First Appearance: Daring Mystery Comics #8 (January 1942).
Golden Age Appearances: Daring Mystery Comics #8, Comedy Comics #9.
Modern Appearances: Thunderbolts #-1, Captain America/Citizen V Annual #1
Years Active: 1940-1943.
"In war-torn Europe, liberty and democracy exist mainly as memories! Millions writhe under the cruel heel of an arrogant dictator! Yet, though the hour is dark, a ray of light bursts through the clouds which have gathered across the face of liberty! Freedom is not dead! In the occupied territory there is a man who symbolizes the triumph of democracy! Daily he works under the very eyes of the brutal secret police! He brings a message of hope to the suffering people in the form of the letter `V'! `V' FOR VICTORY!"
And the very first panel of Citizen V's first appearance, in Daring Mystery Comics #8, shows V snapping the neck of a German general, so everyone knows that this ain't no genteel kiddie comic--we're talking about war, here.
"Somewhere in France, May, 1940" a pair of Brits are talking: "You know, it seems to me the Jerries are up to something...or my name isn't Lieutenant John Wakins, of His Majesty's Army!"
"Righto, old man! They're too quiet."
Hitler broadcasts, by radio, an order to crush the Belgians and Dutch, and the "beastial" (sic) Nazi armies roll forward. The British put up a fight, but they are forced to retreat; a French general says "Eet ees no use...we are defeated!" A British general adds that "We will try to embark at Dunkirk. That's all we can do!"
Lieutenant John Watkins is in the rear guard, covering the retreat to Dunkirk, and when it's time he leads his men back to the beach. But...
Narrator: "A Nazi Stuka swoops low!"And Watkins is thrown overboard.
German Pilot: "Ah...a boat filled with Englishers!"
Narrator: "Machine gun bullets rake the loaded launch..."
Narrator: "Lieutenant Watkins is struck!"
Watkins: "Ugh-h...I'm hit! Don't stop for me...g...go..."
Watkins' body is found that night by a French fisherman. Somehow Watkins is still alive. Weeks pass, and Watkins heals. He says goodbye to the fisherman, saying "I seem possessed of a strange power." He and the fisherman cross the English Channel, and are found by a English watchman--who, wouldn't you know, recognizes him as John Watkins, who is supposed to be dead.
The next day Watkins is told by his Captain that "John, I have a job
for you. We need a man of courage and skill to go into the occupied countries.
He must rally the
conquered peoples to strike back at the aggressors! There will be great danger!"
Watkins gladly volunteers, saying "My work will be among the oppressed peoples...I must be one of them. My symbol for them to rally around will be the letter V! V for VICTORY! I will be known as Citizen `V'!"
He puts on a uniform...it's...well, it's not one of the more inspired outfits of the Golden Age. He looks like a cross between a stereotypical Swiss and a Boy Scout, along with a domino mask. And he's got these distressingly small shorts. The modern V's costume is much better.
The scene switches to Paris, where two of the Huns find a V on a wall and Watkins in civilian drag. He biffs them around, saying "Citizen V is officially at work." "Hours later" V, dressed as an old woman, finds a German munitions dump, paints a V in luminous paint on the ground near the munitions dump, which of course results in the British bombing the dump.
In a French home a French family are talking about various things:
Pere: "Ah, those Boches again! They have cut our rations! But, Mamma, the end is not yet! Who has not heard of the mysterious monsieur `V'? The Nazis fear him because he is the omen of wrath of our people!"Then Citizen V pops in, tells the family not to lose hope, and to pass the word to write Vs everywhere. Natrually, they do--on the street, on artillery, and on the underside of Nazi bombers (causing Hitler to shriek "Donnerwetter! I go mad! I am `V' crazy!").
Mere: "Yes, Jean...we are beaten, but not conquered! This Monsieur `V' is showing us the way to triumph! What do you think, Raoul?"
Fils (wearing dark sunglasses): "On the day I was blinded I had a vision! Our armies were defeated, our cities ruined! But I saw La Belle France rising again in all her might! France is not dead! Nor any of the other countries overrun by the Boche!"
Sometime later a Nazi colonel is walking along a deserted street when he turns down a beggar's request for a sou for bread. The beggar, naturally, is Citizen V, who knocks out the Colonel, trades clothes with him, takes his papers and monocle, tells an approaching Nazi patrol to have the beggar taken away (the German patrol responding that the beggar will be shot at once) and then decides to go to Germany.
He commands a staff car driver to take him to Germany, and he bluffs his way through some guards who stop the car, and makes his way to the Chancellory.
In the Chancellory, Hitler, with hair askew and looking gaunt, says "All I hear is `V' - DO SOMETHING! STOP IT...GET THE MAN BEHIND IT!"
Citizen V finds out where Hitler is and knocks out the guard outside Hitler's Council Room. Citizen V then paints a V on the unconscious guard's face and on the wall, which aggravates Hitler still further.
"Later, in Hitler's private garden," Hitler finds a Colonel who asks him for an autograph. Hitler agrees, and then Citizen V knocks him out, and pins a V on his uniform.
That was Citizen V's first appearance. In later issues he continued to harass the Germans. In the modern day it was revealed that Citizen V had been a part of the Warsaw uprising in 1943, but that Baron Zemo had killed him at the end of the uprising. However, V had left behind a pregnant associate, and V's grandson, John Watkins, Jr., is now active as the new Citizen V of the V-Battalion.
Although Citizen V has no powers, he is brave and a good brawler as well as a good shot.