One who takes the law into their own hands. Most common in the Wild West. Also refers to comic book superheroes at times.

Three people have used the moniker the Vigilante in fighting crime. The first was created by Mort Weisinger and Mort Meskin and first appeared in Action Comics #42 in November 1941. The second was created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez and first appeared in 1983 in The New Teen Titans Annual #2. The third was created by Mark Waid and Jerome Morre and first appeared in Deathstroke, the Terminator #9 in April 1992.

The original Vigilante was Greg Sanders, an actor and singer whose family had a long history of law enforcement in the Old West. When Sanders' father, a sheriff in Wyoming was killed by robbers, Sanders returned to his family's home. Dressing up as a cowboy, with spurs, boots, cowboy hat, and with his face covered by a bandana, Sanders hunted down his father's killers and brought them to justice. When Sanders returned to New York, he decided to continue his fight against crime as the Vigilante.

Originally, the Vigilante paired up with a middle age owner of an arcade named Billy Gunn, but soon after, Gunn retired from crime fighting. The Vigilante was part of a group of heroes called The Law's Legionaires, which included The Shining Knight, The Crimson Avenger and Wing, and The Star- Spangled Kid and Stripsey. Sanders also was joined by another sidekick for a time. While on an adventure in Chinatown, Sanders teamed up with Jimmy Leong, a young Chinese boy, who adventured under the name Stuff, the Chinatown Kid.

The Vigilante and Stuff later became members of both the Justice Society of America and the All-Star Squadron. He fought crime with his knowledge of hand-to-hand combat and his trusty six-shooter.

The second person to use the name the Vigilante was Adrian Chase, a New York district attorney. When Chase sought to take on organized crime in New York, with the help of Robin and the Teen Titans, the mob fought back by bombing his apartment. The blast killed both Chase's wife and daughter. Chase survived and adopted the costumed identity of the Vigilante. He began to hunt down those who broke the law and brought them to justice, often killing them. The Vigilante was armed with a number of conventional weapons and was skilled in their use.

Chase's crusade against crime eventually led to him killing one of his own friends in a fit of rage. Realizing that he was becoming the very thing that he was fighting against, Chase took his own life with a gun.

The third adventurer who used the name the Vigilante was Patricia Trayce, a police officer in the Gotham City police department. When Trayce's partner was killed by a criminal named Barker, she longed to see him brought to justice. Barker, however, turned state's evidence, and was going to go free, when he was captured by Deathstroke, the Terminator, a super-powered soldier of fortune. Trayce, while trying to track down Deathstroke, was given the equipment of Adrian Chase by one of his friends. She adopted the identity of the Vigilante and teamed up with Deathstroke to clear her name.

A feeble attempt at writing, inspired by and partly borrowed from Batman, about being a vigilante. The writing is not entirely fictional. Hope it isn't too bad.

When it happened to me, I was shattered

All sense had left my life

I hardly know humans as people

But suddenly I knew the world

It was hard and cold and dark and lawless

Its face was fierce and bestial

The only face I had with which to glare back at it

Was utterly inadequate

You think you know fear

You think you know fear now, with just me to get between you and the infernal nightmare

But you don't know fear half as well as it knows you

You can conquer fear

If you are willing to look at it for what it is

Few are, few ever truly gaze into their fear, their pain

Fewer still embrace it

I don't enjoy fear but I have learned to respect it

But I still do not have a face as feral as the one life has shown me

I learned that as long as you can choose who you are in the world,

You can choose to call yourself sane

The world is not particularly sane

Destiny is the elusively simple matter of becoming who you are

Evil emanates from every heart I see

I want to make their path as difficult and illogical a choice as mine

I want to strike terror in the very core of their hearts

I have already chosen the face I will wear to meet life's gaze

I will rend and rive apart their world

To save the helpless I will bring down the mighty

I will be a relentless inexorable vengeance

A ruthless guardian who strikes without mercy

A scourge that washes away the tears of the innocent

With the blood of the guilty

I will make them pray and make them pay.

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