on March 6, 2004
Everybody already knows (or SHOULD) how great Alan Moore is, so I won't carry on about that.
V For Vendetta is a gorgeous Orwellian piece. It's harsh, cryptic, witty, and...well, should probably be studied in schools to accompany '1984'.
It's always kind of embarrassing when you get asked what you read, and you try to explain that not all comic books involve words like "Blammo!" and "Zock!" and big-breasted women with silly names. If anyone you know ever doubts the integrity of the comic book/graphic novel genres - my advice is buy them a copy of both 'V' and 'Watchmen'. They'll come crawling back eating their words.
To the average American audience (who generally won't have a clue about anything that isn't all Yanked up) do be aware that Alan Moore is about as British as they come, and his prose is reflective of this in a major way. Most people don't realise that V sports a Guy Fawkes mask - they don't know who Fawkes even was. If you don't get the humour or the references, you probably never will gain a full understanding of either.
This isn't your average guy-in-tights-saves-hot-chick book. It's dark, it philosophizes, it'll probably make you think about what's going on in the world. Therefore, it's not for everyone.
'V For Vendetta' is strictly for discerning readers, and may even bridge the gap for some between the worlds of plain books and comics. We can only hope. And remember...
on January 12, 2004
That is the only word you can think of when trying to describe Alan Moore's V for Vendetta.
I don't mean Wow as in "Wow, that's so cool" or "Wow, look at that!". More like an amazed "Wow...", the kind of Wow one will utter when seeing something neither joyful nor sad, but simply amazing. Something like Alan Moore's and David Lloyd's
V for Vendetta.
This extraordinary epic tells us the tale of a masked avenger, a frightened little girl, a fascist state where control of citizens is total and the people in charge unforgiving.
I am not going to tell you the story of the book, not even a little bit of it, because doing that would take away some of the fun in reading it.
All I am going to tell you is that this book isn't like usual comic books. This book doesn't try to add as much fighting to the story as possible just for the sake of it. This book is great because it has an interesting story and great art work. The art is the kind of art that is realistic but still special. This is a book that everyone should read.
(By the way, if you own a copy of Tori Amos' CD "Strange little girls" I really recommend listenong to the last song, "Real men", when you read V for Vendetta. Believe me, it's really fitting.)
on January 5, 2004
I'll try not to say anything about this that hasn't been said before but that's unlikely, considering that this is Alan Moore.
Make no mistake about it. This is not Watchmen. What we have here are ideas from books like 1984 and Animal Farm presented in comic book form with a sort of batman-like hero at the helm. It succeeds by creating a uniquely British atmosphere with beautifully illustrated scenes in washed out, dystopian colors. There are many characters speaking in rather thick British accents, and probably dozens of English landmarks or locations that I don't recognize.
Interestingly, it also took out the comic book sound fx and narrative. Everything is done in dialogue. What's kind of tedious though, is that V talks like a fortune cookie, quoting this book or that. He comes across as a man of only a few words of his own, with the rest of the characters reciting his story.
If this was a movie, I'd reccomend rental instead of buying. Try it at your local library first.
on September 3, 2003
If you ask most people who the greatest living writer in comics is, they'll reply without hesitation Alan Moore for his role in taking comics beyond their ordinary roots and single-handedly expanding the potential of an entire medium. If you then ask what work of Moore's best exemplifies this contribution, most will again not waver before responding that Watchmen is not only Moore's greatest work but quite possibly the best comic book ever produced.
And in the case of Moore's gift to comics, these people would be one hundred percent correct. It is not possible to laud this man and his genius enough. However, in naming his best work, they have fallen short. Yes Watchmen is brilliant, and yes it is quite possibly the best exploration of the superhero that has been or can ever be written. But Moore's best work? Not by a long shot.
And no, his best work is not either of his tenures on Miracleman or Swamp Thing, as groundbreaking and innovative as those runs were. Nor can it be found in painstakingly researched books like From Hell and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which are crafted with such time and care that they require extensive notes to fully grasp all the details dropped in by this master craftsman and his collaborators.
Rather, Moore's best work comes in the form of a novel about the fascist government in the England of the future and the man who rebels against the system, a man named only V. The book is V for Vendetta, reprinted today by DC from their ten-part series of 1988, which in turn was made up of reprints of work originally seen in England in the early 1980s in the magazine Warrior as well as new material to close the story out. It is not only my favorite graphic novel but quite possibly also the best work written to date in this medium.
Now admittedly, I am quite biased in claiming it is the best comic ever written, because my love for it is so deep. V for Vendetta marked a first for my collection, as it was the first book I owned as both individual issues and in trade paperback form. I have given away my trade paperback before, only to buy a new copy when I missed it so much. I hope to someday own the original Warrior issues and I would be more than happy, should DC ever decide to release a hardcover version, I would pay top dollar for that as well.
