Promotional art for
Anarky vol. 2, No.1 (May 1999)
by Norm Breyfogle.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Detective Comics No.608
(Nov. 1989)
Created by Alan Grant
Norm Breyfogle
In-story information
Alter ego Lonnie Machin
Partnerships Legs
Notable aliases Moneyspider

Anarky is a fictional character appearing in books published by DC Comics. Co-created by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle, he first appeared in Detective Comics No.608 (November 1989), as an adversary of Batman. Introduced as Lonnie Machin, a child prodigy with knowledge of radical philosophy and driven to overthrow governments to improve social conditions, stories revolving around Anarky often focus on political and philosophical themes. The character, who is named after the philosophy of anarchism, primarily espouses anti-statism. Multiple social issues have been addressed whenever the character has appeared in print, including environmentalism, antimilitarism, economic exploitation, and political corruption. Inspired by multiple sources, early stories featuring the character often included homages to political and philosophical books, and referenced anarchist philosophers and theorists. The inspiration for the creation of the character and its early development was based in Grant's personal interest in anti-authoritarian philosophy and politics.[1] However, when Grant himself transitioned to the philosophy of Neo-Tech, he shifted the focus of Anarky from a vehicle for socialist and populist philosophy, to rationalist, atheist, and free market-based thought.[2]

Originally intended to only be used in the debut story in which he appeared, Grant decided to continue using Anarky as a sporadically recurring character throughout the early 90s, following positive reception by readers and Dennis O'Neil.[3] The character experienced a brief surge in media exposure during the late '90s, beginning when Norm Breyfogle convinced Grant to produce a limited series based on the character. The 1997 spin-off series, Anarky, was received with positive reviews and sales, and later declared by Grant to be among his "career highlights".[4] Batman: Anarky, a trade paperback collection of stories featuring the character, soon followed. This popular acclaim culminated, however, in a financially and critically unsuccessful ongoing solo series. The 1999 Anarky series, in which even Grant has expressed his distaste,[1][5] was quickly canceled after eight issues, but not before sparking a minor controversy by suggesting Anarky was the biological son of the Joker.[1]

Following the cancellation of the Anarky series, and Grant's departure from DC Comics, Anarky experienced a prolonged period of absence from DC publications, despite professional and fan interest in his return.[6][7] This period of obscurity lasted approximately ten years, with three brief interruptions for minor cameo appearances in 2000, 2001, and 2005. In December 2008, Anarky reappeared in an issue of Robin authored by Fabian Nicieza, with the intention of ending this period of obscurity.[8][9][10] The storyline drastically altered the character's presentation, prompting a series of responses by Nicieza to concerned readers.[11][12] The character has since become a reoccuring character in issues of Red Robin, authored by Nicieza.


Publication history

Creation and early depictions

Anarky, of course, was among the best, if not the best, of the characters Alan created. Alan really created him—along with the other characters—and I was just along for the ride and lucky to be there.

—Norm Breyfogle, 2006.[13]

Originally inspired by his personal political leanings, Alan Grant entertained the idea of interjecting anarchist philosophy into Batman comic books. In an attempt to emulate the success of Chopper, a rebellious youth in Judge Dredd, he conceptualized a character as a twelve-year-old anarchist vigilante, who readers would sympathize with despite the character's harsh methods.[14] Creating the character without any consultation from his partner, illustrator Norm Breyfogle,[15] his only instructions to Breyfogle were that Anarky be designed as a cross between V and the black spy from Mad magazine's Spy vs. Spy.[3] Grant also briefly considered incorporating Krazy Kat as a third design suggestion, but decided against the idea.[14] In response to deadline pressures, and not recognizing the character's potential, Breyfogle "made no preliminary sketches, simply draping him in long red sheets". The character was also intended to wear a costume that disguised his youth, and so was fitted with a crude "head extender" that elongated his neck, creating a jarring appearance. While both of these design elements have since been dropped, more enduring aspects of the character have been his golden face mask, "priestly" hat, and his golden sceptre.[16]

A photograph portrait of a man holding a comic book.
Alan Grant created Anarky when he was inspired by the success of Chopper, a Judge Dredd character, and his own political sentiments.
An illustrated portrait of a man.
Norm Breyfogle co-created Anarky, providing suggestions for the character's late '90s development.

The first Anarky story, "Anarky in Gotham City, Part 1: Letters to the Editor", appeared in Detective Comics No.608, in November 1989. Lonnie Machin is introduced as "Anarky" as early as his first appearance in Detective Comics No.608, withholding his origin story for a later point. He is established as an uncommonly philosophical and intelligent twelve-year-old.[17] The debut story of the character failed to provide a back story to explain his behavior, but a narrative from Batman reveals that he is a socially conscious and arrogant child who believes he knows how to solve societies' problems. Convinced that only he can do so, he becomes a vigilante and fashions weapons—a stun baton and smoke bombs—in labs at school.[18] Lonnie Machin made his debut as "Anarky" by responding to complaints in the newspaper by attacking the offending sources, such as the owner of a factory whose byproduct waste is polluting local river water.[17] He goes to lengths to disguise his age and appearance by creating a costume with a false head to increase his height. This was in fact intended as a ruse on the part of writer Alan Grant to disguise the character's true identity, and to confuse the reader into believing Anarky to be an adult.[19] Anarky and Batman ultimately come to blows, and during their brief fight, Batman deduces that Anarky is actually a young child. During this first confrontation, Anarky is aided by a band of homeless men, including Legs, a homeless cripple who becomes loyal to him and would assist him in later appearances. After being caught, Lonnie is locked away in a juvenile detention center.[18]

Anarky's debut, in Detective Comics No.608. Artist, Norm Breyfogle, later included the cover among a gallery of his favorite works.[20]

In Grant's earliest script for the character, Anarky was designed to be far more vicious, and to have killed his first victim. Dennis O'Neil, then editor of Detective Comics, requested that Grant "tone down" the script, as he felt Anarky becoming a murderer at such a young age was morally reprehensible. Grant consented to the request and the script was rewritten.[1] In a 2004 interview, Grant explained the motivation behind this early decision. "I wanted to play it that way because it created incredible tension in Anarky himself. Other heroes might kill—Batman used to, in the early days—but for a teenager to rationally decide to take lives...well, it hadn't been handled in comics before. But Denny was boss, and I respected his opinion and toned things down."[5]

