Vigilante (comics)

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Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance (Saunders)
Action Comics #42 (Nov. 1941)
New Teen Titans Annual #2 (1983)
(as Vigilante) Vigilante #20 (August 1985)
(as Vigilante) Vigilante #28 (April 1986)
Deathstroke the Terminator #6 (April 1992)
Vigilante vol. 2, #1 (November 2005)
Created by (Saunders)
Mort Weisinger
Mort Meskin
Marv Wolfman
George Pérez
In-story information
Alter ego Greg Saunders
Adrian Chase
Alan Welles
Dave Winston
Patricia Trayce
Justin Powell
Vincent Sobel
Team affiliations (Saunders)
Seven Soldiers of Victory
All-Star Squadron
Notable aliases (Saunders)
Brilliant marksman
Master of the lariat
Superb hand-to-hand combatant
Excellent horseman

Vigilante is the name used by several fictional characters appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. The original character was one of the first DC Comics characters adapted for live-action film, beating Superman by one year.

Fictional character biography

Greg Saunders

The original Vigilante was a western-themed hero who debuted in Action Comics #42 (Nov. 1941). Greg Sanders (the spelling was changed to "Greg Saunders" in the 1990s) grandfather was a Native American fighter, and his father was a sheriff in Wyoming. As a young man, Saunders moved east to New York City and became a country singer, radio's "Prairie Troubadour". Greg returned to his home after his father was killed, bringing to justice the gang of bandits who killed him.[1]

The Vigilante, like many heroes of the era, acquired a sidekick to aid him in his crime fighting. Stuff the Chinatown Kid, was introduced in Action Comics #45. He assisted the Vigilante when a Japanese spy known as the Head framed Stuff's grandfather for provoking a Tong war.

The majority of the Vigilante's solo adventures were against non-powered, costumed criminals. He was an excellent brawler, trick shooter, sharpshooter, horseman and motorcycle rider, and an expert with the lariat. These skills gave him advantage over his adversaries in his adventures, which centered primarily in New York City.[citation needed]

The Vigilante fought few foes that could be considered real "super-villains". His arch-foes were the Dummy, a brilliant weapons inventor and professional killer who resembled a ventriloquist's dummy in both size and facial features, and the Rainbow Man, who committed crimes with a color motif. The Vigilante also encountered The Rattler on several occasions, as well as The Fiddler and The Shade, though the latter two villains are not the same foes that battled the Flash.[citation needed]

The Vigilante was also a member of the Seven Soldiers of Victory (also known as the Law's Legionnaires), one of the earliest super-hero teams (appearing in Leading Comics). In these adventures, his sidekick Stuff never appeared, being replaced by an old, somewhat crotchety man named Billy Gunn. The Vigilante was also one of the few super-hero features to survive the end of the "Golden Age" of super-hero comics, lasting as a solo feature until Action Comics #198 (1954), when he was permanently replaced by Tommy Tomorrow.

The Vigilante was revived in the seventies in the pages of Justice League of America, when the Seven Soldiers of Victory were brought back into active continuity. Like Green Arrow, his Earth-2 counterpart was a lost member of the Seven Soldiers, but he did not participate in the JLA/JSA quest to rescue them. All the members were hurled through time after defeating Nebula Man (except for Wing who was killed). The Silver Age Green Arrow, Black Canary and Johnny Thunder and Thunderbolt saved the Vigilante from a tribe of Native Americans in the Old West who felt that eventually the white men would take over their land. The Earth-1 Vigilante's contact with the League was limited to a two-part story where he aided the JLA against aliens determined to over-pollute the Earth. He remarks in his first appearance in Adventure Comics that the League did help him re-establish his career, even providing him with a new motorcycle. He later teams up with, and saves the life of Superman (his marksmanship allowed him to shoot a silver bullet at the shadow of a werewolf who, being a magical creature, was about to kill the Man of Steel).[2] He also received a periodic feature in the pages of Adventure Comics, drawn by both Mike Sekowsky and Gray Morrow, and also in World's Finest Comics.[citation needed]

The short-lived series in World's Finest culminated in the Vigilante coming to Gotham City to meet his old partner Stuff, only to find his friend murdered by his old enemy, the Dummy. At the end of this series, The Vigilante rode off with Stuff's son (who had been trained by Richard Dragon).[3]

Vigilante continued to sporadically appear as a superhero in DC Comics, having been established as running a dude ranch in Mesa City (the former home of Western hero Johnny Thunder).[citation needed]

