|Publisher||Vertigo imprint of DC Comics
(originally Quality Communications)
|First appearance||Warrior #1 (Mar. 1982)|
|Created by||Alan Moore
|Notable aliases||Patient #5, The Terrorist, Codename V, Project V, The Man from Room Five|
V is the title character of the comic book series V for Vendetta, created by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. He is a mysterious anarchist, vigilante, and freedom fighter who is easily recognizable by his Guy Fawkes mask, long hair and dark clothing. According to Moore, he was designed to be morally ambiguous, so that readers could decide for themselves whether he was a hero fighting for a cause or simply insane.
Fictional character biography
The background and identity of V is largely unknown. He is at one point an inmate at "Larkhill Resettlement Camp"—one of many concentration camps where political prisoners, homosexuals, Black people, Jews, Muslims, Indians and Pakistanis are exterminated by Britain's new fascist regime. While there, he is part of a group of prisoners who are subjected to horrific medical experimentation, conducted by Dr. Delia Surridge, involving artificially designed hormone injection. Lewis Prothero is the camp's commandant, and a paedophile vicar, Father Lilliman, is at the camp to lend "spiritual support". All prisoners so injected soon die under gruesome circumstances, with the sole exception of "the man in room five" ("V" in Roman numerals). During that time, the man had some level of communication with Valerie Page, a former actress imprisoned for being a lesbian, kept in "room four", who wrote her autobiography on toilet paper and then pushed it through a hole in the wall.
Although there is nothing physically wrong with him, Surridge theorizes that his mind had been warped by the experimentation. Still, his actions seem to maintain a twisted logic. The experiments actually yield some beneficial results: he develops Olympic-level reflexes, increased strength, as well as incredibly expanded mental capacity (as demonstrated consistently throughout the novel, V is a genius in the fields of explosives, martial arts, philosophy, literature, politics, computer hacking, music, and chemistry, as well as, as stated by Dr. Surridge in the graphic novel, gardening).
Over time, the man is allowed to grow roses (violet carsons) and raise crops for camp officials. The man eventually starts taking surplus ammonia-based fertilizer back to his cell, where he arranges it in bizarre, intricate patterns on the floor. He then takes a large amount of grease solvent from the gardens. In secret, the man uses the fertilizer and solvent to make mustard gas and napalm. On a stormy night (namely, December 23rd in the novel or November 5th in the film), he detonates his homemade bomb and escapes his cell. Much of the camp is set ablaze, and many of the guards who rush in to see what happened are killed by the mustard gas. The camp is evacuated and closed down. He adopts the new identity, "V", as well as dons a Guy Fawkes mask and costume. V then spends the next five years planning his revenge on the fascist government, building his secret base, which he calls "The Shadow Gallery". He then kills off most of the over 40 surviving personnel from Larkhill, making each killing look like an accident. However, he saves Prothero, Lilliman and Surridge (the three most responsible for the experiments on him) for last, showing only the remorseful Surridge a bit of mercy by injecting her with a painless poison in her sleep.
||This section possibly contains original research. (March 2009)|
V's true identity is a mystery and he visibly removes his mask only once during the entire story (at Surridge's request), at which point his back is to the reader and his face cannot be seen. Surridge tells him "it's beautiful", in contrast to her personal notes, where she mentions that the man in cell V was ugly.
He doesn't even consider "V" his "name", saying "I don't have a name. You can call me V". The only explanation given regarding V's past is Surridge's diary, which V leaves out in the open for the "Finger" (Norsefire's secret police) to find after he kills her. Eric Finch, the head of the "Nose" (the Party's official police division) and one of Norsefire's most powerful officials, reads through the diary, but points out that V wanted them to read it. V also tore out many pages, which possibly left clues to his true identity before arriving at the camp. Finch further speculates that V fabricated the version of Surridge's diary, which he left with her body, just to confuse the police.
In the graphic novel, Delia Surridge states in the diary that he was ugly, although she mentions "Physically, there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with him. No cellular anomalies, nothing". His confidante Evey Hammond speculates in the comic that V might be her own father, who was arrested years before as a political prisoner: V denies it, and Moore has confirmed that V is not Evey's father. There is also some speculation that V could actually be Valerie, the prisoner in the cell next to his whose autobiographical letter inspires V not to give up (and which he later passes on to Evey). However, Prothero and Surridge both describe V as the "man" from room five (V claims Valerie was the "Woman in room four" and also that he did not write Valerie's letter): also, the first page of the book depicts V from behind, out of his costume yet still displaying a distinctly male silhouette.
