October 29, 2004

This Vicious Cabaret

Last night, I was bored and tired - a long Wednesday drive to deep Jefferson County (with a meeting in north St. Louis that was canceled with no notice to me) left me drained - so much so that I spent Thursday at the office, just barely getting through my paperwork. So I rifled through my graphic novel collection, and reacquained myself with an old friend...and a work that is proving almost timely and timeless in the same moment.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you V for Vendetta.

It was written in the late 70's (finally completed in the '80s by DC), and talks about the frightening world of 1997 - England is a fascist state; people scramble to survive, and a mysterious figure, dressed like British legend Guy Fawkes engages in acts designed to shake up the system.

However, this post isn't going to be a typical review - if you want a much clearer, more extensive exploration of the Alan Moore/David Lloyd work, click here. However, not only do I think of this as an excellent work, I'm going to go out on a limb and make the following statement:

V for Vendetta is the graphic novel equivalent of The Prisoner.

Both works deal with big issues - freedom, the individual vs. society, the way power is used and abused. Both works deal with relatively anonymous figures - Number 6 and V, aka "The Man From Room Five" about whom we know little, if anything. Both men take drastic actions against their situations, and aggressively pursue their agendas. Both works are also visually distinctive, and are products of their time visually and thematically. We also see that both protagonists do things that are not necessarily the most positive (V's cruel treatment of Evey to "free" her, Number 6's questionable attitude towards women, "especially the four-legged kind".) Both even assert that being true to oneself is the greatest freedom, and both works were done "on the fly" as it were - no big plan, no critical outline, etc.

However, there are some crucial differences - The Prisoner ends on a curve, suggesting that one can never be free, while V for Vendetta suggests a less cynical end. Number 6 has almost severe contempt for his fellow "inmates", whereas V can demonstrate some compassion, at times.

However, ultimately the difference is the approach of both authors. With Patrick McGoohan, he was coming from Secret Agent, a show which had made him a star. Alan Moore and David Lloyd were relative unknowns, writing a strip that appeared on a weekly basis.

However, both works have a timelessness and speak on themes that, today, seem more fresh than ever. Both are well worth your time.

1 comment:

Psychbloke said...

Thematically I agree, they are very similar, but I am going to go out even further on a limb and say that V is a better story.
The Village and it's characters never emerge as anything more than a backdrop for the central protagonist. It's all centred on McGoohan. Only Leo McKern's Number Two approaches anything like a rounded character.
In V , the central protagonist is in many ways in the background and we come to understand him through the responses of a range of excellently rendered characters - Evey, Rose, the police guy....I can't remember all of their names.
Altogether a more complete and satisfying narrative.
Maybe 'cos it was a joint venture - I definitely think someone needed to rein McGoohan in on the Prisoner, as I think I've said on my own blog before.