Peacemaker: 8 Things Only Comic Fans Know About Vigilante

Adrian Chase, better known by his vigilante name… well, Vigilante… is an enormous source of comic relief in HBO Max’s peacemaker. Serving as the title character’s best friend (though secretly not), Vigilante bumbles his way through various attempts at glory in superheroics.

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James Gunn takes several creative liberties with the DC Extended Universe’s first television series in regards to the lore of the comics. As a result, viewers may not be as familiar with Vigilante as a DC Comics character. The truth is, the character seemingly bears little-to-no resemblance to his comic counterpart. Whether this is a good or bad thing has been a subject of debate among comic fans for years. None, None peacemaker simply is different from iterations of its characters residing in the DC Universe. Given the character’s popularity with viewers, Vigilante’s comics should prove to be a treasure trove about the antihero’s life separate from the small screen.

8 Watchman Isn’t Just Adrian Chase

three versions of vigilante

One divergence from the source material that should be forgiven is incorporating or even referencing the many different characters who’ve donned the colors of Vigilante. The original incarnation is a western gunslinger by the name of Greg Saunders, who’s obviously not a great fit for peacemaker‘s modern setting. Therefore, focusing on Adrian Chase – given he’s the most prolific on the page – is understandable, and the myriad of subsequent bearers of the name give it longevity on the screen.

After Adrian Chase, the Vigilante moniker is taken up by the mentally unstable Alan Welles, Chase’s bailiff Dave Winston, and rogue cop Pat Trayce, among others. The modern Vigilante is Donald Fairchild, first appearing in Gary Phillips & Elena Casagrande’s Watcher: Southland #1, who takes up the mantle after the slaying of his girlfriend. Despite this rich history of other characters in the blue and white stripes, Adrian Chase remains the most memorable and definitive take on the mythos.

7 Vigilante Debuted In 1982 (New Earth)

Adrian Chase (Watchman) First Appearance

Chase first appears in Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s New Teen Titans #23, advocating for the titular team during an official investigation into their actions. Following a devastating televised battle with Brother Blood, including the Titans destroying his church, the public is frightened of the team.

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The Titans are greeted on the roof by an intense standoff with the military, along with the Assistant District Attorney, who ushers them to Chase’s office. The character’s first line is ironic given his eventual adoption of the Vigilante mantle: “You kids really blew it.” This is in reference to their “assault” on Brother Blood, whom Chase believes would’ve eventually failed to the force of the law.

6 Vigilante Starts As A District Attorney

vigilante as district attorney adrian chase

If the Titans are greeted by the Assistant DA, then who is the actual DA? The irony of Chase’s existence is furthered by his own profession: he is the District Attorney, advocating or prosecuting criminals resembling his eventual persona. Wolfman and Perez’s New Teen Titans #26 depicts an episode at an event where Chase disarms an addict after being attacked but tries to save him from oncoming traffic (albeit unsuccessfully). Echoing similar characters within his own universe such as Harvey Dent, Adrian Chase is a charming and intelligent bulldog for justice who’s changed by one bad day: the murder of his wife and children by the mob. This event, confirmed in Wolfman and Perez’s New Teen Titans Annual #2 inevitably sets Adrian on a new path.

5 Vigilante Ends His Own Life

adrian chase/vigilante

After Chase embraced his Vigilante persona, he received his own series with Wolfman and Keith Pollard’s Vigilant #1. This series continues for 50 issues, examining numerous chapters in Adrian’s life that compelled him to question his choices.

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The character wrestles with his extrajudicial dispensing of justice and attempts to escape Vigilante several times, even becoming a judge. Sadly, the character cannot escape the legacy of the moniker and kills himself in Paul Kupperberg and Steve Erwin’s Vigilant #fifty. While a morbid end, Adrian Chase’s story is so complex and mature along the way that it’s hard to fault this as any other than the natural end to his story. A cautionary tale about choice, fate, and morality that rivals stories like Marvel’s Demon in a Bottle or Punisher Kills The Marvel Universe.

4 Vigilante Works With A Partner Named Black Thorn

watchman kissing black thorn

A lot occurred in the 50 issues of Vigilant, including Chase’s taking on a partner. Seemingly taking cues from the Caped Crusader (particularly Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns), Vigilante begins mentoring ex-special agent Elizabeth Thorne in Kupperberg and Tod Smith’s Vigilant #45, who has already adopted an alias: Black Thorn. Resembling Carrie Kelly in fashion and function, Thorn works with Chase for a short time before the latter’s unfortunate end. Thorn is devastated, but it further cements her resolve de ella and fuels her continued actions de ella in carrying on her mentor’s legacy de ella.

3 Vigilante Is Trapped In Purgatory For A Time

vigilante greeting heroes in purgatory

Adrian Chase’s untimely death, by its nature, may leave readers with a certain lack of closure. DC rectifies this by having the character appear during the Day of Judgment event, meeting Wonder Woman and her displaced team in Purgatory. In traditional Catholic doctrine, Purgatory is where souls go to further cleanse their sins and enter Heaven. Chase’s taking of his own life, an act viewed as a mortal sin, understandably places him in this morally-grey place. His presence of him, along with other antiheroes, illustrates the stakes for the mission to defeat Asmodel. Not only is the present reality on the line but the realities of those no longer “with us.” It’s a touching and surprisingly poignant tribute to an underappreciated character.

two Vigilante Battles The Infinite Crisis

vigilante & cyborg during the crisis on infinite earths

Crisis on Infinite Earths cast its proverbial net far and wide in the DCU, impacting the streets of Philadelphia as much as it was the Fortress of Solitude. As a result, every shade of hero and antihero imaginable offers their skillset against the Anti-Monitor’s forces.

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In the aforementioned city of Philadelphia, Vigilante stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of Cyborg as they hold off the invaders. It’s a brief cameo but exemplifies the aim of the event: to essentially bring together all corners of the fandom for one spectacular, seismic story. Furthermore, the DCU continues to operate on the foundation set by this event, and it remains one of DC’s most cherished.

1 Vigilante Has History With Peacemaker

peacemaker shooting vigilante

A by-product of Crisis on Infinite Earths is an excuse to pair up the now-iconic duo of Peacemaker and Vigilante; the two battle the Anti-Monitor’s forces together in Philadelphia, though Christopher Smith suffers a head injury there. During Wonder Woman’s time in Purgatory, Smith’s spirit is present along with Chase’s. Finally, the two share considerable history prior to their respective demises. While Chase is serving as a judge, Dave Winston dawns the Vigilante costume only to be gunned down by Peacemaker in Kupperberg and Denys Cowan’s Vigilant #36. Chase meets Smith as Vigilante two issues later when the two work together to escape a container ship. It’s a tenuous alliance at best and nowhere near the buddy-comedy duo portrayed in peacemaker. However, comics are full of reinvention and this one has struck a chord with HBO Max viewers. Bits of Vigilante’s history can continue to inform it going forward as the show is receiving a second season.

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