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Reading V For Vendetta In 2021

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Let us start this graphic novel review with some trivia – ‘V For Vendetta’ starts off with a pandemic warning in the very first page, an announcement declares that two areas in London are quarantined and must be avoided.

This is my book number 19 for the year and I felt sort of silly for not having read the ‘classic bestseller’ by Alan Moore & David Lloyd until now. I did see the 2005 film as a teen; buying the graphic novel wasn’t an affordable option back then. So I’ve always pushed purchasing it, since I already knew the story. Finally got the e-book because it was basically free with the ‘Kindle Unlimited’ subscription.

The story is about a masked vigilante ‘V’, plotting to overthrow a neo-fascist government. He wears a Guy Fawkes mask, who has since become a popular symbol of protests in the real world too. Moore wittily merges historical events with fiction.

‘V For Vendetta’ first came out in 1982, with a setting similar to George Orwell’s “1984”. However, Moore’s fiction is much darker and the oppressive mood is amplified by the comic panels drenched in shades of black. While ‘V’ slowly & steadily murders a lot of people at the top, we see a parallel plot about how investigators try to crack his identity. There is a pretty sinister origin story to the mysterious V, whose true identity is never revealed through the course of the book. His potential back-story is revealed through the diary of a dead character, and the investigators have their own doubts about its authenticity.

What a modern reader of this book would possibly appreciate is how the creators deliberately wrote a political satire about their time, but unwittingly also mirrored the future. People from around the world can still draw parallels of the corrupt regime to governments across the globe. ‘V’ himself symbolizes the ease with anybody in a superior position can influence a malleable mind and get them to do their bidding. He is no saint, his actions lead to anarchy and chaos, although the anarchy is justified as the first step to freedom from a totalitarian regime. While the themes are thought-provoking, the story begins to falter a little towards the end.

‘V’ in the comic is constantly quoting classics, poetry and his shadowy behaviour gets overbearing for the reader. I would get confused between some characters because they weren’t very distinctly different. The choice of colors in the artwork sometimes seemed a little too much work for the eyes. My interest in the book wavered a little towards the end & I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Guess this is what happens when you watch the film version first (I really liked the movie).

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