Although Grant had not created the character to be used beyond the two-part debut story, positive reactions from reader letters and his editor caused him to change his mind. He then decided to make Lonnie Machin the third Robin, following Jason Todd, desiring a new sidekick who would act as a foil to Batman, and not have the same motivations for vengeance. This was abandoned when he learned that Tim Drake had already been created to fill the role by Marv Wolfman.[3] Quickly rebounding from this decision, Grant instead used the second appearance of Anarky as the antagonist for Tim Drake's first solo detective case.[21]

This appearance came in Detective Comics No.620. The story chronicles that Anarky increases his computer skills during his detention to the point of becoming an advanced grey hat computer hacker. He takes on the online user alias "Moneyspider" to steal millions of dollars from western corporations, including Wayne Enterprises, outmaneuvering Batman's own data security in the process. He then uses the money to create bank accounts for poor farmers in third world countries. Tim Drake pursues the hacker in an online investigation, tracking Anarky to his location at the detention center.[21] In 2008, Fabian Nicieza would revert Lonnie Machin to this early alias as part of an attempt to reuse the character following a period of absence lasting approximately ten years.[11]

In the years following Anarky's creation, the character was rarely incorporated into Batman stories by Grant, being reserved for stories in which the author felt the need to make a philosophical point.[14] Throughout the early 90s, Anarky was a lesser known, but established antagonist in the Batman franchise, frequently depicted as escaping from the detention center and peregrinating around Gotham City. However, his back-story had still yet to be elaborated upon. Grant provided hints to Anarky's origin in Robin Annual No.1, The Anarky Ultimatum, part of Eclipso: The Darkness Within crossover event. Within the story it is revealed that Lonnie Machin was a highly intelligent child who from an early age read prodigiously at local bookstores, but had few friends. Published in 1992, it wouldn't be until 1995 that Grant would finally elaborate upon Lonnie Machin's fictional history.

1995 saw Grant begin the slow increase in the character's abilities that would culminate in the Anarky series. In the "Anarky" story arc from Batman: Shadow of the Bat No.40–41, Lonnie is released from juvenile detention, and builds a machine that allows him to fuse both hemispheres of his brain, giving him increased intelligence, and what he perceives as enlightenment. Creating an online bookstore, Anarco, to propagate radical literature, he begins to accumulate funds that he donates through another front company, The Anarkist Foundation, to radical organizations, such as eco-warriors and gun protesters, or keeps for his own projects. These story devices served to further improve Anarky's skill set, and increase his intelligence and financial independence.[22] During this storyline, Grant finally revealed Lonnie Machin's origins in full, using a farewell letter to his parents to provide exposition into the character's motivations. The origin story narrates that Lonnie Machin is an ordinary child who, while abnormally intelligent, is apolitical and socially unaware. At eleven he gains a foreign pen pal, Xuasus, as part of a school program. Through this contact, Lonnie discovers the level of global corruption he never knew of before. Further studies into war and political violence leads him to hold radical sympathies. He comes to view all wars as being caused by political elites, with common individuals forced or cajoled into fighting on behalf of the former. He becomes convinced in the need reshape society and becomes Anarky.[23]

During the Anarky series, much of the character's development was influenced by the nature of Grant and Breyfogle's association. As part of the story writing process, the duo would engage in philosophical discussion carried out entirely over fax-transmissions.[5] These long, in-depth, and occasionally heated debates influenced plot points, as well as the general direction of Anarky's character development. Because of this, Breyfogle personally considers Anarky to be among their few co-creations, whereas he considers other characters they "made" together, such as the Ventriloquist, to be entirely Grant's creations.[6]

Anarky series

Anarky, not having any super powers, doesn’t have what it takes to bring the fans in month after month. He’s the sort of character you can get away with using in an annual once a year plus his own miniseries once a year and maybe as a guest star every couple of years, but he’s not capable, he’s not strong enough to hold his own monthly title. Very few characters are when it comes down to it.

—Alan Grant, 2007.[1]

Following the comic book industry crash of 1996, Norm Breyfogle was unemployed and looking for work. As a result of a request Breyfogle made to DC for employment, Darren Vincenzo, then an editorial assistant at DC Comics, suggested multiple projects which Breyfogle could take part in. Among his suggestions was an Anarky limited series, written by Grant, which was eventually the project decided upon.[24] The four-issue limited series, Anarky, was published in May 1997. Entitled "Metamorphosis", the story maintained the character's anti-authoritarian sentiments, but was instead based on Neo-Tech, a philosophy developed by Frank R. Wallace.[2]

During the climax of the "Anarky" storyline of Batman: Shadow of the Bat No.41-42, it is implied that Anarky dies in a large explosion.[23] In turn, the Anarky limited series resolved this event by revealing that Anarky survives, but chooses to shed the encumbrance of his double life by faking his death.[14][25] Anarky works in seclusion to further his goal of achieving a utopian society, briefly hiring Legs and other homeless men to monitor Batman's movements. His four issue adventure leads him into conflict with Etrigan the Demon and Darkseid, as Anarky confronts the nature of evil through dialogue, and concludes with a showdown against Batman, addressing the issue of consequentialism.[2]

Well received by critics and financially successful, Grant has referred to the limited series as one of his favorite projects, and ranked it among his "career highlights".[4] With its success, Vincenzo suggested continuing the book as an ongoing series to Breyfogle and Grant. Although Grant was concerned that such a series would not be viable, he agreed to write it at Breyfogle's insistence, as the illustrator was still struggling for employment.[24] Grant's primary concerns centered on his belief that Anarky's role as a non-superpowered teenanger was not capable of competing for reader attention when DC Comics already had a similar series in Robin.[26] Further, while potential disagreements with editors over story elements were not among his initial concerns, he eventually found himself constantly at odds with editors and editorial assistants throughout the creation of the series.[1]

Grant's doubts concerning the comic's prospects eventually proved correct. The series was panned by critics, failed to catch on among readers, and was canceled after eight issues, however Grant has noted that it was popular in Latin American countries, perhaps owing to a history of political repression in the region.[3][26] "It didn’t sit too well with American readers, who prefer the soap opera and cool costume aspects of superhero comics. But I became a minor hero in many Latin countries, like Argentina and Mexico, where readers had been subjected to tyranny and fascism and knew precisely what I was writing about."[27] Breyfogle gave a similar explanation for what he believed to be the cause of the series' failure. In an essay written after the cancellation of the series, he reflected on the difficulty of combining escapist entertainment with social commentary: "Anarky is a hybrid of the mainstream and the not-quite-so-mainstream. This title may have experienced exactly what every “half-breed” suffers: rejection by both groups with which it claims identity."[28]

Dennis O'Neil, Group Editor for the Batman family of comic books from 1986 to 2000, was at odds with the suggestion that Anarky become the son of the Joker.

