Review – V For Vendetta
Writer: Alan Moore
Artists: David Lloyd & Tony Weare
Colourist: Steve Whitaker & Siobhan Dodds
Letterer: Steve Craddock
Release Date: March 1982 – May 1989
V For Vendetta is a 1980’s graphic novel written by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd. It tells the story of V; an enigmatic, mysterious protagonist hell-bent on bringing down the totalitarian government that runs this story’s version of Britain. Getting to go back and review V For Vendetta it still stands up as a fantastic book, dripping with style, but not lacking in substance. The book is a brilliant and dynamic story and although at times is pretty cool, it is also much more than that.
It tackles beliefs and themes that we all have opinions on, because they affect our real lives every day and the older that I get, the more I find myself sympathising with V.
More and more as time goes on and we read about people like Edward Snowden and Julian Assange being exiled and prosecuted and we see Mark Zuckerberg sitting with a piece of tape placed over his webcam, it seems that George Orwell’s prediction for humanity in his iconic 1984 story, is sadly becoming more of a reality.
Alan Moore and David Lloyd really tap into those 1984esque sci-fi themes of bureaucracy here and give the idea of freedom from totalitarianism a face and a name. V is a tragic character with a terrible past that robbed him of his identity. Instead of letting this break him, he uses it to his advantage and instead becomes an icon for the people.
As V famously says; “ideas are bulletproof,” and to write a character that takes on a broken system and make him exceptionally damaged, yet relatable is not an easy task. His methods are extreme and his morals are definitely questionable, but using Evie as a surrogate character for the audience is a masterful way to allow us to relate to Evie while eventually seeing that V was in the right all along just as Evie does by the book’s conclusion.
Alan Moore tackles the heavy themes and loaded subtext fantastically in the book, embracing the controversy and extremism of some of the methods V employs to take his freedom back. However he still somehow manages never to be crass or excessive, something which would be easy to do when writing about an unhinged guy that lives in isolation and fantasises about bombing major landmarks. I think the restraint that Moore shows in his writing of V helps viewers to make up their own mind about the character. He is odd enough that I wouldn’t exactly call him relatable but he does have a certain charm and his dialogue is undeniably inspiring.
It is also an interesting aside that the book happened to be written and published during the infamous reign of Margaret Thatcher during the 80’s. Whilst reading the book, it’s hard not to look at Thatcher’s cabinet at the time and wonder if the members of Norsefire were actually based off of them. Moore does mention in the forward to the book that the inspiration for writing V came from the reaction he had to the policies being put through by the right wing government of the time and that visceral, strong reaction is certainly felt throughout the book.
David Lloyd’s art in the book is absolutely perfect for the story being told. The character design has such a sleek, distinctive look to it. I also appreciate the colour scheme that Steve Whitaker chose to go with here, as I really feel that it helps the book to achieve that timeless quality that it has. There is a reason that V’s iconic design has worked its way into the zeitgeist of modern social issues and became the symbol of online hacking group Anonymous. It is instantly recognisable due to its strikingly bold design.
Overall, upon re-evaluating V For Vendetta for review years after I last read it, I can happily report that it still holds up incredibly well. I used to read this book every year on November 5th and I think that may be a tradition that I’ll have to return to as it really is a masterpiece. If you have got this far into my review and still haven’t read the book, do yourself a favour and make it next on your list of things to do, you will not regret it.
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