Reading Backwards

Book reviews by your favorite Git.

V For Vendetta

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By Alan Moore and David Lloyd
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Read: April 2006
Rating: Headspinner

 And you though 1984 was tough. V For Vendetta takes Orwell as a jumping point and sets everything on its ear. I haven’t seen the movie, but I really hope it makes more sense than this fast-paced graphic novel.

I was given this as a holiday gift. It kept me very occupied for a few days as I tried to keep a handle on the action. It’s drawn, and written, in the style of classic American comics–like Superman, etc. That kind of lettering, language, art, etc. So manga fans be wary!  

 It’s 1997, and Britain is ruled by an organization that sees itself as body parts working together. The Eyes are surveillance, the Head is the guy at the top who does all the thinking, the cops are the Hands… and the Voice makes nightly addresses to the people, delivering the news. It is a time of censorship; all the classics have been destroyed, including classic films.

V , the man in the mask, has covered his hideaway with posters for stage shows. He has fascination with theater, and everything is a show. He is an odd mixture of Batman, the Scarlett Pimpernell, and your nostalgic ninth grade English teacher. His goal is to destroy the current government and free the minds of the people.

On the night V begins his campaign (Guy Fawkes Day) he rescues a girl named Evey from police brutality. She and V part and come together several times throughout, but it is clear that he’s giving her an education… making an apprentive of her.  

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t understand it all. At the time I could appreciate the 1984 connections (I foolishly read them back to back) for they are many and easily recognized. Unfortunately, everything is piled on atop the other. It was originally formatted as mini-chapters for individual comic release, explaining the compactness, but if I’d been reading it at that pace I would have had to keep going back to refresh my memory. In that way it’s clumsy; too jammed together. I got no real sense of time except for notes in the text and the evolution of Evey as she grows. It also pulled in too many threads and characters. I wanted to know more about V, but he’s nearly a side character in terms of face (mask) time.

 The last third was highly suspenseful and focused more on just the important threads. From that point on, I could enjoy it. Some of the questions were answered, but not all. The end was only partly satisfying–much in the same was 1984‘s ending is.

Read it if you’re curious, but if you haven’t got a good background in previous literature (Shakespeare, Orwell) or 20th century entertainment (Broadway, vaudeville, early television) you’re going to get lost and the meaning just won’t be there. I’d be curious to see what other people think about this one. 


Written by Shen

June 17, 2006 at 6:44 pm

Posted in comic, Europe, futuristic, scifi

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