Readers of The Lost Art

V for Vendetta

March 4th, 2009

V for Vendetta 

Writer: Alan Moore

Artist: David Lloyd

Reviewer: Louise


It’s hard to know where to begin with a review of “V for Vendetta”, except possibly with the words: “I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy!”.  Along with “From Hell” and “Watchmen”, “V for Vendetta” is one of Alan Moore’s masterworks, a seminal work in the history of graphic novels.

However, I shall give it a go. The plot of V is as follows: in an alternative history, Britain in 1998 lies under the control of a fascist government. All resistance has been eliminated, except for a mysterious terrorist; Codename V. When V rescues a young woman, Evey Hammond, from arrest and assault at the hands of several corrupt policemen, the stage is set for his final assault upon the fascist state…

Moore began writing this in the 1980s, and his rage at Thatcherism and Thatcher’s Britain in general is apparent throughout the novel. As with all imaginings of the future, it has dated slightly. In particular, the sequence where one character takes LSD to enhance his understanding of V and the situation he finds himself in reads somewhat oddly from the perspective of 2007.

However, in an odd way the book has perhaps become more topical – and radical – than ever. Moore makes no bones about the fact that, from the point of view of the state authorities at least, V is a terrorist, willing to blow up buildings, kill state officials and even imprison and torture his allies if necessary. Though we’re not on the side of the authorities, the book does challenge us to ask ourselves if V’s extreme methods are really essential and, if so, what sort of new society can emerge if he succeeds.

V himself, of course, is a cipher. We never learn his real name or the identity of the man behind the Guy Fawkes mask, and by the end of the book, it no longer matters, as there is nothing left of him except for his crusade. We, like Evey, must decide what path is the right one to follow when the old order has been destroyed.

It would be pointless to recommend reading this book, since, along with Watchmen, and The Dark Knight Returns, it’s one of those books you have to read if you’re even a small fan of graphic novels. But, nevertheless… you need to read it. Right now. If you haven’t already.

A note on the film [SPOILERS]:
I did enjoy the film of V for Vendetta, although the complex themes of Moore’s work have obviously been considerably simplified in order to create a two-hour thriller. As a fan of the book, it’s easy to spot all the “missing bits”, and I found the best way to enjoy it was to stop doing that, and enjoy it as a thriller. Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman really are very good, and Stephen Fry’s turn as Evey’s doomed friend Gordon Dietrich lifts the film considerably. It still deserves watching as one of the few mainstream films brave enough to suggest that the Houses of Parliament being blown up is something we should all cheer!

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Titan Books Ltd (14 April 2000)
Language English
ISBN-10: 1852862912

(First published 16/08/2007.)

Comments are closed.