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V for Vendetta is a ten-issue comic-book series written by Alan Moore and illustrated mostly by David Lloyd, set in a dystopian future United Kingdommarker imagined from the 1980s about the 1990s. A mysterious anarchist who calls himself "V" works to destroy the totalitarian government, profoundly affecting the people he encounters.

The series depicts a near-future Britain after a limited nuclear war, which has left much of the world destroyed. In this future, a fascist party called "Norsefire" has arisen as the ruling power. "V", an anarchist revolutionary dressed in a Guy Fawkes mask, begins an elaborate, violent, and theatrical campaign to bring down the government. Warner Bros. released a film adaptation in 2005.

Publication history

The first episodes of V for Vendetta originally came out in black-and-white between 1982 and 1985, in Warrior, a British anthology comic published by Quality Comics. The strip became one of the most popular in the title and was featured on several covers during the 26 issues of Warrior.

When the publishers cancelled Warrior in 1985 (with two completed episodes unpublished due to the cancellation), several companies attempted to convince Moore and Lloyd to let them publish and complete the story. In 1988 DC Comics published a ten-issue series that reprinted the Warrior stories in colour, then continued the series to completion. The first new material appeared in issue #7, which included the unpublished episodes that would have appeared in Warrior #27 and 28. Tony Weare drew one chapter ("Vincent") and contributed additional art to two others ("Valerie" and "The Vacation"); Steve Whitaker and Siobhan Dodds worked as colourist on the entire series.

The series, including Moore's "Behind the Painted Smile" essay and two "interludes" outside the central continuity, then appeared in collected form as a trade paperback, published in the USmarker by DC's Vertigo imprint (ISBN 0-930289-52-8) and in the UK by Titan Books (ISBN 1-85286-291-2).

Background

David Lloyd's artwork for V for Vendetta in Warrior originally appeared in black-and-white. The DC Comics version published the artwork "colourised" in pastels. Lloyd has stated that he had always intended the artwork to appear in colour, and it was initially published in black and white for financial reasons because colour would have been too expensive.



In writing V for Vendetta, Moore drew upon an idea for a strip titled The Doll, which he had submitted at the age of 22 to DC Thomson. In "Behind the Painted Smile", Moore revealed that the idea was rejected as DC Thomson balked at the idea of a "transsexual terrorist". Years later, Warrior editor Dez Skinn invited Moore to create a dark mystery strip with artist David Lloyd. Lloyd and Moore considered several proposals, including one titled Vendetta that set the story in 1930s United States. The setting developed through their discussions, moving from 1930s United States to near-future Britain. As the setting progressed, so did the character's development; once conceived as a "realistic" gangster-age American, he became, first, a policeman rebelling against the totalitarian state he served, then became a heroic anarchist.

Moore and Lloyd conceived the series as a dark adventure-strip influenced by British comic characters of the 1960s, as well as by Night Raven, a Marvel UK strip which Lloyd had previously worked on with writer Steve Parkhouse. Editors Dez Skinn and Graham Marsh came up with the name V for Vendetta. David Lloyd developed the idea of dressing V as Guy Fawkes after previous designs followed the conventional superhero look.

During the preparation of the story Moore made a list of what he wanted to bring into the plot, which he reproduced in "Behind the Painted Smile":

Orwell. Huxley. Thomas Disch. Judge Dredd. Harlan Ellison's "Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman, Catman and The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World by the same author. Vincent Price's Dr. Phibes and Theatre of Blood. David Bowie. The Shadow. Night Raven. Batman. Fahrenheit 451. The writings of the New Worlds school of science fiction. Max Ernst's painting "Europe After the Rain". Thomas Pynchon. The atmosphere of British Second World War films. The Prisoner. Robin Hood. Dick Turpin...


The political climate of Britain in the early 1980s also influenced the work,with Moore positing that Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government would "obviously lose the 1983 elections", and that an incoming Michael Foot-led Labour government, committed to complete nuclear disarmament, would allow the United Kingdommarker to escape relatively unscathed after a limited nuclear war. However, Moore felt that fascists would quickly subvert a post-holocaust Britain. Moore's scenario remains untested. Addressing historical developments when DC reissued the work, he noted:

Naïveté can also be detected in my supposition that it would take something as melodramatic as a near-miss nuclear conflict to nudge England towards fascism... The simple fact that much of the historical background of the story proceeds from a predicted Conservative defeat in the 1982 General Election should tell you how reliable we were in our roles as Cassandras.


