Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

V for Vendetta (graphic novel)

Allie posted photos of her V jack-o-lantern and I remembered that I never actually posted my writeup of this, despite having read it back in May of '06 and having the writeup sitting around since early December of that year.

[This year, angevin2 posted a historical quotation about Guy Fawkes (Day).]


from Cary Memorial Library [Lexington]
Title        V for vendetta / written by Alan Moore ; art by David Lloyd ; coloring by David Lloyd, Steve Whitaker, Siobhan Dodds.
Publication info.        New York : DC Comics, 2005.
Description        286 p. : col. ill. ; 26 cm.
Note        "Originally published in single magazine form in the United States as V for Vendetta 1-10"--T.p. verso.
All I knew from ads for the film (which I haven't seen) was that V wore a stylized Joker mask and a black cape and said "Remember, remember, the fifth of November" and "People should not be afraid of their governments; governments should be afraid of their people" and that Evey was played by a shaved head Natalie Portman.

Running commentary:

Book One: Europe After the Reign
(A hand setting up dominoes.)

"It is the fifth of the eleventh, nineteen-ninety-seven."  Primed by the movie ads, I was looking for this, but otherwise I would have just skimmed right past this contorted sterile articulation of a date, only registered that it was a date but not what the date was at all.

All the surveillance cameras with "For Your Protection" signs reminded me of being in England summer of 2003 and how surveillance cameras were so prevalent and at a time when Americans were freaking out about increased government surveillance of civilians.
[Wiki says, "Closed-circuit television had not yet become common in the UK at the time Moore wrote the series. Today, London has the world's highest concentration of C.C.T.V."]

I'm not an especially visual person, but I actually really noticed the yellow wash of this opening story and thought it very effective.

Nice juxtaposition of "The Queen was wearing a suit of peach silk created specially for the occasion by the royal couturier" with the girl smoothing her dress.

I didn't actually know if V was officially gendered, so I thought the blond girl getting costumed was V.

Chapter One: The Villain

I appreciated V/Moore including "Macbeth" in the passage quoted 'cause otherwise it was gonna bug me trying to recall where it was from.

The first time I read this I was confused because I thought V was saying he had been a part of the gunpowder treason plot, which of course he couldn't have been.  But going back to write down notes [and thus having the whole of the narrative under my belt] I realize he blew up the Houses of Parliament -- succeeding where the originals had failed.

"Lewis Prothero.  He does the Voice.  The Voice of Fate."
I can't help thinking of "Prospero" everytime I read "Prothero."

(I have a hell of a time keeping all the characters straight 'cause they all look so similar.  [I don't imagine I would be any better watching the film.  Witness my inability to tell Colin Firth and Liam Neeson apart in Love Actually.]  I also dislike that I have difficulty telling when words are supposed to be capitalized or emphasized due to how comics text is in all caps.  Detail-oriented and note-taking, me?)

Chapter Two: The Voice

Just as "The Villain" had the double-meaning of V who identified himself thusly and the Fingermen, so so this chapter opens with The Voice of Fate but then also [I forget what I wanted to say here]

The bookcases are of Great Literature (Shakespeare, etc.) but the music is Motown -- black culture as symbolic of primitive & freedom?
"What's this playing now?  The woman doesn't even sound English."  In contrast to, "Isn't he marvellous?  If Fate really had a voice it would sound just like that " / "The whole idea is that people think it's Fate talking.  It makes Fate appear more human.  Gives people confidence."

"All this business about boarding moving trains is like something out of the picturesNormal people can't do things like that."
Breaking the fourth wall?  Meta shout-out?
"He killed them ruthlessly, efficiently, and with a minimum of fuss.  Whatever their faults, those were two human beings...and he slaughtered them like cattle."  Of course, later we learn about man's inhumanity to man with the experiments that formed V
And there's the emphasis on how it's V's mentality that so unnerves them ("I've seen worse, Dominic, physically speaking."  "If I'm going to crack this case...and I am...I'm going to have to get right inside his head. To think the way he thinks. And that scares me.").

"A rose.  A 'violet carson.' rose.  Funny... I thought they'd been extinct since the war..."
"Our friend in the mask has got quite a thing about the letter 'V' wouldn't you say?"

"I'm nobody.  Nobody special.  Not like you."
"Everybody is special.  Everybody.  Everybody is a hero, a lover, a fool, a villain.  Everybody.  Everybody has their story to tell."
["all the world's a stage" - which it was pointed out to me in a class is a depressing look at life]

Chapter Three: Victims

"That's very important to you, isn't it?  All that theatrical stuff."
"It's everything, Evey.  The perfect entrance, the grand illusion.  It's everything.  And I'm going to bring the house down.  They've forgotten the drama of it all, you see.  They abandoned their scripts when the world gathered in the glare of the nuclear footlights.  I'm going to remind them.  About melodrama.  About the tuppenny rush and the penny dreadful.  You see, Evey, all the world's a stage.  And everything else...is vaudeville."

Chapter Four: Vaudeville

"Larkhill.  1993.  I was there, Commander Prothero."
"You were th... Oh God."
I love that moment.  Because the realization is chilling for both the reader and the speaker, though for different reasons.

The dolls freak me out.

"Room Five?  But that was where they kept... where they kept... Oh, no.  That was you, wasn't it?  You're... you're the man... you're the man from Room Five."

