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I would say, as an assumption, that people who buy DC's expensive Absolute editions do so because they want a definitive edition, printed on good quality paper, in an enlarged hardcover with dustjacket and slip-case, and extras such as introductions, unused unseen art etc, of their favourite comic books. I know I do and can see, from where I'm sitting typing, Absolute editions of 'Crisis on Infinite Earths', 'The New Frontier', Dark Knight, Batman: Hush, the four Sandman volumes, Ronin, and now V for Vendetta. I'll get back to this in the second half of the review.
V for Vendetta is, along with Marvelman/Miracleman, the first of Alan Moore's major works in the field of comics. It was begun at the time of Moore's early feelings of unease at the UK's ruling Conservative Party and concluded when those feelings had coalesced into outright disgust. Like the best Science Fiction, the best comics reflect concerns of the time in which they were written -and, yes, I'm aware I'm bringing together a genre and a medium- and V for Vendetta is political Science Fiction. In his introduction, written in 1988, Moore expresses his anxiety for the immediate future becoming a Conservative-led right wing intolerance as Margaret Thatcher forsaw a Conservative Britain into the next millenium and mentions that he's considering leaving the country. In the event, the Conservatives barely lasted until the middle of the 90's and Britain stands proudly, for all its flaws, as one of the most liberal, open. and tolerant of western societies. If you just limit this to England, I would argue, on evidence, that this is the most liberal, open, and tolerant of western societies. And Alan Moore is still ensconced happily in Northampton which, he argues, is located in the very centre of England.
Yet, perhaps surprisingly, V hasn't really dated at all and its fear of fascism remains eternally valid. If you doubt that, then I refer you to the racist outpourings of the British National Party. V remains one of Moore's genuine masterpieces, erudite, compassionate, insightful, obsessive; all enhanced by David Lloyd's sympathetic distinctive 'realistic' artwork (with its echoes of British black and white weekly kids adventure comics) which is possessed of a great clarity and enhanced by a subdued colour palette. Perhaps what is even more amazing is that in the era of Ronald Regan, DC published a comic in which the hero is a psychotic anarchist whose intention is to destroy the existing social order.
Now, as for this edition, inevitably given the widely known dispute between Moore and DC, there is no new contribution by Alan Moore. A shame as it would be fascinating to read but, as I said, inevitable. Compared to other Absolute editions -the four Sandman volumes are packed with them, Crisis on Infinite Earths required an additional book- there is relatively little; a few sketches, a couple of reprint pieces by Moore, the inclusion of minor material previously printed in only Warrior magazine, panels blown up to full page pieces, all very nice but doing little to enhance the original material. Not that it matters as this is a beautiful edition of one of the masterpieces by Alan Moore the greatest comic book writer ever. How could you resist?