March 30, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Heroes Case Files #68: Anarky

Anarchy is a philosophy that many people misunderstand.  The basic concept is not violent chaos as many assume, but instead the idea that people can run things just fine without any form of government or authority over them.  That can be outright peaceful, hence the reason why people might want to follow that philosophy in the first place.

That helps explain the DC anti-hero Anarky.

Red and gold? Stealth is not his strong suit.

First appearing in Detective Comics #608, Anarky was the creation of writer Alan Grant and artist Norm Breyfogle.  Having a group of followers in the form of a group of homeless people, Anarky appeared as a smart, philosophical character, originally something of a Batman-foe, who targeted corrupted politicians and business titans who he felt were evading justice.  He didn’t care much for authority figures.  Dressed in a long red cloak and broad brimmed hat, with an immobile gold mask, Anarky was a skilled-hand-to-hand fighter who gave Batman fits.

He was also, originally, a 12 year old kid named Lonnie Machin.  Lonnie wore a “neck extender” originally to make himself appear to be taller and an adult.  Batman saw through that.  Lonnie got caught and sent to juvie.

So, what we had here was a smart kid who thought he knew better than anybody else.  He may have even been an initial choice to replace Jason Todd as Robin before they developed Tim Drake as a better candidate for that.  Really, Tim was a better choice.  Tim was a smart kid, too, but not a know-it-all with a criminal past.  That was the sort of thing that got people to call a number to get Jason killed off.  Lonnie’s political and philosophical ideas were generally the same as his co-creator Alan Grant, who is not to be confused with the Sam Neill character from Jurassic Park.

After his turn as a Bat-foe, Grant and Breyfogle managed to get Anarky his own solo-series.  In it, Anarky would spread his ideas on human nature and philosophy to anywhere that he felt it was needed.

Yes. Anywhere.
Yes. Anywhere.  Why Darkseid didn’t just vaporize him I couldn’t say.

That particular series had a fairly controversial ending due to low sales, but not before dropping a bombshell.  Lonnie learned he was adopted, and managed to track down his birth mother.  Said woman was in a mental hospital because of an awful past encounter with, well, someone who may have been Lonnie’s baby daddy.  Lonnie tracked him down based on the clues and discovered his father may have been, well…

This guy.
This guy.

Suffice to say, that didn’t sit well.  Grant had to fight then-editor Denny O’Neil to toss that in there, with the intention of later going back and changing it, but the series’ abrupt cancellation put an end to that.  Obsessive fans would point out that, if Batman and the Joker had only been around for 13 years officially and Lonnie by that point was 16, well…

Anarky pops up here and there, and when in the hands of creator Grant, he’s often used as a philosophical mouthpiece for the writer.  Grant apparently became enamored with a more free-market based philosophy that sounded a lot like Ayn Rand’s Objectivism, and I’ve said before I’m not sure how that sort of thought works for a superhero.

Anarky even managed to become a reoccurring villain on the TV series Arrow, though that version is an adult.  Will the character get anywhere else?  Well, that would depend on whether or not readers can get behind a preachy, know-it-all teenager.

So, probably not.

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