Despite numerous editorial impositions, the most controversial plot point was not a mandate, but was instead a suggestion by Breyfogle, intended as a means to expand Anarky's characterization: that Anarky's biological father be revealed to be the Joker.[1] Breyfogle expressed an interest using the relationship as a source for internal conflict in the character. "...I figured that because Anarky represents the epitome of reason, one of the biggest crises he could face would be to discover that his father was the exact opposite: a raving lunatic!"[29] Alternatively, Grant saw it as an opportunity to solidify Anarky's role in the Batman franchise.[30] Grant's decision to pursue the suggestion ran into conflict with Dennis O'Neil, who protested against it.

Denny only let me write that story under protest, he was totally opposed to Joker being Anarky’s father and said under no circumstances would DC allow that ... I talked him into letting me write the script anyway by saying the story would create a lot of interest and then maybe in six months time I would write the rebuttal, which proves that Anarky wasn’t the Joker’s son ... and Denny said OK but of course the monthly title got cancelled long before that point.

—Alan Grant, 2007.[1]

As the last issue of the Anarky series, the unresolved finale left open the possibility that the Joker might be Anarky's actual father, and the planned "rebuttal" was never published. Further, Grant and Breyfogle later speculated that as Dennis O'Neil has retired from DC Comics, and the final editorial decision currently belongs to Dan DiDio, it is no longer possible to be sure whether a rebuttal will ever be published.[1] As of 2010, there is yet no record of Didio ever commenting on the subject, though the DC Universe timeline chronologically prevents the Joker from being Anarky's biological father, as the character is (currently) approximately sixteen years old, while both Batman and the Joker have only existed for approximately thirteen years.[31]

As Anarky was created while Grant and Breyfogle were operating under "work-for-hire" rules, DC Comics owns all rights to the Anarky character. Following the cancellation of the Anarky series, both men attempted to buy the rights to Anarky from the company, but their offer was declined.[3]

Absence from DC publications

We don’t have any conclusive evidence, but Alan and I can’t help but feel that Anarky’s philosophy grated on somebody’s nerves; somebody got a look at it and didn’t like it ... So I’ve generally gotten the impression that Anarky was nixed because of its philosophy. Especially in this age of post 9/11, Anarky would be a challenge to established authority. He’s very anti-establishment, that’s why he’s named Anarky!

—Norm Breyfogle, 2003.[6]

After the financial failure of Anarky vol. 2, the character entered a period of absence from DC publications that lasted several years. Norm Breyfogle attempted to continue using the character in other comics during this time, co-writing an issue of The Spectre with John Marc DeMatteis that would cameo Anarky as a rationalist foil to the mystical nature of the Spectre. When this story was rejected, Breyfogle came to suspect the character's prolonged absence was due in part to censorship.[6]

Since the cancellation of the Anarky series, Grant has disassociated himself from the direction of the character. In a 2004 interview he recalled that he had been asked by James Peatty for a critique of an Anarky/Green Arrow script the latter had written. Peatty desired to know if his presentation of Anarky had been correct. Grant declined to read the story, explaining, "you have to let these things go".[5] The script was published in 2005 and Anarky made the guest appearance billed as his "return" to DC continuity in Green Arrow No.51, Anarky in the USA.[32]

The story narrative chronicles Anarky's reappearance after several years of obscurity in response to a bombing in Star City that he is framed for. He teams up with Green Arrow to hunt down the guilty parties, but remains a wanted felon by authorities. Although the front cover of the issue advertised the comic as the "return" of the character, Anarky failed to make any further appearances.[32] This was despite comments by Peatty that he had further plans to write stories for the character, and as Green Arrow No.51 was being published, had already written a two-part story for Batman which featured Anarky.[33]

Besides Breyfogle and Peatty, Todd Seavey was another professional writer who expressed an interest in creating stories for Anarky. A freelance libertarian writer and editor, and author of several issues of Justice League, Seavey considered authoring an Anarky series his "dream comics project".[34]

Breyfogle has also noted that Anarky retained interest among a "diehard" fan base during this obscure period.[24] During a panel at WonderCon 2006, multiple requests were made by the audience for Anarky to appear in DC Comic's limited series, 52. In response, Dan DiDio announced two weeks later, at a DC Comics panel during the 2006 New York Comic Con, that the writing team of 52 had decided to create a part for the character.[7] 52 editor, Michael Siglain, later responded to a reader question concerning when Anarky would appear in the series, estimating Anarky would appear in later issues. However, 52 concluded without Anarky making an appearance and with no explanation given by anyone involved in the production of the series.[II]

Return as "Moneyspider"

I took 2 characters who had not been seen in 10 years and told a story with them that sets up the potential for more stories to be told using those characters. I call that a good day at the office.

—Fabian Nicieza, 2009.[12]

On August 15, 2008, DC Comics announced that Anarky would reappear in the December issue of Robin, issue No.181.[8] Several weeks later, Dan Didio announced that Anarky would be among several villains to be showcased in DC Comic's "Faces of Evil" event.[10] With the publication of Robin No.181, it was revealed that Lonnie Machin's role as Anarky had been supplanted by another Batman villain, Ulysses Hadrian Armstrong. Further, Machin was depicted as being held hostage by Armstrong, "paralyzed and catatonic",[11] encased in an iron lung, and connected to computers through his brain. This final feature allowed the character to connect to the internet and communicate with others via a speech synthesizer.[35]

The story, "Pushing Buttons, Pulling Strings", narrates that as Tim Drake attempts to maintain control of Gotham City in Batman's absence following the Batman R.I.P. storyline, it is revealed that the ultimate foe attempting to ferment chaos and destroy the city through gang wars and terrorist bombings is Armstrong.[35] Armstrong is also revealed to have encountered Lonnie Machin at an unspecified point prior to the story, at which time Machin was "shot in the head", leaving him paralyzed and hostage to Armstrong.[11] Incapacitated, Machin reverts to his hacker identity as "Moneyspider", while Armstrong commandeers the identity of Anarky and conspires to acquire power through chaos.[35] The storyline concluded with the publication of Robin No.182, on January 21, 2009, as part of the "Faces of Evil" event. The issue featured the Ulysses Hadrian Armstrong version of Anarky on the front cover of the issue, but did not include Lonnie Machin as a character within the story.[36]

Fabian Nicieza's reintroduction of Anarky took the character in a new direction, upsetting some of the character's fans.

