some great war, and several continents are wiped out. England has prevailed. And now she is being controlled by a totalitarean (is that a word) and facsist government, who seem to put her future in the hands of the all knowing computer Fate. Anyone who strays from the ideals and looks the government want, are arrested and taken to camps. In this future, music, art and literature is forbidden, unless it is approved by the government, and not much is. In the middle of this we follow Eve, a young girl lost in the city and drawn to prostitution to survive, and her mysterious captor/savior V, a terrorist and visionary, who tries to turn England back to what it were before the war.
If you like Neil Gaiman or Garth Ennis, you'll love V for Vendetta, also if you like any story about dark futures, like George Orwell's 1984 (well that's more a dark past).
Now I really look forward to buying "The Watchmen" and "Swamp Thing". Guess my friend is too.
on 6 February 2007
Back to graphic novels after a long absence, I had never read V before, but ordered a copy.
Lets just say I'm not often motivated enough by a book or CD to want to review it on Amazon, but this book does.
Absolutely superb read, complex story with super characters. Really couldn't put this one down.
After reading, immediately watched the movie which has had mixed reviews. In my view not a truly bad film at all, but a far cry from the book with some serious storyline changes. I mention this because if you have seen the film, dont let that cloud your judgement of whether to read the book.
The book is a lot more sinister - due to its age it actually carries a wonderful style - very Orwellian, very Brazil (The film, not the country!).
Please read, its well worth it.
on 6 September 2001
Collected from the cult early eighties British comic, 'Warrior', Moore and Lloyd's chilling V for Vendetta portrays a chilling alternate Britain which has sucumbed to fascism after a nuclear altercation has destroyed most of the world. In a bleak and violent society, only the strangely Jacobean vigilante 'V' seems to act as a force for good.
As with Orwell's 1984, Moore and Lloyd's 1982 vision of Britain in '1997' is no less potent now that the year itself has been and gone. Darkly brilliant stuff. Lloyd's art has never been better and after this, The Watchmen and 2000AD's greatest ever story, The Ballad of Halo Jones, can there be any doubt that Alan Moore is the greatest writer in British comics today?
on 15 January 2003
V for Vendetta is not a graphic novel, comic book or piece of literature. It is an experience. At the heart of the story is the chapter entitled 'Valerie'. I challenge anyone to read this chapter and not cry their eyes out and yet at the same time be uplifted. And that is V for Vendetta in a nutshell. It will break your heart and twist you up inside and yet leave you feeling strangely happy through your tears. And how many works in any media, comics, novels, films or tv, can you say that about? V's insane, Evey's hopelessly lost and the whole Valerie thing might all be part of his deranged imagination. And yet it is beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.