The Vigilante

+ Billy Gunn + Stuff the Chinatown Kid

Created by Mort Weisinger and Mort Meskin

Vigilante I

NAME + ALIASES:
Greg Saunders

KNOWN RELATIVES:
??

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
Seven Soldiers of Victory, All-Star Squadron

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Action Comics #42 (Nov. 1941)

Billy Gunn

NAME + ALIASES:
None

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
Seven Soldiers of Victory

FIRST APPEARANCE: Action Comics #43 (Dec. 1941)

Stuff, the Chinatown Kid I

NAME + ALIASES:
Danny Leong

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
Seven Soldiers of Victory

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Action Comics #45 (Feb. 1942); named: Vigilante: City Lights, Prairie Justice #1 (Nov. 1995)

APPEARANCES: Action Comics #45–196 (Feb. 1942–Sept. 1954)

Stuff, the Chinatown Kid II

NAME + ALIASES:
Victor Leong

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
Seven Soldiers of Victory

FIRST APPEARANCE:
El Diablo v.1 #12 (Aug. 1990)

History

The Vigilante battled weird villains of the American Southwest and also joined the Seven Soldiers of Victory. In the Soldiers' last battle, its members were scattered across time. Greg wound up in 1858 and spent nearly 20 years in the Old West. During this time he was also known as the "Prairie Troubador," a popular singer/songwriter. Greg came to enjoy this life but he was eventually "rescued" in 1879 and returned to the 20th Century by the Justice League. (Justice League of America #102)

After his return he started a company called Round-Up, Inc. with his former sidekick, Victor Leong. (El Diablo #12, Stars & STRIPE #9) Greg had other wartime sidekicks: Daniel Leong was Victor's brother and was murdered by the Dummy in 1945. Billy Gunn, an older man was killed by the Spider in 1948. (Stars & S.T.R.I.P.E. #9)

Four years into his career, Saunders fell prey to a werewolf. He guarded this secret well and always kept a silver bullet in his pistol — for himself. (Seven Soldiers: Bulleteer #2)

Even into retirement, Greg stayed active in the Southwest. He knew that there were certain dangers still lurking in his domain, but he'd grown too old to handle them himself. He decided to try to form a new Seven Soldiers by placing an ad calling for heroes. He succeeded in recruiting only 5 others to join him (The Whip II, Boy Blue, Dyno-Mite Dan, Gimmix and "I, Spyder"). This team was very short-lived. All these heroes, including the Vigilante perished after defeating the Miracle Mesa Monster. They were slaughtered by the Sheeda, the "Gods of the Miracle Mesa." (Seven Soldiers Special #0)

After his death, his lycanthropic curse may have enabled him to "haunt" the living world. He re-appeared to the question the allegiance of I, Spyder, (Seven Soldiers: Bulleteer #3) and then to try to convince the Bulleteer to continue the fight against the Sheeda. (#4)

Legacy

Greg was succeeded as the Vigilante by Adrian Chase (II), Alan Welles (III), Dave Winston (IV), and Pat Trayce (V).

The Vigilante of Earth-One

From Justice League of America #144 (1977); art by Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin.
From Justice League of America #78 (1970); art by Dick Dillin and Joe Giella.

An Earth-One Vigilante (also Greg Sanders) appeared with no explanation of his history in the middle of a case involving the Justice League of America. Sanders had gotten "weary [and] decided to retire," then took a job as a night watchman at a factory. He noticed flagrant pollution violations, which led him to seek out the JLA at a public charity appearance. He revealed his costumed alter ego to them and explained the problems he'd seen. The event was attacked by suicide bombing aliens, and afterwards the Vigilante accompanied the Justice League back to their brand-new satellite headquarters. They uncovered an alien scheme by the leader of the planet Monsan. (Justice League of America v.1 #78)

The alien leader, Chokh, was plotting to transform Earth into a wasteland. The Vigilante helped his new friends to confront Chokh and his Doomsters. The leader was defeated by a chamber full of fresh air. (#79)

He also helped Superman battle a real werewolf.

When the Vigilante went to visit his old partner Stuff, however, things took a much more serious turn, as his partner had been murdered by his arch-enemy, the Dummy. The gunslinger avenged his friend's murder, and it looked like he was taking on Stuff's son as his new sidekick. This, of course, established that there was also an Earth-One version of both Stuff and the Dummy.

