|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. He strives to topple a totalitarian government of a dystopian United Kingdom through grand acts of terrorism. 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
V's background and identity is unknown and is never revealed. He is at one point an inmate at "Larkhill Resettlement Camp"—one of many concentration camps where political prisoners, homosexuals, black people, Jews and Muslims are exterminated by Norsefire, a fascist dictatorship that rules Britain. 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 pedophile 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, enhanced strength, speed and dexterity 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 23 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 responsible for the experiments on him) for last, showing mercy only to the remorseful Surridge by injecting her with a painless poison in her sleep.
Four years after his escape from Larkhill, V blows up The Old Bailey on November 5, Guy Fawkes Day. In the process he stumbles across Evey Hammond as she is being accosted by several members of the secret police and saves her, bringing her back to his lair. 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 in his vendetta forces Lilliman to put some of his religious rhetoric to the test of transubstantiation. V then injects Surridge, the one Larkhill official who feels remorse for her actions, with a poison that kills her without pain.
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. He systematically kills the head officials of Norsefire except Finch, and radicalizes Evey by kidnapping and torturing her and leading her to believe she is a prisoner in one of Larkhill's camps; when she announces that she would rather die than inform on him, he reveals the ruse to her. While she initially condemns him, she eventually comes to understand what he was trying to do and becomes his accomplice. V explains to her that he is an anarchist in the strict political sense of the term, and essentially believes all governments will eventually turn into oppressive fascist states. V's goal is not simply to overthrow the Norsefire regime, but to destroy the organized state entirely. He hopes that from the rubble will emerge a utopian anarchistic society - not "the land of take what you want" but "the land of do as you please", as he puts it.
In the climax of the graphic novel, 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 (which V had previously prepared), 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. Actor James Purefoy was originally cast as V, but was replaced by Weaving six weeks into production. Purefoy stated that he found it hard to act while wearing the mask, and that was the reason for his departure. Although some of Purefoy's performance was used in the final film, Weaving received sole credit.
In the film, V is a freedom fighter rather than an anarchist terrorist. The film depicts him as being disfigured as a result of the torture he suffered at Larkhill, and having near-superhuman physical abilities as a result of the biological experiments he was put through. He claims to have lost all memory of his past, completing his transformation into the "everyman" he claims to be in the comic.
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. In place of Finch, Norsefire official 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 relents and allows Evey to start the train, having finally decided to turn his back on the tyrannical Norsefire regime. The two watch, along with thousands of spectators dressed as V, as the train explodes and destroys the Houses of Parliament.
It is also suggested in the film adaptation, that V is possibly the former lover of Gordon Dietrich, the BTN producer and entertainer portrayed by Stephen Fry. When V begins his broadcast, Gordon appears to stare up with seeming (and growing) recognition at V's voice. Less subtle is the fact that, later in the film, V and Gordon also cook Evey the same breakfast, even introducing it with the same line of dialogue. This subtext possibly builds on the fact that "V" was originally imprisoned in the cell next to that of an openly lesbian film actress—thus allowing the hint that perhaps homosexuals were kept in the same wing of Larkhill prison.
- 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.