In the Comic/Graphic Novel world, there are a few titles that are held up in high regard as being models for the genre- Akira, 300, Watchmen, The Crow, and so on. V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd is one of those books. For years I’d heard references to it, but I’ve hadn’t actually read it. While on my comic spree, I decided to change that… I kind of wish I hadn’t.
A powerful story about loss of freedom and individuality, V For Vendetta takes place in a totalitarian England following a devastating war that changed the face of the planet. In a world without political freedom, personal freedom and precious little faith in anything comes a mysterious man in a white porcelain mask who fights political oppressors through terrorism and seemingly absurd acts. It’s a gripping tale of the blurred lines between ideological good and evil.
In a dystopian future Britain, 1997 is a rough year. Fascists have taken control in the wake of world war three and cleansed the country of all hippies, non-whites and and homosexuals. Those that remain live in an isolationist police state where they are monitored day and night. Food shortages and corruption reign.
The plot focuses on the character of Evey Hammond, a 16 year old orphan who is rescued by a mysterious figure referred to as “V”. After taking her back to his lair, V splits his time between planning the overthrow of the Fascist regime and educating Evey on what her government has destroyed.
I really wanted to like this one – philosophy and anti-government themes both interest me – and both run heavy in this book. Unfortunately, I’ve been spoiled by modern comics. V for Vendetta was written and drawn in the early 80’s and it shows. Originally released as a serial, the first few issues were in black and white. The Reprint was re-inked in color, however it suffers. The colors look washed out, the characters are hard to distinguish, and the font is often hard to read. There are several sections where the dialog crawls or is unclear.
Unfortunately, the hype was simply too great for V to overcome, but I blame that on the limitations of the media at the time. I do see a silver lining, however, I liken it to reading The Scarlet Letter or The Great Gatsby. Sometimes you don’t read something for enjoyment, you read it for understanding because it provides context and insight to the conversations around you. In that light, I don’t see V for Vendetta as a waste of time, I see it as a way to understand the social commentary of others. Would I recommend it to others? Only if they wanted another perspective on today’s political scene.