The Earth-One Vigilante's existence is also corroborated by the appearance of Michael Carter, the hero known as The Swashbuckler. The Batman worked with the Houston-based hero, who told the Caped Crusader that his uncle was the famed Vigilante, whom Batman recalled as "a good man" from the adventure with the "Doomsters".

The only thing about the Earth-One Vigilante that remains a real mystery is his apparent youth.

———from Censullo:

In the Summer of 1941, Greg Sanders, who was born in Wyoming but had since moved to New York City to become a radio singer, is informed that his father has been killed. Greg's father was a county sheriff, shot by criminals who were after a gold shipment that he was guarding. Greg travels back West and, becoming the masked Vigilante, tracks down his father's killers. After he returns to New York, he is aided in his fight against crime by his friend Billy Gunn. [1st app. of the Vigilante in Action Comics #42 (Nov 1941), 1st app. of Billy Gunn in Action Comics #43 (Dec 1941).] [Note: According to the 1976 DC Calendar, Greg's birthday is February 10th. Also, according to World's Finest Comics #246 (Aug-Sep 1977), which describes the Earth-One Vigilante's origin, the name of Sheriff Sanders' killers was the Judas Priest Gang.] [Additional note: In the pre-Crisis reality, Oliver Queen and his ward Roy Harper became the Earth-Two Green Arrow and Speedy around this same time. Refer to More Fun Comics #73 (Nov 1941).]

In the Fall of 1941, the Head, a secret agent for Imperial Japan, seeks to provoke a Tong War in New York City's Chinatown. He frames Lin Chou, the wise leader of the White Lotus Tong, for wrongdoing. Lin Chou has two grandsons, Daniel (age 14) and Victor (age 10) Leong. Danny, nicknamed "Stuff", helps the Vigilante battle the Hand and his men, and clears Lin Chou's name. Thereafter, Danny becomes the Vigilante's sidekick, known as Stuff the Chinatown Kid. [1st app. of Stuff in Action Comics #45 (Feb 1942).] [Note: Vigilante: City Lights, Prairie Justice #1 (Nov 1995) - #4 (Feb 1996) establishes that Stuff is half-Chinese, that his first name is Danny, and that his age would be seventeen in November 1944. El Diablo #12 (Aug 1990) and a Who's Who loose-leaf entry establish that Victor was ten years old when he met the Vigilante. Danny's last name is assumed to be the same as his brother's, which was revealed to be Leong in El Diablo #12.

In November 1944, in the city of Los Angeles, seventeen year old Stuff tells Greg Sanders that he is in love with a girl named Stacey, an actress. Two weeks later, Stuff asks Stacey to marry him and she says yes. When Stacey then goes missing for two days, Stuff frantically goes to Greg for help. Evidence suggests that the gangster Bugsy Siegel is involved. The Vigilante traces Stacey's tracks to Tijuana, Mexico, where he learns Stacey was enslaved, had escaped, and was shot and killed. From San Diego, the Vigilante calls for Stuff on the phone, but learns that, while he was gone, Stuff had confronted Siegel about Stacey, was tied up, and beaten to death by the mobster. [Refer to Vigilante: City Lights, Prairie Justice #1 (Nov 1995).]

For months, the Vigilante has been causing Bugsy Siegel all kinds of trouble. The Dummy, an old enemy of the Vigilante, offers his services to Siegel. In the Summer of 1945, the Vigilante is tricked onto a booby-trapped boat, where he learns that the Dummy is allied with Siegel. The Vigilante is believed killed in the explosion. [Refer to Vigilante: City Lights, Prairie Justice #2 (Dec 1995).]

By June 12th 1946, the Vigilante has been out of action almost a year, in hiding, healing from his wounds. [Refer to Vigilante: City Lights, Prairie Justice #3 (Jan 1996).]

On December 26th 1946, Bugsy Siegel, who had used mob money to build the first casino in Vegas, opens the Flamingo. When no one comes to the grand opening, the mob decides Siegel must die. The Vigilante resurfaces in Vegas just before dawn. [Refer to Vigilante: City Lights, Prairie Justice #3 (Jan 1996).]

