Forty Years of Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta Changed Comics and the World

Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta is 40 this month. In four decades, the book has had a unique influence on the world and comics. Here are the standouts.

Controversy inside and outside of the classroom abounds around Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta even 4 decades after its initial publication. First hitting shelves in March 1982, the comic tells the story of Evie, a girl who is radicalized by the anarchist V against the fascist oligarchy of a fictionalized Britain. Through an unreliable narrator and a “good” that lies somewhere in the middle, the complexity of the story and the brilliance of its art have made it one of the most important books ever written.

Even so, great books often fail to hold on as strongly as V for Vendetta, even in the face of its multiple bannings. Its visual aspect, however, combines with a better-than-average movie adaptation, with many calling for further media, to make the message it’s attempting to get across come through even more clearly. For this and many other reasons, V for Vendetta has demonstrated an amazing staying power.


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V for Vendetta’s Guy Fawkes Mask Stands for Real-Life Vigilantism


The infamous Guy Fawkes mask of V for Vendetta was one of the most important features of the comic, with David Lloyd’s mask, famously altered slightly to reflect what was needed for each scene. In addition to the movie adaptation using lighting to achieve similar effects on the mask worn in the feature, some groups have famously taken up the mask as their own symbol, even as many misread and misrepresent the texts. The most famous among these is Anonymous, a computer hacker group.

Anonymous uses the symbol much as V does in the original text. It allows for Anonymous to be associated with the group rather than with an individual person. Their actions generally (though not always) are also taken against forces whom they view as oppressive, making Anonymous a group represented by a symbol rather than a person, much like V. Though most strongly associated with this group, Guy Fawkes masks often pop up in protests and controversial statements against what a group or individual perceives as an overbearing entity. This has made the Guy Fawkes mask one of the most recognizable symbols in comics, and possibly the world.


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Moore’s approach to Symbolism Quickly Grew Beyond V


the influence of V for Vendetta‘s approach to anonymity quickly grew beyond the bounds of the book. The book’s logic for anonymity has reached well beyond the bounds of the printed page, and it was only natural that this would come back to affect comic books as a whole. This can be seen as a major turning point for superhero rationale.

Before V for Vendetta, most Superheroes maintained their anonymity because they wanted their family to remain safe, and the best way to do that was to prevent others from learning who they are. With the introduction of Moore’s logic, though, many heroes began using their masks not for the traditional safety of their families (though many, like Spider-Man, maintained this rationale), but to have villains fear their symbol. This change is especially profound in Batman, whose secret identity became a point of symbolism for the hero and ultimately allowed for the character to be led down many of his more complex narratives of him as Batman became a very different hero, sometimes literally.


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V for Vendetta Makes Appearances in Classrooms Nationwide


though V for Vendetta‘s particular brand of revolution is generally advised against in classrooms, the comic often makes appearances when discussing standing up against injustice. This is because the text manages to convey a complex concept very clearly and in an entertaining manner. The themes of extremism and the complexity of V as a character allow for widespread use in the classroom, even as the text itself is accessible for people of many education levels.

This mixture of complexity and simplicity is what makes V for Vendetta an excellent teaching tool, yes, but it also serves to show just how the book has maintained such power. Throughout the general populace, the book and its symbolism are well-known, and the text has become almost synonymous with standing against oppression. Whether for better or worse, V for Vendetta is here to stay. Given its influence on those who explore its pages, it is almost definitely for the better.


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