Seven Soldiers

In Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers #0, the Vigilante establishes a new Seven Soldiers of Victory to battle the monstrous spider of Miracle Mesa. He is apparently killed alongside the rest of the team,[4] only to re-appear as a ghost in Bulleteer #3 (also part of the Seven Soldiers series). He attempts to recruit a new team of seven to further battle the threat of the Sheeda. He claims Bulleteer's actions will allow him to 'rest'.[citation needed]


In Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen Greg Saunders appears, alive, as the sheriff of Warpath, a town on the Mexican border formerly known for supervillain activity. Olsen's narration notes that Saunders has been dead and came back to life, but does not go into detail. Olsen also notes that Saunders appears younger, though he clearly retains all of his past experience. Saunders and a mysterious version of the hero known as the Guardian beat back a villainous invasion from Mexico.[5]

Adrian Chase

Cover of Vigilante #17.

Adrian Chase first appeared as the Vigilante in 1983's New Teen Titans Annual #2 by writer Marv Wolfman and penciler George Pérez. A New York City district attorney whose family was killed by mobsters, Chase sought justice in his own way as the Vigilante.[6] After his initial appearance he gained his own ongoing series, initially written by Wolfman, and later included writers such as Alan Moore (issues #17-18) and Paul Kupperberg. In the early issues of the series, it was shown that Adrian took pains to make sure he did not kill his enemies (unlike the Punisher) - he would regularly use non-lethal weaponry to disable his opponents. However, in issue #37, Vigilante killed a police officer. Vigilante then became ever more violent and uncaring about who was caught in the crossfire.[citation needed]

Throughout the series Chase was tormented over the justice of his actions and the pain it brought to others. As early as the second issue of the series Chase flirted with abandoning his costumed identity after he savagely beat an ex-convict who turned out to be innocent. Eventually Chase did abandon his identity as Vigilante, believing that he could be both more effective and also happier as a judge. However, during his absence the identity of Vigilante was assumed, in succession, by two of his friends without his knowledge.[citation needed]

In the wake of Winston's death, Chase once again assumed the role of Vigilante, believing that it was the only way to protect those he loved, but his experiences with Welles and Winston had damaged his fragile psyche beyond repair, causing him to adopt more vicious tactics in his war on crime. Seeking revenge on Peacemaker, the out of shape Chase was beaten in a fight and unmasked on live TV, thereby ending his secret identity and forcing him even further into the role of Vigilante.[citation needed]

As the series progressed Chase became ever more conflicted over the violence he engaged in and the harm he caused to those around him. He also became increasingly mentally unstable—alternating between bouts of enraged violence, paranoia, and terrible remorse for his actions. Near the end, he even resorted to murdering innocent police officers who got in his way. His mounting guilt culminated in the final issue of his series (#50) where, after contemplating the course of his life, Chase committed suicide.[7]

Before his death, he frequently battled Cannon and Saber and Electrocutioner.[citation needed]

Adrian makes an appearance in the Day of Judgment limited series, as one of the dead heroes in Purgatory. He and the others run interference, battling the guardians of the realm, so other living heroes can escape with the soul of Hal Jordan. When the crisis concluded with Hal Jordan assuming the mantle of the Spectre, Jim Corrigan appeared briefly on Earth, stating that the efforts of Chase and other heroes in Purgatory had earned an appeal in the shining city.[8]

Alan Welles

The first person to assume the Vigilante identity after Chase was Alan Welles, a fellow judge and friend of Chase, who secretly operated in a much more violent manner, even executing petty thieves. Welles's first appearance was in Vigilante #7, but he became Vigilante in Vigilante #20. His mental instability eventually led him to gun down police officers and civilians. Chase though felt responsible for this threat and began a long investigation to take down Vigilante, until he found out that Welles was Vigilante, forcing Chase to kill him.

Dave Winston

The second person to assume the Vigilante identity after Chase was Dave Winston, Chase's baliff. He refused to kill and traded on the fierce reputation of Vigilante to intimidate information out of thugs. He debuted in Vigilante #23 and became the Vigilante in Vigilante #28. He believed that the Vigilante's efforts were noble and worthwhile. When Welles was killed after ruining the Vigilante's reputation, Winston took up the mantle believing that the city needed the Vigilante. When Chase found out about Winston's actions, he chose to wash his hands of the affair. When Chase and his girlfriend, Marcia King boarded a plane for Europe, it was hijacked. Winston and Peacemaker both responded to the emergency, but Winston was killed by Peacemaker in front of Chase, causing Chase to realize that he could never escape the Vigilante's legacy.