It is also the only comic book I read repeatedly. I have probably read V for Vendetta at least ten times if not more, and I know that I shall read it again. Very few books I read in any form are deemed worthy of repeat perusals. Breakfast of Champions is one, A Prayer for Owen Meany another, Catch-22 yet another-these are all books that I come back to many times to read again and again, gaining new perspectives on both the text and myself each time we cross paths. And V for Vendetta is among them, a book I cannot go more than a year without opening anew.
Shall I give you tons of reasons why I think it's so brilliant? Shall I tell you of the deep philosophical mind of the main character V, a man who takes a meaningful stand against the system for the betterment of mankind? Shall I inform you of the beautiful portrayal of Evey, a young girl who has lost all to the system and whom V takes under his wing? Shall I tell you of David Lloyd's exquisite artwork which makes the cityscapes of London seem familiar and which, through the use of his muted colors, creates an almost tangible atmosphere of the dim, dull existence of life under this fascist regime?
No. Instead I shall choose not to spoil your reading experience and leave you to discover these things for yourself. Just one warning, though: do your damnedest not to cry when you read Valerie's letter, composed on toilet paper. It gets me every time.
on September 24, 2002
There is something about Alan Moores writing; there will be a certain point in his story that makes me want to put the book down and tear up due to the gutwrenching emotion that has been stabbed into my minds comprehension. I did the same thing with the Killing Joke (obviously the best Joker story ever to be told) and it happened again in V for Vendetta. I became interested in this book because I as told (after reading the Killing Joke) that this run was his...Manifest Destiny as it was put. I had to buy it. I did. Not only did the story enfold me with his characters' empathy (or in other cases, the lack thereof), plus these politics coinside with my own. I'm an anti-fascist and for the most part anti-establishment so I could relate to V rather easily. But...What's soo sad about this story is...It could happen. One of these days our own government will collapse on itself and all people will turn to is hate mongers and bigots because they are tired of all the fighting. Fascisim must be eradicated...By whatever means necessary. V for Vendetta takes it's blow on it. I recommend this to any Frank Miller fan. Or any fan of Batman, cause V is kinda like a mix between Batman and the Joker. I imagine more would disagree but that's just the connection I made. Freedom belongs to the individual. May our own will and imagination prevail, rather than the people on top. Peace above all. V for Victory, V for Vengence and V for Vendetta.
on September 11, 2002
...Moore has created a very accessible anarchist document here. He emphasises that anarchy refers to a system without leaders- not without order. It is just that we've been brainwashed into thinking that the world cannot run without it's immense bureuacracy of leaders, bosses, experts- and their hired muscle. We've given our power away to monsters and paracites out of nothing more than our own stupidity and complacency. Well, Moore has written a well balanced story that emphasises both the inherent evil of toltalitarian governments, as well as, the complicity of the common man in their continued existance.
One thing did jump out at me here, the fascists take over in England (apparently the Scots are still resisting) with the SUPPORT of the major corporations- not unlike the way our corporations prefer to do business with oppressive dictatorships in the Third World (democracies are too "messy", unpredictable, and disorderly.)
In the forward, the author expresses his disgust with Thatcher and the Conservatives and describes Britain as a "cold, mean place." I can't help but wonder how he is liking the U.S. these days under Bush and Cheney....
on June 28, 2002
Comic books have always lagged behind when it came to be taken seriously by the literary medium. People just thought that comics were set to target preadolscent boys. That notion,of course, is wrong. Most people who buy their comics from specialty bookshops are in their mid 20s. You can even see some 30 something guys and those hardcore readers who saw it from the beginning in their 40s. During the 80s creators like Alan Moore and Frank Miller sought to change all that by writing masterpieces that were thought-provoking as much as they were entertaining. It is during that time, that works like the Dark Knight Returns set the pace and Moore's independent work such as From Hell and DC's Watchmen and V for Vendetta came forward. The serious cynical look of the world was forever changed by these two authors and it didn't help that they were British to boot.
V for Vendetta written woderfully by Moore and captured in all its glory by the dark art of David Lloyd is an example of such breakthrough work that pit graphic novels and comics into the mainstream. The piece was disturbing enoght for people everywhere and those in the media to realiaze that comics are not just where the hero turns gree or flies while bending steel with his bare hands. The main premise of the novel depicts a war ravaged Europe where freedom is lost and the individual is lost in a jungle of tatlitarian power. Moore creates believable characters and the way they all entertwine with each other just adds up to the flavor of the book. V is the protagonist. He's no one and yet he's everyone. He's the voice of the people whether the people want a voice or not. He's not here to persuade anyone, just show them what years of totalitarian conditioning could do to a person.