Fabian Nicieza, author of the issue and storyline in which Anarky appeared, responded to reader concerns in an internet forum for a Q&A secession with fans a few days after issue No.181 was published. Nicieza explained his decision behind giving Machin's mantle as Anarky to another character was due to his desire to establish "Robin's Joker", and that "the concept of Anarky, applied in a visceral, immature fashion, would make an excellent counterpoint to Robin's ordered methodical thinking." However, in an effort to respect the original characterization of Anarky, it was necessary that it not be Machin, who Nicieza recognized as neither immature, nor a villain. Nicieza also noted the difficulty inherent in writing any story featuring Anarky, due to the complexity of the character's philosophy. Regardless, Nicieza did desire to use Machin and properly return the character to publication, and so favored presenting Ulysses H. Armstrong as Anarky, and Lonnie Machin as MoneySpider, describing the latter as an "electronic ghost." The alias Moneyspider was a secondary name briefly used by Grant for Anarky in a 1990 Detective Comics storyline.[21] Nicieza felt that this created a scenario in which each could be used for different effects. As he put it, "[o]ne can prove a physical opposition to Robin (Ulysses as Anarky), the other an intellectual one (Lonnie as MoneySpider)." Nicieza also acknowledged that this dramatic change in the character's presentation would upset fans of the character, but countered that he felt he had not made any changes to the character which could not be undone easily by other writers.[11]

Following the publication of Robin No.181, Roderick Long, a political commentator and Senior Scholar at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and self-professed fan of the character,[37] expressed annoyance at the portrayal of the character of Lonnie Machin and the usurpation of the Anarky mantle by Armstrong. Upon learning of Nicieza's reasoning for the portrayal, Long parodied the explanation as a mock-dialectic,[38] saying, "Thesis: Anarky is too interesting a character not to write about.Antithesis: Anarky is too interesting a character for me to write successfully about. Dialectical synthesis: Therefore I will make Anarky less interesting so I can write about him."[38]

Grant also commented on the transformation. "Someone recently sent me DC’s new take on Anarky," Grant reported during an interview for Scotland regional edition of The Big Issue, "and I was saddened to see they were using him as just another asshole villain."[27]

Several months later, in a forum discussion, Nicieza once again defended his writing of the story. In a discussion regarding communication between comic book authors, and whether writers were bothered when their creations were altered, or re-characterized, by other authors of a shared universe, Nicieza's treatment of Anarky was mentioned. In addressing the concerns of his critics, Nicieza submitted that he fully agreed with the criticisms by Alan Grant. As Nicieza explained, his intention was to deliberately alter the concept the Anarky mantle represented, while attempting to respect the characterization of Lonnie Machin. For this reason, Nicieza also saw little reason to communicate with Grant for feedback, and so made no overtures to Anarky's creator. "I did not reach out to Alan for the simple reason that I KNEW I was taking his original creation and mangling it, twisting its core conceptual meaning and regurgitating it in an impure fashion. I felt little benefit in contacting a creator who I know wouldn't necessarily like the idea even if I could explain why (which I can) nor did I do it because I feel there has to be a little 'statute of limitations' on that kind of outreach." Nicieza also confessed to his personal discomfort with communicating with Grant, given the latter's estrangement from DC Comics.[12]

Nicieza continued his explanation, tackling the topic of the new "misapplication" of the philosophical underpinnings of the Anarky mantle in the hands of the General. "I was well aware that the General's application of the name, costume and themes were inaccurate to the political philosophy of Anarchy (and of Lonnie's reason for being as Anarky). It's even STATED in print during the course of the story that Ulysses didn't 'get it.'" Nicieza then concluded with a restatement in his expectation that other writers now had the opportunity to pursue stories which would make use of the characters, "I could understand original Anarky readers and the creator of the character not agreeing with that, but therein lies the beauty of our medium -- there's always another story to tell that could 'fix' what you don't like..."[12]

Red Robin cast member

With the conclusion of Robin, Nicieza began authoring the 2009 Azrael series, leaving any future use of Anarky or Moneyspider to Red Robin author Chris Yost. At the 2009 New York Comic Con panel for the "Batman: Battle for the Cowl" storyline, various collaborating writers, editors, and artists for Batman-related comic books took questions from the audience. When asked a question regarding Anarky, Mike Marts confirmed that "Anarky" would be utilized in future publications, but did not elaborate further.[39] In the ensuing months, Yost made only brief references to Anarky, without directly involving the character in any storylines. In April 2010, it was announced that Nicieza would replace Yost as the author of Red Robin. In interview commentary, Nicieza noted his interest in using Anarky and Moneyspider in future issues of the series.[40]

Nicieza reintroduced Ulysses Armstrong and Lonnie Machin over the course of several storylines, and regularly used Lonnie as a cast member of the ongoing Red Robin series. The series was canceled in August 2011, as a result of The New 52, a revamp and relaunch by DC Comics of its entire line of ongoing monthly superhero books, in which all of its existing titles were canceled, and 52 new series debuted in September 2011 with new #1 issues.[41]


Highlighting their political conflict, the cover of Detective Comics No.609 contrasts Anarky as a champion of the oppressed, and Batman as a champion of the law. Art by Norm Breyfogle.

Over the course of the character's existence, Anarky has under gone several shifts in his characterization. These were largely decided upon by Alan Grant, who for several years after the character's creation, was largely the sole author of the character. In an interview for, Grant summarized Anarky as "...a serious-beyond-his-years teenager who wants to set the world to rights."[42] Norm Breyfogle, while having no input into the character's creation,[15] was heavily invested in the development of the character during the Anarky limited series.[6] Early depictions presented Anarky as having a serious perspective, but at times comedic attitude, which commentators such as Greg Burgas, of Comic Book Resources, have appreciated. "Lonnie is a fascinating character in that he has a sense of humor... and he’s very smart." [43]

Heroic and villainous themes

Anarky's introduction during the late '80s was part of a larger shift among villains in the Batman franchise of the time. While many naive and goofy villains of previous eras were abandoned, and more iconic villains made more violent to cater to tastes of a maturing readership, some were introduced to challenge readers to "question the whole bad/good guy divide." Falling into "the stereotype anarchist bomb-toting image", Anarky's design was countered by his principled stances to create an odd contrast.[44] In a review of the Anarky miniseries, Anarky was dubbed an "anti-villain", as opposed to "anti-hero", due to his highly principled philosophy, which runs counter to most villains. "In the age of the anti-hero, it only makes sense to have the occasional anti-villain as well. But unlike sociopathic vigilante anti-heroes like the Punisher, an anti-villain like Anarky provides some interesting food for thought. Sure, he breaks the law, but what he really wants is to save the world... and maybe he's right."[45]

