The Vigilante was originally a Western hero, whose 1941 debut came in Action Comics–the same title whose first issue had introduced Superman three years earlier. He was popular enough at one point in the late 1940s to inspire a series of film serials, and his popularity continued for a while after the Golden Age of superheroes came to a close (the Western genre was huge in the 1950s and 1960s, something we of the younger set may not realize).
In the 1980s, Marv Wolfman and George Perez revived and updated the character in the pages of their mega-popular New Teen Titans. Now a disillusioned New York district attorney named Adrian Chase who decides to take justice into his own hands, the Vigilante was basically DC’s answer to Marvel Comics’s Punisher, with shades of Daredevil thrown in (Marvel would later return the favor by ripping off Wolfman and Perez’s Deathstroke in the form of Deadpool).
Initially, the Vigilante took pains not to kill his victims, but with a few years he was almost as brutal as the Punisher. His solo series was very dark, even for the time, with one particularly memorable storyline by Alan Moore featuring murder, prostitution, drug use, child molestation, and one very nasty death-by-tire. As time went on Chase became increasingly unhinged, even killing police officers who got in his way. In issue #50, weighed down by guilt, Chase shot himself. Brutal, yes, but probably a more believable end for this sort of personality than the Punisher’s endless war.
Given his grim, unheroic end, the Adrian Chase version of the Vigilante has been largely forgotten in DCU lore, though the Vigilante name and M.O. has been resurrected several times (most recently in the pages of Nightwing and Teen Titans). Chase has certainly never been honored with an action figure by Hasbro or DC Direct, though Kenner had planned one for the Super Powers line in the mid-’80s before the line was canceled (and before Chase offed himself).
But now, Mattel and the Four Horsemen have given us a fine version of the late, tragic Mr. Chase. With him in your hand, perhaps you can weave a new ending for his story–one filled with blazing guns, heroic gestures, and not nearly as much murder and suicide. But the lesson here is clear: don’t be a district attorney in the DC Universe. You’ll end up murderous, psychotic, disfigured and probably dead. Get out while you can, Kate Spencer!
As a district attorney, Adrian Chase grew weary and frustrated by the limits of the law. When a firebomb killed him and his family, Chase, dead for seven minutes, was reborn as the Vigilante – remorseless enemy of crime. As the Vigilante, Chase blurs the line between hero and villain, deliberately executing his enemies and becoming more and more reckless. His former friends want to help Chase; but he himself says that Chase is dead. Only the Vigilante remains.
Packaging: One neat thing about the Vigilante’s packaging is that it has a target symbol etched into the blister tray. It’s a nice touch, particularly for DCUC’s handful of MOC collectors.
Sculpt: On first glance, Vigilante is almost as minimal a sculpt as Commander Steel. He’s a guy in a black skintight bodysuit, mostly composed of re-used parts from the “slender muscled” body (Nightwing etc.).
But Vigilante has a lot more going for him than Steel. For one thing, he has a newly-sculpted belt, with a holster for his revolver, pouches, and even what appear to be (non-removable) nunchaku in the back. His forearms also feature new tooling to represent his gloves.
Finally there’s the head. Not only is it sculpted so as to look as if it’s a mask over a real person’s face, tenting where the nose would be, but the visor is actually a separate piece of translucent red plastic inserted into the head. If you look closely and use a bright light source, you can see sculpted eyes behind the visor–now that’s attention to detail.
These little touches help make Vigilante a lot more interesting than similarly simplistic figures such as Commander Steel and the Atom.
Plastic & Paint: Mr. Chase lucks out in being molded in black plastic, which always looks a lot better than, say, red or yellow. The entire body appears to be molded from black except the forearms (which seem to be molded in white or light gray) and the belt (which could be black under all that yellow, for all I know).
Vigilante’s paint scheme is a bit tricky for a mass market figure given all the thin blue and white trim lines along the head and chest, but credit where credit is due–the paint on my figure came out fairly clean, although on the extreme close-up of his head, you can see one of the white lines isn’t quite lined up. But to be fair, I didn’t even notice that until I saw the photo, so it’s not distracting.
Articulation: has the standard DCUC articulation: a ball jointed head, ball jointed shoulders, hinges at the elbows, knees, ankles and abdomen, swivels at the biceps, wrists, lower thighs and waist, and H-hinges at the hips for ball joint-like movement.
Accessories: As is often the case with DCUC, the accessories are both awesome and annoying. Awesome, in that you get three guns: an M16, a revolver, and a MAC-10. Annoying, in that they’re made from soft plastic and come out of the package warped.
The warping is particularly bad with the M16, which of course is due to the weapon being in his hand in the package. Mattel: stop it. I know it makes for a dynamic pose in the package, but if you’re not going to mold the weapons in a stiffer plastic, you must stop putting the weapons in the figures’ hands.
Still, the weapons are cool. They’re molded in silver with a light wash, and the revolver has some paint on the handle. The M16 and the pistol can be held in his left hand, which has an actual trigger finger (hallelujah! –though I wish it were on the right hand as well). The M16 can be strapped to Vigilante’s back, while the revolver fits nicely in the holster, which can then be snapped shut. The MAC-10 is designed to fit in the right hand so that the trigger guard appears to be curving back behind the finger (thanks to that feature, it also looks great with Deathstroke).
He also comes with Giganta’s left leg.
Quality Control: Aside from the weapon warping mentioned above, none.
Thanks to an already cool (if minimalist) character design and great accessories, along with some nice touches like the translucent visor, an otherwise simple figure like Vigilante is an entire raven above average. He’s one of my favorite figures in my second-favorite DCUC wave this far (after Wave 3).
Also, I foresee a lot of 6″ Snake Eyes customs thanks to this guy…
(By the way, Vigilante’s ride is a Maisto 2006 Suzuki GSX R-1000. You can get one here, or just try your local Walmart or TRU.)