Ever Vigilante


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A man who made it his occupation to protect the laws of our land undergoes a terrible tragedy; his entire family is ruthlessly murdered by mobsters. The man undergoes a psychotic break, and realizes the only way to preserve the law is to work outside it. Gun in hand, he declares war on the criminal underworld, and will stop at nothing to achieve total victory.

What? Another Punisher-focused Guiding Lines column? No, not quite. This isn’t the Punisher. It isn’t even a Marvel character. This is a DC character called Vigilante, and while there are similarities between the two, there are quite a bit of differences.

Another similarity is a shared quality of the books they first appeared in—their popularity. The Punisher made his debut in one of the biggest titles of the day, Amazing Spider-Man.   The Vigilante made his about 9 years later in the annual for DC’s hottest book, 1983’s New Teen Titans Annual #2.

That story introduced Adrian Chase, a crusading New York City Assistant District Attorney who hit the Mob and hit them hard. They hit back by putting a bomb in Chase’s apartment, hoping to kill him. They killed his family instead, and the Vigilante was born.

While Adrian Chase approached crime fighting the same way as Frank Castle does, he went about it a very different way. He made a point of not killing his targets (for the most part). He also wasn’t as driven as Frank. The Punisher has no doubt that his mission is wrong. Adrian Chase seriously struggled with the morality of his role as the Vigilante.

This version of the Vigilante was co-created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. Wolfman returns on a new, ongoing Vigilante series this week. But this isn’t a case of a creator-returning to the character he created.

The character spun-off into his own series, written for a while by Wolfman before he handed it over to other writers. Ever wonder what an Alan Moore-written Punisher would be like? Check out issues 17 and 18 of the original series. Moore wrote both issues, and that’s about as close as you’re going to get to him working on the Punisher.

Over the course of this   first series, the character underwent a number of changes. Adrian Chase gave up the identity of the Vigilante and two other men assumed it during the course of the run. Chase eventually took back the uniform before the end of this series. The title ended with Chase taking his own life.

DC has returned to the Vigilante concept a number of times; including a female version of the character Wolfman introduced during his term on the Deathstroke, the Terminator series. The most recent attempt was a 2005 miniseries written by Bruce Jones which introduced an entirely new Vigilante to the DC Universe.

It is unknown if it is Jones’ version of the Vigilante Wolfman is working with in this new series, or yet another new version of the character. But it seems apparent that it won’t be the one he created a quarter of a century ago. While Adrian Chase’s demise was left vague enough to be easily undone, Wolfman has gone on record that it’s not Chase behind this Vigilante’s mask.

This series spins out of Wolfman’s brief run on Nightwing, where he introduced this version of the Vigilante. The focus of this series will be more street-level, as our mysterious hero tackles gangs and organized crime.

DC has tried to continue the Vigilante legacy a number of times over the years, and now they put the job in the hands of the person who created the character’s most popular incarnation. Can Marv Wolfman catch lightning twice? The coming months will answer that question.

Also out this week:

Secret Invasion: Requiem #1:

One of the biggest “Skrull reveals” of Secret Invasion was that Hank Pym was replaced. One of the biggest deaths in the series was that of Hank’s ex-wife, the Wasp. The original Hank is back and this special oversized one-shot will focus on his reaction to Jan’s death and him perhaps taking on yet another new identity.

This special also serves another purpose. The new creative team on Mighty Avengers, Dan Slott and Khoi Pham, will be introduced in this story and this one-shot will set the stage for the changes they will be making to that series. It will also reprint two classic issues pivotal in the history of Hank and Jan. Something to interest fans of these character’s pasts and also those interested in their future.

Various (W), Various  (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. One-Shot.

Farscape #1:

The term “cult Sci-fi TV show” really has no meaning. Because every television show with science fiction themes eventually develops a cult following, whether it’s on ten weeks or ten years. Take Farscape for instance. It’s been 4 years since the last TV movie, the series itself only lasted 88 episodes, but yet it has a strong enough fanbase to support webisodes, novels, and now, comic book adaptations.