The February 1999 issue of The Comics Journal ran a poll on "The Top 100 (English-Language) Comics of the Century": V for Vendetta reached 83rd place.

Plot

On 5 November 1997 in Londonmarker, a mysterious cloaked figure wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and known as "V" rescues a young woman, Evey Hammond, from a gang of police agents (known as "Fingermen") who intend to rape and kill her after arresting her for prostitution. After dispatching most of the Fingermen, V heads to a rooftop with Evey and detonates a bomb inside the abandoned Palace of Westminstermarker, emulating the failed 1605 Gunpowder Plot. V takes Evey to his secret underground lair, which he calls "The Shadow Gallery". Evey tells V her life story, describing the nuclear war of the late 1980s which eventually led to the fascist coup d'état in Great Britainmarker, after which the authorities rounded up her father as a political prisoner and presumably killed him.

The task of investigating V's bombing falls to Eric Finch, the head of "The Nose" — the regular police-force — and an experienced investigator who serves the government out of a love of order rather than from political conviction. Through him readers meet other figures in the Party, including the Leader, Adam Susan, who has a fixation with the government's computer system, Fate; Dominic Stone, Finch's partner; Derek Almond, head of "The Finger," the secret police; Conrad Heyer, head of "The Eye," the visual surveillance branch; Brian Etheridge, head of "The Ear," the audio surveillance branch; and Roger Dascombe, in charge of "The Mouth," the branch in charge of broadcasting propaganda.

V next blows up the Old Baileymarker, and confronts three Party figures to accuse them of and execute them for past atrocities: Lewis Prothero, the propaganda broadcaster who serves as the "Voice of Fate"; Bishop Anthony Lilliman, a paedophile priest who represents the Party in the clergy; and Delia Surridge, an apolitical doctor who once had a relationship with Finch. V drives Prothero insane after incinerating his prized doll-collection before his eyes; he kills Lilliman by forcing him to consume a cyanide-laced communion wafer; and Dr. Surridge dies from a lethal injection (however, because Surridge expressed remorse for her previous actions, she experiences a painless death). By the time V kills Surridge, Finch has discovered that all of V's victims worked at a concentration camp near the village of Larkhillmarker, and alerts Derek Almond to V's plans. Almond surprises V attempting to escape from Surridge's home. Unfortunately for Almond, he had forgotten to reload his gun after having cleaned it earlier that same night, and V kills him.

Finch begins to read a diary kept by Dr. Surridge, discovered at her home. It reveals all of the victims' previous histories with V during his time as an inmate at the Larkhill camp. V had forcibly taken part in a medical experiment run by Dr. Surridge in which he was given hormonal injections with a drug called "Batch 5." Eventually V, known to the camp's staff as the "Man from Room Five," began tending a garden with camp commander Prothero's approval, using related chemicals to later break out of the camp while attacking camp guards with homemade mustard gas and napalm. V, the only prisoner to have survived the death camp, chose to eliminate its surviving officers to prevent the government from discovering his true identity. Finch notes that while V made sure Surridge's diary was easy to find, he had also ripped out pages that may have contained information about his identity. With no records of his real identity existing, V can operate covertly.

Four months later, V breaks into Jordan Tower, the home of The Mouth, to broadcast a speech that calls on the people to take charge of their own lives. He escapes by forcing Roger Dascombe into one of his Fawkes costumes, causing him to be fatally shot by police who storm the room. Eric Finch, in going over the crime scene, is introduced to Peter Creedy, a petty criminal replacing Almond as head of The Finger. Finch is provoked into assaulting Creedy in frustration of Creedy's lack of appreciation of V's capability and over a personal remark Creedy made about Dr. Surridge. Following the incident, the Leader sends Finch on a forced vacation.

