V for Vendetta
© 1988 Alan Moore and David Lloyd
Remember, remember the Fifth of November. The Britain of 1998 is a nation that has lost its spirit,. After nuclear war and crop failures, widespread disorder was quelled only by the face of a fascist order, Norsefire. Controlling the country through ideology, violence, and a computer known as Fate, they rule over a bleak place whose greatest claim to fame is that it at least survived the nuclear war. Vast portions of Earth — including Africa — are simply “not there”. Enter “V”, however, a mysterious masked marauder who dreams of inspiring the people of this Airstrip One-in-the-making to revolution. Channeling the story of Guy Fawkes, who was caught attempting to blow Parliament to perdition, V is at the story’s start engaging in a two-year propaganda campaign involving blowing up symbolic institutions, while at the same time close to finishing a vendetta against people involved in an insidious concentration camp experiment. The story is much the same as the movie based on it — a woman named Evey falls in with V as a detective named Finch tries to find the man responsible for so much bedlam — but there is significant characterization here completely missed on the big screen. Detective Finch, for instance, nearly destroys his mind with drugs attempting to get a handle on who V is and what he wants. Although V orates on the distinction between anarchism and chaos — “without rulers” and “without order” — the story is more effective at communicating the importance of myth to the human imagination, of legends and symbols. The historical story V appropriates has little bearing to his actual ideal; Guy Fawkes intended no revolution, but the restoration of England’s traditional order against rising Puritanism in Parliament. What matters to V, however, is that people see and remember him as a revolutionist; ultimately, V himself becomes the symbol. As much as I like the movie (I watched it three times in two weeks), this graphic novel did a better job reminding me of and supplementing the dramatized version that it did winning me over in its own right.