V for Vendetta – Alan Moore
May 25, 2016 § Leave a comment
First published as a series of strips between 1982 and 1985
Published as a complete 10-episode series between 1988 and 1989
Illustrated by David Lloyd and Tony Weare
It’s been a long time since my last graphic novel. And even then, it was Habibi by Craig Thompson, which was extremely visual and, if I remember correctly, nowhere near as wordy as Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta. I had briefly caught the tail-end of the film a few years back, as part of a Guy Fawkes celebration thing, and I remember finding it quite interesting. But I kept shying away from reading the graphic novel because of Watchmen. I had glanced through a few pages of Watchmen, and there seemed to be so many things going on, and it was so wordy, I was just completely lost.
But anarchy is a concept I find quite interesting, especially after having read Fight Club recently. So I decided to take the plunge, and the chance, with this piece of work by Moore. And what a treat it was.
What really worked for me was the setting. The tyrannical organization that runs England in V is literally a body—the head is, of course, The Head, while the police, forensics, secret force and media were given names like The Eyes, The Ears, The Nose, Fingers and The Mouth. The ones in power are all corrupt, as they always are especially when there is nothing to keep the check-and-balance, and the people are scared. It’s the perfect setting for an anarchy waiting to happen.
Remember, remember, the fifth of November.
The story starts with a young girl, Evey, trying her luck at prostitution. She knows she’s taking a risk, as prostitution is a crime. To make matters worse, it’s also past curfew. She comes across a man and decides to try and seduce him, to take in her first client, but it turns out that he’s a Fingerman, and he has a few buddies with him. She’s immediately declared a criminal, and they try to force themselves on her (after all, they reason, she’s trying to prostitute herself anyway, which is a crime on top of being out during curfew), when a mysterious man in a Guy Fawkes mask comes to her rescue.
Evey’s life is forever changed. She had no one, coming into the story, and now, she’s been saved by the man who has more or less declared war against the powers-that-be when he blew up the Houses of Parliament.
V continues to make things happen, and while he remains an enigma and someone whose identity the people in power simply cannot fathom, he plants hints along the way, as if to add even more frustration to the investigation, as well as to point them in a certain direction. The ending was, I felt, a very powerful statement. “Ideas are bulletproof,” V says, and I felt that the entire ending sequence embodied that statement to the T.
I found myself still getting a little lost as I read the graphic novel. Sometimes I couldn’t really tell who was saying what, and the characters sometimes overlapped each other for me. One of the characters, who in hindsight was one of the more important ones pushing the plot forward, disappeared for so long that I almost forgot about him. But in the end, once I finished it and had a few days to mull over it, some of the sequences stayed fresh in my mind. The book was both exciting and scary. I found myself in a pinch, because I hated the government, but I wasn’t entirely sure I could stand behind the idea of complete anarchy.
Apparently, according to Wikipedia, Moore had this to say:
The central question is, is this guy right? Or is he mad? What do you, the reader, think about this? Which struck me as a properly anarchist solution. I didn’t want to tell people what to think, I just wanted to tell people to think and consider some of these admittedly extreme little elements, which nevertheless do recur fairly regularly throughout human history.
Maybe he was mad. I felt he was a little mad. After all, with all that he’s seen and been through, he would be mad if he wasn’t a little mad. I could see that. Was he wrong? Were his actions justified? Was his idea too extreme, too out there?
They are not easy questions, because answering them means digging deep into the dark corners of my heart and mind. So as I’m thinking about this, I realise that I’m still thinking about this two weeks after I put the book down.