Warrior #17 (1984)

Star Wars made me think of Natalie Portman, and Google News led me to the report that she’d shaved her head to play Evey in the forthcoming V For Vendetta movie. And that got me thinking about the early days of Alan Moore’s career.

Almost everything by Moore in 1982, ’83 and ’84 were blockbusters. His work on Swamp Thing was, of course, the first shot across the bow for those of us in the US, quickly followed by imports of his slightly earlier work in Warrior. Warrior was a strange magazine from England. It was on that odd-sized paper that British magazines used, and the stories all felt different, fresher, as if the perspective of the Europeans helped them to see heroes in a completely different way than we did in the USA.

Marvelman was the break-out hit from that magazine. It may have been the first really post-modern hero serial, as much about the history of super-heroes as it was about the heroes themselves. The stories by Moore were astonishingly original for their time, and introduced concepts that are still being played with, twenty years after he brought them to comics.

V For Vendetta was Moore’s second strip in Warrior, and it was a completely different strip from Marvelman. In fact, it’s hard to find a less likely comic-based movie than V. The story takes place in a totalitarian near-future England, where a Fascist government has taken power after a nuclear holocaust. Into that world of extreme order comes V, an anarchist in a Guy Fawkes mask dedicated to bringing some freedom to that oppressive world. It’s an amazing comic, one of the very few political works to appear in comics, even more so by the fact that it’s about personal politics as much as it is about government politics.

DC Comics will, no doubt, release a new edition of their V collection to coincide with the movie. But I doubt the new edition will contain Moore’s wonderfuly open and friendly notes on the strip that appear in this issue. In this article, written right on the cusp of Moore’s rise from ordinary bloke to living legend, we see a modest and charming Moore give equal credit to artist David Lloyd for the conception and execution of the strip, largely seeming to credit its success to luck.  It’s always fascinating to read an article about a classic that was written before it became a classic, and this article is worth seeking out for exactly that reason.

And I hope Portman is better in V For Vendetta than she was in Star Wars!

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