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Arrow: One Angry Vigilante

Arrow: One Angry Vigilante

By Matt Ross Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

The #DCTV Couch Club is a team of DC fans dedicated to exploring the shared universe of The CW’s Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Look for new Couch Club posts here on DCComics.com after every new episode!

In the words of Larry David, tonight’s episode was “prettyyyy, prettyyyyy, prettyyyy, pretty good…”

If you’ve followed my column this season, you’ve probably learned that I’m a fan of “B” list characters. There’s just something about them. I think it stems from being a kid and noticing that a lot of the “smaller” characters always had some of the coolest costumes. The other factor was that there was always a mystery to them. They weren’t the main guys, so you never really knew much about them in the pre-internet days.

As a kid, I wasn’t super well versed in the history and storylines of many of the characters. Comics were far more visual for me back then. I had a rag tag collection—picking up various issues based on the cover and interior art, or being given random hand-me-downs from my friends, my brother and his friends, or our parents. Most of the time, I had issues that were in the middle of a story arc, or at the end. I never really had a complete story from start to finish. Sometimes the writing was way over my head or I didn’t have the patience to read it—I just loved the art and how the action was drawn. As a result, my friends and I often looked through the books and created our own stories and powers for the characters.

We never played as the big guys like Superman, Batman, etc. I mean, we knew everything about them. They’re the guys you grow up with and there were no real surprises about them. It was the lesser-used guys like Blue Devil, Black Lightning, the Creeper, Plastic Man and so on, that we were always most interested in.

DC has such a rich palette of these characters. I’m really excited to see them being explored more in both the comics and TV/film!

Case in point: Vigilante.

Although there have been several different people to use the Vigilante moniker, I’m going to focus on the two “main” ones.

Gregory Sanders (later changed to “Saunders”) was the first Vigilante and someone I pretended to be a lot as a kid—despite never actually reading a single story of his. My friends and I just saw him in the panels of random books and thought he was so cool.

A Western-themed character with signature blue shirt, white cowboy hat and red bandanna across his face, he just captured my attention as a really stylized spaghetti Western type character.

Saunder’s father was a sheriff in Wyoming, where he taught Gregory how to handle a gun and lasso. But instead of following his dad into the law-keeping business, Saunders went to New York and found success as a country singer known by the nickname “Prairie Troubadour.” When his father was killed, Saunders returned to Wyoming and used his expert gun fighting, brawling, motorcycle and horse riding skills to avenge his father’s murder. Choosing to continue in the hero business and seek justice for others, Saunders donned the Vigilante name and eventually gained a sidekick named Stuff, the Chinatown Kid after he helped Saunders stop a gang war in which Stuff was seeking to clear his grandfather’s name.

Over the years, Saunders often worked with the Seven Soldiers of Victory. Though never really fighting any “super-powered” villains, he focused more on standard criminals and thugs and had his share of cool bad guys to beat up on. He also appeared in some episodes of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. 

The Vigilante in tonight’s episode looks to be a direct link to Adrian Chase—the second Vigilante.

However, Chase’s story is a lot darker than Saunders. Working as District Attorney and dismantling the city’s mafia saw Chase’s family accidentally killed by a bomb that was meant for him. Their murders caused him to seek revenge by becoming the Vigilante. 

Originally, he used non-lethal force, but as innocent people started dying as a result of his actions, Chase strangely became more violent and less concerned with who was in the crossfire. He became pure chaos and fury. You saw a lot of that in tonight’s episode.

Becoming more tormented by his actions and the pain they caused on others, he became increasingly unstable. All the destruction, death and ruined lives weighed heavily on Chase. Constantly at odds with himself due to what he did as Vigilante, Chase’s guilt grew and after reviewing the decisions of his life, he committed suicide.

It’s obvious that Arrow looks to be borrowing heavily from this storyline when you look at Vigilante’s costume and hyper-violent mindset. It should be interesting to see how far they take it and where they go with his character…

I haven’t read it yet, but DC is currently releasing a new Vigilante miniseries set in present day Los Angeles, with a new version of the character. Have any of you checked it out?

Lastly, I wanted to talk about tonight’s twist ending.

Or is it a twist?

Initially, I was thinking that Artemis really is turning against Oliver by joining up with Prometheus. But as I gathered my thoughts, I started to theorize a different angle…

Arrow is pretty good at the swerve. They’ve done a good job of making us think one thing and then going off in a different direction. So, could it be that maybe Artemis knows what she’s doing and is tricking Prometheus? Or, perhaps she and Oliver talked about the idea gathering information about the mysterious Prometheus by her pretending to join him? It’s risky, but you gotta do what you gotta do in the hero biz. I don’t know. I’m just trying to think from different angles. It just seems odd, but maybe she really is a snake in the grass. Or maybe Green Arrow and his team are in for one rude awakening.

What do you guys think?

Until next episode,
Matt
 

Matt Ross covers Arrow as a part of the #DCTV Couch Club. Catch new episodes of Arrow Tuesdays at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. CST) on The CW.

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