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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Paul Kupperberg tells us why the 1983 Vigilante ongoing series ended

Disclaimer: This following article spoils the ending of the 1983 - 1988 Vigilante ongoing series. If you haven't read this series yet, track it down, read it and revisit this article later. It will be worth it.

Aaron Moss of the Task Force X podcast (which is part of the HeadCast Network of podcasts) had a chance to interview writer-extraordinaire Paul Kupperberg about his work on the 1983 Vigilante ongoing series. This interview was first posted on Feb 17, 2016.

(I don't transcribe things very often, but took the liberty of omitting any awkward pauses, y'know's and um's. Anything written in square brackets ('[' ']') is my own addition to something I couldn't make out clearly or wanted to provide context for.)

Without further ado:


Aaron Moss: Vigilante. You wrote the last half or so of that series - actually you had a little bit more than that - so, who's idea was it to end that title? Was that your idea? Was it a natural stopping point for you? Or was it editorial saying "let's get rid of this character"?

Paul Kupperberg: No, it was actually a natural stopping point. We had reached the point with the character that there was no place else to go. We could continue telling the stories, but if the guy [Adrian Chase] kept going it really would've just been false - y'know, it just would've been total bullshit.

And to stick another guy in that costume, well we'd already done that two or three times. And, no matter who wears the costume afterwards, it's not the real guy. That applies for all characters - are you listening DC and Marvel?

So we just came to the point - it's like "you know what? the only logical thing for this guy to do is to put a gun to his head and after that the only logical thing to do is to just end the book".

Moss: For those listening who are not familiar, Vigilante was kind of like DC's [version of Marvel comics'] Punisher, but - I don't want to say 'more realistic' - but it was more realistic. It was [about] a guy that took the [war on] crime into his own hands after his family was killed and instead of doing it for a hundred years, eventually, like any normal person, the weight of what he's done wore down on him and eventually it just got too much for him mentally and, as [a result] of that, at the last issue of the series he nibbled on the end of a gun.   


Kupperberg: The difference between Vigilante and Punisher, like you say, was realistic. Punisher always lived and played in a superhero world. Vigilante lived in the superhero world, but I tried not to have - once I took over - I tried not to play in the superhero world too much. I wanted to keep it to people who, even if they may wear a mask or a costume, were at least pretty grounded in reality - or as real as it can get.

My natural tendency is to go toward the realistic, so Vigilante worked well for me.


Later in the interview, Kupperberg revealed that he is very pleased that Adrian Chase has not been brought back into the DCU. Explaining that Adrian Chase being resurrected would've taken away from the realism of the character/series.

Adrian Chase: as seen in Purgatory in 1999's Day of Judgement mini-series

Kupperberg also goes on to talk about how sales of comic books aren't as high as they used to be and how it's affecting the comic book industry, how comic book movies and actual comic books are two different things entirely, challenges of writing for real characters vs superhero characters, the 'so-called' stigma of writing for comic books, and a few more items of interest. You can listen to the full podcast here.

The Headcast also loves the 80s: they produce podcasts such as GI Joe: A Real American Headcast and the Starman/Manhunter Adventure Hour.

Thank you Aaron for the excellent interview and for permission to post this transcript!


  1. Such a neat series. Read thru it a couple of years back, enjoyed Alan Moore's brief stint.

    Luckily, the ending of this one was not spoiled for me, likely due to its relative obscurity. That final issue was quite a shock. Thanks for posting this.

    1. Vigilante, to me, was always one of those characters that were on the 'fringe' of the DC Universe (and now, thanks to Kupperberg, we know why). He didn't really appear in any other books (except for Teen Titans), so I was aware of him (thanks to the house ads) but didn't have any of his stories in my meager collection of 80s comics. Vigilante was one of the first series I collected when I had a 'real job' and disposable income.

      Glad you were able to read it without the ending being spoiled. Someone spoiled Watchmen for me about a decade before I finally got to sit down and read it from beginning to end. This makes me seriously want to post SPOILER warnings all over this article.