a Feature Friday post
a Project 1983 post
Vigilante #1 from DC Comics, Marv Wolfman, Keith Pollard, Dick Giordano.
When last we saw Adrian Chase, the Vigilante, he was crossing the line between hero and murderer. While Robin was held back by his friends and teammates the Teen Titans, Chase is alone in the world now that crime has taken his family away.
As this new series begins, the Vigilante has hired a crew to assist him in his war against crime. He has a team to build his suit, weapons, and motorcycle plus research. Chase is the only one who acts in public, and as far as society knows he’s a one man anti hero.
In this issue the Vigilante is brought into a tale of blackmail gone bad. Good people are killed. Secrets come out. Worst of all his mission becomes muddied. What is the difference between a bad guy and a good guy who had to do something bad? It’s the “do you deserve to go to jail for stealing bread when you’re starving” debate for the costumed crime fighters. The Vigilante is positive of who he needs to protect, and who needs to be punished. Some, like the hitman named Brand (see, he fights with cattle brands and will burn his mark into your skin) are easy answers and dealt with accordingly. But when the innocent victim is playing an angle, everything is cast into doubt. She doesn’t deserve to die for her crimes, that’s for sure. Jail time? Technically yes, but then what happens to her child? Is it worth throwing an otherwise good person into jail knowing that same good hearted person is not who would come out in 5 to 10.
Doubt is already creeping into Chase’s mind. After all, doesn’t everyone have reason and justification for their actions? The previously mentioned Brand is clearly a villain but like all of them would have an explanation for what he does. Chase focuses on those with clearer allegiances but it’s obvious this conflict will grow throughout the series.
Marv Wolfman is already showing the flaw to heroes that kill. A permanent solution to a temporary problem. No rehabilitation for the villain. No reparation for the victims. Yet there are already those in the comic that applaud his actions. They see him as a symbol against police in the real world and straight laced super heroes in DC. No code of ethics. No red tape. No under staffed under budget over worked patrols of the street. In, out, and dealt with beyond warrants and protocol.
There are 11 issues of the Vigilante series in this collection, but the comic went for 20. Then while the character or some form of him has appeared since, he never joined comic super stardom. There are many similarities to the ridiculously popular Punisher from Marvel Comics. While the two characters started off very similar – taking the law into their own hands and becoming villains themselves in some eyes. The Punisher was then accepted by fans as a full blown hero. As his enemies became more and more horrific, readers would agree with him. Of course they had to die. Good job, Frank. But the Vigilante looks deeper into the mindset not only of comic heroes but also of society at the time.
Continuing next Friday.