Meanwhile, I've been reading plenty of "The Punisher", and recently watched the Boondock Saints. And I've come to an understanding- I know why vigilantes that are merciless and overly violent tend to resonate so well with us. No matter how pacifistic and/or enlightened you may think yourself- everyone and I mean everyone, has at some point or another, wanted to do that. We've been so angry that we wanted to see someone die, messily and painfully.
These fictions don't glorify violence, nor do they condemn it. What they do is reveal that in each of us is that potential for violence. Almost no one acts on it in that way, but there is that potential, and it should disturb us a bit, and scare us a bit, but it's not something to be ashamed of. And that's the real twist in common vigilante characters- shamelessness, remoreslessness. They do what they do because it needs to be done, and don't shed a tear over it.
Of course, now I'm starting to sound like the kid in "Everwood", discussing the philosophy of comics. "It's not just Clark Kent waiting to turn into Superman, it's Superman waiting to turn into Clark Kent."
Curiously, I have a strange urge to watch Unbreakable.