TitleV for Vendettav_for_vendettax
Author: Alan Moore (writer), David Lloyd (illustrator)
Year Of Publication: 1988-1989
Genre: Graphic Novel, Dystopian Fiction

Spoilers to follow.

Can ideas bring down governments?

If you believe V for Vendetta, the answer is yes. But only if you can kill enough people standing in the way for your elaborate scheme to achieve its domino effect.

Written by Alan Moore (of Watchmen fame, though this was written and published first), V for Vendetta takes place in post-nuclear war world, in a Britain that has descended into a dystopian police state. The government preaches “strength through purity, purity through faith,” the population listens and watches state-sponsored radio shows and news programs, and few remember, remember the 5th of November.

Few, not all.

“Codename V,” as he’s known to those tasked with capturing him, is an anarchist – someone for whom societal rebuilding cannot be accomplished without an initial teardown. For him, the fascist state must be replaced. In an ideal world, Britain becomes the land of “do-as-you-please.”

It’s an idea the graphic novel propagates, anyway. Moore, who famously bases the settings and themes here on an unrealized yet not unrealistic version of a Britain had Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government lost the 1983 elections, fights fascism with anarchism. As V says twice: “Anarchy wears two hats, both creator and destroyer.”

He continues:

“Thus destroyers topple empires; make a canvas of clean rubble where creators can then build a better world. Rubble, once achieved, makes further ruins’ means irrelevant.”

From my reading, V is a destroyer. He blows up three of the five principal governmental departments (killing hundreds in the process) and murders dozens more face-to-face in the process. And in the government’s attempts to capture, V becomes a symbol to the citizenry. He’s not a hero, no. But he is an inspiration. He creates the rubble.

And here’s where we get into the spoilers.

V also takes an apprentice. Evey, an orphan, is about to be raped and killed by a group of policemen when V intervenes. He kills the men and lets Evey stay at his place, where he grooms her with ideals.

As he wears the Guy Fawkes mask, V’s identity is never revealed. Even after his death. But it’s this anonymity that allows Evey to take his mantle and continue to inspire the masses.

Because to be honest, someone needs to remind them what happened on November 5th.

TL;DR: Remember the 5th of November or a man in a Guy Fawkes mask will kill you.

Verdict: A must read. Darkly drawn, darkly conceived, a terrifying take on the future.

More from Season 3 of the Lit to Lens podcast.