Title: V For Vendetta
Year Of Release Through DC: 1988-1989
Written by Jake Garner
Two words. Alan Moore. That is all. We wish it could be, but quite honestly there is much, much more to say on the subject. The writing of Alan Moore can only be justly described as ‘genius’. It might seem typical, or rather generic, to name Moore as one of the world’s greatest comic book writers to ever grace us, but screw that assumption, that’s generic in itself. Moore has quite rightly earned his place upon the podium of greats precisely for his brilliance. We understand that to award a writer with the title ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is, at its core, completely subjective, but we have to put our feet down in this instance and just say ‘If you don’t appreciate the work of Alan Moore, then sorry, you are a moron’ (no pun intended). What we want to draw attention to in this instance is his masterpiece, V For Vendetta. What Moore most definitely isn’t though is a one-hit-wonder. The reality is he churns out hit after hit after hit. Just to mention a few, From Hell, Watchmen, Marvelman/Miracleman, Swamp Thing, Batman: The Killing Joke, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the list goes on into a hypothetical comic horizon. Though for now, back to the book in question, V For Vendetta. It is all well and fine being able to write an enjoyable and high-quality storyline, but it is the responsibility of the artist to breathe life into the fable and turn it into a living entity. David Lloyd gets the job done here. What can be seen in the artwork of Vendetta is that it is quite obviously influenced by some of the earlier greats such as Ditko, Kirby and Burns, while of course remaining fixed in the 80s. Moore and Lloyd’s series ran for a total of 10 issues between 1988-1989. It would have been cool if the series had carried on for a few more issues, but then again it was perfect just the way it was and ended while retaining its sense of ambiguity. After all, we wouldn’t want something like the Saw franchise on our hands would we. Sometimes, even if we don’t get clarity or answers, just leave it be.
Moore’s story takes us on a journey across a dystopian landscape; a rather different Britain, placed within the 1990s. Post-apocalyptic stories can often be repetitive or mundane as we witness the protagonist struggle to survive in a world that is out to constantly challenge them. The protagonist in Vendetta is not struggling to survive, he seems more than capable of that, instead he is writhing for change. Britain has become, following war of the nuclear kind, a police state ran by the fascist Norsefire party; a party that has abolished all forms of opposition through the use of concentration camps. In many ways it is a satirical look at what may have been if that crazy moustachioed ball-bag had won the war. If you are homosexual, or of any other origin that isn’t white, then you can expect to find yourself meeting a swift end in one of Britain’s concentration camps. Despite this though, once in a dystopian while we come across a shining star, a liberator, a dreamer and our protagonist, V. V, the man behind the famous Guy Fawkes mask, with that menacing smile and awesome moustache. After being one of the many unwilling participants in the post-war camps, we get to follow V on his voyage of merciless revenge, taking the lives of those who played a part in his imprisonment and made him the subject of multiple scientific tests. He is the antithesis to everything in the world in which he finds himself living. While continuing his bloody campaign across 90’s Britain, he also aims to abolish the current fascist government and help the people hay a say in political matters themselves. Evey Hammond, a girl whom V has saved from death, becomes his protégé figure and helps him to bring down those that oppress the masses.
The main point of V For Vendetta, we feel, is the political skirmish between the two differing ideologies. Moore’s comic is very much ‘Fascism versus Anarchism’ in a fight till the death. We find ourselves playing spectre to a xenophobic society that rules through total compliance and untold fear, a society that doesn’t just support, but worships its leadership. V doesn’t care for political ideologies, such as the Norsefire party, he instead leans towards a free society that is structured around its own consent. Seems fair enough. What remains so utterly fantastic about V For Vendetta is the fact that V’s real identity is never revealed. This takes away the human body, the blood and flesh, and instead V becomes a physical manifestation of his ideas and principles. V’s mask becomes the symbol of change, something that has in recent years translated from Moore’s comic into real life culture. Amazon, so it is said, sells tens of thousands of these Guy Fawkes masks a year, quite ironically when all things are considered. Would V approve of Amazon as a company, hmmm, but hey the mask is cool right? Moore leaves us wondering to ourselves, is V a violent mad-man, or was he right, a real hero in his current state of affairs?
Yes, it is a film, but seriously pick up the comic, we don’t care if we are contradicting the point about subjective opinion, it’s so much f#@*ing better. Seriously. Despite its popular placing in culture now, V For Vendetta strived, in much the same way as its protagonist, to get to the position it now finds itself in. Originally, Vendetta started out as a simple black and white strip being published by the British company, Quality Communications. It featured in an anthology comic called Warrior. Cancelled in 1985, Warrior finally ceased to be published. Despite this V would not rest. Multiple publishers tried to encourage Moore and Lloyd to let them publish their story. Finally in 1988, DC comics published the first few episode of Vendetta that featured in Warrior, printing them in full colour and letting the series run to its completion. Now Vertigo, an imprint of DC, has put together a complete telling of the story, divided into three sections, or books. ‘Europe After The Reign’, ‘This Vicious Cabaret’ and ‘The Land Of Do-As-You-Please’. The cultural impact Moore’s fable has had on our society is unmistakable. The Guy Fawkes mask has become an icon for everything that V believed in, change and the right to hold your fingers up to government. If you are not frequented with the work of Moore, something we find hard to be true if you are a serious comic book fan unless you are without eyes of course, the whole team at ComiCommand would encourage you to pick up this unforgettable tome of justice.