That 70’s Comic: Vigilante 8

May 18th, 2007 by | Tags:

This is probably #348 on the “They made a comic based on this?” list. Somewhere between Pirates of Dark Water and Married with Children. Not saying it’s an undeserved concept. A Vigilante 8 comic sounds pretty good on paper. The reality of Chaos Comics’ output, unfortunately, leaves a lot to be desired.

For those of you who have no idea what Vigilante 8 is, it’s a two-game series from the late-90’s, as part of the all-too-skinny car combat videogame subgenre. You choose one of several cars and drive around different locales, with the mission of not finishing a race, but instead, blowing up every opposing car with rockets, mines and the like. While it never quite received the popularity of Twisted Metal, I personally have always enjoyed the Vigilante 8 series.

The story takes place in the 70’s, during a major oil crisis. The multi-national corporation OMAR (Oil Monopoly Alliance Regime) is out to take out an oil monopoly on the entire world, but the US government won’t back down. As a way to take it to the stubborn Americans, OMAR hires terrorist and explosives expert Sid Burn to blow up several US oil refineries. With his gang, the Coyotes, Burn has an easy enough time beating the law. That’s when the trucker Convoy – who is basically Sam Elliot – starts a group of citizens bent on striking back, calling themselves the Vigilantes. Also, thanks to the discovery of a crashed alien spacecraft, the government has been able to construct some rather advanced weaponry. During a raid by the Coyotes, said weaponry landed in the hands of both the Vigilantes and the Coyotes, increasing the explosive level of their battles.

When playing as a Coyote, each level would include the objective of blowing up a certain piece of the environment along with destroying your enemies’ vehicles. As a Vigilante, you have to protect these landmarks.

Being the 70’s, the characters all have their own blatant representation of the decade. There’s the badass blaxploitation guy, the disco guy, the Charlie’s Angel, the John Travolta look-alike, the hippy, a weird mix between the Jackson 5 and Evil Kneivel, and so on.

The endings all tied into each other and were all canon. So for some characters, beating the game still led to a downer conclusion. Such as Sid Burn, whose ending depicts him as receiving his payment from OMAR on an empty desert road. He gets into his car, turns the key, and ironically realizes that he is out of gas. Carrying his briefcase of money and a gas tank, he walks off towards the nearest gas station, which is many miles away. This is followed up in another ending, where good guy John Torque rides down the same road, smiling at the briefcase of money on his passenger seat. Sid Burn is shown tied up and struggling in the trunk as Torque passes a sign for Las Vegas.

Another two endings are a bit more important, as preludes to the story for the sequel and topic of this article, Vigilante 8: Second Offense. Houston 3 is a brainwashed, bionic henchwoman for OMAR. During her ending, we see her in a rest stop bathroom, holding a knife to her arm. Instead of killing herself, she cuts off a wrist attachment that keeps her in OMAR’s control. She then leaves with the game’s main hero Convoy, showing that she’s now one of the good guys. On the other side of the coin, Vigilante member and vain moron Slick Clyde ends up taking a whiz in the same bathroom. He sees the wrist attachment, puts it on his arm for a goof and ends up immediately corrupt with his new power.

That’s how our story begins. Well, not exactly. Actually, it begins four decades later. Lord Clyde runs OMAR along with his Japanese bodyguards Yoshi and Obake, and a robot cowboy lieutenant Dallas 13. OMAR continues its hold over the world, but the US still acts independent to their monopolistic ways. Getting on in years and unable to accept his defeat, Lord Clyde hatches a plan based on the recent discovery of time travel.

We see Yoshi and Obake break into Stanford University, where some “time propulsion capsules” are kept. Despite the fact that they should be completely silent in order to steal these things, they still decide to jabber on about their duties. Obake says she works for Lord Clyde because her father told her to, but Yoshi still doesn’t trust him. They steal the capsules, as several officers bust in to arrest them. Obake turns invisible to escape, but Yoshi’s cloaking device isn’t working. He gets taken away while telling Obake that he thinks Lord Clyde killed her father.

Well hell, Clyde. I’d be more attentive to the idea that your highly-trained ninja bodyguard now has reason to murder you.

Clyde explains the Vigilante 8 backstory to Dallas 13, which is slightly different from the in-game version. Sid Burn’s end comes from Convoy blowing up his car and killing him. That whole “out of gas” bit and John Torque are gone. In fact, despite being a major character, John Torque isn’t even in this comic. For good reason.

You see, this comic is a one-shot. Usually, a videogame comic like this could be used effectively to advertise the game. You use the entire issue to build up the story and on the last page, say, “To see the rest of the story, go buy Vigilante 8: Second Offense!” It worked for the Mortal Kombat comics (not to be confused with the Malibu series), Virtua Fighter did it and Marvel Nemesis spent about six issues to hit this type of marketing cliffhanger.

Chaos Comics decided not to go with this for Vigilante 8: Second Offense. They wanted the whole story to be told in one issue. The comic is only 22 pages long. Who are they trying to kid here?

Obake comes back to headquarters with the time capsules, explaining that Yoshi was arrested. Clyde doesn’t care and insists they go use their time capsules immediately. The plan is to go to the past and kill Convoy so to weaken the Vigilantes. The Coyotes will win the war and Clyde will have his ultimate revenge. In their futuristic vehicles, Lord Clyde, Obake and Dallas 13 head to the past.

It’s a neat touch that while the first game was based on all these circa-70’s vehicles, the sequel includes futuristic hover-cars to balance it out.

