Vigilante is the name of several different DC Comics characters, the very first and most famous one an old west hero who first appeared in Action Comics in 1941 and the others a line of deadly anti-heroes in the more modern age. The three volumes under the title have followed the more modern line of DC's "Vigilantes", starting with lawyer-turned-vigilante Adrian Chase, while DC's longest lasting and most iconic user of the title has had most his tales told in Anthology Comics and alongside the various teams he's been part of, though he did have a limited series in the 1990s titled Vigilante: City Lights, Prairie Justice.
Vigilante volume 1 was an ongoing series that ran for fifty issues from 1983 to 1988, starring the disenfranchised former district attorney Adrian Chase as the title character, and acted as a brutal deconstruction of seeking escapism through a killer vigilante. Adrian left his job as D.A. after his family was murdered in retaliation for putting a mob boss away, deciding the legal system was broken and too many criminals were getting off too lightly. He quickly started to run out of money and let himself be talked into putting in his name for an open judge seat, which he received around the same time he chose to put away the costume. After the next two men who took up the Vigilante costume and name were killed, he felt the need to don it for one last assassination, which went horribly wrong and left him publicly unmasked, forcing him to give up his civilian life entirely and live only as the Vigilante. The writers on the book were Marv Wolfman and Paul Kupperberg.
Volume 2 was a six issue limited series published from 2005 to 2006 featuring Justin Powell. Volume 3 returned to the Chase family, with Adrian's brother taking up the costume and title to try and prove that his brother's idea was sound, and not connected to the more violent and horrific actions of those who were inspired by him.
Vigilante provides examples of:
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1983-1988, Ongoing (50 Issues)
- 10-Minute Retirement: After J.J. stops Adrian from murdering Leonard Kord, who was innocent of the crime Adrian put him away from years ago but Adrian didn't want to believe it, but only after Adrian had beat the man half to death and wreaked his mother's home where he had to stay as he was Convicted by Public Opinion even after the real attacker confessed, Adrian walked away from being the Vigilante and joined his father's firm, for a total of one case.
- All for Nothing: Marcia and Lt. Stein make a lot of sacrifices in order to get Adrian off of his criminal charges, with Marcia having to knowingly defend a guilty man and Stein facing discipline from his precinct for working overtime on the case and then throwing it away. The very next issue ends with Adrian throwing it all away by becoming the Vigilante again, rendering all of their sacrifices pointless.
- Anyone Can Die: Except the Teen Titans, and other big name cameos. Not only do most one-off characters end up dead of the four "main" characters three are dead by the time the story is finished, the fourth having left the a long time ago for her own and her son's safety.
- Artistic License – Law: During Adrian's trial, a reporter says that the prosecution has a "surprise" witness in store for them. That is the exact opposite of how a trial works, where all witnesses and evidence must be seen by both sides before it can begin specifically to prevent any kind of "trial by ambush" from happening.
- As You Know: J.J. Davis likes to explain things to Theresa that she is already well aware of, but which the audience does not know.
- Ate His Gun: Adrian Chase puts his gun in his mouth and pulls the trigger in the final issue.
- Car Fu: Fever's nickname is supposedly due to her driving skills and she uses her car to kill the murderous child rapist who killed her best friend.
- Chained Heat: In issue 3 Cyborg is handcuffed to Stryker
- Convicted by Public Opinion: Leonard Kord is released after the real attacker confessed to the attack Leonard had spent years in prison for, but the public still considers him guilty of the attack and he gets attacked and him home surrounded by an angry mob preventing him from getting any work and ensuring he gets blamed for any "fights" where he tries to defend himself from his assailants. He's eventually murdered by the Electrocutioner for his supposed crime.
- Driven to Suicide: After the deaths of several friends attempting to take up his mantle during a period of retirement and being unmasked on live TV lead to him becoming more angry, violent, paranoid and obsessed with dispensing justice not caring if he murders even innocent cops who get in his way, Adrian Chase reaches this point by the end of the series. The final issue ends with Adrian shooting himself in his apartment.
- Disposable Woman: J.J. fiancé was brutally raped in front of him, which somehow turned her into a veritable vegetable and gave J.J. the motivation to become part of Vigilate's Mission Control.
- Due to the Dead: When Adrian arrives too late to save Joanne Linnaker from her scumbag ex he tries not to disturb the scene of the crime otherwise but closes her eyes before taking of to try to keep Carl from doing the same to their daughter.
- Evil Overlooker: Vigilante is the evil overlooker on the cover of issue 43, shown with eyes glaring over a much smaller car chase scene while most of the rest of his head is blends in with the black background.
- Healthcare Motivation: Hank doesn't make enough money in his job as a clown to pay for his wife's medical care, and then the nursing home decides they're going to kick her out if he can't make the next payment so he decides to turn robber to try to save her life.
- Heel Realization: Adrian actually stops himself from murdering Stryker after he shoots Cyborg to get at the defenseless but despicable criminal, as shooting a law abiding teenager apparently is what it takes to get him to realize he's become a killer.
- The Hero Dies: Granted, he was a Fallen Hero by that point, but the series ends with Adrian taking his own life.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Vigilante shoves Brand's own brand into his face and shoves him off the scaffolding they're fighting on with it, killing him.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Louise may spend most of her time drunk and a bit grumpy but she gives her life to try and save a kid she just met.
- Hypocrite: Adrian monologues about how those who avoid the lawful repercussions of their crimes need to be killed while breaking about every traffic law in existence while outrunning cops, and while shooting Titans who have been been called in as backup by law enforcement in order to murder criminals being transported between prisons while yelling that he can't allow them to take him in.
