V for Vendetta is a 296 page science-fiction graphic novel by author Alan Moore and illustrator David Lloyd. Although the film was based off the novel, there is a much more related script you can read to get that story. This story is quite a bit different from the screen production.
V for Vendetta revolves around the main character V, who is an escapee from the government concentration camp, “Larkhill Resettlement Camp” (for homosexuals, foreign immigrants, political prisoners, etc.). The setting is a “future” totalitarian England, 1997-8–it was published in 1988. The story is about V’s vendetta against the government for placing him and many others in the concentration camp and experimenting on them, against the people who worked at the camp, and also a bit about freeing the people of England from authoritarian rule. Due to the drugs that he was given in the camp, V is for all intents and purposes insane, and at the very least, unpredictable and dangerous in the eyes of the government.
During V’s stay in the camp, he was actually given a small role of responsibility to take care of the gardens and was therefore allowed to order all kinds of chemicals and fertilizers and the like. Using these things, he actually ends up storing them in his room in order to cause a large fire and escape. Once he escapes, he moves into the Shadow Gallery, collecting fine works of art and music (via jukebox) and plans his attack on November 5th. This is where Evey Hammond comes into the mix — a 16-year-old orphan who is about to attempt prostitution as a means to make a living. Unfortunately, she gets accosted by Fingermen, but fortunately is saved by V! This starts their journey through the story and her education on the vendetta. Of course, there are many other notable characters, but I can’t mention everyone.
The story is complex and incredibly well-thought out. The characters each have their own motives for wanting to take down the Leader (Mr. Susan) and his lackeys. The intricate play of human motivation is impressive. One thing I have come to respect about Alan Moore’s writing is the intense amount of back story each character is given; when even minor characters seem to come alive, it makes the larger story that much more believable. Along with the writing, I loved the artwork. The depiction of V in a Guy Fawkes mask — the persona encompasses a bit of what V is all about. He truly is an idea, rather than just a man, which is shown in the slightly different ending the novel had compared to the film.
Although it may seem clichè, my two favorite characters were the Leader and V. The novel really highlighted their insane intelligence and how it affected them personally. Insights into the Leader’s rule and time spent with Fate (government watch computer and program) were fascinating, and V’s time at Larkhill was probably the most interesting single plot line in the novel. I really enjoyed V for Vendetta, and although it’s not my favorite graphic novel, it is definitely in the upper register. For fans of the film (as I am; I love the movie, and will still repeatedly watch it even after reading the novel), I would highly recommend reading it. For those of you who haven’t seen the movie and are interested, I would also recommend the novel — it is a great political statement and fascinating character-driven story.