on April 4, 2004
Written in the early 1980s, V for Vendetta tells of an England in the then near future of 1997-8. A limited nuclear exchange devastates much of the world while England is directly unaffected. However, the enormous economic and political ramifications of the conflict hurl the nation into anarchy. Out of the ashes arises the fascist Norsefire regime. Sure they restore order to the fallen country, but this is clearly a case of the serum being more lethal than the poison. This new government sends blacks, homosexuals, Jews, and other minorities to death camps. The culture of the pre-War world is now deemed as evil and subversive. A corrupt police force is implemented with the authority to murder suspects if they wish instead of adhering to ideals such as due process. The average citizen is forced to work for starvation wages, and sometimes to crime just to survive. Freedom, democracy, and privacy are as archaic concepts as the world being flat. Then comes V, whose motto is the title of my review. Translated from Latin it means: "By the power of truth, I, while living, have conquered the universe."
Replete with Guy Falkes regalia, V seeks to bring about an end to the Norsefire party through a series of assassinations, bombings, and kidnappings. At first, they appear to be revenge against everyone who worked at the prison camp where V was held. Instead, the plot turns out to be more complicated and planned out than anyone could possibly imagine. V doesn't strike the Norsefire at their body, he strikes for their heart - and never misses. He has a contingency plan in the form of 16 year-old Evey Hammond, a girl he rescues from corrupt cops when she is forced into prostitution by her intolerably low wages. Of course, Evey doesn't agree with all of V's methods; but it is through him that she learns the very essence of freedom, and how she may be the true hope of England in its darkest hour.
VfV is not just a great graphic novel, it is required reading period. So what else can you expect from Alan Moore, who also brought us Watchmen, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and a lot of other things that raised the bar for the comic book medium. I especially love the repeated use of the letter "V" throughout the story. Beware, there is violence, objectionable language, and a little nudity. The violence is really nothing when compared to a title from Marvel's MAX line. The language is pretty much the same thing you'd hear from a PG-13 movie. And the nudity is not for the purpose of titilation, it represents the symbolic idea of freedom. Even with my warning, VfV merits nothing except extreme recommendation from me.
on May 15, 1998
V for Vendetta is the story of an ideal. Not a man, for a man is flesh and blood, but an ideal. You can't kill an ideal.
These are the ideas presented in this very intruguing and fast-paced story. One of comic writer ALAN MOORE's greatest works, "V for Vendetta" is a story that will compell and haunt the reader.
After a devastating nuclear war in 1988, England is brought back together by the facists who have banded and formed the new government that rules with an iron fist. The concentration camps have been set up, and out of them comes a mysterious and almost insane vigilante. "To tell the truth, I do not have a name," he says. "You can call me 'V.' He cavorts about London wearing his Guy Fawkes costume with its smiling paper-mache mask. V sets about his grisly work of vengeance upon the people who wronged him and the system that killed his former self. "I am the Devil, and I come to do the Devil's work." But he has much more up his grey sleeve, as he tells the girl he rescues from police brutality.
Full of believable characters and a gripping plot, V for Vendetta is a look into the human soul, on what drives a man so far, until he pushes himself farther...
on May 24, 2000
One of the most chilling phrases of the last hundred years is, "It couldn't happen here." Which essentially makes the terrifying future portrayed by V For Vendetta all the more possible.
V For Vendetta is set in Britain a decade after a limited nuclear conflict, which thanks to the Labour party removing American missiles from British soil ensures that Britain is not targetted. However the climatic conditions caused by the war end up plunging England into famine and chaos. One party promises an end to anarchy and a return to order, 'Norsefire'.
They are supported by desperate citizens. After they gain power they round up all the blacks, all the asians and gays, all the beatniks and radicals... and kill them. For their belief is in a unified uniformity. Orders are given and followed, no deviations, with a little (very little) bread and circuses thrown in for measure. The horrible absence of any faces other than white faces and the eradication of all culture seen as unfit really shocked me. Moore has always been concerned about Britain's tabloid press and its undercurrant of racism and 'moral values'. It is a concern I share. At a time when hatred for asylum seekers is being whipped up to new extremes by the far right press this is a timely warning.
In this nightmare Britain about four years after the 'final soloution' a terrorist begins to wreak havoc in London. He wears a Guy Fawkes mask and calls himself 'V'. He is after blood. Who is he, or more importantly, what is he? V begins a struggle for the heart and mind of England, a heart and mind that have become complacent and corrupted under the horrible 'better the devil you know' complacency that we are sadly famous for. It is however ordinary people who will decide this conflict, he has just to show us the way.
This is one of the most chilling and enthralling books I have ever read. One of the biggest points of the book is that most people don't want to be evil, but they will go along with it if it leads to a quiet life. This view is hammered home relentlessly. It also incredibly manages to be a ripping yarn at the same time. The look and style of a future Britian under a totalitarian dictatorship is wonderfully rendered by David Lloyd who draws everything in a wonderful gritty, harsh, sleezy style. This is arguably Moore's greatest work, it is certainly his most vicious and pointed. An important thing to take into account though is that Moore was primarily directing this at English audiences, the comic only got an American distribution later. As such there may be several cultural characteristics that may cause to the unfamiliar reader several vicious points to fall short. No matter, this book was intended to show Britian how it could happen here, and by implication how it could happen anywhere. Do not be complacent. England prevails!
on November 6, 2009
The rates I have mentioned above speak for themselves. I however want to elaborate a little bit more on the "B" given to the story.
