This month’s recommended read has been described as the finest, most intelligent and most relevant British novel of the last 25 years. It’s also a personal favourite of mine and I became aware of it after reading another classic from the same author. A man who needs no introduction and who is a true powerhouse of English comics: the one and only Alan Moore. This month’s recommended read is his dark vision of a very different England, V for Vendetta.
The story begins on 5 November 1997 and is set in a fascist, almost post-apocalyptic Britain. The populous is ruled by a police-style state that, much like Orwell’s 1985, is ever-vigilant and ever-watching. So, like a modern Guido Fawkes, the hero (or villain, depending on your view) known only as ‘V’ is committed to bringing down the dictatorship government of the day. Moore really gets the reader to look at both sides of the coin – fascism and anarchy – and through his storytelling asks the reader to look at V’s motives, morality and further as he looks at a social commentary on late 20th century England.
The story begins and unfolds through the eyes of an innocent young woman called Evey Hammond who has a chance encounter with V when he rescues her from the clutches of the Fingermen (corrupt police). The anonymous V wears a Fawkes mask to hide his identity and plans to kill the fascist leaders of the dictatorship that rule England at this time. He wants to educate the people to show them that they’re being lied to and controlled through false-flag operations and a corrupt and controlled media service. In effect, all culture is controlled by the State.
The artwork itself is excellently chosen to mirror the story; the subtle shades creating a visual image of a gloomy, despairing England while still showing the grim, futuristic world of control. This book is beautiful, and a stark warning of how an Orwellian future could so easily become a reality. It remains one of Alan Moore’s greatest works in my opinion, which is no mean feat as I consider him to be one of the best writers to grace the medium of graphic novels. If you think you know the story because you paid your money to sit in a darkened auditorium and watch the lesser, Hollywood version of this story, please take the time to read the novel. You will be pleasantly surprised…