The mob hires the Dummy to kill Bugsy Siegel. When Siegel arrives in Hollywood, he and his men are attacked by the Dummy and his crew. The Vigilante shows up, distracts the Dummy, and tells Siegel to run. The Vigilante chases the Dummy up into the rafters of a building. The Dummy falls and is believed dead. Later, the Vigilante is contacted and told Siegel wants to see him. On June 20th 1947, the Vigilante meets with Siegel and learns that he doesn't even remember killing Stuff. Siegel tells the Vigilante that he is a failure and a marked man, and he wants the hero to kill him. The Vigilante refuses. Furious, Siegel taunts the Vigilante about how he does indeed remember killing Stuff and how thoroughly he enjoyed it. The Vigilante shoots Siegel dead. [Refer to Vigilante: City Lights, Prairie Justice #4 (Feb 1996).]

In Summer of 1947, the Vigilante discovers that the Dummy survived their last encounter. The Dummy taunts the Vigilante by informing him that it was he, and not Bugsy Siegel, that killed Stuff in 1944. The Dummy had wanted to make the Vigilante suffer by killing Stuff, but he didn't want the hero to hound him, so he made it appear as if it was Siegel that beat Stuff to death. The Dummy enjoyed watching the Vigilante grieve over the next few months, then hired out his services to Siegel, so that he could take pleasure in finally killing his old foe. The Dummy was foiled that time but, as he now evades capture, he swears he won't rest until the Vigilante is dead. Recalling that Siegel had told him he didn't remember killing Stuff, the Vigilante now has to live with the fact that he killed the wrong man in cold-blood. [Note: It is strongly inferred in Stars And S.T.R.I.P.E. #9 (Apr 2000) that the Dummy killed Stuff, hence the changes suggested above. It is interesting to note that the Earth-One Stuff was killed by the Dummy in World's Finest Comics #246 (Aug-Sep 1977).]

The Vigilante contacts Victor Leong (age ~15) to inform him that his brother's killer still lives. Victor becomes the new Stuff. [Refer to Stars And S.T.R.I.P.E. #1 (Aug 1999) and #9 (Apr 2000).] [Note: Stuff II's full name is first revealed in El Diablo #12 (Aug 1990).]

The Vigilante winds up in the Old West, circa 1870. Thanks to Johnny Thunder's bumbling, the Vigilante spends about twenty years in the past, but he doesn't really mind. The hero had many adventures alongside such legends as Nighthawk, Madame .44, and Strong Bow. In the late 1880's, he is captured by Indians, who prepare to burn him at the stake. Green Arrow, the silver age Black Canary, and Johnny Thunder locate the Indian village and see the Vigilante's plight. The Vigilante is rescued, and the heroes are magically retrieved. [Refer to Justice League Of America #102 (Oct 1972), and Stars And S.T.R.I.P.E. #0 (July 1999) and #9 (Apr 2000).] [Note: In the pre-Crisis reality, the era is inferred to be around the 10th century, based on the Thunderbolt's comments that he had to search approximately 1,000 years for Johnny Thunder. The Vigilante is captured by Indians who have heard prophecies that the white man will some day take their land. They prepare to burn him at the stake. Green Arrow, the silver age Black Canary, and Johnny Thunder locate the Indian village and see Vigilante's plight. Johnny Thunder speaks his magic word, but the Thunderbolt fails to appear. The heroes are captured, but a few hours later they somehow manage to escape. The Thunderbolt arrives and the heroes escape. In the post- Crisis reality, the Vigilante's time of arrival is deduced based on the fact that the Vigilante spent nearly two decades in the past. His capture by Indians is assumed, but not necessary, due to the new Johnny Thunder "blunder" retcon. The Vigilante's two decade stint in the Old West hearken back to adventures he had in Action Comics #122 (July 1948) & #130 (Mar 1949), and Western Comics #3 (May-June 1948) & #4 (July-Aug 1948).]

Stuff the Chinatown Kid ends up in ancient Greece, approximately 3,000 years in the past. The silver age Flash, Zatanna, and the Red Tornado arrive to rescue him. They find Stuff under the influence of the sorceress Circe. After freeing him from her enchantments, they are magically retrieved. [Refer to Justice League Of America #102 (Oct 1972), and Stars And S.T.R.I.P.E. #0 (July 1999) and #9 (Apr 2000).] [Note: In the pre-Crisis reality, the golden age Speedy lands on the Isle of Aenea. The sorceress Circe uses her magic wand to cast a spell on him, transforming him into a centaur, like she had done to many others before him. He is forced by her magic to obey her will. The silver age Flash, Zatanna, and the Red Tornado arrive on the small Mediterranean island. They spot Speedy and are shocked to see that he is now a centaur. They are even more surprised when he begins shooting arrows at them. Circe and a band of animal-men appear. Circe uses her wand to enchant Speedy's arrows. When he shoots them at the trio, they are all transformed into animal-men. Circe magically forces the heroes to fight one another, then leaves on Speedy's back. Zatanna reverses the spell, they stop Circe, cure the captured men, and destroy the wand. They are then magically retrieved. The post-Crisis events, which replaces Speedy with Stuff II, are unrevealed and can only be assumed to have occurred along similar lines. The time-period mentioned above is a rough estimate only.]