Through it all, you are swept away by Moore's intellectual dialogue and his political view which leans more to that of anarchy. In the end, the format of this literary piece doesn't impede on the story's progress, but enhances it. Moore and Lloyd create something that will sure make you want to think about teh world you are living now and how that life might change with a press of a button.
on April 6, 2002
No more needs be said about the brilliance of Moore as a writer and the power of this novel to demonstrate that comics are not just for children. I wanted to take a moment to point out a number of parallels to Ayn Rand's famous novel, Atlas Shrugged. Just as no one knows who V is or what he wants, no one knows who John Galt was or what he wanted. Just as Galt announced he, one man, was going to (as the back cover says) "stop the motor of the world, and did", so V, one individual, brings an end to the fascist state he finds himself in. Just as Galt's final determiniation to act stemmed from refusing to agree to the self-immolation of working in the Starnes' 20th century factory, so to V was formed by a decision to escape from the more literal immolation awaiting him in the fascist concentration camp in which he found himself.
Ironically, because Rand was an advocate of limited government and hated that many of her followers advocated anarchy, it is V more than Galt who is true to her view of human freedom and the importance of fighting for your beliefs against the world. Several political philosophers argue that Rand's ethical and epistemological positions lead not to limited government, but to anarchy, in an anarchocapitalist mode. Although Moore's sentiments are more leftish, his artistic skills present an anarchist view entirely consistent with libertarianism. Anarchy is not chaos, as V clearly noted. Atlas and V are two shining examples of novels devoted to the importance of personal freedom and individual autonomy.
on March 8, 2002
Alan Moore and David Lloyd's V for Vendetta is exactly the kind of work that you think it really won't be. If you've never heard anything about V for vendetta, then you are really in for a ride. I had never heard of V (or Lloyd, for that matter) so this tale was really a suprise to me. If I had had more than a vague idea (from the introduction by Moore) of what this comic was about, than quite frankly this might not have been such a page turning thriller. Than again...maybe it would be. The thing about this book is, is that you really can't tell WHERE it's going, until it's already there. I know that i'm being vague, but i'm trying to avoid ranting about just how impressive that this comic becomes by the end. I say by the end, because like any film worth it's salt, it builds up, adding newer and harsher twists as time progresses.
Before I forget, Dave Lloyd is a madman. From what Moore says in the afterword Lloyd came up with the basic premise of what V would be, both character and storytelling technique. On top of that, he's an impressive noir-style artist who really knows how to use both heavy blacks and open spaces to set the mood of each scene. It really is an almost cinematic read, and creates an atmosphere that I felt sitting in detention, in a crowded room in the middle of a bright day.
Really, do yourself a favor,read this book and see exactly where Moore was BEFORE writing Watchmen.
on February 22, 2002
Back in1981, Moore imagined a post-apocalyptic 1998 in which Great Britain has become a racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, and Christian fascist state, all run by "the leader" who sits at a bank of video monitors run by a central computer. (For some reason, many readers have the mistaken impression that the setting is one in which the Nazi's won WWII, even though it's clear from flashbacks that that's not what happened). While it's a clear reaction to the Thatcher regime, the setting draws directly from Orwell's 1984, and other dystopian literature.
However, standing against this bleak world is the anarchist vigilante "V". Modeled roughly on Guy Fawkes, who attempted to blow up Parliament back in 1605, V is empowered by superhuman physical and mental attributes acquired while the subject of Mengle-like medial experiments in a now derelict state concentration camp. He's now using his abilities to methodically kill all the government personnel associated with his torture. And when he's not killing people, he's sneaking around blowing landmarks and generally bringing the state to its knees. An important theme Moore hammers home here is that the state is not solely to blame, but the people who place their popular power in the hands of the state are equally to blame. (Those who are interested in this particular streak of political philosophy would be well advised to check out C. Douglas Lummis' book, Radical Democracy.) Instead of a superhero saving the populace, we are given an ambiguous vengeful killer instructing the populace to save itself.
There's a whole subplot involving a teenager V rescues from the streets. However, she's largely used as a subject for him to talk at, and for the reader to get the backstory of the setting. There are a number of other subplots as well, involving the shady state functionaries, and Moore does a lot of cinematic intercutting between the various storylines. The story gets somewhat too theatrical at points, and drags at other times, and V's constant quoting (Rolling Stones and Velvet Underground lyrics to Shakespeare) gets old fast. The art is generally pretty nice, although the color isn't really to my taste, it might have looked better in simple black and white. However, it's a pretty decent quick meditation on what it means to be free and how each individual must look within themselves for the answer rather than assigning that freedom to someone else to safeguard.