Sunday, November 3, 2013

Why V?

Remember, remember
the 5th of November -
the Gunpowder Treason and plot.
I know of no reason
the Gunpowder Treason
should ever be forgot.
Yes, yes, you Alan Moore purists - I've heard it all before.  WATCHMEN is the great 20th century's graphic Literature with a capital L.  MARVELMAN (or Miracleman, as they say here in the colonies) is the great Deconstruction of the Superheroic Myth.  Blah-dee-blah-blah-blah.  For my money, V FOR VENDETTA is my favourite work by Mr. Crazy-Beard-Magus.  And being that this week IS the 5th of November, I thought it would be fun to spotlight "V" himself.

Illustrated by David Lloyd, V FOR VENDETTA is set in a Fascist alternative England, slowly being torn down by the anarchist known only as "V".  Whether or not he is a terrorist or a freedom fighter depends on your point of view (made even more clear when you reread this 1980's classic in the light of 9-11; see if the British "Fate" system doesn't remind you of the NSA of the USA...but I digress...).  But what takes him from good character, or even intriguing character, to GREAT character is that (at least in the comics), terrorist-or-freedom-fighter is mixed up in the complete AMBIGUITY of V's own self.  Is he man or superman?  Human being or experimental subject?  Crazy or sane?  Male or female?  And even if we could look behind the frozen visage of the Guy Fawkes mask, would the answers make a difference?

You see, V is whoever you bring to the table.  It is no mistake that the group known as Anonymous used V as their template identity.  
This idea is more central than you might think...
V may speak in metaphor, or riddles, or song quotes, (he even quotes "Waiting for the Man" - V for Velvet Underground (RIP Lou Reed, by the way)), but he never lies.  And his truths are uncomfortable, to say the least.  His philosophies, borne out of Thatcher-paranoia, are remarkably prescient.  "People should not be afraid of their governments," he tells Evey, "Governments should be afraid of their people."  Sometimes, he didn't speak at all, as in the side story "Vincent", and yet his actions spoke volumes by the novel's end.

Those side stories, "Vincent" and it's companion tale "Vertigo", showed that even though the story of V FOR VENEDETTA was very much self-contained, there were many other avenues and alleyways V could have trod down, and there are endless songs that could still yet be played "in this vicious caberet".  
It's hard to start a revolution on an empty stomach...eggy in a basket?
(For the record, I enjoyed the movie version as well, but for altogether different reasons.  But we're here to talk comics, are we not?)

And so Verily we Value your Views on our Volume of Vendetta and Vengeance, whether Vast Vermilion Verisimilitude, or Vain Vaudevillian Vistas of Virtue Versus Villainous Vice...

...and we Very Venerably bring you...


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