I really appreciated the background developed by Moore regarding both V and the political events that have followed the nuclear war. I have also enjoyed the dialogues related to fascism and anarchy, and the mystery surrounding everything that V does. However, I do not understand where the author was going with the Leader of the fascist government. I would have expected this character to be more important, scheming and combative. His infatuation with Fate, the computer system, left me clueless. I wasn't too convinced either by the relevance of the character of Rose Almond. The episodes where she was involved appeared weaker to my eyes. The bottom line probably is that V is such an original character, developed by Moore and illustrated by Lloyd so fantastically well, that the other characters were outshined and appeared weaker from a story perspective in my opinion. The end result is that I will remember more this graphic novel for its main character than for the story itself.
One of the latest gritty, dark graphic novels to be adapted to film was "V for Vendetta," based on Alan Moore's futuristic comic of the same name. But as usual, the source is the most compelling.
First published in the early 1980s, Moore painted a frightening future where there is only one man who can challenge the fascist system. Is he an anarchic madman, or a freedom-loving visionary? Readers will have to decide for themselves, but the story is a fascinating action story that raises quite a few questions.
The year is 1998 (okay, pretend it's an alternate reality), and Britain is ruled by a fascist regime, and dominated by a shadowy figure. Order is the law. Blacks, gays, Muslims and Jews are relegated to concentration camps, where they are tortured with medical experiments and evil priests. The one exception is a horribly scarred man, who blew his way out with a homemade bomb. He donned a Guy Fawkes mask, and calls himself V, for he "has no name."
One night he rescues a young prostitute, Evey, from a bunch of thuggish policemen, whisks her down into his hidden base, and involves her in a trap-and-murder plot. Evey is both repulsed and fascinated by V's plots, especially when she is interrogated. And when an order-obsessed policeman closes in on V, both he and Evey must accept their fates.
"V For Vendetta" is a thinking-reader's comic. Fascism and anarchy -- both concepts that Moore clearly understands -- are timeless concepts that pop up periodically throughout human history. So even though 1998 came and went long ago, "V For Vendetta" is an intelligent, deeply compelling story that still resonates in its readers.
Moore's London is a rather dank, dismal place, apparently reflecting the government. He knows how to chill his readers with a diversity-free England that seems a lot like Nazi Germany. Even nonessential scenes like Evey's interrogation are absolutely harrowing. But he can also tug at the heartstrings, such as when Evey reads Valerie's letters.
And Dave Lloyd's artwork is rather flat and a bit faded-looking, though this is not very distracting. But despite the ordinary art, the novel is brought to life by the solid characters and surreal illustrations, with V as the most surreal of all -- just look at that creepy smiling mask.
At first glance, V is a vigilante hero in the tradition of Zorro -- the government is oppressive, and he's trying to take it down. But V is not a plaster hero, and his actions can be very morally ambiguous. Is he a hero or a madman? Did those experiments make him psychotic, or did they just give him courage? Moore leaves it up to our imaginations what he is. By the end, V has become less a person than an ideal.
"V For Vendetta" is a memorable, somewhat frightening graphic novel, which will leave you thinking about what you might do in such a world. A deserving classic.
on March 6, 2006
I'll have to admit I was reluctant to give this product less than the full five stars. The concept is brilliant, the main character is unique and instantly likeable, the setting is well thought out, and the execution is clever, if a bit slow. The problem, for me, was the art. I have to admit it was rather unique, with a heavy influence from the more classic DC style. However it's painted in watercolor and the contrast and depth of the color is extremely poor. On top of that, it's printed on cheap pulp paper, which is just puzzling: It's just been turned into a huge movie license by the Wachowski brothers, and even says so on the cover. So why would they print their merchandise, so recently equated to printing money, on the lowest-quality paper available?
Who knows. Not only are the colors poor, the images tend to fade off. Every copy I've seen so far has had pieces of its art and text rubbed out due to the low-quality ink used.
This comic deserves to be called a classic, and as such deserves to be treated like one. This should be in hardcover with glossy paper and good ink, but it's not.
