Vigilante
Greg Saunders.png
Greg Saunders as he appeared on the cover of Leading Comics #5 (December 1942).
Art by Mort Meskin.
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceAction Comics #42 (November 1941)
Created by
In-story information
Alter egoGreg Saunders
Team affiliations
PartnershipsShining Knight
Abilities
  • Brilliant marksman
  • Superb hand-to-hand combatant
  • Master of the lariat
  • Excellent horseman

Greg Saunders is a superhero appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. He is the first DC character to bear the name "Vigilante".

The character made its live-action debut in the film serial The Vigilante (1947).

Publication history

Created by writer Mort Weisinger and artist Mort Meskin, Greg Saunders first appeared in Action Comics #42 (November 1941). He appeared in every issue of Action Comics until #198 (November 1954).[1]

Fictional character biography

The original Vigilante was a western-themed hero who debuted in Action Comics #42 (Nov. 1941): originally named Greg Sanders, the spelling was changed to Greg Saunders in the 1990s. Grandson of a Native American fighter, and the son of a sheriff in Wyoming, Saunders, as a young man, 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.[2]

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.

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.[3] 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. Other foes included Shakes the Underworld Poet and the Dictionary, a gangster with a heightened vocabulary.[4]

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).[5] 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.

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).[6]

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).

Seven Soldiers

Main article: 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,[7] 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'.

Return

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.[8]

The New 52

In 2011, "The New 52" rebooted the DC Universe. Vigilante was renamed to Greg Sanders and operated in Opal City during the mid-20th Century. Shade contacted him to help rescue his great-grandson Darnell Caldecotte from Nazi spies. Once that was done, Shade upheld his deal with Vigilante by giving him the intel on the local gangs and they parted ways.[9]

Powers and abilities

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

Enemies

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (September 2020)

Vigilante had his own rogues gallery:

Other versions

Multiverse

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.[72]

In other media

Television

Greg Saunders / Vigilante in Justice League Unlimited.
Greg Saunders / Vigilante in Justice League Unlimited.

Film

References

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  2. ^ Vigilante (1941) at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived 2015-07-19 at WebCite
  3. ^ Nevins, Jess (2013). Encyclopedia of Golden Age Superheroes. High Rock Press. p. 285. ISBN 978-1-61318-023-5.
  4. ^ Mitchell, Kurt; Thomas, Roy (2019). American Comic Book Chronicles: 1940-1944. TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 183. ISBN 978-1605490892.
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