In one of those shots we see eyes in the flames.  Ew.

Lewis is found with a dollhead, only saying "Ma-ma."  How does V even make that happen?

Chapter Five: Versions

December 12th, 1997.  First version.
It's very weird that this is set in England and written American-ly.  All double quotation marks, and also the dates are said month-date-year.  [Doing this writeup, though, I notice lots of British spelling conventions -- ou and s.]

"My name is Adam Susan."
Narnia, much?

"I lead the country I love our of the wilderness of the twentieth century.  [...]  One twig could be broken.  A bundle would prevail.  Fascism...strength in unity.  I believe in strength.  I believe in unity.  And if that strength, that unity of purpose, demands a uniformity of thought, word and deed then so be it.  I will not hear talk of freedom.  I will not hear talk of individual liberties.  I do not believe in luxuries.  The war put an end to luxury.  The war put paid to freedom."
"The war put an end to luxury" = solid.  "The war put paid to freedom" = chilling.
On the next page, we continue.  "The only freedom left to my people is the freedom to starve.  The freedom to die, the freedom to live in a world of chaos.  Should I allow them that freedom?  I think not.  I think not."

"Fate... I love you."

The Old Bailey.  Second version:

V talking to Madam Justice.
She had a fling with a man in uniform, so he left her for Anarchy.  "She has taught me that justice is meaningless without freedom."

"I would be saddened by our parting even now, save that you are no longer the woman that I once loved."

" 'The flames of freedom.  How lovely.  How just.  Ahh, my previous anarchy... 'O beauty, 'til now I never knew thee.' "
– King Henry VIII, upon meeting Anne Boleyn, in William Shakespeare's King Henry VIII (Act I, scene IV)


"Let's take five."
"Five.  Five, five.  Room Five.  Five..."
I hadn't noticed on first reading what prompted him to say something other than "ma-ma."

The Shadow Gallery.  December 15th, 1997.

" 'V. V. V. V.V .' "
"Evey Evey Evey Evey Evey."
"Sometimes I could just punch you in your stupid smiley face!  'V.V.V.V.V.'  It's the inscription on that arch in the big hall.  You know it is.  I just wondered what it meant, that's all."
"It's a quotation.  A motto.  'Vi Veri Veniversum Vivus Vici.'  'By the power of truth, I, while living, have conquered the universe.'  Latin."
"Hmmm.  I suppose you have, sort of.  You can do whatever you want, can't you?  I suppose that's conquering the universe.  Doing what you want."
"This place is the only universe I've got at the moment.  Does that bother you?"
"No.  Yes.  Oh, I dunno.  It's just that I keep thinking I should try to help you, the way you're helping me.  I mean, that's the deal, isn't it?"
"No deals, Evey.  Not unless you want them."
This resonates a lot more on second reading -- the idea of not obligating people, of privileging freedom above all else.

"I...I think I do.  I mean, part of me just wants to stay in here forever and never have to go outside and face what's going on...But that's not right, is it?  That's not taking responsibility for myself, like what you said.  I want to help you, V.  I want to do something.  I won't get in the way, I promise.  Can I, V?  Can we make a deal?"
She seems so much like a small child -- plaintive, earnest.

"V, you said that 'V.V.V.V.V' was a quote.  Who said it in the first place?"
"Nobody you'd have heard of.  A German gentleman named Dr. John Faust.  He made a deal, too."

Chapter Six: The Vision

"It seems there was some sort of mix-up at the agency.  It's not one of the usual girls.  She's a little older."
"Oh, dear, Dennis.  Oh, dear.  Not too old, I trust?"
"She says she's fifteen, Your Grace."
"[...]  Ah. well, if Job could bear his disappointments, I suppose I must have the good grace to likewise bear mine."

Creeps me the fuck out.

And the panel in which he opens the door?  He totally looks like he has a skeleton face.

" 'I will not cease from mental fight...nor shall my sword sleep in my hand...till we have built Jerusalem...in England's green and pleasant land.' "
[William Blake]

"Oh, the Lord provides.  There may be no peace for the wicked...but the righteous can get a piece whenever they feel like it."
Oh the pun.

Chapter Seven: Virtue Victorious

"We should never ignore our primal impulses."

Her dress is purple now?

Nice work with his reading of his earlier sermon superimposed over the images of V taking out the guards.  Were I to have a Vendetta icon I think I might well select the p.52 panel of "For I have seen a vision" with the glinting sword in hand.  (I'm also partial to selecting one of the panels with a rose.)

Props to her slamming him with the lamp.

"Oh yeah, it's Sunday.  'Children's Hour.'  I'd forgotten in all the excitement."
"Yeah, tune her in and let's see what the filthy old deviant's up to this week."

[In going back to the writeup, I remember the play/movie The Children's Hour, because someone mentioned it recently, but of course this bears no relation.]

"...was like hell.  Men burning...choking in the yellow fog...and I saw a  black shape against the flames, a man.  Oh God, who are you?  Who are you, really?"
"I am the devil, and I come to do the devil's work."