- Idle Rich: Deconstructed. Adrian has been living on his inheritance from his mother since his family was murdered, and when he starts reconnecting with people outside of the group that's helping him as Vigilante he acts like he just wants to have fun and avoid work, but he's already almost out of money by the end of the first issue and where he's going to get more quickly becomes one of his major concerns.
- Locked Room Mystery: Issue #13 is titled "Locked Room Murder", though the mystery of the murder in question has to do with the scrap of paper the victim had in his hand accusing the man his wife was having an affair with of killing him.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: While Adrian's Healing Factor is explicitly supernatural, the suit that the Vigilantes wear is implied to potentially have magical properties. Everyone who wears it suddenly becomes a master combatant (even whackjobs like Alan who otherwise shouldn't possess such skills) and it's noted that it seems to have a physical hold on its users that prevents them from getting rid of it forever, invariably leading to someone else picking it up. It could just be their various mental disorders attributing things to the suit or the suit could genuinely have powers of its own.
- Mecha-Mooks: The Exterminator Robots have masks and clothes to make them appear to be a human assassin, but are really a line of robots disguised as a single human.
- Non-Indicative Name: Adrian occasionally fought a pair of assassins named Cannon (who wielded blades) and Saber (who used guns).
- Phony Veteran: Dave Winston (a.k.a. the Vigilante III) is horrified when he runs across a man nicknamed 'Sarge' who fantasizes about the Vietnam War (the same war Dave served in) and falsely claims to have served.
- Protected by a Child: in #17 and 18, "Father's Day" and its continuation, Chase has hunted down and beaten up the villain Carl Linnaker after the latter has murdered his estranged wife, kidnapped his daughter Jodie with the intent to rape her note , and has also murdered Jodie's Parental Substitute Louise. Given all this backstory it's a shock to Chase when the child grabs his gun and shoots him to stop him from hurting her father any more. But as Carl explains, as he pulls his own gun and prepares to kill Chase, it's
Because I'm her old man, Chase. That's the whole story. note
- Robotic Reveal: The Exterminator is revealed to be a robot when the Controller removes its face plate to work on the mechanisms inside.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
- After the Controller orders J.J. murdered Adrian slaughters his way through the Controller's men before fatally injuring the man.
- Fever is furious when Linnaker murders Louise and kidnaps his daughter, and makes it clear that she's going to hunt him down and kill him regardless of Vigilante's actions. Vigilante, looking at the cleaver planted in the cereal the girl had been eating agrees.
- Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You:
- Vigilante is pointing his revolver at the viewer on the covers of issues 1, 22, 28, 47 & 49.
- Vigilante is shooting the guy next to the viewer on the cover of issue 7.
- Vigilante is shooting rockets at the viewer on the cover of issue 10.
- On the cover of issue 15 a clown is taking aim at the viewer.
- Super Window Jump:
- When Adrian is dressed as Vigilante he spends far more time crashing through windows than using doors.
- When the Tigers ambush the Dragons they enter the hideout by smashing through the large sky light.
- Start of Darkness: Adrian Chase was an outstanding lawyer, who stopped caring about the law and started slaughtering those he saw as getting away with organized crime after his family was killed by a mob boss he put away, in a bombing that nearly killed Adrian as well.
- Terms of Endangerment: Cannon really likes to flirt with groups of people while he's slaughtering them.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Fever hits Carl Linnaker and then drives over him rather gruesomely.
- Train Job: In issue #17 Adrian deals with a group of criminals who have taken to robbing people on the subway and stopping the train to escape before the next station.
- Vigilante Man: Adrian Chase—a district attorney, and later judge, who hunted down and killed crooks who got off—was even named Vigilante. Chase eventually became a Deconstruction of vigilante justice, and ended up committing suicide due to his guilt over the increasing violence and collateral damage of his methods and actions.
Vigilante: City Lights, Prairie Justice
1994-1996 Limited (4 Issues)
- Bloodier and Gorier: Greg Sanders is a Golden Age Hero, and while he does carry a pair of six-shooters traditionally did what he could to avoid killing. This book has him slaughtering his way through his opponents' associates.
- Darker and Edgier: This takes the lighthearted singing cowboy hero Greg Sanders and puts him in a dark noir tale, and alters him to fit including lots of casual sex. It also dumbs down Daniel Leong, while making him just a little bit sleazy, gives him a sex worker girlfriend, and makes his death far more violent and less heroic.
2005-2006 Limited (6 Issues)
2009-2010, Ongoing (12 Issues)
- Legacy Character: Dorian is the sixth person to take up the Vigilante name and creed following his brother creating it.
- Remember the New Guy?: Dorian Chase didn't make a single appearance during his brother's tenure as Vigilante, nor the subsequent years of his brother trying to distance himself from the mask he'd created and trying to discourage the others who kept taking it up.
- Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: Vigilante is shooting at the viewer with guns in each hand on the cover of issue 2.
- Variant Cover: Issue one had a variant cover.
- Vigilante Man: As per usual Vigilante is a man who hunts down and kills criminals who he feels the justice system did not punish properly. There's a reason the Teen Titans want to bring him in, and he and Nightwing butt heads; unlike the legally sanctioned heroes in the DC Universe Dorian is a murderer playing dress up who decided on his own he had the right to act as Judge, Jury, and Executioner.
2016-2017, Miniseries (3 Issues)
- Cut Short: The book ended up canceled three issues in due to poor sales.