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Saturday, March 18, 2006
Some Comments on V for Vendetta the Comic Book

Some of the reviews on the movie are positive, some are negative. I'm not going to be seeing it at least until it's out on DVD. The New York Times was pretty negative:

[Alan] Moore's pretensions to seriousness may be seriously pretentious, but he seeks to elevate the level of conversation that has been inevitably lowered by the screen adaptations of his work. "V for Vendetta" is the worst offender in this regard, largely because the Wachowskis come equipped with their own fancy reading list and set of narrative and ideological imperatives.

Moore is a storywriting genius, but something of a political nut. One of the storylines that's going around is that the movie's good, but not as good as the comics. Let's put that matter to rest right now. While Moore has always been a terrific writer, this is an early and in many ways embarrassing effort.

The comics were written starting in 1981, and they posited a future England under the control of a Nazi-like government. A young girl named tries to prostitute herself and gets caught on the street by the storm troopers. Before they can rape and kill her, a bizarre figure jumps into their midst and causes havok. He wears a mask, moves incredibly fast, and has some gadgets including a grenade and tear gas. Before they can react, he is off with the girl.

It turns out he is V, and he is waging a one-man war against the government. Yes, he engages in acts of terrorism, but he's facing such an unrelentingly black-hearted regime that one cannot root against him. Here Evey recalls how they came to power (Click on pictures one or two times to expand to readable size):

And if that seems pretty embarrassing, there's worse. Here's her memory of the war:

Uh, the Russians invaded Poland? Remember this is before the end of the Cold War. And the notion that President Teddy Kennedy (gah!) would have started a nuclear exchange over that "invasion" is risible. Africa's not there anymore? Why? Did the US or Russia have a large number of their missiles aimed at the Dark Continent? But Britain didn't get bombed? Sheesh, must have been because Labour got those American missiles out of the UK.

You see what I mean? It doesn't even make good speculative fiction because you're too busy snorting and rolling your eyes in disbelief. That Moore was still in his nutbar political phase years later is evident in this snippet from the introduction to the 1988 DC edition:

It's 1988 now. Margaret Thatcher is entering her third term of office and talking confidently of an unbroken Conservative leadership well into the next century. My youngest daughter is seven and the tabloid press are circulating the idea of concentration camps for persons with AIDS....The government has expressed a desire to eradicate homosexuality, even as an abstract concept, and one can only speculate as to which minority will be next legislated against.

That's just the usual paranoid ravings of a Leftist lunatic. Moore would go on to do tremendous work especially on Swamp Thing, Watchmen, Tom Strong, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and other comics. But this comic serves mostly as a marker of how far Moore improved as a writer (if not as a political observer) in his later efforts.


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