Chapter Eight: The Valley  [the immediately preceding passage was The Twenty-Third Psalm]

[background music obscures parts of the conversation; V intended that]

"That's Beethoven's Fifth...da da da DUM!  Heh heh.  That's Morse Code, y'know."
"Uh, Morse Code?"
"Hmm.  It's Morse Code for the the letter 'V.' "

"That's a quote.  That bit about the devil's work.  Famous murder case.  Nearly twenty years ago now.  Before your time, I expect."

"'I want you to swallow it."
"And then there's a funny little noise.  Human noise.  And then there's just Beethoven's Fifth.  End of tape."
I thought he had plunged the sword into the bishop's mouth but oh, "The Host was full of cyanide" -- "And at the moment this enters your mouth it becomes the flesh of the Saviour?  And whatever it is made of now will become the Body of Christ?"

"Didn't Dominic tell me that you were going to consult Fate?"
"Mm.  The leader's authorized an extension link for me.  Things must be desperate.  He's usually funny about other people using Fate."

Chapter Nine: Violence


The Shadow Gallery

"It's wrong, V.  V. it's me as well!  I'm involved.  You involved me.  V, I didn't know you were going to kill him!  Killing's wrong.  Isn't it?"
"Why are you asking me?  And as for me involving you, I seem to remember that you were the one anxious to make a deal."
"I didn't know you were going to... You were the one who,,, Oh Christ, V."
'' 'There is more behind and inside V than any of us had suspected.  Not who, but what: what is she.' " [reading V by Thomas Pynchon]  "You'll learn, Evey.  You'll learn."

Again with the gender-bending.  And the "not who but what" resonates far more now that I've read the whole thing.

"V... I'm sorry.  I was trying to get out of taking the blame.  I'm sorry about that.  But I won't do any more killing, V... not even for you.  Not every again."
The smiley face as he's holding her is creepy, like, "I know something you don't know."
"Let's dig an enormous castle!" cried Moon-face.  "Then we can all sit on the top of it when the sea comes in."
"We can't," said Silky, suddenly looking sad.
"Why not?  Why not?" cried Jo in surprise.  "Isn't this the land of do-as-you-please?"
"Yes," said Silky.  "But it's time we went back to the faraway tree.  This land will soon be moving on--and nice as it is, we don't want to live here forever."
"Gracious no," said Jo.  "Our mother and father couldn't possibly do without us..."
-The Magic Faraway Tree (Enid Blyton)
"...So say that again, Dominic.  You ran a check on allocations of room numbers and..."
"...And it was the resettlement camps.  They were the only places that numbered rooms with Roman numerals."

"Roses.  It's you, isn't it?  You've come...you've come to kill me."
"Oh thank God.  Thank God."

"Don't worry, Rose.  I didn't load it.  Not tonight."
What's the significance of Almond's wife's name being Rose, given the thematic importance of roses-the-flower?

Chapter Ten: Venom

"He's killed them, Dominic.  Everyone who every worked at Larkhill Camp.  One by one, over the past four years.  [...]  We thought he appeared out of the blue two months ago.  [...]  He was at Larkhill.  He must have been.  And now everybody who could have told us anything..."
And again with the whole "We the establishment characters think V is evil."  I'm really impressed by V's efficiency and planning, and there's this very bizarre disconnect of that being considered Evil by these people who in other contexts seem to revere that mentality.

Oh, the Milgram Experiment.
"Some of them said they'd enjoyed it.  I think I enjoyed what I did at the time.  People are stupid and evil.  There's something wrong with us...some hideous flaw...we deserve to be culled.  We deserve it."
Wow, that is some guilt.  (And this whole "we deserve to be culled" is vaguely reminding me of a TNG ep somehow, though I can't place it.  "The Outcast" maybe?)

As soon as he took his gun I thought, "Did you remember to load it?"

"I killed you ten minutes ago.  While you were asleep."
"Is there any pain?"
"No.  No pain."
"Good.  That's good.  Please?  Can I... Can I see your face again?"
"It's beautiful..."

"It's a vendetta, leader."
Repetition of words renders them meaningless.

Chapter Eleven: The Vortex

"Afterwards, however, we did find the doctor's diary.  It's a five-year diary and it deals particularly with her time at Larkhill.  Since this morning I've read it seven times.  ...And I still don't know who codename 'V' is.  ...But I think I know what he is."  [dramatically, this panel ends a righthand page]

"Prothero has picked the subjects...four dozen of them.  And I've got to inspect them this afternoon.  They're so weak and pathetic you find yourself hating them.  They don't fight or struggle against death.  They just stare at you with weak eyes.  They just stare at you with weak eyes.  They make me want to be sick, physically.  They're hardly human."
I find this dehumanizing really interesting.

"During the autopsy we found four vestigal fingers forming within the calf of her leg."

"Strangely, he's developed one of those curious side effects which seem to afflict certain categories of schizophrenic: his personality has become totally magnetic...he says very little...but there's something about the way he looks at you.  He looked at me today as if I were some sort of insect.  He looked at me as if he felt sorry for me.  His face is very ugly.  I've been thinking about it all evening."

"He grows roses.  Beautiful roses."

"It starts with the words 'He looked at,' which are crossed out.  Then it says, 'No.  Can't write about it yet.  Can't hold...' and then another gap.  When it resumes, it's in a different colored ink..."

"It was the man in Room Five, who had got out, who had got away, he blew it up, he killed...
I couldn't have known...The ammonia.  The grease solvent and all the other stuff.  He'd been making things with them.
Mustard gas...
and napalm."
The way this breaks up into panels is very effective.  And napalm is just chilling.