Evey has developed a strong attachment to V to the point of beginning to believe that V is her father (who had been arrested many years earlier), but has begun to challenge his methods. After a confrontation in the Shadow Gallery, she finds herself abandoned on a street, unable to find V. She is taken in by Gordon Deitrich, a petty criminal with whom she becomes romantically involved, and they cross paths unknowingly with Derek Almond's widow Rose; after the deaths of her husband and Dascombe (with whom she had been forced into a relationship for financial reasons), Rose is forced to work as a burlesque dancer, and consequently develops a strong hatred for the Party. Creedy begins organizing a private militia, hoping to use V's destabilization of the Party to mount a coup against the Leader.

When the Scottish gangster Alistair Harper murders Gordon, Evey attempts to kill Harper in revenge, but is abducted and accused of attempting to murder Peter Creedy as he was meeting with Harper. In her cell between multiple bouts of interrogation and torture, Evey finds a letter from an inmate named Valerie, an actress who was imprisoned for being a lesbian. Evey's interrogator finally gives her a choice of collaboration or death; inspired by Valerie's courage and quiet defiance, she refuses to give in and is told that she is free. To her shock, Evey learns that her imprisonment was a hoax constructed by V, designed to put her through an ordeal similar to the one that shaped him. He reveals that Valerie was another Larkhill prisoner who died in the cell next to his; the letter that Evey read is the same one that Valerie had passed on to V. Evey's anger finally gives way to acceptance of her identity and freedom.

The following November, exactly one year after the Parliament bombing, V destroys the Post Office Towermarker and Jordan Tower, causing the death of Etheridge, and effectively shutting down The Eye, The Ear, and The Mouth. The subsequent lack of government surveillance causes a wave of violence and hedonism which is violently suppressed by Creedy and Harper's street gangs. Meanwhile, V notes to Evey that he has not yet achieved "The Land of Do-As-You-Please" end-result he wants but rather the mere chaos in "The Land of Take-What-You-Want" — an interim period that he intends to follow up with the establishment of true anarchy: a voluntary orderly society. Finch's assistant Dominic realizes that V has had access to the Fate computer since the very beginning, explaining his foresight; this news accelerates the mental collapse of the Leader.

Finch travels to the abandoned site of Larkhill, where he takes LSD. His hallucinations lead him to an intuitive understanding of V, and returning to London he deduces that V's lair is inside the abandoned Victoria Stationmarker and is confronted by V as he enters the station. V, who has indicated his own martyrdom, lets Finch shoot him. The wounded V returns to the Shadow Gallery and dies in Evey's arms. Evey considers unmasking V, but decides not to; instead, she assumes his identity, donning one of his spare costumes.

Meanwhile, Creedy, trying to take Susan's job, pressures the Leader to appear in public. Rose Almond, angry at the death of her husband which has forced her into burlesque dancing, assassinates the Leader. Creedy tries to take his place, but Harper, bribed by Helen Heyer (with whom he has been sleeping), kills him. V sends a surveillance tape of the two having sex to her husband, Conrad Heyer (head of the Eye), who responds by beating Harper to death with a wrench, but not before Harper fatally wounds him with a razor. This leaves the key Party officials (the Leader, Fate, and the heads of the Finger, the Eye, the Ear and the Mouth) all dead. Only Finch (the head of the Nose) survives.

Evey appears to a crowd as V, announcing the destruction of Downing Street the following day and telling the crowd they must "...choose what comes next. Lives of your own, or a return to chains", whereupon a general insurrection begins. Dominic, struck on the head by a stone, loses consciousness as he runs for safety, his last conscious image Evey disguised as V. Evey completes V's final act of subversion and destroys 10 Downing Streetmarker by giving her mentor a "Viking funeral" with an explosive-laden Underground train containing his body, sent to detonate beneath the desired location. Dominic awakens in the Shadow Gallery, implying that Evey (as V) intends to train him as her own successor. As night falls, Finch observes the chaos raging in the city and comes across Helen Heyer, who has taken the company of local tramps for survival after her car was turned over and her supplies stolen. When they recognise each other, Helen embraces Finch, saying they could raise a small army and restore order. Finch silently pushes Helen away and she angrily responds with a torrent of homophobic slurs. He leaves her and the tramps to climb down an embankment onto an abandoned motorway and sees a sign reading "Hatfield and The North". The final panel shows Finch walking down the deserted motorway, all the streetlamps dark. All forms of authority in Britain have now vanished, leaving its future uncertain.

