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Book Reviews VforVendetta

Published on January 2nd, 2013 | by Michaela Buckley


V for Vendetta – Alan Moore & David Lloyd


I will be discussing events that happen at the end of the Graphic Novel/film. If you have read/seen one then don’t worry about spoilers as they follow the same plot.
Despite how this all reads, any thoughts I have on the political ideologies and morals of characters are purely from an artistic point of view and shouldn’t be considered my favouring either side.

I’ve finally gotten round to reading the V for Vendetta graphic novel, which I have been meaning to do since the film came out, not usually the kind to jump on bandwagons however I freely admit if it weren’t for his apparently crummy adaptations I wouldn’t know who Alan Moore is, I thought it best to start here, as this was Moore’s first real foray into a serialised comic and so I can better look at how his writing style has developed. Alan Moore is no stranger to team ups, but V is his first major work where Moore acts as half of the writing team, the other writer being David Lloyd who hasn’t done a whole lot.

V For VendettaThe novel was conceived in the early 80’s and first run in 1982, the influence of this period is evident in the work and soon put Moore on the map and the film rights were soon sold.

The V for Vendetta film was released in 2005 nearly 20 years after the comic. Moore is notoriously against his comics being made into films and he wasn’t happy with the American’s portrayal of a libertarian V as opposed to an Anarchist one.

V for Vendetta is set in 1997 where England has fallen into an extreme Fascist regime, with racial cleansing, censorship and police rule under the one party Norsefire.

V is the anti-hero protagonist who has taken it upon himself to foil the government’s plans and help to reinstate power to the people. Evey becomes embroiled in V’s vision for the future and the comic follows her as she tries to make sense of V and the world around her.

JOhn Hurt appeared as the victim of a totalitarian regime in 1984 and appears as the Leader in the V for Vendetta film.

John Hurt appeared as the victim of a totalitarian regime in 1984 and appears as the Leader in the V for Vendetta film.

Unlike many graphic novels, V employs heavy dialogue and absolutely no captions or sound effects, the panels are very formulaic and there are usually 2/3 on a line, there are no deviations from the order, the pace is sweeping and quiet and differs from most other comics, especially of this era. I looked at a few manga in comparison to V and found that there are more similarities to them than to ordinary western comics. The action is less melodramatic, albeit not sectioned like manga,there is an extensive use of unusual angles and great use of lighting/shading. In manga this is because they are black and white but in V it is in colour (although originally in B&W) the contrast in light giving a bleak feel to future London and also reflects the noir style dialogue.

The narrative is rich with themes and references to other works, like 1984, one of the things to remember about the conception of V is that it is a work written in England during the 80’s after the Conservatives came into power. Moore wrote V with the idea that the Labour party would win the next General Election and how he perceived their policies could effect a change England, which could spiral into catastrophe. He envisioned a complete removal of America’s nuclear weapons in Britain leaving us defenceless and eventually open to a nuclear strike which damages the countryside, and destroyed the morale, economy and the order of England. It was during this time that Norsefire immediately came into action and seized control and restored order temporarily before then putting some extreme ideas and measures into action. The continued presence of the party led Britain to it’s knees in submission to the Leader, Mr. Susan, a fascist dictator of the new England.

V was a victim to atrocities committed by the party and sought revenge, he adopted anarchy in place of the traditional values of justice and democracy,which he felt were defiled and useless. V states the chaos created by the events near the end of the book will abate and leave anarchy in its place leaving order to be restored. Does V think that Anarchy is the answer even if the world isn’t governed by fascists dictators? If so would V himself have come to the answer of anarchy without suppressors?

The Guy Fawkes mask from V for Vendetta has become synonymous with protest in the UK.

The Guy Fawkes mask from V for Vendetta has become synonymous with protest in the UK.

I think it’s important to take whether anarchy is the answer out of suppositions on V’s character. He knows there is no place for him in the future world, he has lived as a chaotist with anarchist dreams and when he allows himself to be shot, he is figuratively sacrificing his honour and dignity to absolve man of the crimes necessitated by the party for the future.

The book leads you to believe that despite the horrible crimes V commits, he is doing it for humanity and is not entirely ignoble, however, I couldn’t help but wonder. Many of the people of the world of England were happy and what V ended up doing was taking that away from them, he gave Evey and the people of London a realisation they didn’t want. He also at the end of the novel purposely exacerbated problems in order to incite rebellion, he warped information in order to drive humanity to the brink. He killed defenceless people, he killed innocent people, and then through the result of his actions many more are doomed to die. That’s without considering the chance that Anarchy fails.

Is V shaping the world into his own image? It seems as though it isn’t just the citizens who are short sighted and enslaved, V is. Trapped by his past and unable to let go, forcing others to tread his path in order to reach a higher understanding filled with despair and destruction.

Let’s also not forget that V is essentially mad and delusional, having been experimented upon and driven to psychosis.

His life is a theatre, quoting Shakespeare and basing a lot of his life’s ideals and pursuits on the letter V, he never considers the results of his actions or that he is in ways restricting people of their own freedoms. Is this also a part of his anarchical dream?

You have no idea the yaoi infested tripe I had to swim through to find a decent picture.

You have no idea the yaoi infested tripe I had to swim through to find a decent picture.

While thinking more about this I began to think about other characters that are comparable to V.
Most notably Batman and Kira/Light from Deathnote.

All 3 of these anti-hero protagonists are attempting to make the world a better place in their own opinions and all three must undergo trials pressing on their morals and then eventually do things they didn’t wish to for the sake of their ideal worlds.

The difference being that Kira does it to achieve a fascist police state with selfish misguided justifications, Batman must kill the now warped saviour and hero for Gotham in self defence in order to maintain something for them to strive for and V must get rid of the people causing the most obstruction and destroy foundations to encourage the Londoners to save themselves.

Of these Batman and Kira both hide behind a mask. But V doesn’t, he becomes the mask and even upon unveiling remains an ideal.

A lot of the potential depth initially appears lost when one discovers that Alan Moore is an anarchist himself, as at times it seemed like V for Vendetta was a criticism of V and his ideals, I can only hope that these inferences are a product of David Lloyd’s involvement or that Moore has a sense of artistic irony, much like Asimov when he created his 3 laws of robotics (frighteningly used in real life) to control his robots, only to spend every book he wrote finding ways to work around them.

V has faith, he essentially dies as a martyr, he relies on Evey and the Detective Finch reaching the right destination, this along with his conversation with Madame Justice and the quotes from the Bible show that V is deeply spiritual, but not perhaps Christian, something which is very much like the Leader whose obsession with Fate also appears as madness.

I think that as a piece of fiction, V for Vendetta is absolutely fantastic, it shows exactly the amount of depth characters ought to have in entertainment, however, I can’t help but feel everyone gets very stuck onto the anarchy side of things, the film wasn’t bad and the book is more than the sum of its parts to be judged because of the Anonymous Movement.


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