"And in the year, I saw him.  He had the flames behind him.  He was naked...
He looked at me.
As if I were an insect.  Oh God.  As if I were something mounted on a slide.  // He looked at me."

[Going back to this writeup, I'm reminded of Howard Roark -- 'cause someone was talking about The Fountainhead recently.]

"He visited Bishop Lilliman and made him swallow a poisoned communion wafer.  That's a dreadful, degrading way for a man like that to die.  But you can see a sort of black poetry there, can't you?  A sort of gallows humour?  I dunno.  Perhaps you can't.
Finally there is Dr. Delia Surridge, who Codename 'V' visited this morning.  Four years to the day after escaping Larkhill.  She was a good woman, a humane woman.  But then I read this diary and..I don't know.  I don't know.  She's dead now.
Her, and everybody else who worked at Larkhill.  Her and everybody else who could have identified him.
You see, there are two possible motives here, not one.
The first motive is revenge.  He escapes from Larkhill and vows to get even with his tormentors.  The Parliament bombing and the other stuff is just a smokescreen.  The whole exercise was an elaborate, chilling vendetta.
That's the explanation that I found most reassuring, funnily enough.  Because that means he's finished now.  That means it's over.
The second motive is more sinister.  Like I said, everyone who could have identified him is now dead.  What if he's just been clearing the ground?
What if he's planning something else?
You see, this diary that we found...It was in full view on the doctor's writing bureau.  We didn't have to search for it.
He left it there, I'm sure of it.  He wanted us to find it.  He wanted us to know the story.  But...and here's a funny thing ... he didn't want us to know all of it.
When we found the diary, some of the pages had been torn out.  It wasn't Dr. Surridge who did that.
What was on the missing pages, eh?  His name?  His age?  Whether he was Jewish, homosexual, or black or white?  And furthermore, if his vendetta is really over...Why did he care whether we knew or not?  We's playing games that are just as elaborate as the design on the floor of Room Five.  As elaborate, and as mad... [dramatic righthandpage end] ...and as deadly."

"Mr. Finch, can you expect me to believe that anyone would kill over fifty people for no other reason than to provide himself with a cover story?  The very idea is...madness.  Ah yes.  I see."

Book Two: This Vicious Cabaret
More closeup view of the gloved hand placing down dominoes.  If one looks, one can see the dominoes have formed a curve.

Gloved hands, and speech bubbles coming from V -- voiceovering first the masses but then Mrs. Almond's specific story.  Sheet music with words framing the rows of panels.  And wow, I hadn't quite realized all the implications and connections the first time through.  The Leader in love with Fate, Mrs. Almond, Evey's place in V's world (foreshadowing what will happen later, especially "with sidelong looks await their cue...but the frozen mask just smiles").

"But no queers... or Yids... or darkies... within this bastard's carnival -- This vicious cabaret!" // End of Prelude.

Interesting, his condemnation -- because he is so wedded to life as theatre, but here cabaret is coupled with all sorts of negative aspects of society -- police state etc.  And the way he takes it over -- "But the backdrops peel and the sets give way and the cast gets eaten by the play.  There's a murderer at the matinee.  There are dead men in the aisles.  And the patrons and the actors too are uncertain if the show is through, and with sidelong looks await their cue...but the frozen mask just smiles."  V has to be the murderer, but at the same time of course he's the frozen mask and why would they be looking to him for cues?  I'm uncertain as to whether I think this is sloppy writing (if you've read the script at all, you know when the show is over) or not.

"Presto!  The rabbit has returned!  But now her home has gone."
Again with the foreshadowing.

Chapter 1: The Vanishing

I didn't like V's abandoning her the first time and I don't like it now.

"You've gone beyond the veil...Me too."
What a fabulous line.

Chapter 2: The Veil

"They were all there at the funeral.  They didn't like you either, did they?  I never realized that before. // Helen Heyer barely spoke to me. She looked afraid, as if bereavement was catching."

"...But when you're a widow, the world looks different.  You step through a curtain and you're in a place where people treat you differently.  A bleak place."

Her grief is believable, and I like that she's hesitant.

Mrs. Almond's woeful voiceover with the images following Evey's story.

"You were my lifeline.  I was stuck at home.  You connected me to the world, and I'm still clutching at you.  [...]  I'll go back into the corners of the past, even the shadowy, sordid corners...just because you were there then."

Enter V.  "The loved one.  You're gone." being especially powerful statements in that context.  I'm confused as to what he's doing, though.  Taking down the movie poster to put up "Strength Through Purity; Purity Through Faith"?  Doesn't seem like him.  Nice touch to have her words about survival (no matter the cost) as voiceover for images of that propaganda poster.

That panel in which he is taking her coat as she gets in her chair?  His face is freakishly white.  Her expression wonderfully captures her emotions in that panel, though.

The film they're watching reminds me of Birth of a Nation.

Chapter 3: Video

The 'message from the boss' reminded me a bit of Hitchhiker's Guide.

Chapter 4: A Vocational Viewpoint

Given the discussion about anarchy at the end, the "It's your basic unwillingness to get on within the company" portion makes more sense.