Pat Trayce

The next Vigilante was Patricia Trayce, a rogue Gotham City police detective who teams up with Deathstroke the Terminator in the Deathstroke the Terminator series written by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez. Trayce found the gear of the second Vigilante (Adrian Chase) and adapted the guise. She was also Deathstroke's lover. She first appeared in Deathstroke the Terminator #6. In Deathstroke the Terminator #11, Pat Trayce takes up the uniform of the Vigilante. She was trained by Deathstroke, and soon started to work alone.[citation needed]

Adeline Kane

Justin Powell

Late in 2005, DC published a Vigilante limited series by writer Bruce Jones and artist Ben Oliver. The identity of the title character is initially left mysterious, but apparently this is a new incarnation of the character.[citation needed]

His name was Justin "Jay" Sutter. When he encountered a murderer as a child, he created a second personality in his mind, The Vigilante. Jay at some point changed his name to Justin Scott Powell and would become the Vigilante subconsciously. While Powell was unaware of the Vigilante personality, the Vigilante knew about Powell. At the end of the miniseries, Powell was able to reconcile the two personalities.[citation needed]

This Vigilante was last seen, alongside Wild Dog and the current Crimson Avenger, on a rooftop in the great battle of Metropolis, raining bullets down on the Trigger Twins, the Madmen, the second Spellbinder, and others in Infinite Crisis #7.[citation needed]

Dorian Chase

The most recent Vigilante appeared in Nightwing #133-137. While he wears a costume similar to Adrian Chase's, it is a new vigilante under the mask. Note that Marv Wolfman has pointed out the "321 Days" arc was cut short by two issues due to Batman R.I.P. which required the Nightwing title to feature in it, so the final story as seen ended without any clear closure for any of the characters.[citation needed]

This Vigilante also appears in Gotham Underground, set after his initial encounter with Nightwing.[9] He is shown to be a formidable fighter, but is defeated easily by Batman.[10][11]

Following the events of Vigilante #1 (February, 2009), the new Vigilante is seen out of costume for the first time and is referred to by his ally JJ as "Dorian." He initially operates under the identity of Joe Flynn, a small-time criminal with a rap sheet, but it is later revealed that the real Joe Flynn is dead. Dorian has the technology to graft another person's face to his own and his assistant changes the police records so his fingerprint and DNA point back to his fake identity. At the end of the first story arc, Dorian abandons the Joe Flynn identity and begins to make preparations to assume a new identity of a dead and forgotten criminal. It is also revealed that Dorian is the brother of the late Adrian Chase in Vigilante #9. Little is known about his past, but his wife is dead and he served time in prison for his work with the mob.[citation needed]

At one point, JJ warns Vigilante about the dangers of pushing himself to the point of destruction, commenting that he "saw it happen" with Adrian Chase. Vigilante describes his predecessor as a fool.[citation needed]

This Vigilante plays an important role in the "Deathtrap" crossover with the Teen Titans and the Titans. He targets the unbalanced Jericho for assassination, bringing him into conflict with the various heroes. Vigilante succeeds in tracking down Jericho but, having promised Rose Wilson not to kill him, instead gouges Jericho's eyes out to stop him from using his powers.[citation needed]

The Vigilante had been operating unseen in Europe for several years before moving back to the U.S. and going after local mobs and criminals.[citation needed]

Donald Fairchild

In the DC Rebirth miniseries, Vigilante: Southland, a new Vigilante is introduced, Donald Fairchild, a former professional basketball player.

Greg Saunders Bibliography

  • Action Comics #42-198, 403 (reprint), 405 (reprint)
  • Action Comics Souvenir Edition (1947)
  • Adventure Comics #417, 422, 426, 427, 438-443 (as part of the Seven Soldiers of Victory feature)
  • All-Funny Comics #16
  • All-Star Squadron #1 (cameo), 29, 31 (cameo), 50 (cameo), 56, 60 (cameo)
  • Anthro #5 (text feature)
  • The Brave and the Bold #81 (text feature)
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths #5, 12 (cameos)
  • DC Comics Presents #38 (cameo in "Whatever Happened to the Crimson Avenger?")
  • DC 100-Page Super Spectacular #6
  • Detective Comics #496 (cameo)
  • El Diablo #12
  • Four Star Spectacular #5 (reprint)
  • The Golden Age #1, 4 (cameos)
  • The Greatest Golden Age Stories Ever Told
  • Impulse Annual #2
  • Infinity, Inc. #11
  • JLA Year One #11, 12 (cameos)
  • JSA #49-51
  • Justice League of America #78-79, 100-102, 144
  • Leading Comics #1-14
  • Legion of Super-Heroes V4 #45 (cameo as part of Mordru's undead army)
  • Real Fact Comics #10
  • Secret Origins V1 #4 (reprint)
  • Secret Origins V2, #9 (cameo)
  • The Spectre V1 #6 (text feature)
  • Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #0, 1 (cameos), 9
  • Super DC Giant S-15 (reprint)
  • Superman and Batman: World's Finest (cameo)
  • Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen
  • Vigilante: City Lights, Prairie Justice #1-4
  • Wanted: The World's Most Dangerous Super-Villains #3 (reprint)
  • Western Comics #1-2
  • World's Finest Comics #214, 225 (reprint), 227 (reprint), 228 (reprint), 244-248
  • The Young All-Stars #1, 3 (cameo), 4 (cameo), 5 (cameo), 25 (cameo), 27, Annual #1
  • Seven Soldiers of Victory #0
  • Bulleteer #2, 3, 4