Breyfogle's characterization of Anarky has shifted on occasion, with him at times referring to Anarky as a villain, and at other times as a hero. In his 1998 introductory essay composed for Batman: Anarky, Breyfogle characterized Anarky as not being a villain, but rather a "misunderstood hero", and continued "he's a philosophical action hero, an Aristotle in tights, rising above mere 'crime-fighter' status into the realm of incisive social commentary."[16] A year later, Breyfogle conceded that Anarky was "technically" a villain, but insisted "I don't consider him a villain..."[19] Breyfogle later reconsidered the character in more ambiguous terms for a 2005 interview: "Anarky isn’t a villain, he’s his own character. He’s definitely not a superhero, although it depends on who you talk to."[46]

Grant has been more direct in his description of Anarky's virtuous attributes: "In my eyes, Anarky’s a hero. Anarky’s the hero I want to be if I was smart enough and physically fit enough." Acknowledging that Anarky's moral perspective was guided by his own, Grant expressed that the conflict between Anarky and other heroes is a result of their political divisions. "In my eyes, he’s a hero, but to others, they see him as a villain. That is because most people might gripe about the political situation, or various aspects of the political situation, and wouldn’t advocate the total overthrow of the system under which we live. Anarky certainly does that, and more."[47]

In creating stories involving Anarky, other writers have played off this anti-heroic and anti-villinous tension. James Peatty made the heroic and political comparisons between Lonnie Machin and Olliver Queen the central theme of his 2005 Green Arrow story, "Anarky in the USA". "Anarky comes to find Ollie because of his reputation and is quite disappointed in Ollie’s reaction towards him. However, as the story unfolds, Ollie has to re-assess his initial reaction to Anarky and his own much vaunted ‘radical’ credentials." [33] With his controversial revival of the character in 2008, Fabian Nicieza chose to portray the mantle of Anarky as being possessed by a villain other than Lonnie Machin on the grounds that Lonnie was too heroic to act out the part of a black hat. "Since Lonnie is too smart to be immature and NOT a 'villain,' I wanted Anarky, but it couldn't be Lonnie without compromising who he is as a character."[11]

As the character was based on a theme of ideas, he had been given no personal, tragic past; a common motivator in superhero fiction. This was to contrast with Batman, who fought crime due to personal tragedy, while Anarky would do so in the name of ideals and beliefs.[14] As the character was further developed, he was also intended to contrast with common teenage superheroes. Referring to the tradition established by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby of saddling teenagers with personal problems, Grant purposely gave Anarky none, nor did he develop a girlfriend or social life for the character. As Grant wrote for the Batman: Anarky introduction, this was intended to convey the idea that Anarky was single minded in his goals.[14]

Anarky’s world clashes as much with the traditional world of superheroes as it does with the world of crime. So the interplay between him and Green Lantern and him and Superman is not the usual kind of hero interplay.

—Alan Grant, 1998.[47]

On two occasions Grant nearly went against Dennis O'Neil's early wish that Anarky not kill opponents. These events include his appearance during the Batman: Knightfall saga, in which Grant briefly portrayed Anarky as preparing to kill both the Scarecrow and Batman-Azrael.[48] Grant also implied Anarky was a lethal figure in "The Last Batman Story", part of Armageddon 2001 crossover event.[49] Grant later expressed relief that he had not fully committed to portraying Anarky as a potential murderer, as he felt "Anarky would have compromised his own beliefs if he had taken the route of the criminal-killer."[14] Despite Anarky's non-lethal portrayal, entries for the character in Who's Who in the DC Universe,[50] The DC Comics Encyclopedia,[51] and The Supervillain Book,[52] have falsely referred to Anarky as having killed criminals in early appearances. Norm Breyfogle was also under the false impression that Anarky had killed for several years, having failed to realize the original script for Anarky's debut storyline had been rewritten. Grant eventually explained the situation to Breyfogle in 2006, during a joint interview.[1]

Despite this regular equivocation of Anarky with murder and villainy in DC Comics character guides, the company made efforts to describe the character in heroic terms in promoting the 1999 Anarky series. During this time, DC Comics described Anarky as an "anti-establishment loose cannon trying to do good as a hero to the disenfranchised".[53]

Political and philosophical themes

(Anarky is) a philosophical action hero, an Aristotle in tights, rising above mere "crime-fighter" status into the realm of incisive social commentary. In fact, Anarky exists primarily to challenge the status quo of hierarchical power, and he may be the first mainstream comics hero of his type to do it consistently and with such rational intelligence.

—Norm Breyfogle, 1998.[16]

Originally, Grant created Anarky as an anarchist with socialist and populist leanings. In this early incarnation, Anarky was designed as an avatar for Grant's personal meditations on political philosophy, and specifically for his burgeoning sympathy for anarchism.[1]

Lonnie Machin defends his actions in Detective Comics No.620. Political elements include Machin's dialogue, the circle-A painted in the background, and an issue of Black Flag being read in the foreground by Tim Drake.[54]

Within the books, the nature of the character's political opinions were often expressed through the character's rhetoric, and by heavy use of the circle-A as a character gimmick. The character's tools often incorporate the circle-A motif into them. In his earliest incarnation, he would also use red spray-paint to leave the circle-A as a calling card at crime scenes.[17] The circle-a has also been used to decorate the character's base of operations, either as graffiti or suspended from wall tapestries.[35][54][55]

Other themes were occasionally used whenever Anarky was a featured character in a comic. During the Anarky limited series, fluttering newspapers were used to bear headlines alluding to social problems.[56][57] Occasionally, the titles of books found in Anarky's room would express the character's philosophical, political, or generally esoteric agenda. In Detective Comics No.620, a copy of V for Vendetta can be seen on Lonnie Machin's bookshelf as homage. Other books in his room at different times have included Apostles of Revolution by Max Nomad, The Anarchists by James Joll, books labeled "Proudhon" and "Bakunin", and an issue of Black Flag.[58] Non-anarchist material included books labeled "Plato", "Aristotle", and "Swedenborg",[59] and a copy of Synergetics, by Buckminster Fuller.[60] The character also made references to Universe by Scudder Klyce, an extremely rare book.[18][61] When asked if he was concerned readers would be unable to follow some of the more obscure literary references, Grant hadn't expected many to do so, but reported that some had and one reader carried an ongoing correspondence with him as of 2005.[3]

During the early years of the character's development, virtually no writers other than Grant used Anarky in DC publications. In a rare portrayal by an author other than Grant, writer Kevin Dooly used Anarky in an issue of Green Arrow, producing an explicitly anti-firearm themed story. Throughout the story, dialogue between Anarky and Green Arrow convey the need for direct action, as Anarky attempts to persuade Oliver Queen to sympathize with militant, economic sabotage in pursuit of social justice.[62]

Although I haven’t read them in chronological order I would think it would be quite easy to see the parallel between Anarky’s thought processes and my own thought processes.