"You will be granted two years to show me some improvement in your work.  If at the end of that time you are still unwilling to make a go of it....you're fired."
That last phrase after you've turned the page and over an image of yellow light, opening fire on V.

Chapter 5: The Vacation

"He was standing in front of the observation window.  He didn't even put up a fight.  They just opened up with the shooters and..."
Did V kill him already?  How did he make him stand there unmoving and silent?  Did he make him believe he was standing behind him and would shoot/explode if he moved?

And wham! it's Evey staying with this guy we haven't met before.

Love that song.

Is that Mrs. Almond being the burlesque dancer?  Oh, can't be, because the song continues as Evey tells us that Rose leaves.
The Kitty Kat Keller.  Is this the Cabaret?  I mean, I know This Vicious Cabaret is a metaphor and more broadly encompassing

Chapter 6: Variety

"Nobody'll sit near her because her last two men got killed."

The episode with the guy worried about his mother recalls Mrs. Almond's "We regret to inform you that you are not eligible for the receipt of Benefit under the State Employees Pension Scheme."

"the gang's...all...here..." over panels of piling up on the guy with clubs etc.

next page, out on the street, sparse... no dialogue in the top row of 3 panels."He...He was right, wasn't he?  We shouldn't have to live like this.  Should we?"  "No, kid, we shouldn't.  What are you going to do about it."  Bottom row of panels: billowing cape V

Chapter 7: Visitors

Sword through the door?  That seems more like V than government -- and yet we clearly see a government guy wielding the sword.

Nice touch, the flashbacks to her father and V's abandonment.  I'm still not sure I believe her physical attraction to V -- maybe because she always sounds so awkward/unsure?

Chapter 8: Vengeance

"I...I have a job.  I start tonight...I can't find the stage door."
Oh so now she gets a job at the...oh god the abbreviation...KKK

The shot of the cigarette butts at her feet while she's waiting?  I couldn't help thinking of Spike in S5 "No Place Like Home" -- " I wasn't lurking. I was standing about. It's a whole different vibe." (Oops, that was "Blood Ties;" NPLM is "Out. For. A. Walk. ... Bitch.")

"I smell roses."
If the top hat hadn't gotten us guessing, that had to have.

"The petals fall, pencil shavings of cream flesh."

Chapter 9: Vicissitude

We're back where we started with her -- though in better lighting.

Interesting that in her "dream" she's aware of the bizarreness of it all -- The opening line of the chapter is "It's my birthday.  I'm still in the theatre, but I know that it's really our old house" [which okay, is somewhat dreamlogic] and the page ends with "and I wonder if this is our old house after all."

"The stairs remind me of somewhere else, and I feel sad.  But I don't know why."
the 5V inscription -- was that on stairs?

"He tells me he needs my old room to hide something in, but that I can sleep with him in here from now on."
Gordon!  (And he made her wait upstairs.)

The bed is from the Bishop's room, though --  "Uh, this is the other room?"

"I wonder if he's ill?  He looks so old, suddenly."
I forgot -- her dress is the one she wore to the Bishop.

The rest of the film echoes issues of Gordon and V -- and I take the retirement home mention as a nod back to the incident with Robert back at the Kitty Kat.

She awakens in a cell and again that poster -- "Strength Through Purity; Purity Through Faith".

I love how she's counted everything.  And the repetition of "there's a rat."

Significance of the name "Emma" carved on the cot?

Chapter 10: Vermin

The film of her soliciting -- I forgot about it by the time it's revealed that it's been V all along

That they cut off her hair is this huge thing, which bothers me though I also understand it.

Interesting the progression of "I (don't) know's" and how she has moved from obsessively focusing on her present situation ("I know every inch of this cell") to thoroughly learning the letter, and how focusing on that creates a detachment from the torture (palpable to the reader from the way the panels are constructed).

Chapter 11: Valerie

The writer of the inspirational rebellion&integrity letter is a lesbian.

I thought about how "Valerie" begins with "V," but we know that V is a man from Delia and from the flashback.

Again with the head-shaving.

Rita sounded familiar and I actually looked back and yes, "Rita Boyd, the lesbian, died at tea-time" (isn't that such a vile sentence, btw?).
[Googling for Rita Boyd I found http://www.gayleague.com/gay/characters/index.php]

Chapter 12: The Verdict

"Then there's nothing left to threaten you with, is there?  You are free."

"Welcome home."

"You...tortured...me...Oh, you tortured me...Oh God, why?"
"Because I love you.  Because I want to set you free."

This might be the shortest chapter of any of them.

Chapter 13: Values

"Happiness is a prison, Evey.  Happiness is the most insidious prison of all."

"When you threw me out, I went to live with somebody.  I was in love with him.  I was happy."

"Eventually, one of the other inmates stabbed him with a cutlass and he drowned upon his own blood.  [...]"
"H-How did you know?  How did you know what happened to Gordon?"
"It's not an uncommon story, Eve.  Many convicts meet with miserable ends."
Again with the hindsight -- Fate.  'Cause yes he's clever and knows things and can deduce, but to know it was with a blade?

"I didn't put you in a prison, Evey.  I just showed you the bars."
Hello, The Matrix.

"Woman, this is the most important moment in your life.  Don't run from it."
Significance of him calling her by a distancing term, rather than her name?

