|Second frame of third page||Second frame of third chapter||Second frame of Part III|
Gosh, the Eighties were different, weren't they? This is a classic graphic story of a man bringing down the autocratic society that Moore envisaged coming by 1998, after global war and Fascist takeover in Britain. I hadn't read it before, but I know Watchmen well (and am re-reading it this year with a group of friends on Facebook) and got through the first half of From Hell when it first came out, but haven't revisited it since. Also I got Jerusalem last year and will get to it sooner or later.
The fascist regime is very nostalgic in feel - the various officials seem to date from the Fifties or earlier, and V himself is very deliberately retro, with the Guy Fawkes mask subsequently adopted from the film version of the book by the protesters of the 21st century. Yet at the same time reading it in January 2016 seemed strangely appropriate, as we grapple with new authoritarianism and protest. The scenery may change but the stories remain similar.
Against the basic setting there are a couple of sub-plots; one is V's pursuit of those who tortured him back in the old days, thus presumably giving him the extra strength he needs to carry out his works of sabotage; the other is the emotionally implausible arc of his protegee Evey Hammond, who he rescues, subjects to serious emotional abuse for no apparent reason other than to brainwash her, and eventually appoints as his successor. Moore doesn't seem to see a problem with V's behaviour here, but I certainly do. I'm impressed by those like Phil Sandifer who found more to engage with - this part of the story repelled me.
That aside, it's a very well done piece of work, just a bit unquestioning of the central character's ideology and behaviour. It was good for the 1980s and it is still pretty good now.
This was both the top unread comic on my shelves, and the top book acquired in 2016 (actually given to me by Christopher Priest and Nina Allan, who were downsizing in anticipation of a house move). Next on those lists respectively are voume 6 of Saga and John Grisham's The Innocent Man.