Sunday, November 13, 2016

Superhero Media: V for Vendetta

Been dreading this one a little. Alan Moore's V for Vendetta is a landmark moment in comics, a grand political statement and the culmination of the leftist, anti-establishment trend that has been part of comics sine the Silver Age. Moore's background in various counter-cultures comes to the fore in his writing, and, as one of the first times Moore was ever unleashed as a writer, V for Vendetta is a vitally important moment in comics as a medium. The only problem is, I didn't care for it. No really. Was not a fan. I was inclined, at first, to think that it was simply that i haven never been keen on my Bakunin, and, yes, Moore does push an anarchist agenda that I'm not keen on pretty damn hard, but that's only part of it. Moore's fans tend to talk the most about three of his works; V for Vendetta, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Watchmen, these are held up as big deals for comics and this is difficult to refute. However, when it comes to Moore, I think his Marvel and DC work is where his genius truly shines. Yes, I am, myself a writer, and respect the creative impulse, but I also believe that editors exist for a very important reason; just look at Moore's LXG Century series or Lost Girls to see what he can get up to when there are no restrictions. 

The elephant in the room is, of course, the V for Vendetta film, which I thoroughly enjoy and think is destined to be a cult classic. The graphic novel is a different beast entirely. To even call it a superhero comic is a major stretch, V is a charismatic terrorist, like Michael Collins or a young Nelson Mandela, he is only a "good guy" because the people he's killing are worse than him. His plan is to, essentially, murder members of the government until "the people" (most of whom are portrayed as largely indifferent) rise up and overthrow his INGSOC stand-in. In the graphic novel, "Father" isn't a British Hitler analogue, but is, instead, a mental pygmy, thrust into power as a puppet, who holds sexual desires for his computerised spy network. By now, it's obvious that Moore probably wrote V for Vendetta as a love letter to both Orwell and Bakunin, V is an anarchist Batman here to chase the enemies of the people away, be they communist, socialist, fascist or capitalist. No wonder he was changed so much for the film.

Also in need of mentioning is the urban legend that Evey is a prostitute in the comic; not strictly true, she is attempting to begin work as a prostitute when she meets V, but actually works in a cannery. Evey, like every civilian in V for Vendetta, is not really interested in rebellion, at least until V tortures and brainwashes her into working for him. Hell, I know that INGSOC are pretty terrible, but most people seem to be at least happy slaves, V's agenda seems pretty brutal and doesn't allow for the very people he's fighting for to have an opinion. I'm aware that I sit pretty far left on the political spectrum, but I also wouldn't consider staring a guerilla campaign to overthrow a corrupt government by pulling out Plato's Republic and insisting that we create a rationalist state and ban religious worship. V for Vendetta is worth a read, certainly, but I'm glad I borrowed a friend's copy rather than pay for one myself. What can I say? Sometimes the mystique is better than the reality. 

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