"I don't want...to be blindfolded."
"No, Evey.  No more blindfolds.  All the blindfolds are gone."

"Five years ago, I too came through a night like this, naked under a roaring sky."
Again with the the 5's.
The silhouette of her in the rain echoes the one of him in the flames exiting Larkhill.

September 3rd, 1998:
"Six months, and not a peep.  Do you think it's all over?"

Finch is reading Arthur Koestler, The Roots of Coincidence; and Bronowski

Chapter 14: Vignettes

The Shadow Gallery:
V is playing This Vicious Cabaret again

"Valerie wrote the letter, in her own hand, while she lived.  I delivered it to you as it was delivered to me.  The words you wept over where those that transformed me.  Five years earlier."

Oh I hadn't noticed the Door 4 transition when I first read it

"In her letter, Valerie said she hoped there would be roses again.  Did you grow them for her?"
"I grew them in her memory.  ...But I give them to others upon occasion.  Evey...once you told me you would not kill.  Not even for me.  When I plucked you from the streets you were about to kill a man.  One Alistair Harper.  He killed your lover.  You wanted revenge.  There is a rose here for him.  You only have to pluck it and hand it to me.  Nothing else.  To pick a flower is not a large thing.  It is as easy as it is irrevocable.  Understand what is being offered here; and do as thou wilt."
She reaches for it, fingertips framing the thorn, and says, "Let it grow."

Fate displays "I Love You" on all screens.

V and Evey dance again.  "But the frozen mask just smiles" -- superimposed over...the moon?

Book Three: The Land of Do-As-you-Please

Gloved hand flicking down the first in a row of dominoes.

"He's been a bit depressed lately...about the terrorist case.  Just sits and reals all the time.  People I've never heard of.  Someone called Koestler."
"That'd be, uh, Arthur Koestler.  He was, uh, the president of something called 'Exit'...a group that used to campaign for, uh, the right to die with dignity.  He, uh, killed himself as I remember."

Book 3: The Land of Do-As-you-Please: Prologue

"I just felt like throwing out everything that wasn't necessary.  Do you ever feel like that?"
"Oh yes.  All the time."

"Don't worry, Eve.  You know what they say . . . 'It'll all be over by Christmas.' "
They do?
Since when has he ever called her "Eve"?

The girl in glasses and braids...I'm reminded of, Thessaly? Wednesday?

"He's taken away the Voice of Fate.  How shall I fill the gap it leaves?  How shall my country fill the silence?"

Chapter 1: Vox Populi

"Hello, I'd like to buy a gun."
Dramatic boobies shot of Rose.

Two fingers to her throat, " 'Bang.' "

"It does not do to rely too much on silent majorities, Evey, for silence is a fragile thing...one loud noise, and it's gone."

book cover: Les Confesions du Reathrie???

"But the people are so cowed and disorganised, a few might take the opportunity to protest, but it'll just be a voice crying in the wilderness.
full row panel of non-dialogue mob
"Noise is relative to the silence preceding it.  The more resolute the hush, the more shocking the thunderclap."

"No, this is only the Land of Take-What-You-Want.  Anarchy means 'without leaders'; not 'without order.'  With anarchy comes an age of ordnung, of true order, which is to say voluntary order.  This age or ordung will begin when the mad and incoherent cycle of verwirung that these bulletins reveal has run its course.  This is not anarchy, Eve.  This is chaos."

Last sentence in final righthandpage column above mask closeup with title card for Chapter 2.

Chapter 2: Verwirrung

"Involuntary order breeds dissatisfaction, mother of disorder; parent of the guillotine.  Authoritarian societies are like formation skating.  Intricate, mechanically precise, and above all, precarious, beneath civilisation's fragile crust, cold chaos churns...and there are places where the ice is treacherously thin."

"To defend myself with?"
"[...] Thes'll defend somebody's ennars entae the gutter."

In his speechifying about authority, V praises love and justice and also equality and freedom.

Evey's in a blue wig?

"He changed her.  She acquired a taste for leather, chains and whips."
This line makes me sad.  I know what he's getting at -- "Come see the violence inherent in the system!" -- but it implies that kink is bad, which of course I find problematic.

The Leader stole Justice from him, so V stole Fate.  "He'll rue his promiscuity, the rogue who stole my only love, when he's informed how many years it is ... since first I bedded his."

Chapter 3: Various Valentines

First panel: blue gloved hand on a domino at the end of a row.  Same position next page, in the yellow rainbow light, that same shot that opens Book 2.

"Don't worry about Creed,  He's in a hazardous occupation... Look what happened to his predecessor."  Speaking that last sentence they're in the distance with a dead crow (raven?) on the ground in the foreground.

Rose in the KKK, in that yellowish rainbow light, with hair like Evey's, and a leotard -- reminiscent of the sleeveless one Evey was wearing.

"Mrs. Rana next door loaned us food all through the war years.  When they dragged her and her children off in separate vans we didn't intervene."

"I can't sleep for wanting justice; wanting all the world to know of its unfairness...
Can't sleep for the gun beneath my pillow."
And the following panel, the bottom righthand cornerpage one, is a gloved hand on the last in a row of dominoes, as if finishing the motion of placing begun in bottomrightcorner on the previous page, though in this light the blue is a grayish black.  I don't think I registered the recurrent dominoes shots in the chapters when I first read this -- though I noticed the motif of opening the Books.  But having finished it, seeing the grand metaphor, I'm very aware.

