By Koppy McFad
March 14, 2009 - 00:18
Modern-day cowboy hero Vigilante goes up against real-life gangster Bugsy Siegel
This miniseries was largely ignored when it first came out over a decade ago but now that its writer, James Robinson is back working for DC Comics on a regular basis, the company has finally brought out this trade paperback.
The story does not adhere too closely to either comic-book history or real-life history (Bugsy didn't really pioneer gambling in Las Vegas) but it does tell a strong story with both mythic overtones and noirish, gangster mood.
Vigilante, in his civilian identity as a singing cowboy, is trying to break into movies just as Bugsy is spreading his influence to Hollywood. When Vigilante's sidekick gets mixed up with Siegel, trouble soon follows, spiralling into a confrontation between the two characters.
The story has just enough superhero-elements to be enthralling while keeping things realistic enough to make the story more gripping. It actually reads like a very good movie-- and would make a very good movie with just a little re-writing. A lot of credit goes to Vigilante whose search for justice propels the story, giving it a lot of suspense, even during the scenes that move away from the main plot, like those dealing with Bugsy's womanizing and his obsession with setting up a casino in Las Vegas.
The contrast between the straight-shooting cowboy and the backstabbing gangsters is sharp and dramatic and the jaunty way Vigilante faces almost-certain death is enough to one stand up and cheer ("Howdy, boys!" he calls out in the face of an ambush.)
Of course the ending of this story can be seen from a mile away by anyone who knows what happened to Bugsy Siegel. But that doesn't mean the reader won't have fun before he reaches that ending.
The art is certainly strange, with a scratchy, unfinished look to it that may turn some people off. For this critic, it seems to suit the noir-atmosphere of the story.
The only drawback is the depiction of Vigilante's arch-foe, the Dummy. Here, he is just a midget with a straight razor and not the cunning, unsettling foe that he has been depicted as in the past.
Rating: 9 /10