Characters

Major characters

V

A masked anarchist who seeks to systematically kill the leaders of Norsefire, a fascist dictatorship ruling post-apocalyptic Englandmarker. He is well-versed in the arts of explosives, subterfuge, and computer hacking, and has a vast literary, cultural and philosophical intelligence. V is the only survivor of an experiment in which four dozen prisoners were given injections of a pituarin/pinearin compound called "Batch 5." The compound caused vast cellular anomalies that eventually killed all of the subjects except V, to whom many people believe it granted enhanced strength, reflexes, endurance and pain tolerance, though there is no confirmation of this in the book; V maintains that he is just a man. Although Dr. Surridge believes V was driven insane by the injection, the possibility that he feigned insanity as the first step towards freedom is left open. Throughout the novel, V almost always wears his trademark Guy Fawkes mask, a shoulder-length wig of straight dark-brown hair and an outfit consisting of black gloves, tunic, trousers and boots. When not wearing the mask, his face is not shown. When outside the Shadow Gallery, he completes this ensemble with a circa-1600s conical hat and floor-length cloak. His weapons of choice include daggers, explosives and tear gas. He is supposed to have taken his name from the Roman numeral "V," the number of the room he was held in during the experiment. This is the main explanation of the origin of his name, as it is stated in the book. However, other theories may explain his nom de guerre. For instance, there is a clear echo in his name of the rallying cry used by Winston Churchill in the struggle of the Allies in World War II to overcome the Axis Powers: "V for Victory!". Here it is simply transformed into "V for Vendetta". It should also be noted that the V within a circle is merely an upside-down anarchy sign without the slash marking an A symbol. At the end of the book, V lets Chief Inspector Eric Finch shoot him, and dies in Evey's arms. Evey then assumes V's identity and gives the original V a Viking funeral by placing him inside a bomb-laden train whose eventual destination is Downing Streetmarker. V is the only character whose speech bubbles look "distorted and twisted", instead of being perfectly oval, possibly to show that the mask distorts his voice. In Watchmen, another work by Alan Moore, the character Rorschach also wears a mask and makes use of the same distorted speech bubbles whenever wearing it, and normal bubbles when not. Whenever V quotes another author, the quotation marks are perfectly visible.

Evey Hammond

V saves the teenage girl Evey Hammond, a main character of the story, from the "Fingermen". She is taken under V's wing, learns of his past, his current battle against the government and eventually becomes his successor, as well as finding a future successor in Chief Inspector Eric Finch's partner, Dominic Stone.

Eric Finch

Chief of New Scotland Yardmarker and Minister of Investigations, which has become the "Nose", Finch is a pragmatist who sides with the government because he would rather serve in a world of order than one of chaos. He is nevertheless honorable and decent, and trusted by the Leader because he is reliable and without ambition. He eventually achieves his own anagnorisis and self-knowledge, expressing sorrow over his complicity with Norsefire's atrocities; nevertheless, he is the one who kills V. He is at one point referred to as Edward Finch (an error on the part of Helen Heyer). Finch serves as the main antagonist of V and parallel protagonist of the story, if V is to be taken as the villain.

Adam J. Susan

Also known as "The Leader", Adam Susan heads the Norsefire Party and functions as the official Leader of the country, although his power is largely ceremonial. Susan is in love with the Fate computer system and prefers its companionship to that of his fellow human beings. Susan, as his own mind slips, also expresses a solipsist belief that the only existing beings are him and 'God' (referring to the Fate computer). He is adherent of fascism and racist notions of "purity," and genuinely believes that civil liberties are dangerous and unnecessary. He appears to truly care for his people, however, and it is implied that his embrace of fascism was a response to his own loneliness. Before the War, he was a Chief Constable with religious convictions (suggesting he was patterned after Manchestermarker Chief Constable James Anderton, who became notorious for a public speech accusing homosexuals of 'swimming in a cesspool of their own making'). In the end of the novel, he is assassinated by Rose Almond, the widow of one of his former lieutenants. In the film adaptation, he is renamed "Adam Sutler" and killed by Peter Creedy (see below).