Greg Sanders and Victor Leong start a chain of hamburger joints called Greg Sanders' Round-Up, establishing the first in Houston, Texas. Victor is made President of Round-Up, Inc.. Greg starts a new hobby, the study of costumed lawmen. [Refer to El Diablo #12 (Aug 1990) and Stars And S.T.R.I.P.E. #9 (Apr 2000).]

8 years ago, in the city of Houston, Michael Carter, the nephew of Greg Sanders, becomes the Swashbuckler. [1st app. of the Swashbuckler in Detective Comics #493 (Aug 1980).]

4 years ago, in the late Spring, Greg Sanders and Victor Leong travel to Dos Rios, Texas, to satisfy Greg's interest in costumed lawmen. As the Vigilante, Greg meets El Diablo, a local hero. Although it is not cost-effective to build a Round-Up restaurant in Dos Rios, the town does establish the Greg Sanders Museum there. [Refer to El Diablo #12 (Aug 1990) and Stars And S.T.R.I.P.E. #9 (Apr 2000).]

1 year ago, Greg Sanders calls his old shooting buddy, Max Crandall, for help. Greg has bought Mesa City with the intent of turning it into a dude ranch, however strange accidents have been occurring. Max Crandall and Bart Allen, as Max Mercury and Impulse, help to defeat the culprit, Harvey McTeague. [Refer to Impulse Annual #2 (1997).

Post Crisis

The Old West

The Spider, Thomas Ludlow Dalt, ventures to Slaughter Swamp where he's bitten by one of the Sheeda. The Seven Unknown met set to work fixing him up and tell him he'll be helping to kill... himself. They give him perfect aim and make him one with the essence of the spider. Shelly Gaynor takes to the streets as the Whip, granddaughter of the original. She responds to an ad placed by the Vigilante for a new group of heroes. She's a thrill seeker who's written books. She wants to go further into adventuring. She meets Vigilante in Arizona. In Feb. 12, 1875, he helped defeat the Miracle Mesa Monster with Johnny Frankenstein. He spent 5 years there as the masked sherriff of Pepper Gulch before the JLA rescued him. He tells her his seventh soldier got cold feet. She meets the others: Jacqueline Pemberton, daughter of Merry, Gimmix, 26, wears a red wig. Boy Blue, Mexican kid with a ghost suit that affects his density and a horn with sonic power. Dyno-Mite Dan, a fan with fake Dyna-Mite rings. Dalt joins them as I, Spyder and Shelly sleeps with him. Greg ha sflying machines for all of them to hunt the Mesa. They fly at dawn and Dan forebodes that it's unlucky there are only six of them. They track a monster spider to Pepper City. Gimmix stops it with a freeze spray, but more follow it, the advance wave of the Sheeda's "harrowing" led by Neh-buh-Loh. Afterwards, the Unknown Men set to work assembling a new Seven: Plan B. (Seven Soldiers #0)

City Lights, Prairie Justice

Greg and Stuff become successful restauranteurs. From El Diablo #12 (1990); art by Mike Parobek and Romeo Tanghal.

James Robinson and Tony Salmons. 1942: Bugsy Siegel gets the idea to put a casino in Las Vegas. Los Angeles, Nov. 1944: With Gene Autry off to war, the Vigilante has come to Hollywood to give movie making a shot. He fights crime too when he is prompted, especially now after Siegel. Two weeks prior, on the set of his film, not acting super well. Agent Monty. Stuff, seventeen, bursts in to tell he's in love with an actress named Stacey. He asks that Greg use his real name: Danny, and asks to try to get her a screen test. Greg records his notes on audio. Stacey later vanishes and Vigilante investigates, finds evidence she's done stag films that lead back to Siegel. In Tijuana he learns she was sold to slavery, ran and was shot. When Greg calls home, Monty says Stuff has been killed when he burst in on Siegel in person. Spelling of last name "Saunders." (Vigilante: City Lights, Prairie Justice #1)

