10 Things You Didn’t Know About Vigilante In The Comics

Vigilante, aka Adrian Chase, has become prominent of late thanks to his presence in DC Comics and HBO Max’s peacemaker series starring John Cena. In the show, Vigilante comes off as a violent yet somewhat endearing loser who sees Peacemaker as his best and closest friend. In the comics, Adrian Chase is a very different character.

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Vigilante is actually a name used by a long line of characters, each with a different story and varying personalities. They’re not usually looked upon favorably by others in the superhero community, although there are some exceptions to that rule. Due to the relative obscurity of Vigilante characters, there is plenty of information about them that isn’t widely known.

10 There Have Been At Least Nine Individuals Who’ve Used The Vigilante Name


The name “Vigilante” hasn’t exactly been an exclusive title in the DC Universe over the years. There have been at least nine characters called “Watchman.” The original was Greg Sanders, a cowboy type who was more of a traditional masked avenger. Adrian Chase was the second, and he was a far more lethal version of the Vigilante. Next were Alan Welles and Dave Winston, who replaced Adrian Chase when he temporarily retired.

Then there was Pat Tryce, who founded Vigilante Inc. and worked with Deathstroke for a time. After that came Adeline Kane, the ex-wife of Deathstroke who became a villainous Vigilante. Next was Justin Powell, who took up the mantle of Vigilante for a short time in the early 2000s. Dorian Chase, the brother of Adrian Chase, became Vigilante and had a slightly more successful run than Justin Powell. And finally, there is Donald Fairchild, the modern Vigilante who operates out of the south side of Chicago.

9 The First Vigilante Was Created In 1941


Greg Sanders, the original Vigilante first appeared way back in Action Comics #42 in 1941. He was created by Mort Weisinger and Mort Meskin. He was a Golden Age hero who worked with the All-Star Squadron and the Justice Society of America from time to time.

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Gregory was prompted into the role of a traveling hero after his father was killed by bandits out in Wyoming. He had an affinity for the cowboy aesthetic and grew up on a ranch, so it was no surprise that his version of the Vigilante took the shape that it did.


8 He Was In A Superhero Team With Green Arrow Called The Seven Soldiers Of Victory


Greg Sanders would go on to join an oft-forgotten superhero team called the Seven Soldiers of Victory alongside Shining Knight, the Crimson Avenger, Green Arrow, Speedy, the Star-Spangled Kid, and Stripesy. They were a patriotic team of Golden Age heroes who also debuted in 1941 and fought villains like Black Star, Iron Hand, and (no joke) a villain called Dr. Doome.

The “Patriot Act” episode of the Justice League Unlimited series performed a homage to the Seven Soldiers in an episode where Green Arrow, Speedy, Stargirl, STRIPE, Shining Knight, Crimson Avenger, and Vigilante had to fight the metahuman form of General Wade Eiling.


7 Adrian Chase First Appeared In New Teen Titans Comics


New Teen Titans 1 Cover.

The second Vigilante, named Adrian Chase, made his first appearance in New Teen Titans #23 and was created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. He started off as a district attorney who often worked with the Titans to put away the bad guys. Everything changed when his family was killed in a mob bombing.

From then on, Chase took the law into his own hands as the Vigilante, and his most common tool was the barrel of a gun. He had clashes with Batman and the Teen Titans, but neither managed to dissuade Adrian Chase from taking this path.


6 One Vigilante Fought In “Crisis On Infinite Earths”


Crisis On Infinite Earths 10

Adrian Chase took a timeout from being the Vigilante for a time fairly early on in the run of his comic. He had two replacements during this period. The first was Alan Welles, a mentally unstable man who Adrian ended up putting down due to his frequent murdering of innocents.

Alan Welles happened to be the Vigilante during the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. This means that the temporary stand-in for a gun-toting C-list hero took part in one of the greatest battles in DC Multiverse history.


5 He Also Killed The Original Electrocutioner


An image of Batman fighting Electrocutioner from Batman: Arkham Origins.

The Electrocutioner, aka Lester Buchinsky, is mostly known as the loser supervillain who got one-punched by Batman in arkham origins and killed by Roy Harper in the infamous Justice League: Rise of Arsenal story. However, Lester wasn’t actually the first Electrocutioner.

The original Electrocutioner was Lester’s unnamed brother. He had several run-ins with the Vigilante before being killed by Alan Welles in Watcher #27 by Paul Kupperberg and Denys Cowan.


4 Another Vigilante Was Killed By The Peacemaker


Peacemaker Post-Crisis Cropped

After Chase killed Welles, Dave Winston (Adrian’s bailiff after he became a judge) took up the mantle of Vigilante. He tried to do right by Adrian’s original intentions for the person. Unfortunately for Dave, this led him to an encounter with Peacemaker on a hijacked airplane.

Peacemaker wasn’t quite in his right mind at the time, as he’d suffered a traumatic head injury during the events of Crisis. Whatever the cause, I decided to kill Dave Winston, which led to a few clashes between Adrian Chase and Peacemaker after the former returned to the Vigilante identity.




3 Adrian Chase Took His Own Life At The End Of His Series


Adrian Chase was a troubled man who never fully recovered from the death of his wife and child. His actions of him as the Vigilante were an expression of that grief and anger, and the grief eventually consumed him. Furthermore, he felt enormous guilt for all the blood he’d spilled on his crusade, and he could no longer handle the weight of it.

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Adrian took his own life in Watcher #50 by Paul Kupperberg and Steve Erwin. It was a tragic scene with Adrian using one of his own guns from him to do it.


two The Last Attempt At A Vigilante Comic Ended Prematurely


The most recent attempt at a Vigilant title came with Watcher: Southland by Gary Phillips and Elena Casagrande in December of 2016. This Vigilante, real name Donald Fairchild, attempted to bring justice with his own two fists to the south side of Chicago.

Watcher: Southland was intended to be a six-part miniseries, but it proved unpopular with the readership. Watcher: Southland was canceled after the third issue, and the other three were never released in print outside of a later collected edition.


one The Original Vigilante Had A Series Of Live-Action Serials Made About Him In 1947


Vigilante Fighting Hero of the West movie poster Cropped

The original Greg Sanders Vigilante garnered enough popularity to receive several live-action movie serials about the character. These were titled The Vigilante: Fighting Hero of the West and were produced by Columbia Pictures. Ralph Byrd played the role of Vigilante, with George Offerman Jr. playing Sanders’ sidekick, “Stuff.”

Starting in 1947, fifteen of these serials were made. Like the comics, this took place in the modern-day despite Sanders’ affection for the cowboy look. No other DC heroes showed up in the serials, which is unsurprising given that this was 60 years before such a thing as a shared “cinematic universe” in the modern Marvel and DC style.

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