—Alan Grant, 1997.[2]

Over the course of several years, Grant's political opinions shifted from libertarian socialism to free market based philosophies. Grant later speculated that this transformation would be detectable within stories he'd written. By 1997, Grant's philosophy settled on Neo-Tech, and when given the opportunity to write an Anarky miniseries, he decided to redesign the character accordingly. Grant laid out his reasoning in an interview just before the first issue's publication. "I felt he was the perfect character" to express Neo-Tech philosophy, Grant explained, "because he's human, he has no special powers, the only power he's got is the power of his own rational consciousness".[2] This new characterization was continued in the 1999 Anarky ongoing series.

The limited and ongoing series were both heavily influenced by Neo-Tech, despite the term never appearing in a single issue. New emphasis was placed on previously unexplored themes, such as the depiction of Anarky as an atheist and a rationalist.[63] Grant also expressed a desire to use the comic as a vehicle for his thoughts concerning the mind, consciousness,[5] and made bicameralism a major theme of both series.[64] While both series led the character away from the philosophy he had espoused previously, the primary theme of the character remained anti-statism. In one issue of the 1999 series, a character asked what the nature of Anarky's politics were. The response was that Anarky was neither right-wing, nor left-wing, and that he "transcends the political divide".[65] Despite taking part in multiple interviews regarding the character, Grant has never specified the nature of Anarky's political categorization, preferring to state which philosophies inspired his characterization. Norm Breyfogle stated in 1999 that the character represented anarchist philosophy,[19] but said in 2003 that he believes the Neo-Tech influence allows Anarky to be classified as an "objectivist".[6]

Alternative versions

Through Elseworlds titles and "alternate universe" storylines, Anarky has been presented in forms divergent from his original incarnation. However, due to the minor part the character has played in the DC pantheon of characters, these variations have not been as numerous, broad, or influential as some alternative versions of Superman, alternative versions of Batman, or other characters with greater cultural impact.

  • "The Last Batman Story" Batman Annual 15 (1991)
In Batman Annual No.15, "The Last Batman Story", part of the "Armageddon 2001" crossover event, a time traveler shows Batman a possible future. In the (relatively) not-too-distant year of 2001, an aged Batman is framed and sentenced to death for murder. Anarky, now an adult, sympathizes with the fallen hero and breaks into the prison in an attempt to rescue Batman. In contrast to his original counterpart, it is implied that this version of Anarky was willing to kill opponents.[49]
  • "The Tyrant" Batman: Shadow of the Bat Annual 2 (1994)
In Batman: Shadow of the Bat Annual No.2, an Elseworlds story entitled "The Tyrant", a corrupt Batman (under the influence of Jonathan Crane) uses his resources to usurp power in the city of Gotham and institute a police state in which he exercises hegemonic control over the city's population. Anarky becomes a resistance leader, undermining the centers of Batman's power and ultimately overthrowing Bruce Wayne's tyranny.[66] The story ends with a quote by Mikhail Bakunin: "(For reasons of the state) black becomes white and white becomes black, the horrible becomes humane and the most dastardly felonies and atrocious crimes become meritorious acts."[67]
  • "Anarky" The Batman Adventures 31 (April, 1995)
Anarky appeared in The Batman Adventures No.31, "Anarky", written by Alan Grant, who acted as a guest author for the issue. Anarky takes business elites hostage and places them on public trial, broadcast from a pirate television show. He charges these men with such crimes as the creation of land mines that kill or cripple thousands, funding Third World dictators, polluting the air with toxic chemicals, and profiting from wage slavery, and threatens each man with a bomb if the public should find them guilty. When the explosions take place, it is revealed that the bombs are fake, and the public trials were only intended to expose the men and raise public awareness.[68]

Skills, abilities, and resources

The audaciousness of a non-super-powered teenager functioning as a highly effective adult without a mentor is pretty iconoclastic in a genre where it sometimes appears "it's all been done before."

—Norm Breyfogle, 1998.[16]

Grant developed Anarky as a gadgeteer—a character who relies on inventions and gadgets to compensate for a lack of superpowers—and as a child prodigy. In early incarnations, he was portrayed as highly intelligent, but inexperienced, lacking in many skills, and surviving only by his ingenuity. In accordance with this, he would often quote the maxim, "the essence of anarchy is surprise".[18] Later, during the two Anarky series, his abilities were increased, and he was portrayed as having enormous talents in both engineering and computer technology, as well as developing skills in martial arts. This was indicated in several comics published just before the Anarky miniseries, and later elaborated upon within the series itself. According to Alan Grant, the urgency with which Anarky views his cause has necessitated that the character forsake any social life, and increase his abilities drastically over the years. "The kid's whole life is dedicated to self-improvement," wrote Grant for the Batman: Anarky introduction, "with the sole aim of destroying the parasitic elites who he considers feast off ordinary folks."[14]

This evolution in Anarky's abilities was criticized as having overpowered the character in a Fanzing review of the Anarky ongoing series. The rapid development was seen as preventing the suspension of disbelief in the young character's adventures, which was said to have contributed to the failure of the series.[69] This view stood in contrast with that of Breyfogle, who considered Anarky's heightened skill set to be a complementary feature, and contended that Anarky's advanced abilities lent uniqueness to the character. Breyfogle wrote, "Anarky's singularity is due partly to his being, at his age, nearly as competent as Batman."[16]


The character often utilizes cunning, improvisation, and intelligence as tools for victory. During the Knightfall saga, the character states, "The essence of anarchy is surprise -- spontaneous action... even when it does require a little planning!"[48] Depicted examples include an improvised conflict, in which he avoided a gang of villains too dangerous to fight, choosing instead to use a flare gun to anonymously signal for Batman to come, and then pitted the two groups against each other.[48] A later example includes a planned confrontation with Batman in which Anarky achieves victory by confusing the hero with holographic projections long enough to attack and subdue him.[70] When in need of assistance for intelligence gathering, or a diversion, he would call on the help of the homeless community in Gotham, who had supported him since his first appearance.[18] Anarky's skill in improvising cunning plans was continued in the Anarky ongoing series. During the "War and Peace" storyline, Anarky allows himself to be defeated in combat, purposely falling into the hands of an enemy. Feigning defeat, he reveals false information that leads to his opponent's downfall.[71]


