I don’t like Alan Moore, there, I said it. I find the man self-important and more than a little pretentious, he has however written some good stories. One of the standouts for me personally would be 1988’s ‘V For Vendetta’, collecting stories ranging back from 1982. Concerning the story of a masked vigilante, striking out against Norsefire, a totalitarian, neo-fascist government, responsible for orchestrating bizarre medical experimentation involving a compound that has the intent of infusing the recipient with augmented senses and reflexes at the cost of the test subjects freedom. One of the many people affected by the experimentation , ‘V’ decides to strike back at Norsefire.
Striking some similarities with the dystopian world presented in Orwell’s ‘1984’ but in the much more chillingly familiar real world surroundings of Great Britain, V For Vendetta is a book that serves as a warning as much as a chilling piece of future shock fiction.
There are certainly facets of V For Vendetta that ring true today, the rise of terror attacks and world governments and political parties that are willing to use terrible events to either scapegoat entire communities or to secure votes through fear-mongering is a pretty common occurrence, the feeling that as a citizen you may not be seeing the big picture is always a paranoid, niggling thought that preys on us all, unlike V though we do not act upon this, or do we?
In the most part, people are probably more aux fait with the film version of V, one that deviates from parts of the book and outright changes others, the film in itself was a pretty good adaptation even with the narrative deviations, the suggestion of a false flag attack being orchestrated by the government was one of the more interesting and well conceived changes to the story.
The central character in V, is a man who wears a Guy Fawkes mask and cries for revolution, you have only to look online to see members of online activist group ‘Anonymous’ do the exact same thing. Look at footage of any protest in the last 10 years or so, you’ll probably see a V mask somewhere in the crowd. As in the book itself, the mask has become a symbol of resistance, of rebellion, of downfall to the established order. We are not under the yolk of a totalitarian government but still the image is there, calling for their downfall. It is testament to the strength and believability of the source material and some of the parallels it can perceivably hold in our world that this happens today. Is this just a case of life imitating art? Comic book geeks with too much time on their hands and a political chip on their shoulder? If the image of V gives a group of people something to rally behind peacefully then more power to them, if life starts imitating art in more worrying, violent ways, I’d be more concerned.