Minor characters



  • Lewis Prothero: The former Commander of "Larkhill," the concentration camp that once held V, he later becomes "The Voice of Fate," the government radio broadcaster who daily transmits "information" to the public. He is driven insane by a combination of an overdose of Batch 5 drugs and the shock of seeing his prized doll collection burned in a mock recreation of Camp Larkhillmarker. He remains incapacitated for the rest of the story.


  • Bishop Anthony Lilliman: The voice of the Party in the Church, Lilliman is a corrupt priest who sexually abuses the young girls in his various parishes. Like Prothero, he worked at Larkhill before being given a higher employment by the state. Lilliman was a priest who was hired to give spiritual support to the prisoners being given Batch 5 drugs. He is killed after he almost rapes Evey Hammond (who is dressed up as a young girl) when V forces him to take communion with a cyanide-laced wafer.


  • Delia Surridge: Larkhill camp doctor whom V kills by lethal injection. Surridge is also the only one of V's former tormentors who feels remorse for her actions, and apologizes to him in her final moments of life.


  • Derek Almond: High-ranking official of the Norsefire government. He ran the government's secret police, known as the Finger. He was warned by Finch that Surridge would be the last of V's targets and runs to her house to prevent him, before he was killed by V. Almond is replaced by Peter Creedy. While Almond does not figure heavily in the story, his death sets in motion one of the novel's major story arcs; that of his widow, Rose, who is left penniless and traumatized by the loss of her husband, who was cold and abusive toward her but whom she nevertheless loved. In her grief and desperation, she blames her plight on Norsefire's leader, Adam Susan, and assassinates him at the novel's climax.


  • Rosemary Almond: The abused wife of Derek Almond. When Almond is murdered, Rose becomes depressed and must turn to Roger Dascombe for company and support. She is forced to become a showgirl as a means of supporting herself after Dascombe's death at the hands of V. After V shuts down the surveillance systems, she uses the opportunity to buy a gun and assassinate Adam Susan.


  • Helen Heyer: The ruthless, scheming wife of Conrad Heyer. She uses sex and her superior intellect to keep her husband (for whom she feels nothing but contempt and only sees as a means to an end) in line, and to further her own goal of ultimately controlling the country after he becomes Leader. Parallelly, she flirts with Harper and turns him against Creedy. Ultimately, her master plan collapses and she is last seen offering her body in exchange for protection and food to a semi-drunken gang after being rejected by Finch (whom she hoped would join her in taking over what was left of the Party after her husband, Peter Creedy and Alistair Harper are all killed) and after anarchy has spilled into London.


  • Peter Creedy: A coarse, petty man who replaces Derek Almond as Security Minister of "the Finger" after the latter's death. His ambition is to replace the weakening Susan as Leader, but as part of Mrs. Heyer's plot, he is killed by Alistair Harper's thugs shortly after seizing power.


  • Conrad Heyer: In charge of the "Eye" — the agency that controls the country's CCTV system. His wife Helen dominates him, and she intends for him to become leader, leaving her as the power behind the throne. In the end, V sends Conrad a videotape of Helen being unfaithful and he snaps, killing her lover Alistair Harper but sustaining a fatal wound from Harper's straight-edge razor in the process. When Helen learns what he has done, she is enraged at the destruction of her plans and leaves him to bleed to death, setting up a video camera connected to their TV so that he can watch himself die.


  • Dominic Stone: Younger policeman who is Inspector Finch's assistant. Dominic is the one who figures out the connection between V and the former Larkhill camp staff and V's hacking into the "Fate" computer system. At the end, Dominic is rescued from a mob by Evey and apparently recruited to be her apprentice now that she is V — much as V did with her.


