Feature Friday: Vigilante Part 3

a Feature Friday post

a Project 1983 post

Vigilante #2 from DC Comics, Marv Wolfman – writer, Keith Pollard – layouts, Pablo Marcos – Embellisher, Todd Klein – letterer, Anthony Tollin – colorist.

In this issue the Vigilante, Adrian Chase, begins to question everything. His motives, his mission, the law, all of his choices. This is only the second issue and the deep look at the psychology of an anti-hero is already beginning.

Long time friend of the site, comics creator Stephen Coughlin (and hey, go ahead and buy a copy of his animal murder mystery comic Sanctuary at this LINK), wrote to me about this comic after last week’s post. In his words the title becomes, “disturbing.. bizarre”. With shocking escalation followed by chaos and carnage at the end. I’ve heard these words spoken of comics and movies for years, but usually in a glorifying way. The Punisher, John Wick, and many other examples. Stephen was warning me. This comic explodes and it’s a great read, but not anything to cheer for. Not something, “super”.

The second issue begins with a flashback to Adrian Chase as D.A. before the Vigilante was born. He is trying to convict this giant of a man, Leonard Kord, for the rape and near death of a nun. Kord has already served jail time for a previous crime and been released. All evidence points to him despite his pleas that he’s innocent. While he’s done bad things in the past, attacking a nun is just too far for him. Chase nor anyone else believes him and Kord is found guilty.

Two years later, the now Vigilante gets word that Kord has been released. Kord’s having a bad day. The other workers on the dock discover who he is and run him out of work. His mom has the entire neighborhood outside ready to torch her house and pitchfork this monster out of town. Even his ex wife shows up wondering why he bothered coming back. Then the Vigilante shows up in the living room.

It’s a violent battle between a new and still learning crime fighter versus a giant who has spent years in prison. Chase only gets the best of Kord through speed, dirty fighting, and a bit of luck. He begins beating Kord, not to the point of death – but definitely to the point of long term hospital care. Suddenly, the Vigilante’s support team shows up. There’s been a confession. Someone else attacked the nun. Kord is actually innocent. The Vigilante looks out at the broken man, the broken house, and the broken family surrounding him and is overwhelmed with his own guilt.

Chase doubts everything. He shuts down the Vigilante operation and joins his father’s law firm. Defending known criminals with deep pockets. He believes his dad for a moment. That it is their job to provide a service of defense and it is up to a jury to decide guilt. But it is not long before a new trial comes up with no doubt of guilt but Adrian sees how his daddy’s partners bend and manipulate the truth to ensure the freedom of their beyond guilty client. He reaches his limit and leaves to wear the Vigilante costume again. Not only with a new confidence in himself and the mission, but also a new excuse for it as well.

Again, this is only the second issue and his descent is already taking place. Adrian Chase is excusing his actions. Sure he was wrong once. The guy was innocent. That time. But what about the times he was guilty? Even in violence he is still a hero compared to people like his father. The beginning justification is going to expand. Sure an innocent person was killed, but that was only to save many more innocent people. He is starting to allow any means as long as they support his ends.

I knew this comic was going to get dark, with a greater look at the idea of DIY law enforcement than other comics have ever shown. I did not expect to see him falling apart by issue two. This self explosion is going to be worse than I expected.

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