Friday, December 19, 2008

Review: V for Vendetta by Alan Moore

This makes the fourth graphic novel I've read. (That's Watchmen, Sandman, Angel Season 6, and this. Watchmen and Sandman were reviewed here and here.) I saw the movie ages ago and adored it, but I didn't realize it was a graphic novel until I was looking for more stuff by Alan Moore, writer of my beloved Watchmen. Needless to say, the anticipation ran high.

I was not disappointed. V for Vendetta is much sleeker than Watchmen, more streamlined, and it suits the story very much. The story is as follows: A Guy Fawkes-ian terrorist, code name V, is targeting a post-WWIII totalitarian government. Hijinx ensue.

The art in this book was dark, which suited the mood perfectly, but I had trouble making out the pictures sometimes. Especially in the last third, I couldn't figure out which characters were which or remember what had happened to them. Luckily V's silhouette is very recognizable, and he was the character I was really interested in...

V is definitely insane. But a cold, clean, utterly sane kind of insane. He knows exactly what he's doing and he believes in it, totally and completely. His strikes are surgical, perfect, terrifying. He is the only man who could bring about the kind of changes wrought in the space of the novel... whether or not those changes should be brought about is the main course of the meal for thought. V is steeped in literature and culture, practically everything he says is a quote, and it makes him like a living metaphor, adding new dimensions everywhere you look. My favorite scene is a long conversation he holds with a statue of Lady Justice. Does he really believe the statue is talking to him? Does he just want it to be? Or is he just playing out the metaphor he sees? The scene distills the character of V perfectly for me, showing all of his intent and the different sides to his actions. You'll know it when you see it.

V for Vendetta didn't hit me quite as hard as Watchmen, but the punch definitely connected. I recommend it without hesitation, especially to fans of the movie. While it's been too long since I saw it to comment on any specifics, the atmosphere and gist of the movie and novel seem to be the same, and I certainly enjoyed both. If the Guy Fawkes thing is new to you like it was to me, I recommend your favorite search engine, Wiki, or the book Faith and Treason: The Story of the Gunpowder Plot by Antonia Fraser.

Buy V for Vendetta


  1. My brother-in-law just raved about this one. I think I may just steal it from him and check it out!

  2. I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one who had trouble telling the characters apart in this.

    A friend of mine routinely describes the movie as 'a dumbed-down version of the graphic novel' which does have some merit as a statement -- they did change things around to fit into the length of a movie and/or to appeal to people more, it felt like -- but the atmosphere is similar, aye.

    And information on Guy Fawkes is a good idea, indeed. 'm grateful our English lessons in secondary school covered enough to give me some idea. I think it'd have been nice/useful if non-UK releases of the book had come with a small section explaining the Gunpowder Plot a little, but that could just be me.



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