Early descriptions of the character's gadgets focused on low-tech, improvised tools and munitions, such as flare guns,[48] swing lines,[55] throwing stars,[72] small spherical explosives with wick fuses (mimicking those stereotypically associated with 19th-century anarchists),[17] gas-bombs,[17] smoke bombs,[55] and his primary weapon, a powerful electric stun baton shaped as a golden sceptre.[17] A grappling hook was later incorporated into the sceptre itself, allowing dual functionality.[25]

Combat skills

In 1995, Grant described Anarky as having begun to train in martial arts, following the character's time in juvenile hall.[73] By 1997, this ability was described as having progressed remarkably, and to have included training in multiple styles, including aikido, karate, jujutsu, and kung fu, which he "integrated" into a hybrid fighting style.[70]

Logistics, technology, and enhanced intelligence

As a wanted criminal, Anarky's methods and goals were described as leaving him with little logistical support amongst the heroic community, or the public at large, relegating him to underground operation. In his earliest incarnations, he was described as having developed skills as a computer hacker to steal enormous sums of money from various corporations.[21] This addition to the character's skill set made him the second major hacker in the DC universe, being preceded by Barbara Gordon's debut as Oracle,[74] and was quickly adapted by 1992 to allow the character to gain information on other heroes and villains from police computer networks.[55] By 1997, the skill was further increased to allow him to tap into Batman's supercomputer,[25] and the Justice League Watchtower.[75]

In 1996, Anarky was described as using the internet to earn money through his online bookstore, Anarco, which he used as a front company to propagate his philosophy. A second front organization, The Anarkist Foundation, was also developed to offer grants to radical causes he supports.[22] Grant also used a Biofeedback Learning Enhancer as a plot device to increase Lonnie's abilities. The cybernetic device was described as being capable of amplifying brain functions by a multiple of ten.[22] With this enhanced intelligence, and the increased financial independence described above, Anarky went on to create an on-board AI computer, MAX (Multi-Augmented X-Program);[75] a crude but fully functioning teleportation device capable of summoning a boom tube,[76] and secretly excavated an underground base below the Washington Monument.[75]

Portrayed as an atheist by Grant, Anarky espoused the belief that "science is magic explained", and was shown to use scientific analysis to explain and manipulate esoteric forces of magic and energy.[77]


The circle-A, a common anarchist symbol, is frequently used as a gimmick to decorate Anarky's costume. The color red was chosen as a symbolic protest against war.[19]

Anarky's costume has undergone two phases in design, both of which were created by Norm Breyfogle, in accordance with Grant's suggestions. The original costume was composed of a large, flowing red robe, over a matching red jumpsuit. A red, wide brimmed hat baring the circle-a insignia; a golden, metallic face mask; and red hood, completed the outfit. The folds of the robe concealed various weapons and gadgets.[17] Breyfogle later expressed that the color scheme chosen held symbolic purpose. The red robes "represented the blood of all the innocents sacrificed in war." The gold cane, face mask, and circle-A symbol represented purity and spirituality. The connection to spirituality was also emphasized through the hat and loose fabric, which mimicked that of a priest. Breyfogle believed the loose clothes "[went] better with a wide-brimmed hat. It's more of a colloquial style of clothing..." However, observers have noted that Breyfogle's Christian upbringing may have also inspired the "priestly analogy."[19]

[Anarky's fake head] was unique and provided a drawing challenge in that the reader should later say, "So that's why Anarky looked so awkward!" Such awkwardness, in fact, was one reason I eliminated the fake head in the miniseries...

—Norm Breyfogle, 1998.[16]

This costume was also designed to disguise Anarky's height, and so included a "head extender" under his hood, which elongated his neck. This design was also intended to create a subtle awkwardness that the reader would subconsciously suspect as being fake, until the reveal at the end of Anarky's first appearance. Despite the revelation of this false head, which would no longer serve its intended purpose at misdirecting the reader, the head extender was included in several return appearances, while at irregular times other artists drew the character without the extender.[I] This discontinuity in the character's design ended when Breyfogle finally eliminated this aspect of the character during the 1997 limited series, expressing that the character's height growth had ended its usefulness.[16] In reality, Breyfogle's decision was also as a result of the difficulty the design presented, being "awkward [to draw] in action situations."[19] an antihero, Anarky doesn't have to be beholden to one fashion statement.

—Vera H-C Chan, 1999.[19]

Anarky's second costume was used during the 1999 ongoing Anarky series. It retained the red jumpsuit, gold mask, and hat, but excised the character's red robes. New additions to the costume included a red cape, a utility belt modeled after Batman's utility belt, and a single, large circle-a across the chest, akin to Superman's iconic "S" shield. The golden mask was also redesigned as a reflective, but flexible material that wrapped around Anarky's head, allowing for the display of facial movement and emotion. This had previously been impossible, as the first mask was made of inflexible metal. Being a relatively new creation, Breyfogle encountered no resistance in the new character design. "Because [Anarky] doesn't have 50 years of merchandising behind him, I can change his costume whenever I want..."[19] Within the Anarky series, secondary costumes were displayed in Anarky's base of operations. Each was slightly altered in design, but followed the same basic theme. These were designed for use in various situations, but only one, a "universal battle suit", was used during the brief series.[75]


Readership reaction

When an interviewer commented that Anarky was popular among fans in 2003, in the midst of the character's period of obscurity, Norm Breyfogle offered a caviet: "Well, in certain segments of the comic book industry, I suppose." Breyfogle continued, "It has some diehard fans. But, DC doesn't seem to want to do anything with him. Maybe it's because of his anti-authoritarian philosophy, a very touchy subject in today's world."[24]

The sense that Anarky is appreciated by certain fans is one shared by Alan Grant. Commenting on the popularity of the Anarky series, Grant acknowledged the failure of the series, but pointed out that the series was very popular among some readers. "It wasn't terribly popular in the States, although I received quite a few letters (especially from philosophy students) saying the comic had changed their entire mindset. But Anarky was very popular in South America, where people have had a long and painful taste of totalitarianism, in a way the US is just entering."[3]

Sales of the Anarky limited series were high enough to green light an ongoing series.[53] However, as the ongoing series was mostly popular amongst Latin American nations—Mexico and Argentina in particular—Alan Grant has lamented that the comic was doomed to eventual cancellation, as DC Comics "[doesn't] take foreign sales into consideration when counting their cash".[5]

Acknowledging the failure of the series, Grant has conceeded that its themes, in particular his interest in exploring esoteric concepts such as philosophy of mind, likely resulted in "plummeting" sales.[5] Besides the themes, commentators have criticized other elements of the character, including the skills and special heroics of Anarky's adventures. "I liked the original concept behind Anarky: a teenage geek who reads The Will to Power one too many times and decides to go out and fix the world," wrote Matt Morrison of Fanzing. "But the minute he wound up getting $100 million in a Swiss Bank account, owning a building, impressing Darksied [sic], getting a Boom Tube and was shown as being able to outsmart Batman, outhack Oracle and generally be invincible, I lost all interest I had in the character."[69]

Anarchist critique

He does represent the anarchist philosophy His whole point of existing is rolled up in his name. [sic] It's a philosophy of responsibility and freedom from the hierarchical power.