I suggest reading this comic, but I couldn't reccommend buying it, because in its current form, it just won't last. You should also check out Giorgio Kostantinos's Quest series for another action-packed thriller.
on July 17, 2004
In the early 1980's, Alan Moore (Watchmen, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, From Hell, chances are if you're reading this you know the list) began this chilling work. In an alternate world, it's 1997, and America and the Soviets have nuked each other to extinction. England is left, now under a fascist regime, and everything seems to be under control, until a mysterious terrorist, wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and calling himself V, begins picking off government officials and destroying buildings and monuments. Moore's storytelling is nothing short of chilling; from the basic element of the loss of freedom to a totalitarian government to just who really fights for good (is it V or the government?), V For Vendetta is nearly unforgettable. That combined with David Lloyd's ultra eerie washed out color art make this one of the most chilling works in the world of comics you'll ever likely find. It's not as profound or as important as Moore's Watchmen or his Swamp Thing run, but this is still worth reading.
on July 6, 2004
A vision of a totalitarian future of Britian cut off from contact with the rest of the world (which may no longer exist), this story is very indiciative of the time when Alan Moore started it, the early 1980s. It's a bleak view of the future from the British culture that gave us punk rock and Max Headroom. Compared to them, this is somewhat optimistic. However, it's also obvious that Moore didn't finish the story soon after he started it, instead returning to it years later (sometime during his work on DC's _The Watchmen_). There is a change in the outlook and a bit of a rushed feel towards the end.
There are two protagonists in this story: the vigilante, a terrorist who takes on the totalitarian government while dressed as Guy Fawkes, and the girl he saves from government thugs and then mentors. But Moore follows the lives of a number of characters, from party officials to cheap thugs, and views this world through their eyes. The characterizations of these people making their lives in an oppressive regime is realistic. The change of views is also a nice parallel to the story's all-seeing computer and camera system that the vigilante hacks into and slowly takes control of.
Moore doesn't make the vigilante, known as V, impossibly pure. In fact, V's manipulation of the somewhat innocent wife of a party official, Rose, is harsh. He justifies his cruel manipulations as necessary to create a natural outcome of anarchy. And he seems to place art above people at times -- a truly complex character.
This is not Moore's most mature work, but there is an energy and imagination here that is excellent, and the pacing works well. Others' comparissons to Orwell's work and even _Lord of the Flies_ are well earned. Although I disagree with some of the politics Moore champions, I think the internal logic of the story is sound, as are most of the characters' motives and actions. Moore presents what kind of people really make up a despotic state.
The art is also not up to modern standards, instead confined to the format of the British magazine it was originally serialed in. That's best viewed as an amusing artifact.
Without a doubt, this book shows its age -- as much as _1984_, _Animal Farm_, and other politically-oriented fables do. Times change, but futuristic stories are more about the times they're written in than the future. And this is a fable with a definite (political) moral -- despite the rest of the story's subtlety and shadings.
on June 26, 2004
Many of the themes here seem strange coming from Alan Moore, frankly. Other reviewers have called the work "Orwellian", but actually, it's closer to a British version of Ayn Rand, as the story is closer thematically to "Anthem" and even parts of "Atlas Shrugged" than "1984".
And that seems odd to me. Alan Moore definitely does not seem to be the Ayn Rand type, and I'm sure he's not a fan of her economic beliefs or even her rational philosphy, but he's borrowing directly from the absolutist nature of her heroes (V is as sure of himself as John Galt ever was) and he's painting a portrait of the nature of freedom that closely matches Rand's (tying freedom together with identity, ala "Anthem").
Anyway, "V for Vendetta" is dated in that the story takes place in a "future" time that we are already well past, but the story itself is timeless in ways that WATCHMEN can never be. Whereas WATCHMEN plays with comics conventions and now shows the age of those very industy trends, VENDETTA took a different approach, trying to be it's own entity. As such, it still stands alone as a unique and inventive story.
on May 25, 2004
Just re-read 'V for Vendetta' again, to see what I thought of it after all these years. Putting aside all of the book's political, scientific and socialogical naivites (some of which Moore himself points out in the introduction and afterward), this story is shockingly effective, if a bit heavy handed, and yes, depressing.
In re-reading it, V comes off as less than a character and more as the polemic abstract that Moore intended. Yes, V's drive toward anarchy is little hard to swallow, and being asked to sympathise with a terrorist in light of today's world is difficult ( which is the main obstacle I see in this story ever making it to the movie screen, that, and the overriding British-ness of the story, which I understand is integral and which I appreciate. Too much would be lost in transplanting this to an American setting).
Also, there are some unexplained plot holes: one being just how does V gain access to the fate computer? Without being detected?
That said, the first third of this book is still impossible to put down, really great stuff (aside from some character stumbles: V spouts quotes and exposites and it comes off as intially awkward), as the authorities unravel why V may doing what he's doing, but I really enjoyed the middle section this time, which chronicles Evey out on her own. The scene where she is captured and confined is still harrowing and mind-blowing.
All in all, I see this as a very personal and well-crafted story by Alan Moore, although people always want to compare it to Watchmen in terms of quality and realism. Bear in mind that it was serialized in its initial run and created over seven years. David Lloyd's artwork, while at times muddy (I still have trouble telling who's who in the last third), is also often brilliantly rendered, cinematic, and very effective. He has a way with a panel or facial expression that is attuned perfectly to the emotions conveyed by the story. Moore wrote at the time that he would not finish the story's run with any other artist, and one can see why.
Again, as Moore explains the book's evolution in the afterward, this is the work of younger, hungry and sometimes naive artists. As a comic work I find it moving, magnificent and compelling.