  • Valerie Page: A critically acclaimed actress who was imprisoned at Larkhill when the government found out she was a lesbian. Her tragic fate at the hands of the regime motivated V to become a freedom fighter and revolutionary.


  • Roger Dascombe: The technical supervisor for The Party's media division and the Propaganda Minister of "the Mouth". During V's attack on Jordan Tower, he is set up as a dummy "V" and killed by the police whilst the real V makes his escape.


  • Alistair Harper: Scottish organized crime boss who kills Evey's lover Gordon. Initially he and some of his men are hired by Creedy to temporarily bolster the police force after V destroys the government's surveillance equipment, but Helen Heyer recruits him to her side to ensure Creedy's downfall by offering to place him in charge of the Finger after Conrad comes to power. He temporarily becomes Helen's lover. After Creedy's takeover, Harper fulfills his end of the bargain with Helen and kills Creedy with a lethal slash from his straight razor. He is beaten to death by Conrad as he fatally slices his neck.


Themes and motifs

The series was Moore's first use of the densely detailed narrative and multiple plot lines that would feature heavily in Watchmen. Panel backgrounds are often crammed with clues and red herrings; literary allusions and wordplay are prominent in the chapter titles and in V's speech (which almost always takes the form of iambic pentameter, a poetic meter reliant on five pairs of syllables, the second syllable of each pair being more stressed than the first; its most famous usage has been in the many works of Shakespeare).

V reads Evey to sleep with The Magic Faraway Tree. This series provides the source of "The Land of Do-As-You-Please" and "The Land of Take-What-You-Want" alluded to throughout the series. Another cultural reference rings out - mainly in the theatrical version: "Remember remember the fifth of November, the gunpowder treason and plot. I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot." These lines allude direcly to the story of Guy Fawkes and his actions against a corrupt government.

Anarchism versus fascism

The two conflicting political viewpoints of anarchism and fascism permeate the story.
 The Norsefire regime shares every facet of fascist ideology: it is highly xenophobic, rules the nation through both fear and force, and worships strong leadership (e.g. the Führerprinzip). As in most fascist regimes, there are several different types of state organisations  which engage in power struggles with each other yet obey the same leader.


The fascist regime embraces total corporatism. An important aspect of corporatism involves the total identification of society with state, and thinking of society as a body where the different state institutions are organs. This is reflected by institutions named after parts of the body: the detective branch of the police is The Nose; the surveillance organizations are The Ear and The Eye; the uniform branch of the police is The Finger (and those who work for them are called Fingermen); and the state-controlled media is known as The Mouth.

In creating this system of control, Moore provocatively evokes classical English political thought, namely Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan, which imagined the state as one vast corporate gestalt, with its legitimacy founded on the need to maintain order and prevent indiscriminate violence (as was hinted at in the Norsefire backstory). The sovereign formed the natural 'head' of the society, which perhaps explains the anatomical nomenclature of the various arms of state government.

To keep this body healthy, fascist ideology prescribes cleansing it of unhealthy elements (i.e. the motto Strength Through Purity), thus, the totalitarianism and concentration camp. In issue #5, Delia Surridge recounts the Milgram experiment as an explanation of why ordinary people, such as she, engage in such obedience. The connection to Anglican Christianity and Purity Through Faith is a typical feature of clerical fascism in Roman Catholic countries (i.e. southern France of the Vichy regime 1940-44, Spain under Francisco Franco 1939-75, the Independent State of Croatia under Ante Pavelić 1941-45, and Austria under Dollfuss and Schuschnigg 1933-38); such a form has taken hold specifically in Englandmarker where, in reality, the Church of England (The Anglican Church) is 'established' with the Queen at its head and the state. This explains why, in story continuity, violent anti-Norsefire rebellion engulfs the non-Anglican parts of the United Kingdom (e.g. Scotlandmarker) .

