Within comics studies, V for Vendetta can be understood as 'an unconventional approach to the costumed superhero comic', both in formal and conceptual terms. It dissolves the strict dichotomy of hero and villain which became a trademark of Alan Moore's work in the 1980s. In 'Behind the Painted Smile', Moore explicitly names the Batman comics as the most relevant intertexts within the medium itself, a title in which hero and villains are uncannily alike. It is precisely this proximity to superhero comics that offers an ideal entrance point for a discussion of Gothic concerns in V for Vendetta. In its treatment of total institutions, V for Vendetta is conceptually indebted to early Gothic fiction, such as Charles Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer. V for Vendetta is as successful in activating the readers' active participation in negotiating the questions described in this chapter as the classics of Gothic fiction.