Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November, the Gunpowder Treason and Plot. I see no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.
V for Vendetta is a comic by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. Starting in March, 1982, it ran for 10 issues, originally in a British anthology comic called Warrior, and later in its own comic published by DC. It features several of Alan Moore's trademarks: Anarchy portrayed as a positive force, mixing fiction and historical fact, and large amounts of cynicism.The title character is V, a government experiment Gone Horribly Wrong. Armed with extraordinary intellect and fighting skills, along with some home-made high explosives, he escapes from the facility that created him and sets about committing terrorist attacks against the fascist government of Britain. He is The Faceless throughout the comic, wearing a Guy Fawkes mask in order to conceal his true identity. The fact that Guy Fawkes was arrested for trying to blow up the king has something to do with it, of course.Evey Hammond is rescued from rapist policemen by V, and this act of kindness starts the comic. She is taken to his Elaborate Underground Base, and, although scared by V at first, she decides to join his campaign to bring down the Government, replacing it with an anarchist society.A film adaptation was released in 2006 with reasonably good reviews and box office success.
This series provides examples of:
Actual Pacifist: Evey refuses to help V when she realises he's murdering people, and at the end she says of the rioting Londoners, "I won't help them kill. But I will help them build."
V: Vaulting, veering, vomiting up the values that victimized me, feeling vast, feeling virginal... was this how he felt? This verve, this vitality... this vision... La voie... la vérité... la vie.''
After the End: Nuclear war has destroyed everything but the British Isles.
Age-Inappropriate Dress: Evey's prostitute outfit. She is only sixteen at the start of the comic and is turning to prostitution to make a living.
All There in the Manual: The musical interlude, This Vicious Cabaret, pretty much outlines all of V's plans, but the initial reading makes it look like a summary of the preceding chapters.
Anarchy Is Chaos: Averted. V explains in detail that traditional anarchy is not without order. There is far too much information to cover here but needless to say, Moore makes it very clear where he stands politically.
V, when he is at his darkest, is more than willing to sacrifice innocent lives and at one point tortures Evey for days if not weeks, making her think it's the government, in order to make her understand his philosophy and test her resolve.
Finch works for the government as a detective but doesn't really agree with its methods, growing increasingly disenchanted during the course of the story.
Adam Susan has some of this as well since he is reluctant to carry out his "duties" and seems to believe he is doing the right thing.
Apocalypse Anarchy: Invoked by V, who's trying to bring about the end of a fascist system by increasing the amount of disorder. He inspires the population to more acts of violence and vandalism, which causes the government to crack down, which leads to more uprising...
Inverted in the backstory, in which a minor apocalypse brings about a brief phase of chaos which leads not to anarchy, but fascism.
Attempted Rape: V meets Evey when he saves her from a police gang-rape brought on by her soliciting undercover cops.
Author Filibuster: The reality is a bit more complicated. As Alan Moore himself says: "The central question is, is this guy right or is he mad? What do you, the reader, think about this?" Given that V's terrorist actions are hardly whitewashed or excused, one can easily make the argument that the true hero of the piece is Evey who looks to be forging a middle ground between Norsefire's order and V's chaos.
Beware the Superman: V, if you consider him a villain. His backstory is basically the archetypal superhero origin story in its most distilled form (downtrodden man is injected with experimental chemicals that give him peak-human abilities, dons a costume and goes off to fight evildoers) but his experiences also drive him insane, leading him to become an anarchist terrorist instead of a crime fighter.
Bittersweet Ending: Britain is free of the Dictatorship that had been ruling the country, but V lost his life in the process, and we don't know how well Britain will be able to take care of itself without a government in charge. The comic also ends with Evey possibly training the future government as the second V, potentially leaving the identity to a third party.
Break Them by Talking: V to Lewis Prothero, though the coup de grâce that really breaks him involves more than talking.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Finch has said, to Adam Susan's face, that he disapproves of the Norsefire party. While most people would probably be locked up for this, Finch is so damn good at his job that Susan lets it slide.
Bury Your Gays: Among the people who were tested alongside V, there were two lesbians called Valerie and Rita, who due to hormone injections not only died, but in Rita's case developed vestigial fingers on her leg. Also Ruth, Valerie's lover, who committed suicide after falsely claiming that Valerie seduced her and giving up her location to her captors, apparently in order to commute her own sentence from death by medical experimentation to lifelong imprisonment. According to Finch, this was the fate of most of Britain's LGBT people. This is assuming V isn't Valerie.
Crapsack World: It's a post-nuclear wasteland, the second coming of the Nazis has taken power over Britain, and the only person who dares to stand up to them is an apparently insane terrorist who wants to replace them with... nothing.
The Dragon: Almond functions as this throughout the first chapter.