The anarchism proposed by V is classic and built specifically around the ideas of Mikhail Bakunin, who is often associated with the idea that the old society has to be torn down before a new one can be built upon its ruins. In issue #2, V has a fictional dialogue with Madame Justice and concludes that anarchy has taught him that "justice is meaningless without freedom", a phrase which closely parallels similar statements by Bakunin:

Several anarchist (or similar) traits encountered are related to 1960s counterculture. V's tactic of humiliating and ridiculing the fascist regime to destabilize it is like the ideas of the Situationists. In issue #8, the phase between fascism and anarchy is called Verwirrung, a German word meaning "confusion", but used here as reference to The Illuminatus! Trilogy (Book One of the trilogy is so titled). It also may be a direct reference to Discordian philosophy in general, as many other aspects of the series (chaos, the creative arts, anarchism, and the obsession with the number "5") draw similar parallels. An aspect of 1960s counterculture was the idea that domestic partnership and its legal forms can constitute a power imbalance between two people where one controls and dominates the other. This is exemplified by the relationships of Mr. and Mrs. Almond as well as Mr. and Mrs. Heyer, but this aspect is not developed theoretically.

Identity

V himself is something of an enigma whose history is only hinted at. The bulk of the story is told from the viewpoints of other characters: V's admirer and apprentice Evey, a sixteen-year-old factory worker; Eric Finch, a world-weary and pragmatic policeman who is hunting V; and several contenders for power within the fascist party. V's destructive acts are morally ambiguous, and a central theme of the series is the rationalisation of atrocities in the name of a higher goal, whether it is stability or freedom. The character is a mixture of an actual advocate of anarchism and the traditional stereotype of the anarchist as a terrorist.

Moore stated in an interview:
...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.



Moore has never clarified who V supposedly was, beyond stating "that V isn't Evey's father, Whistler's mother, or Charley's aunt"; he does point out that V's identity is never revealed in the book. The ambiguity of the V character is a running theme through the work; it is left for the reader to determine for himself whether V is sane or psychotic, hero or villain. Before donning the Guy Fawkes mask herself, Evey comes to the conclusion that V's identity is unimportant compared to the role he plays, making his identity itself the idea he embodies.

This lack of personification through a fixed identity has also been construed as a way of creating an "Everyman" character, reinforcing the examples of personal responsibility taken throughout the book. This "Everyman" character is further illustrated through the use of Evey, a young, insecure, uneducated person, slowly changing into "V".

Adaptations

Music

David J of the band Bauhaus and Love and Rockets, who has collaborated with Moore on other projects, recorded a version of V's song "This Vicious Cabaret" and other music inspired by the book, which appeared on an EP titled V for Vendetta. According to David, Moore proposed the idea for him to compose music for a set of lyrics that would serve as the prologue to part II of the novel. Within an hour of receiving the lyrics, David had composed the music for the song.

Pop Will Eat Itself also included several references to V for Vendetta on their 1989 album This is the Day...This is the Hour...This is This! - the song "Can U Dig It?" includes the lyric "we dig V for Vendetta" and the chorus finishes with the line "Alan Moore knows the score". Another track, "The Fuses Have Been Lit", includes references to "the voice of Fate" and "The Land of Do-As-You-Please".

The progressive metal band, Shadow Gallery took its name from V's hideout, as admitted in their website's FAQ. They also have an album named Room V, another obvious reference.

Progressive nineties Brit-pop band Jocasta wrote the song "The Land of Do-As-You-Please" on their 1997 album release, No Coincidence, released by Epic/VP music. Referenced throughout the song is V's television speech to the British population, and the book he reads to Evey.

The Spanish metal and hip hop band Def Con Dos has a song titled "V de Vendetta" included in their 1991 album Tercer Asalto.

7th Son, a Las Vegas based metal band, wrote a song called "V" or "V for Vendetta" and used to have an alternate logo that was an adaptation of a V for Vendetta movie poster.

Now-defunct Raleigh, NC based punk band The Trepanators had a song called "V", whose lyrics were mostly a famous nursery rhyme repeated throughout the story and film ("Remember, remember, the fifth of November...").

British rock band Vicious Cabaret took its name from V's song "This Vicious Cabaret".

Theatre

The Swedish production company Stockholms Blodbad staged a live theatrical adaptation of the comic in 2000 under the title Landet där man gör som man vill, which translates into The Land where you do as you please.

