V for Vendetta is a British graphic novel written by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd. As my first graphic novel, it was initially a bit hard to adjust to reading a different style, as you read the pages from left to right, top to bottom. I also noticed that while reading a graphic novel, your mind wants to initially read the text first; however, I was instructed to try to look at the images first and then read the text. An obvious difference between graphic novels and traditional literary texts are the illustrations. If you prefer seeing someone else’s interpretation of the text, then graphic novels are for you! If you prefer to imagine the world and the characters, then you most likely would prefer to read a traditionally formatted text.
As for the graphic novel that I read, V for Vendetta depicts a dystopian, almost post-apocalyptic future version of the United Kingdom, if the Cold War had actually resulted in nuclear warfare. The government in V for Vendetta is unarguably white supremacist, homophobic, and largely antireligion, as these groups are sent to concentration camps to be eliminated. Much like in a previously reviewed text, 1984, the world in V for Vendetta is under a state of constant surveillance by the government. The novel follows the story of the main protagonist, V, who is an anarchist dressed in a symbolic Guy Fawkes mask. V represents upheaval of the oppressive government with his theatrical and revolutionary aims to enact revenge on his former captors and take down the state.
One way, early on in the novel, that V begins his plans is to take a young woman named Evey Hammond under his tutelage. Evey represents the loss of innocence and, also, the morality that V himself appears to not have. Throughout the novel, Evey is shown to disapprove of the means that V enacts his plans. She also sees V as a father figure, which V is vehemently against and resorts to questionable measures to erase, which you will have to read to find out. It is argued that Evey is just as much of a protagonist as V is, because the novel follows her own story and her growth into a more mature and rounded character, but overall, I did not like Evey as much as I wanted to. She was more of a plot point, than a strong female lead; this is recognizably what Moore was trying to do with her character, but it doesn’t mean that I liked it.
The novel poses several questions to the reader that must be answered to fully grasp the character of V and what he is trying to do throughout the novel. On one hand, V is a terrorist not unlike other terrorists who commit violent acts for their own personal means. He is an anarchist, because he believes that the only way to change the government is to destroy it and only then can it be rebuilt. He mercilessly kills and tortures friend and foe alike when he believes it can benefit him and his ideologies. He sees society members as having an active role in the fascist government, because as he questions, “who elected them?” Because of his stance on society members, he does not treat them as innocent, and unlike other “vigilante-types,” he does not spare bystanders. In saying this, it is ultimately up to you as the reader to decide if you think V is a good or bad guy. Personally, I appreciated what Moore attempted, but I do think as a whole, the novel fell a little flat for me. I lacked the empathy that I find myself feeling towards other revolutionists, so it is hard for me to say that I liked the character, V.
However, I did enjoy this novel as my first dive into graphic novels. I thought the graphic design was impressive, and honestly, the best part of the novel. The illustrations kept me reading, because I wanted to see how the characters were depicted through the artwork. As a whole, I did appreciate how thought-provoking the novel was, even if I did not agree with V’s actions at times. If you are looking to read a political ideology, then this novel should certainly be on the list. It was interesting to read a new perspective on a political revolutionist, one operating in a darker gray area, almost black and white, than I am used to as a reader.
If you do choose to pick up this novel, or have read it in the past, feel free to email me your thoughts!