Powers and abilities

The Vigilante is a superb hand-to-hand combatant, a brilliant marksman, and a master of the lariat.

Other versions


  • Pre-Crisis, there were both an Earth-1 and an Earth-2 Vigilante. Both were Greg Saunders from their respective Earths. Earth-1's Vigilante was shown for the first time in the pages (and cover) of the JLA issue where the superteam moved to their classic headquarters on an orbiting satellite (Justice League of America volume 1 # 78).

Detective Comics

  • In Detective Comics #493 (August 1980) it was revealed that Greg Saunders had a nephew, Michael Carter, who became a costumed crimefighter too, the Swashbuckler. The Swashbuckler was created by the issue's writer, Cary Burkett, for a fanzine he published in middle school.[12] Burkett said he made the Swashbuckler the nephew of the Vigilante because he didn't have enough space to present the entire backstory he'd created for the character in the fanzine.[12]

Kingdom Come

Batman Beyond

  • The ongoing Batman Beyond comic book series introduces Jake Chill, the great grand nephew of Joe Chill, the murderer of Thomas and Martha Wayne. He was a member of the "Quiet Squad", a secret group of four men inside Wayne-Powers security who acted as Derek Powers' personal hit and intimidation squad. He took part in the raid on Warren McGinnis' home, and is in fact the man who fatally shot him. When Derek Powers disappeared after being defeated by Batman and sunk to the bottom of the harbor, Quiet Squad was fired and Jake, left destitute and stricken with guilt over the murder, moves to the slums of Gotham on the ground level. He descended into alcoholism and depression but, after fighting off a gang of thieves from his apartment, finds new purpose in life and decides to become a superhero using his old Wayne-Powers security equipment in an attempt at redemption. Naming himself the Vigilante, he helps defend Gotham during the Jokerz uprising, alongside Batman, the new Catwoman and Dick Grayson. Vigilante proved himself to be both dedicated and competent, but is not yet totally trusted by the GCPD or Batman. He became a frequent partner of Batman, but died from the Jokerz during the "Mark of the Phantasm" story line. During the plot of this, Terry finds out that Jake killed his father, and though he's furious and might never forgive Jake, he appreciates his heroism and thinks he didn't deserve to die the way he did.

In other media



Johann Urb as Vincent Sobel / Vigilante on Arrow.
  • Johann Urb portrays Vigilante in The CW's live-action Arrowverse, while the character's disguised voice when masked is provided by Mick Wingert.[14][15] Although his costume is modeled after Adrian Chase's in the comic books, this version's alter ego is Vincent Sobel; "Adrian Chase" is an alias used by Simon Morrison / Prometheus in this continuity.[16][17][18]
    • The character is introduced in season five of Arrow as a sociopathic vigilante operating in Star City who ruthlessly targets anyone he judges as corrupt, deeming innocents that are harmed in his mission as "collateral damage". Vigilante's violent methods ultimately draw the attention of the crime-fighter Green Arrow, whom he frequently comes into conflict with due to their opposing ideologies. Vigilante returns as one of the main antagonists in season six. His identity is revealed to be Vincent Sobel, Dinah Drake's former romantic and professional partner in the Central City Police Department who was seemingly killed during the S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator explosion; the dark matter released turned Sobel into a metahuman with a healing factor instead, allowing him to survive fatal injuries such as bullet wounds to the head. He is later recruited by Helix leader Cayden James into joining his organisation alongside Black Siren, Ricardo Diaz and Anatoli Knyazev. After Dinah discovers that Vincent is alive, the two begin to reconnect until she learns of his alliance with James.
    • Vigilante makes a brief appearance in the crossover episode of The Flash, titled "Invasion!". He is seen fighting Green Arrow and Spartan in a warehouse, but the two are whisked away by the Flash before Vigilante's bullets are able to hit them.
    • In the Legends of Tomorrow episode "Doomworld", Vigilante's mask can be seen in Damien Darhk's office in an alternate reality.