Film

The first filming of an adaptation of V for Vendetta for the screen involved one of the scenes in the documentary feature film The Mindscape of Alan Moore, shot in early 2002. The dramatization contains no dialogue by the main character, while the Voice of Fate is used as an introduction.

A feature film adaptation was released on 17 March 2006, directed by James McTeigue (first assistant director on The Matrix films) from a screenplay by the Wachowski brothers. Natalie Portman stars as Evey Hammond and Hugo Weaving as V together with Stephen Rea, John Hurt and Stephen Fry. John Hurt, who played the renamed High Chancellor Adam Sutler in the film V for Vendetta, also played Winston Smith in the 1984 film adaptation of George Orwell's novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. Originally slated for a 5 November 2005 release, to coincide with Guy Fawkes Night and the 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, it was postponed until March, possibly due to the 7 July 2005 London bombings, although producers denied this was the reason.

Alan Moore, however, distanced himself from the film, as he has with every screen adaptation of his works to date. He ended cooperation with his publisher, DC Comics, after its corporate parent, Warner Bros., failed to retract statements about Moore's supposed endorsement of the movie. After reading the script, Moore remarked:
"[The movie] has been "turned into a Bush-era parable by people too timid to set a political satire in their own country...
It's a thwarted and frustrated and largely impotent American liberal fantasy of someone with American liberal values standing up against a state run by neoconservatives—which is not what the comic V for Vendetta was about.
It was about fascism, it was about anarchy, it was about Englandmarker."
He later adds that if the Wachowskis had wanted to protest about what was going on in the United States, then they should have used a political narrative that directly addressed the issues of the USA, similar to what Moore had done before with Britain. The film changes the original message by arguably having changed "V" into a freedom fighter instead of an anarchist. An interview with producer Joel Silver suggests that the change may not have been conscious; he identifies the V of the comics as a clear-cut "superhero... a masked avenger who pretty much saves the world," a simplification that goes against Moore's own statements about V's role in the story.

Co-author and illustrator David Lloyd, by contrast, embraced the adaptation. In an interview with Newsarama, he states: "It's a terrific film. The most extraordinary thing about it for me was seeing scenes that I'd worked on and crafted for maximum effect in the book translated to film with the same degree of care and effect. The "transformation" scene between Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving is just great. If you happen to be one of those people who admires the original so much that changes to it will automatically turn you off, then you may dislike the film—but if you enjoyed the original and can accept an adaptation that is different to its source material but equally as powerful, then you'll be as impressed as I was with it."

A novelization of the film's screenplay was written by comic writer Steve Moore (no relation to Alan Moore).

Cultural influences

Protesters wearing "Guy Fawkes masks" at a protest against Scientology in London in 2008


Anonymous, a leader Internet-based group, have adopted the Guy Fawkes mask as their symbol, notably worn by members during Project Chanology's protests against the Church of Scientology. Alan Moore had this to say about the use of the Guy Fawkes motif adopted from his comic V for Vendetta, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly: "I was also quite heartened the other day when watching the news to see that there were demonstrations outside the Scientology headquarters over here, and that they suddenly flashed to a clip showing all these demonstrators wearing V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes masks. That pleased me. That gave me a warm little glow."

On 23 May 2009, protesters dressed up as V and even set off a fake barrel of gunpowder outside Parliament while protesting over the issue of British MPs' expenses.

Collected editions

The entire story has appeared collected in paperback (ISBN 0-930289-52-8) and hardback (ISBN 1-401-20792-8) form. In August 2009 DC published a slipcovered Absolute Edition (ISBN 1-401-22361-3); this includes newly-coloured "silent art" pages (full-page panels containing no dialogue) from the series' original run, which have not appeared in any previous collected edition.

Interviews

The DVD of the documentary feature film The Mindscape of Alan Moore contains an exclusive bonus interview with the artist David Lloyd.

Notes and references

  1. Moore, Alan, Introduction. V for Vendetta. New York: DC Comics, 1990.
  2. The Comics Journal #210, February 1999, page 44
  3. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20213067_20213068_20213004_5,00.html
  4. BBC.com news report, Saturday, 23 May 2009 16:49 UK
  5. http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=19834


External links




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