Series creator Rockne O’Bannon is bringing Farscape to comics in a four-issue miniseries. The series will be considered “in canon” and will correspond with the episodes currently running on the web at the SciFi Networks webpage. So, if any fans of the franchise that have remained true to the series for so long and want to know what happens next, look no further than right here.   

Rockne O’Bannon & Keith R.A. DeCandido (W), Tommy Patterson (A), BOOM! Studios, $3.99. Four-Issue Miniseries.

Flash #247:

Here we are. At yet another final issue featuring a Wally West Flash, wrapping up another storyline that set about to wrap up Wally’s arc so he can shuffle off and be replaced by a different Flash as a result of a big reboot of the franchise. And yet again, all signs point to Wally taking the big dirt nap to make sure the new guy (who really is an old guy—Silver Age Flash Barry Allen is rumored to be back) has the field all to himself.

Geoff Johns is writing the reboot, so I know it will be great, but I wish it didn’t have to come to a reboot. Wally West is my favorite DC character. In my opinion, if DC didn’t completely bollocks the character, he could have ran on long into the future. I hope DC doesn’t kill him off. I’d like to see Johns work with him on the Barry Allen book. 

Alan Burnett (W), Carlo Barberi (A), DC Comics, $2.99. Final Issue.

Mister X: Condemned #1:

If you are the kind of person that when you saw this series you began to joke along the lines of “What is Professor X doing in a comic from Dark Horse,” realize that you are not the first to make such jokes, as it was old way back in Mister X’s heyday of the early 1980s.

Yes, he is bald and he does have an X as his name, but Mister X is anything but a rip-off of Marvel’s merry mutants. Mister X was one of the most original and striking works to come out of the ‘80s, and one of the most legendary independent titles of all time.

And now he’s back. Creator Dean Motter has brought his witty and urbane series back to comics and, for the second time in two weeks, Dark Horse has provided a home for a seminal series of days past. I wonder what they will provide a home for next.

Dean Motter (W/A),Dark Horse Comics, $3.50. Four-Issue Miniseries.

Contract: Solo Missions: Panzer:

Those of you who are too young to drink or simply abstain, you just don’t know the experience that is drinking alcohol to excess. You wake up the next day with major parts of your memory missing. You could wake up in your own house or a stranger’s. You could wake up alone or with someone you barely know. And the worst part about all of it, that you have no idea how you got there.

Panzer’s experience is a little bit worse. He wakes up after a bender in a strange place with a bunch of strangers. Unfortunately, the place is a dropship flying out on a top-secret mission, and the strangers are a group of highly-trained cybermercenaries. Now not only does he have to deal with a wicked hangover, but also has to deal with to lending a hand on the mission or get tossed out of the moving aircraft. Machine gun fire and a massive headache can’t be a good combination, but neither is falling 40,000 feet and then hitting the ground.

Garan Madeiros & Charles D. Shell (W), Ariel Padilla (A), A First Salvo , $2.99. One-Shot.

Wolverine: Origins #31:

The relationship between Wolverine and his son, Daken has been a bit choppy (no pun intended). The bad blood exists on both sides. Daken has tried repeatedly to kill Wolvie, which is pretty harsh, and Logan forgot about Daken completely, which has to be a blow to the self-esteem.

But it appears that the reason Daken had such hatred for his father was a lie, a big ruse set up so that the son would take the father out of the picture—permanently.  Now, father and son are uniting to take on the dangerous man pulling the strings. This might not be a trip to a ball game or a fishing trip, but maybe this will give dad and child a chance to bond a little bit.

Daniel Way(W), Yanick Paquette (A), Marvel Comics, $2.99. Ongoing Series.


William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY and is expecting his first child with his wife Jennifer. He also is a comic reviewer for PopMatters and is the comic book movie editor for Film Buff Online. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.

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