Greg Saunders / Vigilante in Justice League Unlimited.
  • The Greg Saunders version of Vigilante appears in Justice League Unlimited, voiced by Nathan Fillion (in the episodes "Hunter's Moon" and "Patriot Act") and Michael Rosenbaum (in the episode "Task Force X" although uncredited). Like his comic book counterpart, it is suggested that he is a country singer. He is usually paired with his close friend Shining Knight, despite the differences between their lone wolf and chivalrous attitudes.
  • The Greg Saunders version of Vigilante appears in the teaser of the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Night of the Batmen!", voiced by John DiMaggio.


  • In 1947 Columbia Pictures released a 15-chapter serial loosely based on the original Greg Saunders character, called The Vigilante. It starred Ralph Byrd in the title role but changed several aspects. In the serial, The Vigilante is a masked government agent undercover as a playboy actor starring in Westerns. His mission in the serial is to investigate the disappearance, and possible smuggling into America, of a string of rare blood red pearls. The costume has been slightly changed as well but The Vigilante still rides a motorcycle and wields a gun. This serial makes Vigilante one of the first DC Comics characters adapted to live action film (along with Congo Bill, the same year). Batman was adapted into a serial in 1943 and Hop Harrigan in 1946, but Superman was not made until 1948. The Fawcett Comics characters, Captain Marvel and Spy Smasher, which were later bought by DC, had serials in 1941 and 1942 respectively.
  • The Greg Saunders version of Vigilante makes a brief cameo appearance in the animated film Justice League: The New Frontier.


  1. ^ Vigilante (1941) at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived 2015-07-19 at WebCite from the original on July 19, 2015.
  2. ^ World's Finest Comics #214
  3. ^ World's Finest #247 (October/November 1977)
  4. ^ Seven Soldiers #0 (June 2005)
  5. ^ Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #1 (December 2008)
  6. ^ Vigilante (1983) at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived 2015-07-19 at WebCite from the original on July 19, 2015.
  7. ^ Vigilante #50 (February 1988)
  8. ^ Day of Judgement #5
  9. ^ Gotham Underground #6 (May 2008)
  10. ^ Gotham Underground #7 (June 2008)
  11. ^ Gotham Underground #8 (July 2008)
  12. ^ a b Franklin, Chris (April 2014). "Swashbuckled and Hornswoggled: The All-Too-Brief Career of the Swashbuckler". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (71): 60–61. 
  13. ^ Kingdom Come #3
  14. ^
  15. ^ Francisco, Eric (November 17, 2016). "'Arrow' Fans Are Pretty Sure They Know Vigilante's Identity". Inverse. Retrieved March 3, 2017. 
  16. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (June 16, 2016). "'Arrow': Josh Segarra Cast As Star City's Newest Vigilante In Season 5 Regular Role". Deadline. 
  17. ^ Schedeen, Jesse (March 1, 2017). "ARROW: "FIGHTING FIRE WITH FIRE" REVIEW". IGN. Retrieved March 3, 2017. 
  18. ^ Fitzpatrick, Kevin (March 1, 2017). "Review: 'Arrow' Drops the Bombshell Prometheus Reveal in 'Fighting Fire With Fire'". Screen Crush. Retrieved March 3, 2017. 

External links

  • Vigilante (Greg Saunders) at the DCU Guide
  • Vigilante (Greg Saunders) at the Comic Book DB
  • Vigilante (Adrian Chase) at the DCU Guide
  • Vigilante (Adrian Chase) at the Comic Book DB
  • Vigilante (Allan Welles) at the Comic Book DB
  • Vigilante (Dave Winston) at the Comic Book DB
  • Vigilante (Pat Trayce) at the DCU Guide
  • Vigilante (Pat Trayce) at the Comic Book DB
  • Vigilante (Justin Powell) at the Comic Book DB
  • Vigilante (new) at the Comic Book DB
  • Titans Tower Profile: Vigilante II (Adrian Chase)
  • Comic Book Profile: Vigilante (Greg Saunders)
  • Comic Book Profile: Earth-1 Vigilante (Greg Saunders)[permanent dead link]
  • Earth-2 Vigilante (Greg Saunders) Index
  • Earth-1 Vigilante (Adrian Chase) Index
  • Post-Crisis Vigilante (Adrian Chase) Index
  • Bio of Swashbuckler, Greg Saunders' nephew
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