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A First Look at V for Vendetta by the Book

Published February 12, 2005 in BOOK REVIEW
By Ryan Parsons | Images from V for Vendetta
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Alan Moore's V for Vendetta is a retelling of 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. The story takes place in an imaginary England where 'the War', a nuclear war at that, and a take over of the government by the Labour party has caused Britain to become a fascist state. Imagine a totalitarian state under Hitler, but in this state each part of the system has a function, such as 'the Voice' and 'the Eye' and 'the Finger.'

V for Vendetta by Alan Moore

Amidst this new mess of a government is a concentration camp survivor who fancies himself by wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and terrorizing political establishments. The 'terrorist,' goes under the codename of 'V' and has only one mission-tear down the new government and allow anarchy to reign king.

Through out V for Vendetta you are never told who 'V' really is, or should I say was. However, we are told his story beginning with his arrival to a concentration camp known as Larkhill. During his time at Larkhill, 'V' was subject to a medical experiment that caused all the other patients to die. Unlike them, 'V' actually grew stronger and more intelligent [in a sick sort of way]. After much complicated planning, 'V' learns how to gain the trust of his captors to allow him to build a mustard gas filled bomb that would later aid in his escape. Soon after his escape from Larkhill, 'V' starts making moves to take out all who had worked at Larkhill, and the government that created the camp in the first place. However, sometime along the way, 'V' saves a female orphan from statesmen [local police] who planned to hurt, rape, or kill her for breaking the law by attempting prostitution for much needed cash.

V for Vendetta V for Vendetta
The girl's name is Evey Hammond, and 'V' immediately takes her in for protection and tutoring. While the whole V for Vendetta plot is about 'V's' terrorist style plots to bring down a corrupt government, a good portion of the book spends time with the relationship between Evey and 'V.' The character 'V' is not some one who opens up in the slightest, nor does he ever remove the mask. To be blunt, it is hard to figure out whether 'V' is righteous or just a standard terrorist, as he kills and torments political figures all over Britain.

I actually found this segment of the book to be the most interesting. The relationship between 'V' and Evey is very complex and filled with both distrust and undying loyalty. It is hard to grasp whether 'V' really wants Evey, or if he knows he can brainwash her younger mind. There are many points in V for Vendetta where 'V' tests Evey in the cruelest of ways. Each test is suppose to allow Evey to escape the invisible bars placed around her by the new fascist government.

As V for Vendetta continues, you soon learn the 'V' had other goals for Evey, goals she is willing to meet by the end of the graphic novel.

V for Vendetta- What to Like

Alan Moore's graphic novel, V for Vendetta, pulls away from most conventions used in comic books and other graphic novels. One of the greatest things about V for Vendetta is that it follows a perfect storyboard. A director could read this book and easily adapt the idea, and some of the scenes, to film. On multiple occasions Moore will have his character 'V' give a speech or a monologue about current/future events. While 'V' is speaking, the graphic novel continues to go forward, but it does not stay with the speaker-'V'. Instead, the novel will take snapshot glimpses at all the other major characters to see what they are doing. Imagine watching a movie where some one is giving a speech and, instead of the camera on the speaker, the camera changes settings while it checks up on other characters.

V for Vendetta V for Vendetta
I thought this was a real nice feature that I do not remember seeing in other comics or graphic novels.

The strength of V for Vendetta comes from its main character-- 'V'. 'V' is not your typical hero where you will always understand the intentions put forth. 'V' is mysterious in all aspects, except for the fact that he seeks vengeance. The only humanity witnessed comes from 'V's' relationship with Evey. A relationship that is also awkward, but caring just the same.

Final Judgment: Alan Moore's V for Vendetta is a constant reminder of why I enjoy graphic novels. The book creates an imaginary Britain by retelling classic tales. Along the way you meet 'V', one of the most interesting characters ever to appear in ANY book. Just like most graphic novels, V for Vendetta throws ordinary conventions out the window to get the story across. A story that purposely leaves you in the dark through the end.

V for Vendetta- The Movie

V for Vendetta is being adapted to film under the same title-- V for Vendetta. The screenplay is being written by the Wachowski brothers, with Natalie Portman already set to star as Evey Hammond. After reading the graphic novel by Alan Moore, I am assuming that the Wachowski brothers are going to spend a lot of emphasis on the relationship between Evey and 'V' [probably even more so than the book]. To get more movie information, check out the V for Vendetta Movie Page.
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Ryan Parsons
Sources: Images from V for Vendetta

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