The 1980s version of the Vigilante has been one of those series that I've been collecting for awhile. Debuting in New Teen Titans Annual #2 Adrian Chase saw his family killed and became The Vigilante, killing the mobsters and hired assassins who killed his family.
Fairly quickly he was spun off into his own series that ran for 50 issues, two annuals and an appearance in DC Presents Superman's team up title. I spend years searching for these issues get down to the last issues and wouldn't you know it DC starts reprinting them.
By and large this revolves around Adrian Chase and falls into four periods, issues 1- 19 where Adrian is the Vigilante until he retires to become a Judge. One of his helpers JJ is killed in issue 10 and Chase feels guilt for his death for the rest of the series (Pay attention this will become important for later Vigilantes)
Period 2 is issues 20-28 where there is a mysterious new and more violent Vigilante appears. Adrian dreams that he is committing the crimes, Nightwing appears to take down Chase and lets Chase hunt down his replacement.
Issue 28 reveals that Vigilante #2 (yes I know that Greg Saunders is the first Viglante making Adrian Vigilante 2 but in terms of this series Saunders is never mentioned so I'm just going to go with the numbering for Chase's Legacy), where was I? Vigilante #2 was one of Adrian's fellow Judges Allan Welles.
We were set up that Welles might be a recurring villian The Electrocutioner but nope The Electrocutioner was some random no name. (the Electrocutioner himself became a legacy - The name and costume were too cool not to use)
Once Welles died, Chase's baliff Dave Winston took over the mantle. A Viet Nam veteran he was calmer and more Batman like, prefering mercy bullets. This was the version that met Superman is DC Presents.
Welles did not survive his encounter with Peacemaker, making his DC debut in issue 36. (Peacemaker was the inspiration for The Comedian in Watchmen)
Chase returned to be Vigilante until issue 50 working for an unnamed spy agency. In the final issue Chase realised that he had become what he had been hunting a psychcotic killer and took his own life. It was a heavy issue.
The supporting characters and the spy agency then spun out into the 1988 series Checkmate which ran for 33 issues.
The main series until the last part rarely interconnected with the DCU - Cyborg appeared in issue 3, Nightwing as mentioned above. There is a really badly shoe horned red sky Crisis on Infinite Earths issue and an appearance by Batman in issue 47.
As a complete series this ran the gamut from psycho killers, terrrorists, child sex traffickers, and costumed hitmen. Issues 17 and 18 were written by Alan Moore which was a trip and a half.
There's more but we might leave that for the next few posts.