I found an interesting overview of vigilantism here written by a professor at Wesleyan College.
"Vigilantes ultimately become criminals, and they also must rationalize their criminal behavior in the strongest terms possible -- self-defense, social defense, lex talionis, natural law, patriotism, religion, honor --- all the time claiming that they are engaging in the most law-abiding behavior or duty there is -- the duty to preserve the sacred right to protect one's self. It is a frontier ethic of survival and self-responsibility. …It takes a certain kind of over-zealousness to commit illegal acts in the name of do-it-yourself justice… Vigilantism represents a serious threat to democracy and the rule of law."
I can’t really argue with that. I am a criminal, it’s true. But the way I see it, I’m just one big high-profile case away from Civic Hero status.
Look at the Midnight Rambler. Two years ago Turbine City had a special task force that did nothing but hunt him night and day. One of the mayoral candidates made anti-vigilantism a cornerstone of his campaign. There were anti-Rambler protests, letters to the editor, public outcry at this sadistic vigilante, etc.
Then, the Fist of God thing. Everybody remembers that. Midnight Rambler busts up the Fist of God terrorist cell in a huge battle (I have it all on tape, it’s fucking brilliant) onboard that tanker in Turbine Harbor. He kills the ringleader Marco Koresh, defuses a dirty bomb and saves the city.
And just like that, Rambler goes from pariah to savior. He gets pardoned by the mayor. The police task force disbands. He gets recruited by the Storm Riders. Chicks throw themselves at him. He writes that self-defense book for women. Larry Fucking King interviews him. He’s hanging out with Valkris and Storm Lord in the Weather Center.
Valkris. She is so hot.
"Another typical pattern of vigilante …activity is the quest for recognition of legitimate status. Vigilantes will often try to incorporate themselves as a private security firm or a non-profit organization. They will try to be recognized by the local sheriff so they can march in local parades or have a booth at the county or state fair…"
Now why hadn’t I thought of that? I could get a Velvet Marauder booth at the Old Town Summer Jamboree this year.
Seriously, I’ve been thinking about my role in society and in the superhero sub-culture and how I fit in. I’ve only been doing this for two years – Jesus, It’s been three years since The Accident – and I still feel like I’m a million miles away from the big time. I’m the type of hero who gets a six page story in the back of a Batman comic book, or maybe a short-lived mini-series that ends up in the quarter bin at your local comic book store.
I've had some team-ups, which are usually pretty small scale, like last night's thing with Kestrel. The only really big crossover event I've ever taken part in was Villain's Revolt last year, and part of me thinks I was only included as a professional courtesy because Evergreen City was hit. After the Revolt, I half-expected one of the teams to invite me to join, even as a reserve member. Not the Storm Riders or anything, but maybe The Minutemen. No such luck.
So am I just a psycho vigilante who yearns for some kind of public legitimacy for his violence, his crimes? Or am I an up-and-coming superhero who’s working his way up the ranks, eventually attaining societal acceptance and a spot on a major league team? Is one better than the other?