Alan Moore, Guy Fawkes for the Modern Age

Remember, remember

The fifth of November…

-Old English Folk Verse

Today, in England, marks the celebration of Guy Fawkes Day. In nineteenth century England, with the ascension of James I to the throne, religious persecution of Protestants returned in earnest. Thus a small band of conspirators plotted to overthrow the government by blowing up Parliament. Yes. Literally, blow it up. It was called the Gunpowder Plot and Guy Fawkes was the man with the match on the powder – only, he was caught and hung for treason and Parliament went on for another day. This whole incident was popularized by a serial comic published in the eighties titled V for Vendetta, written by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd.

Alan Moore’s titular character, V, is a self-styled Guy Fawkes for the modern people. He wears a buckled hat, sans the buckle, much in the way of the Puritans of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; he wields knives for weapons and uses explosives to destroy iconic symbols of English freedom and justice; and he even wears a Guy Fawkes mask – like something a child might wear on All Hallows Eve. The work is dated (a nuclear holocaust sends the country into a fascist tale-spin) and some of its elements seem ripped from boyhood spy-fantasy comics (each division of the secret police is given a code name relating to one of the five senses: the finger, the mouth, etc.), and yet it paints vivid strokes for this post-9/11 reader. V’s world is dark: the police would rather rape and murder a lost young girl than help her get home; the country’s highest clergyman commits statutory rape regularly after Sunday service; and the most trusted voice in the country worries more for his doll collection than overseeing the deaths of hundreds. It is into this world that V pours out his vengeance, like a revenge-god born and baptized by the fires of injustice.

Moore will be celebrating his sixty-first birthday on 18 November. It is this writer’s sincere wish that Mr. Alan Moore, who has given us such incredible memories as The Killing Joke, Watchmen, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and V for Vendetta – among others – be of good health and of sound mind. The following excerpt from this article sums him up nicely: “Kids at the nearby shopping centre sometimes heckle, Moore says, calling him God, or Jesus, ‘which I’ll take, because Jesus died at 33 and they’ve obviously mistaken me for a much younger man’. But to fans of the landmark comic books Moore has written over the years (superhero whodunnit Watchmen, chilly dystopia V for Vendetta) deification might really feel justified. Moore is one of the most revered and influential writers in the country. Also one of the most confounding – perverse and hard to fathom.”

Posted by Paul Yim

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