V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd
(Vertigo, 2005, 288 pages)
I’ve been intending to read some graphic novels for a while now, and I decided to start with Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta. I remember enjoying the movie when it came out, and since the graphic novel is considered a classic of the genre, I thought it would be a good place to start. Originally published in the early 1980s, the story is set in the late 1990s. England is now a totalitarian state that has been purged of minority groups. Literature, music, and film have been effectively stamped out. Only a vigilante in a Guy Fawkes mask provides a voice of protest against these atrocities. Himself a mysterious victim of medical experimentation, V is either a terrorist or a symbol of justice and resistance. He is committed to beauty, truth, and freedom, but he strikes a blow for these by creating chaos and causing destruction. In addition to creating a chilling depiction of a fascist dictatorship, V for Vendetta effectively raises questions about the nature of freedom, the limits of authority, and the lengths to which resistors should go in in their protests.
I really enjoyed this book. I think that, more than anything, Moore and Lloyd created a really iconic symbol of political resistance (not to mention insanity and genius) in V. However, I do have to admit to having a little bit of trouble getting into the flow of the graphic novel format. At times, the panels and balloon wording feel too much like storyboards for a film, and therefore, if feels like reading something that is as yet incomplete. Actually, it strikes me that this might be a weakness for a lot of graphic novels, especially those like V for Vendetta which contain lots of action and movement – that is, they are too derivative of the tropes and techniques of films. A story that uses the techniques of film is going to be better portrayed on film than on the page. Despite a the protests over the movie of V for Vendetta by people who loved the graphic novel, I think that it was ultimately a better movie than a graphic novel. That being said, it was very enjoyable, and I would recommend it to those who like the novels of George Orwell or Aldous Huxley.