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Adam Susan in V for Vendetta #2
|Publisher||Vertigo imprint of DC Comics
(Originally Quality Communications)
|First appearance||Warrior #1 (March 1982)|
|Created by||Alan Moore
|Team affiliations||Norsefire Party|
|Notable aliases||The Leader|
Adam James Susan is a fictional character and the main antagonist of the comic book series (later graphic novel) V for Vendetta, created by writer Alan Moore and illustrator David Lloyd. He is renamed Adam Sutler in the film adaptation, in which he is portrayed by John Hurt.
Adam Susan is the leader of the Norsefire party, and the ruler of the dictatorship that holds Britain in an iron grip. A firm adherent of pure fascism, he values order above all else and sees civil liberties as unneeded luxuries which are ultimately threats to a secure society. He states early in the novel that he believes in "the destiny of the Nordic race", and subsequently despises anyone who is not white, Christian, and heterosexual. Despite the latter, he disdains all sexual contact as "brutish coupling", and has subsequently remained a virgin his entire life.
The graphic novel establishes his backstory. A former police chief constable, upon his entrance into politics he gathers a select few like-minded right-wing extremists and corporate executives into his inner circle, and then exploits the poverty, chaos, and panic that follow a worldwide nuclear war to seize power. Once in control, he gives himself the title of "Leader," and bans all art and literature that conflict with the views of the party, criminalizes political dissent, and puts Jews, Arabs, Pakistanis, followers of the Left-Wing, and homosexuals into concentration camps.
In order to further monitor the state, Susan takes control of the internal intelligence departments known as the Eye and the Ear, the criminal-investigation department called the Nose, and the military police called the Finger, and the propaganda department called the Mouth. These are run by his subordinates, Derek Almond (later Peter Creedy) at The Finger, Conrad Heyer at The Eye, Brian Etheridge at The Ear, Eric Finch at The Nose, and Roger Dascombe at The Mouth. The leaders of these departments run the day-to-day affairs of government with regular oversight from Susan, making the highest council of the Norsefire government—the Head.
From his inner sanctum, he forsakes virtually all human contact, resolving to be feared and respected if he cannot be loved. He reserves the closest thing he can manage to human feeling for Fate, the super-computer which both surveys security and maintains the bureaucracy of his government, loving and worshipping the machine as a goddess; in one scene, it is strongly implied that he masturbates in its presence.
He is not without human qualities; however, during his last few moments in the novel, after he finds out V has compromised Fate, reveal him to be a timid, socially inept man who is eager to somehow connect with his people. He recounts his past, including glimpses of his childhood; it is suggested that he was a lonely child who developed an inflated sense of his own power and importance by embracing fascism. He shows signs of solipsism, claiming that he and Fate are the only "real" beings in existence. Finally, his internal monologue of his memories suggests that he is a closeted homosexual—he finds women strange and ugly, but remember men with an almost erotic tone.
His rule begins to crumble when a masked terrorist calling himself "V" blows up the Houses of Parliament on November 5 (Guy Fawkes Day), and begins to attack public trust in the government with a series of kidnappings, bombings, and disruption of normal television programming for a very public declaration to the people. His defiance gradually inspires the public to rebel against Norsefire's reign. Susan tries desperately to capture and kill the mysterious vigilante, but remains increasingly powerless to stop him. Susan eventually finds out that V has been manipulating the Fate super-computer to express the forbidden emotion of love, and make the Norsefire government work against itself by controlling its own, driving him further into insanity.
At the end of the series, Susan is shot and killed during a publicity parade by Rosemary Almond, the widow of Derek Almond, Creedy's predecessor. Creedy immediately takes total control of London for a short time before he too is killed by one of his underlings, soon resulting in the total collapse of the government.
In the film adaptation, the character is named Adam Sutler (in reference to the most direct of war profiteers), and is portrayed by John Hurt. His title is "High Chancellor". The Fate super-computer subplot is not featured in the film version.
Sutler is described as "a young and upcoming politician" and "a deeply religious man and a member of the Conservative party". After the founding of Norsefire, he is mentioned briefly as Under-Secretary for Defence during the "Saint Mary's crisis", thus implying a coalition government between Norsefire and a stronger party. After terrorists supposedly kill 80,000 people with a self-ignited bioweapon that created a viral epidemic, Sutler is elected Prime Minister by promising to restore order to the country (it is later revealed that Norsefire had actually launched the attack). He then uses the supposed terrorist threat as a pretext for genocide, along with an ongoing propaganda campaign in the state-run media, to cow the public into silence and appoint himself High Chancellor, turning the country into a single-party state with himself as its autocratic leader.
As in the graphic novel, Sutler lives in an underground bunker in self-imposed exile and leaves the day-to-day operation of his empire to his lieutenants. For most of the film he is only seen on television, until the end when he finally appears in person.
A decade later, when Sutler watches himself lampooned in a farce on a talk show, he is enraged and orders the show's host, Gordon Dietrich, arrested in the dead of night. The state-run media claims that Dietrich is executed for having a Qur'an among his belongings.
Sutler blames Creedy for the failure to stop V and threatens to fire him, also leveling threats and blame against other members of his council, including head detective Eric Finch. Intent on securing more power for himself, Creedy makes a deal with V to assassinate Sutler. Creedy and his men kidnap Sutler from his bunker and bring him to V in the London Underground, where Creedy personally executes Sutler, shooting his hated boss in the head at point-blank range.
Notes and references
- V for Vendetta, book 2, page 5
- Moore, Alan. Lloyd, David. V for Vendetta (Vol. VIII). New York: DC Comics, 1990.