The next scene is a reenactment of the game’s intro movie. Convoy drives his truck through New Mexico with his new wife Houston sleeping against his shoulder. Lord Clyde and his henchmen show up via time portal and ambush him from behind. Before Convoy has an idea of what’s going on, Lord Clyde’s hover-limo has blasted him off a cliff. Houston, still asleep, falls out of the passenger side and catches onto a cliff.

That’s really all the emotion she has time to express. Immediately, she’s helped up by friend Chassey Blue, an FBI agent who moonlights as an actress, and her new friend Agent Chase. Chase is an FBI agent from 2017, who is here to arrest Lord Clyde for illegal time travel. Chase catches Houston up on what’s going on.

“Where I come from, Clyde is the leader of OMAR. He’s here with his top two lieutenants, Dallas 13 and Obake, and I guarantee they’re up to no good.”

Oh, you think? I figure the underhanded murder that happened less than a minute ago accounts for that.

The three split up into different action sequences to fill up the rest of the comic. First we have Chassey Blue dealing with a prison break. Nina Loco, a slightly sympathetic mercenary, is hired by Lord Clyde to spring Coyote member Boogie from prison.

Boogie makes a run for it, but Chassey shows up. Molo, the series’ more marquee, bus-driving delinquent, shows up in a prison bus. The three successfully exchange dialogue despite the fact that they’re driving around in cars and the comic gets sort of incomprehensible. Lines are said by the wrong characters and Molo attacks his ally Boogie for absolutely no reason. Finally, Chassey kills off Molo, blows up Boogie’s car and arrests him.

Cut to a national park, where Lord Clyde begins exploding random stuff. I guess killing Convoy just wasn’t enough for him. Agent Chase shows up in his hover-car to stop Lord Clyde. All of the sudden, a newcomer shows up. He is Padre Destino, a crazy cult figure who thinks the apocalypse is coming. He and Lord Clyde do enough damage to Chase’s ride to cause the time-traveling cop to hop out the door for safety. Suddenly, Obake shows up in her hover-car and annihilates Destino from behind.

From this point in the comic, every scene is based on one of the game’s endings. This part is Agent Chase’s ending.

Lord Clyde gets out of his car and smacks Chase around with an electrified cane. When it looks like Chase is through, Obake kicks Lord Clyde from behind, knocking him unconscious. She carries him over his shoulder, tells Chase that Clyde will no longer be a problem and vanishes back to the future.

As a reenactment of Lord Clyde’s ending, Obake takes Lord Clyde to 2015, two years before they would initially time travel. Clyde wakes up to find himself in the passenger seat of his hover-limo, tied up. Obake drives it towards OMAR headquarters while yammering on about revenge. She then hops out the door and turns on her jetpack.

I’m glad this comic is rushed, because if I stop and think of all the time paradoxes this causes, my brain will implode upon itself. And I don’t have time for that.

We return to the past once again. To coincide with Dallas 13’s ending, the robot successfully incapacitates Houston’s car thanks to his machine accuracy in terms of aiming. He smacks Houston around a bit and puts a revolver to her head. Houston has a flashback to the time she removed OMAR’s programming, reminding herself that she too is more than human. She snaps into a martial arts blaze, kicking the crap out of the robot cowboy. After beating Dallas 13 to death with her bare hands, she takes Dallas’ hover-car and fiddles with the time capsule.

Now onto Houston’s game ending. She wakes up, back in Convoy’s truck. That’s where we get the most unnatural and jarring exchange in the entire comic.

That guy doesn’t question shit.

In the game’s ending, this ended with Convoy’s truck turning around and facing the bad guys head-on. We’d see Clyde with a horrified reaction and a final shot of Convoy’s truck’s guns popping out the front. This, in turn, would lead to unlocking Convoy in the game. The idea being that the game’s entire adventure would happen again, only this time, with Convoy around, the Vigilantes would have the advantage. The writers wanted something quicker, more final and more to the point.

So Convoy just kills them all. Tying this in with the Lord Clyde/Obake scene causes even more headaches. Goddamn, time travel is confusing.

With evil defeated and Convoy having no idea what the hell just happened, nor caring, the two decide to hit the beach. In Convoy’s ending in the game, the two hook up with new couple John Torque and Nina Loco, sit back and relax. Since Torque isn’t in this comic and Nina hasn’t been mentioned since helping out Boogie early on, all we get is this.

Come on, guys. Would it really have been that much of a pain to make this at least a three-issue series? The art is fine. The writing isn’t all that horrible, when you ignore how much of it is, “Eat my lightning hyper torpedo fire, jive turkey!” It’s just that the task of shoving all of this into one tiny issue crippled any chance of this comic being good. It fails as both a comic and an advertisement.

On the subject of car combat games and comics, there was apparently a Twisted Metal 2 comic back in the day. Information on it is incredibly scant, but if anyone out there knows where an old denominator like me could get his hands on that thing, I’m all ears.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to try and figure out where the number in Vigilante 8’s title comes from. The first game had 13 characters and only 6 of them were Vigilantes. How the hell does that lead to Vigilante 8?!

Similar Posts:

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

4 comments to “That 70’s Comic: Vigilante 8”

  1. It’s been forever since I played it, but I think the game only comes with 8 characters unlocked, the other 7 were all secret. So that would be the 8.

  2. You know how you’ll play/watch/read something and then forget about except for one or two moments? Yeah, that happened with me and V8. I think both are character selection confirmations.

    Houston: I may be half-human, but I’m all woman. (The second part is said super sultry)

    Convoy: Ain’t nothing that can stop a convoy. (Said like a total hick.)

  3. awesome

  4. wow i think i want to buy that comic now :rolleyes: