February 27, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Heroes Case File #289: Vigilante

A cowboy hero brings justice--Old West style.

Last week, I covered the Shining Knight, and he was one of the Seven Soldiers of Victory.  Some of those characters are more recognizable than others.

Be that as it may, I feel like covering a different one this time with the Vigilante.

Most heroes wear masks that cover the upper half of their faces. Vigilante does something different.

Now, DC Comics has had the name “Vigilante” on multiple heroes over the years, and quite frankly, that’s a crappy name.  It doesn’t say much about the character so much as it seems like a place-holder.  After all, aren’t most superheroes some form of vigilante?  Plus, most of the characters that go by that name seem to be far more lethal and inclined towards dark colors, if you catch my drift.  But this time, I’m covering the original.  He was a singing cowboy.

No, really!

Greg Saunders, as he was eventually known, first appeared in Action Comics #42 in November of 1941.  His grandfather was a Native American fighter and his father was a sheriff.  Greg himself moved from Wyoming to New York City to make it as a country singer.

See?  Singing cowboy.

Anyway, when his father died, he returned home and became the cowboy-themed hero Vigilante.  He had the standard cowboy skills of sharpshootin’ and trick ropin’ and other such skills, fighting villains like the Dummy, a guy who built weapons while looking like a ventriloquist dummy, and the Rainbow Man who committed crimes based on a color motif.

Heck, he even had a no doubt racist kid sidekick named Stuff the Chinatown Kid.  I am not looking for pictures of him.

Greg, as Vigilante, would be one of the Seven Soldiers of Victory, a Silver Age team from Earth-2 that originally disappeared and had to be found to defeat the awesome menace that they had taken out before, with both the Justice League and the Justice Society engaged in the search.  Supposedly, one of the Seven died in the fight, but then the dead one turned out to be the sidekick of one of the Seven that was not part of the Seven Soldiers.  So, the eighth member of the Seven Soldiers died, and that was something of a nasty trick if you ask me.

No, it wasn’t Stuff.

Pictured: the Seven Soldiers (plus one), but not Stuff.

Time passed, and when Grant Morrison did his own take on the Seven Soldiers, the first issue bookending the rest showed Saunders bringing a new team together to face some evil, but there were only six (an unlucky number for hero teams), and the group was almost entirely wiped out, including Saunders.  Now, Saunders would appear as some kind of ghost to the hero who didn’t show for that mission, the wouldbe seventh the Bulleteer, and something came up there that Saunders was part werewolf or something, but that was about all.

Now, Vigilante has appeared in a few animated series.  Most notably, he appeared in the DCAU’s Justice League Unlimited with a voice provided by actor Nathan Fillon.

And in the more humorous Batman the Brave and the Bold, he appeared as a singing cowboy who fought crime while he sang.  So, really, he was a singing cowboy superhero, quick with a gun, but also sweet of voice.  Plus, he did well enough to set his own movie serial in 1947, but if there’s one thing we can all agree on about this character today…he wore his mask correctly while the pandemic rages.

Make of that what you will.