Summer 1945: Vigilante continues to disrupt Siegel's operations, hoping to force him out and make a mistake. Siegel calls in the Dummy for help. He lures Vigilante to a boat that explodes. (#2)

June 12, 1946. Siegel continues to build his casino and get more investors. Greg has been healing for a year and let Siegel think he'd died watching Vegas in secret and recording on his dictaphone. Mentions his own brother Jeff, life on a ranche growing up. Fever took Jeff in 1936. He's bought a new ranch and trains on horseback. Meanwhile Siegel's personal life worsens and money troubles increase. When Siegel catches his girlfriend with another man, Vigilante rides in to stop the murder. (#3)

Siegel's casino is in trouble and his partners order a hit on him, via the Dummy. This brings Vigilante on his cycle back out into public, he can't bring himself to allow a murder no matter who it is, fights the Dummy off. A partner offers the Vigilante the bounty, which he denies but might accept a donation to a charity. Siegel calls for a meeting, Vig explains his vendetta, describes Stuff as half-Chinese. Siegel doesn't remember it, asks Vig to kill him so that he can avoid the hit that's coming. Vig lets him live in fear. As he walks away, Siegel taunts him saying he remembers Stuff's murder, instults his memory and throws the gun to Vigilante, who obliges by shooting him. (#4)

Legacy

Vigilante (Adrian Chase) Vigilante (Alan Welles) Vigilante (Dave Winston) Vigilante (Pat Trayce) Vigilante (Justin Powell) Vigilante (Dorian Chase)

Stuff was first given a name, Victor Leong, in El Diablo #12. At the time of this story, he was considered to have been the Vigilante's only partner. A few years later, a new tale set in the past said that Stuff had been killed in 1945, and that his name was "Danny."

This discrepancy was resolved by Geoff Johns in Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #9, in which a different-appearing Stuff says to the Vigilante: "My brother was always ready. Even in the smiling wooden face of death." Victor had taken Danny's place. Stars #9

Notes

Because of his Western character, the Vigilante was one of few wartime heroes to survive DC's super-hero purge of the early 1950s. DC continued to publish his adventures as the "Prairie Troubador" — of the true American Old West. In Pre-Crisis continuity, this Vigilante of the 1950s was considered to have lived on the Earth-One. After the Crisis, the Earth-2's time-shift was used to explain how the Vigilantes of both eras were the same man.

+ Powers

....

Appearances + References

» FEATURED APPEARANCES:

Original/Earth-Two:

  • Adventure Comics #417, 422, 426, 427, 438-443
  • All-Funny Comics #16
  • All-Star Squadron #1, 29, 31, 50, 56, 60
  • Anthro #5 (text feature)
  • The Brave and the Bold #81 (text feature)
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths #5, 12
  • DC 100-Page Super Spectacular #6
  • Detective Comics #140, 493 (mention), 496 (cameo)
  • Four Star Spectacular #5 (reprint)
  • Ghosts #97-99
  • Infinity, Inc. #11 
  • Justice League of America #100, 102
  • Real Fact Comics #10
  • Secret Origins v.1 #4 (reprint)
  • Secret Origins v.2 #9 (cameo)
  • The Spectre v.1 #6 (text feature)
  • Super DC Giant S-15 (reprint)
  • Wanted: The World's Most Dangerous Super-Villains #3 (reprint)
  • World's Finest Comics #225, 227, 228 (reprints)

Earth-One:

  • Adventure Comics #422, 426, 427
  • Justice League of America #78, 79, 144
  • World's Finest Comics #214, 244–248
  • Wrath of the Spectre #4 (unpublished stories written during the Adventure Comics run)

Post-Crisis:

  • El Diablo #12
  • The Golden Age #1, 4 (cameos)
  • Impulse Annual #2 
  • JLA Year One #11, 12 (cameos)
  • JSA #49-51
  • Seven Soldiers #0
  • Seven Soldiers: Bulleteer #2–4
  • Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #0, 1 (cameos), #9
  • Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen Special #1
  • Who's Who in the DC Universe #5
  • Young All-Stars #1, 3–5 (cameos), 9, 25 (cameo), 27, Annual #1

» SERIES:

  • Action Comics #42-198 (Nov. 1941–Nov. 1954)
  • Leading Comics, #1–14 (Winter 1941–Spring 1945)
  • Western Comics #1–4 (1948)
  • Vigilante: City Lights, Prairie Justice, 4-issue limited series (1995)