As Finch comments on the pages V tore from Surridge's diary "What was on the missing pages, eh? His name? His age? Whether he was Jewish, or homosexual, or black, or white?" It is worth mentioning that the reader is given a very brief look at V's neck as he lashes out at a soldier in his raid on Jordan Tower, and his naked neck appears to resemble, indeed, what one would expect if he were white or Caucasian.
Upon witnessing V's death, Evey declines to unmask him with the conviction that even if he was her father, learning the man's true identity would not be worth diminishing what he endeavored to symbolize. Eventually, Evey takes over V's persona and his mission to consider herself as anarchy incarnate.
Four years after his escape from Larkhill, V blows up Parliament on November 5, Guy Fawkes Day. V then kidnaps Lewis Prothero, who is now the "Voice of Fate" on the government's propaganda radio, driving him insane by destroying his prized doll collection in a satire of the exterminations that occurred at Larkhill. V kills now-Bishop Lilliman by forcing him to eat a communion wafer laced with cyanide. Norsefire had used religion in their rhetoric, saying that those who were exterminated were not pure in the eyes of God. V's black humor was enforcing Lilliman to put some of his religious rhetoric to the test of transubstantiation. V then kills Surridge, the one Larkhill official who feels remorse for her actions, by injecting her with a poison that painlessly kills her. Having thus killed his personal foes, V moves his plans forward.
V stages an attack on the government's propaganda broadcasting station, strapping himself with explosives and forcing the staff to follow his orders under threat of detonating them. V then broadcasts a message to the people, telling them to take responsibility for themselves and rise up against their government. Finally, V destroys the government's CCTV surveillance buildings, eroding its control over British citizens. However, V is mortally wounded when he is shot by Finch and he staggers back to the Shadow Gallery, where he dies in Evey's arms. Evey then puts him in state, surrounded by violet carson roses, lilies and gelignite, in an Underground train that stops at a blockage along the tracks right under 10 Downing Street, where the explosives-laden train detonates, giving V a Viking funeral, fulfilling his final request to her in the process. Evey then takes on the mantle of "V."
The 2005 film adaptation of the comic book starred Hugo Weaving as V.
In the film, V is a freedom fighter rather than an anarchist terrorist. He is disfigured (a result of burns, shown when he briefly forgets to put on his gloves) instead of being described as being ugly. His abilities are a result of biological weapons experiments instead of hormonal experiments. He claims to have lost all memory of his past, completing his transformation into the "everyman" he claims to be in the comic. At the end of the film, he says that he has fallen in love with Evey.
Several events involving V differ markedly from the comics. He sets his first bomb to destroy the Old Bailey and targets the Houses of Parliament one year later, but he does not blow up the Post Office or 10 Downing Street and the bomb he leaves in Jordan Tower is safely defused (there is the implication that it was merely a fake). In place of Finch, Peter Creedy and his men confront V at the end of the film, bringing High Chancellor Adam Sutler (Adam Susan in the graphic novel) as V has demanded. Creedy executes Sutler, but V refuses to take off his mask and surrender: through a hail of gunfire, V stays on his feet long enough to kill Creedy and his men. A piece of armor plating under his cape stops most of the bullets, but V is still mortally wounded. He staggers down to the Underground tunnel, where Evey is waiting and dies in her arms. She places his body on the explosive-laden train for a Viking funeral as in the graphic novel, but Finch arrives with the intent of arresting her. However, he soon relents and allows Evey to start the train, having finally decided to turn his back on the corrupt Norsefire regime. The two watch, along with thousands of spectators dressed as V (showing that V truly is "every man"), as the train explodes and destroys the Houses of Parliament.
- Warrior #1–16, 18–23, with an Alan Moore V for Vendetta feature in #17
- V for Vendetta
- Vol. I of X V for Vendetta September 1988
- Vol. II of X V for Vendetta October 1988
- Vol. III of X V for Vendetta November 1988
- Vol. IV of X V for Vendetta December 1988
- Vol. V of X V for Vendetta December 1988
- Vol. VI of X V for Vendetta December 1988
- Vol. VII of X V for Vendetta January 1989
- Vol. VIII of X V for Vendetta February 1989
- Vol. IX of X V for Vendetta March 1989
- Vol. X of X V for Vendetta May 1989
- United States – Vertigo Comics (ISBN 0-930289-52-8)
- United Kingdom – Titan Books (ISBN 1-85286-291-2)
- Concepts and themes
- Character lists
- List of fictional antiheroes
- List of DC Comics characters
- List of fictional anarchists
- List of fictional hackers
- "A FOR ALAN, Pt. 1: The Alan Moore interview". GIANT Magazine. Archived from the original on 30 March 2006. Retrieved 31 March 2006.
- Warrior publishing records on qualitycommunications.co.uk
- V for Vendetta publishing records on milehighcomics.com