And this time around I'm thinking a lot about the parallels between Mrs. Almond and Evey -- triggered by their similarity in appearance and leading to thoughts about their similarities in development/trajectory.

These pan-outs of the dominoes, though, Evey's back to her short hair, and she's in a puffy blouse and pants -- rock androgyny.

Finch (who had been romantically involved with Delia) goes to Larkhill Resettlement Camp.  And here the domino panels become more frequent -- bottomrightcorner of the lefthand page where this slice of Finch ends, and then again topleft on the facing page, this time with dialogue, which goes over the interspersing panels of govt. scenes, and our view of the V scene pans out with each panel.  The dominoes a metaphor for society.

In the Nose, Working the code letters, Finch's assistant Dominic [gotta love Wikipedia for helping me out with keeping some of these people straight] realizes V has had access to Fate since the beginning, and as he informs the Leader we pan in on the Leader, and we see the shot that opens Book 3 and then we see V's symbol on the center monitor and the Leader puts his head in his hands.

We return to Finch at Larkhill:
" 'We're up against someone who isn't "normal people"...either physically or mentally.  It's the 'mentally' bit that bothers me...because if I'm going to crack this case...and I am...I'm going to have to get right inside his head.  To think the way he thinks...and that scares me.'
I said that.
I said that a year ago, and nothing's changed, it's still true.
I'm still scared.
I know so little about this stuff, couldn't ask without arousing suspicion.
Lysergic acid diethylamide: standard dose is about two hundred micrograms, but how do I measure that?
They say the faintest amounts can alter everything...
The faintest traces."
That last line tops the panel with the Chapter 4: Vestiges titlecard.

Chapter 4: Vestiges

"If I'd known this was happening, would I still have joined the party?
Probably.  No better alternatives."
And he's talking about the ovens.

Ew, torsoes.

I shouldn't have done it.
I shouldn't have taken the L.S.D.
Not here."
F'r serious, yo.

In his hallucination he becomes The Man in Room V.

"But he was drugged too, locked away to die, and he reached some understanding.
Why can't I?  I look at this mad pattern, but where are the answers?
Who imprisoned me here?  Who keeps me here?
Who can release me?  Who's controlling and constraining my life, except...
I'm free.
This feels a bit too easy for me.

Gotta love the excess of v-words :)

Chapter 5: The Valediction

This proceeds from Eve wanting to know what V's will is, and I didn't even think about the fact that a Valediction is a vale, a farewell.

"You must understand that knowledge is not all of your heritage.  It includes also courage and belief, like hers that we commemorate herein...
...and romance.  Always, always romance.
'Midst insurrection's clamour, we may easily forget just what it is for which we strive... Isn't it dancing?  Scented shoulders?  Pupils widened by desire or wine?"
"Persevere, Eve.  Understanding music we may hear the music that there is in life, from its first insufficient trills...into its closing minor chords."

"The monitor cameras are still functioning, but our adversaries' broadcasting and receiving apparatus isn't.
My apparatus, by contrast, works perfectly.  Of course, with all state broadcasting blanked out, the only things I seem to get are all these riot-zone soap operas and bad disaster movies.
Sometimes I miss 'Storm Saxon.'
The dialogue was better."

"B-but...you can see all London from here..."
"Too much television's bad, and you have homework still to do.  [...]  Unlike T.V., we cannot have too much of science, despite its nuclear quirks.
With science, ideas can germinate within a bed of theory, form, and practice that assists their growth...but we, as gardeners, must beware,,,
For some seeds are the seeds of ruin...
and the most iridescent blooms are often the most dangerous."

"If you could carry one of these parcels, I'd be grateful...but take care."
"Sure. What's in them?"
"Gelginite?  Oh Jesus..."
I love how she's holding it way out in front of herself.

"Anarchy wears two faces, both creator and destroyer."
[...] Away with our destroyers!  They have no place within our better world."
"But let us raise a toast to all our bombers, all our bastards, most unlovely and most unforgivable.
Let's drink to their health...
then meet with them no more."

"I'm waiting for the man."
"If that's another... It is, isn't it?  It's another bloody quote!  I've heard it on the jukebox." [me: *Googles*  Velvet Underground]

[cover image of "Farewell, My Lovely"]
"What are you trying to tell me?"
Does he show that to Evey?  Is it just for the reader's benefit?

Chapter 6: Vectors

"Look...here it is.  It's supposed to be hidden, but you can see the lens  Every part member's bedroom has one, even his own!  And he wonders why I won't let him touch me."

The Leader to Fate (kissing the screen): "I forgive you."

Finch back in the city now.  Again with the v-words.
I sort of wonder why he's still on his charge against V since he knows so much of what V is avenging.

Chapter 7: Vindication

A fake panhandling V with a guitar, and the real one comes up behind him "So, Mr. Finch...finally we meet."

V throws a dagger at him, but Finch is shooting bullets.
"Did you think to kill me? There's no flesh or blood within this cloak to kill.  There's only an idea.  Ideas are bullet-proof."  And with a doff of his hat he strides away.  But leaves a pool of blood behind him.

