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V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd

Posted by RB Kollannur on July 15, 2012


Note: This review is part of a weekly book review column that I write for City Journal, an English newspaper based in Thrissur, Kerala.

Published on 01/06/2012

Publisher – Vertigo; Year of Publication – 2005; Pages – 296; Cost at the time of purchase – Rs. 860

The past year and a half has seen a heightened demand for Guy Fawkes masks. Amazon reported it to be the highest selling mask on their website. I am sure you have seen it too, while browsing the internet – the face of a man with rosy cheeks, a pointy beard and a painted smile. The mask owes its sudden rise in popularity due to its adoption by the #Occupy Wall Street Movement and their ilk and the Anonymous hacktivist group. Although their activity has been largely limited to the western world, recently we have seen Anonymous turning their head towards India, after some rulings by the Government of India and the Indian judicial system on internet.

Guy Fawkes was a Catholic terrorist in England who attempted to blow up the British Parliament on 5th November 1605. Unfortunately for him, he was outed, ironically enough, by an anonymous letter. He was captured on 4th November and eventually died in 1606. If you are wondering how such an irrelevant event in English history can hold significance four centuries later, you are not alone.

The reason for that is V for Vendetta.

V for Vendetta is a series of comic books written by Alan Moore in the 1980s and later compiled into a single book. It was about a British terrorist set out to raise anarchy in a fascist Great Britain. The Guy Fawkes mask that has become so popular is actually a creation of the illustrator, David Lloyd.

The novel starts off with a girl being threatened with rape for soliciting policemen (unintentionally, of course). Out comes a guy from the shadows to get rid of the shadowy cops. Grateful for her safety, she is aghast by the realization that she is to now bear witness to the first act of terrorism that V performs – blowing up the Parliament; the act that Guy Fawkes failed. But this is just the start. More is set to follow as V prepares to bring anarchy to England. Oddly, the girl agrees.

For a while, the book devolves into a personal vendetta of a person wronged by many as V goes on a killing spree. While it provides a setting to understand the ambiguous morality of V, it hints at a larger storyline at play. The other characters in the story, the machinery of the fascist state, are introduced. As the story unfolds, we see how V dismantles the state one department at a time, to bring forth a leaderless society; an anarchy.

There are stories within the story. The main one is about Eric Finch, the regime’s top detective, who was also a former lover of one of V’s victims. Troubled by the nature of his regime, he frees himself from its clutches to become a true anarchist. The development of Finch into an anarchist provides the better writing in the story. But as a renegade with a different viewpoint from V, he throws a monkey wrench into V’s plan. Almost.

Since it is a graphic novel it is a quick read. But it is not recommended for kids because of mature situations. But by the end it will leave you with an idea; the same idea that inspires groups like #Occupy and Anonymous. And as the protagonist eloquently puts after being mortally wounded – ideas are bulletproof.

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One Response to “V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd”

  1. […] on 18/05/2012 11)   In the Name of Rome by Adrian Goldsworthy – Published on 26/05/2012 12)   V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd– Published on 01/06/2012 13)   Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller – Published on […]

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