Dramatic Unmask: Averted with Evey having the chance to unmask V, but deciding that even if he were her father as she suspected, knowing the anarchist's true identity would not be worth diminishing his role's symbolic value if she unmasked him.
Eldritch Abomination: FATE is either a highly sophisticated computer that Susan in his insanity believes to be alive, or it's this, in which case it's also the Bigger Bad.
This theory about FATE is disproved when we discover that V has taken FATE control since the very beginning and it's using it to detroy Norsefire from the inside and play mindtricks on Susan. Susan even reacts like a spurned lover.
Evil Overlord: Susan was arguably a Well-Intentioned Extremist, but the ways he went about fulfilling his goal clearly seat him in the "evil" territory (torture, genocide etc.). And his argument that he needs to be in power to support and bolster England kinda goes into "Overlord" territory.
Fling a Light into the Future: Valerie's letter. She knows she will die (either from the injection or execution), but she writes out a beautiful love letter to whoever it is in the next cell over, trying to offer them solace, strength, and hope for a better future.
Hero Antagonist: Finch spends the entire book tracking down the protagonist and investigates Larkhill's past to discover why V has such a murderous rage for its former staff. When he figures out the truth, he acknowledges the government is wrong and should be changed but also reaffirms his belief that V is still a dangerous murdering terrorist and he needs to be stopped, too.
Hidden in Plain Sight: V's hideout is in the Underground at Victoria station, with the sign modified to show V's trademark circled letter V. When Finch finally finds this out, his face shows he realizes how obvious it was.
Higher Understanding Through Drugs: Finch takes a dose of LSD, which gives him some rather creepy visions, but also helps him figure out various things, including the whereabouts of V.
Hoist by His Own Petard: Almond tortures his wife by pretending to shoot her with an unloaded gun. Later he runs into V and threatens to shoot him... with the still-unloaded gun.
Illegal Religion: Merely possessing a Qu'ran, let alone following the Islamic faith, is punishable by death by the government.
Kick the Dog: Taken Up to Eleven with Valerie; while Gordon is bagged for incredibly petty reasons, Valerie and Ruth are taken because they love each other. Valerie is specially notable as her story is shocking enough to make Evey instantly sympathizes with V even after he's tortured her simply because Valerie and her story are real.
Rosemary's treatment at the hands of the government. Obviously the government treats everyone poorly but Rose's husband was a high ranking official. You'd think even they would be more sympathetic.
Certain crimes (such as prostitution) are classified as "Class H" offenses, which means that their punishment is solely under the discretion of the arresting officer. This means, to put things bluntly, that the arresting officer can do whatever the hell he wants with you without you being able to do a thing about it, which is music to the ears of the sadists and bullies that many of the cops in this fascist government are. This is showcased in the scene where Evey almost gets raped and murdered by the Fingermen after they catch her during her first time as a prostitute.
The Kindnapper: V kidnaps Evey twice, both times motivated by some form of benevolent intentions. The first time, he saves her from being raped by the government's secret police. The second time, he is testing her — albeit in a horrible way — to see if she is worthy of being his successor.
Lady Macbeth: Helen Hayer. So obsessed with power is she that, as her husband and lover lie dead or dying on her living room floor, she is so incensed their passing would mess with her plan that she hooks up a video camera to their television set just so her dear hubby can watch himself die.
Lewis Prothero ordered V to be part of the experiment that drove V mad and valued his dolls more than the inmates; V dressed his dolls up as prisoners and loaded them into an incinerator, driving him insane. For the final touch, his face was painted to look like one of his dolls when he was delivered to the police.
Archbishop Anthony Lilliman was a pedophile who stood by while V was administered the serum, so V had Evey dress as a prostitute to get close to him, and killed him by forcing him to consume a cyanide-laced communion wafer. The whole point is that V forced Archbishop Lilliman to confess to him and to repent in a blasphemous mockery of the Catholic rite. The cyanide-laced communion wafer is horrifying to the clergyman because the Catholic faith dictates that no matter what the wafer is made of before it is consumed, it will become the "flesh of the savior" through the "miracle of transubstantiation" the moment it enters a pious man's mouth. However...
Finch: When it reached his abdomen, it was still cyanide.
Dr. Delia Surridge injected V with the serum, so V poisoned her in her sleep. However, she got off easy compared with the others, as she actually regretted her actions.
Susan knows he is oppressing his people, but he is doing it to ensure their survival. When he realises his infautation with FATE is over and he cannot escape this way, he really wants human contact from the people he saved by oppressing them, and welcomes the high party woman he has seen a lot of times but whose name he could not remember ...and she has a gun.
Legacy Character: Evey takes on the mantle of V and is even shown grooming the third person to wear the mask.
Liberty Over Prosperity: One of V's points during his "The Reason You Suck" Speech to all England (and/or humanity in general) is that they have accepted trading their freedoms in exchange for security. He does mention that he doesn't mean that they should go back to the Stone Age, but that they need to stop stagnating.
