V For Vendetta

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Story: Alan Moore
Art: David Lloyd

Publisher: DC

Plot: Alan Moore's grim tale of post-apocalyptic Fascist Britain, follows the political destabilising antics of "V", the product of an experiment.

V for Vendetta combines poetry, satire, prophecy and violence to make a molotov cocktail of a book which makes you sit up and take notice. This book is engrossing yet feels strangely prophetic, its Alan Moore's vision of what Britain would be like under a hard-line totalitarian fascist regime and reminds us of the need for personal freedom and privacy. Sure, it's all been done before in Orwell's 1984, however the hope for a better future that was lacking in Orwell's bleak prediction submerges in V for Vendetta in the shape of "V", a melodramatic anarchist with the power to make a difference.

The characterisation of V is brilliantly executed. He remains enigmatic all the way through and although we are given glimpses of his history we are never truly aware of what lies at the heart of him or who he truly is. V seems to be a combination of madman, genius and visionary and you're never totally convinced that V isn't totally insane. This serves to add an extra edge to the work, which adds a lot to the already fine work.

David Lloyd's artwork has a distantly gothic horror feel and is perfect for this novel. His rendition of V in the clown face is superb, and makes him a more weird and enigmatic character.

There are elements in the work when it's not clear what's happening but I get the impression this was intentional and, because of the nature of both V and the book, actually adds an extra element of mystery to both the work on the whole and the character of V.

V for Vendetta is one of the finest works in comics to date. It's a groundbreaking work and when it originally came out nothing like it had ever been done before, at least in this format. It's influential, powerful, evocative and totally engrossing. Apart from the fact that we have already seen past 1997 and 1998, the years in which it is set, the work has not aged at all and it is still as powerful a piece of work as it ever was.

Uniquely, you actually get more story and art for your money if you buy the ten individual issues rather than the collected edition. This is because the TPB omits almost all of the linking pages between chapters that were added specially to the original tales (which originally appeared in Warrior in individual installments) for the ten-part DC series. Plus you get an enigmatic back cover that develops over the course of the series, which is also missing from the collected editions.

It's a gritty drama and it's not pretty, so if you're looking for a happy, "safe" tale you may be disappointed. Everyone else, get it now.

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