The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
This chilling rhyme is repeated every year on the anniversary of Guy Fawkes Night. On November 5th, 1605; Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested for guarding bombs set beneath the House of Lords in England in an attempt to assassinate the King. To celebrate the King’s life being saved, great Britain lit bonfires and commemorated the preservation of the King’s life with this day of thanksgiving. Many stories have been dedicated to the premise of Guy Fawkes and his infamy, the most popular of which being V. For Vendetta. This popular graphic novel was released by DC’s Vertigo imprint which has put out many graphic novels of critical acclaim. So today, we will take a look at 5 great Vertigo stories for November 5th (including V. For Vendetta).
1988’s Hellblazer was the solo series of the magically occult hero, John Constantine. This set the precedent for the gritty persona of the character and gave us the features of the British wizard himself, such as looking like Sting, the fashion sense, the occult magic, and the obligatory cigarette dangling from his mouth. The comic was so iconic that the character of John Constantine, though irreverent and coarse, is a fan favorite that has become an icon which bled into the mainstream DC Universe. Hellblazer ran from 1988 to 2013 and saw the Vertigo Universe’s John Constantine battle many a demon, devil, ghoul and undead foe. What started as a character from Swamp Thing, became a hero that led a beloved comic series rightfully included in DC’s “Essential” 25 comics.
Y: The Last Man
In a world where any being with a “Y” chromosome is simultaneously eradicated; Yorick Brown and his pet monkey Ampersand, are the only surviving males left on the planet. At the time of the event the world is plunged into chaos as the resulting disaster of half the populations simultaneous death take a toll and the women of Earth must learn how to cope with the loss of their men. Yorick’s mother works with him in order to find out why him and Ampersand survived and try to solve the problem that the world is now faced with. Written by Brian K. Vaughan, known for Saga and many other Image comics, he brings his signature touch to this series. It’s a critically acclaimed apocalyptic mystery series running sixty issues and will soon be adapted as a TV series based on the original run. It’s one of the great Vertigo comics and is well worth a read.
What started as a brainchild of Scott Snyder and Stephen King, turned into one of the great original vampire stories that the genre has to offer. After the first five issues of American Vampire, Scott Snyder took over as sole author which elevated his fame as a writer even more. The comic follows the birth of a new species of vampire among the other rivaling species. Skinner Sweet becomes a vampire in the American West and we see his life through the ages until his world is changed when is daughter, a struggling actress, is grudgingly saved by Skinner through a gift of his own blood. The relationship of the two is a focal point of the series while they learn how to survive against the onslaught of the other vampires in the world. What a unique take on vampires throughout the ages. With great writing, and fantastic art to boot, this one is a solid addition to the Vertigo library.
Very loosely based on the WWII DC comics of the same name is Andy Diggle’s The Losers. Similar to the original, we see a group of special forces and CIA agents working together who are called The Losers. Rather than being set in WWII, it is set during the events surrounding the War On Terror. It starts in the ’90s when the Losers are betrayed by their ally Max. Hungry for vengeance, the team bands back together in order to take out Max who now has incomparable influence over the CIA and United States Government. Though it is based on the original comic, Diggle claims he has never read an issue of the original comic. In 2010 a movie based on Diggle’s comic was released starring Chris Evans, Zoe Saldana, Idris Elba and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Diggle’s writing lends itself greatly to the story and with the stylized art of Jock, it’s certainly a book for the shelves.
V For Vendetta
Perhaps the most well known of the many Vertigo titles is Alan Moore‘s V for Vendetta. Set in 1997 in a dystopian Britain which has become a sad state of government fearing people being oppressed by their leaders. Curfews are established, the people are monitored constantly and the questioners are taken away. On the 5th of November a mysterious anarchist, named “V”, arrives in Britain with a taste for vengeance and a vendetta against the leadership of Britain. Donning a Guy Fawkes mask and hat, V hits the streets; saving a young woman by the name of Evey and indoctrinates his philosophy in her. V does this to inspire the people of his country; to show them that they need not fear their government and rise above the oppression that they have lived under for so long. The iconography of Guy Fawkes and V have become a recognizable feature in today’s culture so much that you don’t have to know who Guy Fawkes or V is to be able to recognize the mask; as it is merely associated with mystery, intrigue, taboo, and anarchy, as well as the symbol for the “Anonymous” hacker group. Thus, V for Vendetta takes it’s place among the great classics of the comic book genre and literature itself.