Chapter 8: Vultures

Conrad(?): "Do...do you think he's really dead?  The terrorist.  Like Finch said?"
woman in white: "Finch is half out of his mind on drugs, but all accounts.  Still, he's a boring reliable little man... he probably did it."

"But what I don't understand, my back was turned.  I didn't even know he was there...
and when he alerted me, pulling my gun out, I was so slow...
I mean, he's like greased lightning.  He could have stopped me...
He could have killed me."
"[...] ...so the only important thing is, where did this all happen?"
[shot of Victoria: This Station Closed]
"I, uh... do you know, I don't remember.  Must be the drugs, eh?"
He's totally protecting V.

"This country is not saved...do not think that...but all its old beliefs have come to rubble, and from rubble may we build...
That is their task: to rule themselves, their lives and loves and land..."

"You must discover whose face lies behind this mask, but you must never know my face."

"The Victoria Line is blocked...twixt Whitehall and St. James...give me a Viking funeral...
Good luck, sweet Eve.  I love you.
Ave..atque...vale"  [Google: "hail, brother, farewell."]

Chapter 9: The Vigil

"Oh Christ, what happens next?  You never said.  You never said what you were educating me for.  You never told me what I'm supposed to do."

"If I take off that mask, something will go away forever, be diminished because whoever you are isn't as big as the idea of you, but...but...
You said I had to, that I had to know...
...And at last I know.
I know who V must be."

"They're still there, not doing anything, mind.  Just waiting.
It's funny...they're not the terrorist's followers or anything.  They're just rioters.
...But he's become some sort of all-purpose symbol to them, hasn't he?"
"People need symbols, Dominic.  He understood that.  We've forgotten it.
Those people outside lost families during the war.
We've kept the lid on their bitterness for years, but we haven't helped them deal with it.
Maybe he didn't either, but he certainly took the lid off...
...just like Larkhill did for me.  Everything's different now, Dominic.  I don't belong here anymore."
"Y-You're going, Mr. Finch?  Listen. it's the drugs..."
"Susan's dead, with Creedy and Heyer driving his carcass.  They're not hallucinations.
Neither was the war.  I lost my family, and thought that following orders could heal that.
It can't."
last line in lowerright corner of panel, so we almost miss it

Chapter 10: The Volcano

"It's nearly twelve now...
Ah, there you are, sir.
There's Big Ben striking the hour now.
Lovely, reassuring sound, don't you think, sir?"
"Uh, yes.  Yes, I suppose I...
Wait a minute...
Big Ben was blown up twelve months ago.
The speakers!  It's coming from the speakers!
That means someone must...
... have ... "
[dramatic flash of V on top of a wall with microphone against red sky]

"Since mankinds's dawn, a handful of oppressors have accepted the responsibility over our lives that we should have accepted for ourselves.
By doing do, they took our power.
By doing nothing, we gave it away.
We've seen where their way leads.  Through camps and wars, toward the slaughterhouse.
In anarchy, there is another way.
With anarchy, from rubble comes new life, hope reinstated.  they say anarchy's dead, but see...
reports of my death were...
Tomorrow, Downing Street will be destroyed, the Head reduced to ruins, an end to what has gone before.
Tonight you must choose what comes next.  Lives of our own, or a return to chains.
Choose carefully.
And so, adieu."

"Your foes assumed you sought revenge upon their flesh alone, but you did not stop there...
You gored their ideology as well.
The people stand within the ruins of society, a jail intended to outlive them all.
The door is open.  They can leave, or fall instead to squabbling and thence new slaveries.
The choice is theirs, as ever it must be.
I will not lead them, but I'll help them build.  Help them create where I'll not help them kill.
The age of killers is no more.
They have no place within our better world."

"Help them create" struck me -- reminding me of "Anarchy wears two faces, both creator and destroyer." -- esp. as the following panels show both characters in the masks, emphasizing that they are two sides of the same.

Chapter 11: Valhalla

Wikipedia tells me that Dominic is the one Evey grabbed and brought to the Shadow Gallery.


The book concludes with supplemental materials: sketches, an essay, and two "interludes."
The following two short stories were first presented in Warrior Magazine during the original run of V for Vendetta.  Although originally conceived as "interludes to the main story and featuring the main settings and characters, these stories were never considered by their creators as essential chapters of the V for Vendetta storyline.  They are presented here for completeness' sake.

The voice in this one feels overdramatic to me.  Also, wow that guy's evil -- harassing a guy and sending him to his death just because he's having family problems and wants to spread the grief around a bit.

"Listen, I've heard about you.  You're only after the Party high-ups.  I'm just a copper.  You don't want nothing with me...
...Do you?"
Next panel: shot of man-in-mask.
Next panel: shot of window.
Those silent shots are very effective.
And the cop's initial reaction to V's appearance is also very interesting -- that whole abdication of responsibility theme that V and Evey emphasize near the end of the book.


There's no dialogue in this one, and I don't especially understand what's going on, but I was really intrigued by the labeling of the photograph: "Page, Valerie Susan."  I assume he's just stealing stuff from her file for his pseudo-shrine, but the Leader's last name is Susan, so I couldn't help wondering if they were related (though obviously it could just be a middle name like Marie rather than a family middle name like Johnson -- but one would think a writer would be very attentive to detail and not have coincidences like that be accidental).
Tags: comics: v, holidays: guy fawkes day

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