Finch reflects exactly this at Larkhill camp: He pretended to work for the party so society can survive and to heal from his son and wife deaths... but at the end, finds that the sacrifice was not worthy and abandons Norsefire.
Susan reflects: Freedom to my people? The freedom to die from hunger or freeze? I don't think so
Loners Are Freaks: The Head, Adam Susan, is completely obsessed with technology and his own idealization of fascism, and has virtually no interest whatsoever in social or romantic pursuits. At his advanced age, he is a virgin convinced that his own computer system is in love with him. When he finally decides to be a better leader towards the end and actually get to know his people, he's revealed to be quite socially awkward and shy.
Evey, the pronunciation is similar to "IV", being the Roman numeral for "4", and also the number of the room that Valerie was kept in.
Her name also sounds like the letters "E" "V" — "E" being the fifth letter of the alphabet and "V" being, well, V, and also the Roman numeral for 5. As well as V being the fifth letter at the end of the alphabet.
Also the last character in the name is Y, being the 25th letter which 5 is the square root of. And 2 5 seperated is two five, leading into 2 halves to the whole of 10 completing the cycle.
The herb rosemary is a common symbol of remembrance in Western culture. Fittingly, Rosemary Almond is a vengeful widow who never forgets her grudge against Adam Susan, and is the one who ultimately assassinates him.
Morality Pet: Part of the reason Evey is in this graphic novel is so that V can be shown being kind to someone, making him more sympathetic.
Lewis Prothero, as V notes, cares a great deal more for his rare doll collection than he ever did for the people he sent to the ovens at Larkhill.
V himself is guilty of this — he claims to care about people, but the cold, sociopathic way in which he kills so many Fascists and slaughters Mooks makes it clear that really, he only cares about the people he's decided to like. And having been driven mad himself, he sets out to do the same to Evey if "necessary".
The Nameless: V. He states: "I do not have a name. You can call me V."
No Place for Me There: V's speech to Evey about the two faces of anarchy, destroyer and creator, has a strong subtext of this, especially since as he tells her this, he knows that he will soon be dead.
No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Justified. All the backup died. V was the only survivor. He then burned the facility to the ground, and later kills the scientist and steals her diary.
At the close of the first arc, Finch presents an Oh Crap moment to the surviving members of the Head: that the idea of V being a serial killer murdering those who wronged him is, in fact, the optimistic and comforting view. The alternative is that V was killing those who witnessed his transformation, and thus may have been able to stop him from executing his real plan.
The same day V promised to destroy Downing Street, Dominic is controlling the policemen to make sure that Downing Street is not attacked, and hoping that V is actually dead, and then a bell starts to sound. Dominic identifies that bell as Big Ben... but then he remembers that Big Ben had been blown up the previous year. And then Evey as V appears.
Order Versus Chaos: V's objective is to abolish all law. He does not, however, want to abolish all order. As he tells Evey, he doesn't want people rioting in the streets; he desires an orderly society that remains so even without a government. V advocates actual anarchist principles, as opposed to simple mayhem; as noted above, it strictly and consistently averts the Anarchy Is Chaos trope.
Unexpected Successor: "Queen Zara": in order for Zara to become queen over half the British Royal Family has to be killed off, forced to abdicate or pass up the throne. It may be a hint that Norsefire "disappeared" that many before settling on a suitable royal figurehead.
Unreliable Narrator: As Finch points out to Susan, everything they think they know about V comes from clues (like the diary) that V deliberately gave to them, and certainly altered. Since V killed everyone at the concentration camp that ostensibly created him, we have no other witnesses - we can't even be completely sure he was ever at the camp.
The Un Reveal: The identity of V is now simply "V". He removes his mask a couple of times, but he's always angled so that his face is never shown. He is described as being "beautiful", at least by his doctor (though she had previously described him as ugly while at the camps, so it's possible this was a symbolic near-death change of perspective).
Viking Funeral: V gets a modern take on one; laid to rest on the train that delivers his bomb to Parliament.
Wham Episode: It's implied that the key formative event in the Man in Room Five's transformation into V isn't the experiments upon him, or the cruel and indifferent treatment he received from the prison camp's staff. It's the note from Valerie, which he delivers to Evey exactly as he received it himself. It has a similar effect upon her.
What Happened to the Mouse?: The Army is mentioned on TV as fighting a insurgency in the north. However when martial law is declared no troops are deployed to London.
What the Hell, Hero?: Evey's initial reaction to V's torture of her and when he kills the Bishop. She forgives him for both times, though.
You Are Number Six: Played straight. The camp dehumanized V to the point that nobody knew him as anything but "The Man in Room Five", so he took it as his new identity ("V", the Roman numeral for "5", was inscribed on the door to his cell). He may not even remember his original name and identity.