—Norm Breyfogle, 1999.[19]

Critics have commented on the character's depiction as an anarchist since his first appearance. According to Alan Grant, anarchists with whom he associated were angered by his creation of the character, seeing it as an act of recuperation for commercial gain. Neither Grant nor Breyfogle could fully agree with this criticism. As Grant put it, "I thought I was doing them a favour you know?"[1]

In the years following the Anarky publications of the late 90s, more receptive critiques have been offered. In assessing the presentation of anarchist philosophy in fiction, Mark Leier, the director for the Centre for Labour Studies from Simon Fraser University, cited Anarky as an example of the favorable treatment anarchist philosophy has occasionally received in mainstream comic books. Leier took particular note of quotations derived from the dialogue in "Anarky in Gotham City" story, in which Batman speaks positively of Anarky's intentions.[78] Following the cancellation of the ongoing series, Roderick Long, an anarchist/libertarian political commentator and Senior Scholar at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, praised Anarky as "an impressive voice for liberty in today's comics".[37] Margaret Killjoy's examination of anarchist fiction, Mythmakers & Lawbreakers, afforded Alan Grant and Anarky brief mention. Explaining the relationship Grant had with anarchism, Killjoy reviewed the characters' early incarnations as "quite wonderful."[79]

Greg Burgas, in reviewing the career of Alan Grant, specifically cited Anarky's anarchist philosophy as one of the character's most empathetic traits. Lamenting the obscurity of the character, Burgas wished Anarky and anarchism would be presented more often: "...anarchy as a concept is often dismissed, but it’s worth looking at simply because it is so radical and untenable yet noble."[43]

Comparative analysis

Anarky is a direct contrast to Batman – he is an active agent of change while Batman is simply a reactive agent, reinforcing the status quo (as all corporate superheroes do)...

—Greg Burgas, 2006.[43]

The philosophical nature of the character has invited political critiques, and resulted in comparisons drawn against the political and philosophical views of other fictional characters.

The authors of "I'm Not Fooled By That Cheap Disguise", a 1991 essay deconstructing the Batman mythos, refer to Anarky as a challenge to Batman's social and political world view, and to the political position indirectly endorsed by the themes of a Batman adventure. As the Batman mythos is centered on themes of retribution and the protection of property rights, the invitation to readers to identify with Batman's vigilantism is an invitation to adopt political authoritarianism. The authors summarize that position as "the inviolability of property relations and the justification of their defense by any means necessary (short of death)." However, the authors contend that Anarky "potentially redefines crime" and invites the reader to identify with a new political position in favor of the disenfranchised, which Batman "can not utterly condemn". The authors contend that the creation of Anarky and dialogue by other characters represented a shift towards "self-conscious awareness of the Batman's hegemonic function, questioning the most central component of the Batman's identity — the nature of crime and his relation to it." However, the authors remain skeptical of Anarky's commercial nature, pointing out Anarky could be "incorporated as another marketing technique... The contradictions of capitalism would thus permit the commodification of criticisms as long as they resulted in profits."[80]

With the publication in 2005 of an issue of Green Arrow in which Anarky guest-starred, writer James Peatty juxtaposed Anarky's radical philosophy with the liberal progressive beliefs of Green Arrow. "Everyone always goes on about what a radical Ollie is and I wanted to show that maybe that isn't the case ... especially as Ollie's radical credentials are pretty antiquated ... Anarky as a character—and as a broader idea—is much more radical than Ollie."[33]

In Batman and Philosophy, an analysis of various philosophies which intersect with the Batman mythos, Anarky's critique of the state is compared favorably to that of Friedrich Nietzsche. "The Nietzschean state constitutes a 'new idol,' one that is no less repressive than its predecessors, as it defines good and evil for, and hangs a 'sword and a hundred appetites' over, the faithful. No Batman villain sees this as clearly as Anarky..." However, Anarky's behavior is analyzed as an attempt to impose an even more restrictive order, with examples presented from Batman: Anarky, in which Lonnie Machin lectures fellow juvenile detainees, explains his motivations in a farewell letter to his parents, and creates a fantasy dystopia in a distorted reflection of his desired society. "His [Anarky's] search for an organizing principle that is less repressive than the state fails." This is sharply compared with Batman, described as moderating his impulses towards social control.[81] Dialogue from Detective Comics is employed, in which Batman compares himself to Anarky and denies the latter legitimacy: "The fact is, no man can be allowed to set himself up as judge, jury and executioner."[17]

Greg Burgas, of Comic Book, critiqued Anarky as "one of the more interesting characters of the past fifteen or twenty years ... because of what he wants to accomplish". Burgas continues, comparing the nature of Anarky as a change agent against Batman. "He is able to show how ineffective Batman is against the real problems of society, and although Batman stops his spree, we find ourselves sympathizing much more with Anarky than with the representative of the status quo..."[43]

List of Anarky comics

As a lesser known and under utilized character in the DC universe, Anarky has a smaller library of associated comic books and significant story lines than more popular DC Comics characters. Between 1989 and 1996, Anarky was primarily written by Alan Grant in Batman-related comics, received a guest appearance in a single issue of Green Arrow[62] by Kevin Dooley, and was given a minor entry in Who's Who in the DC Universe.[50]

In the late 1990s, Anarky entered a brief period of minor prominence; first with the publication of Anarky vol. 1 in 1997; followed in 1998 with the Batman: Anarky collection; and in 1999, with featured appearances in both DCU Heroes Secret Files and Origins No.1[82] and the ongoing series, Anarky vol. 2. After the cancellation of the ongoing series, Anarky lapsed into obscurity lasting nearly ten years. This ambiguous condition was not complete, as Anarky was sporadically used during this time. These appearances include marginal cameos in issues of Young Justice,[83] Wonder Woman,[84] and Green Arrow.[32]

Anarky made a controversial appearance in a 2008 issue of Robin as part of an effort to return the character to regular publication, and has since become a recurring cast member in the Red Robin series.


  • Anarky 1 –4 (May –Aug, 1997), New York City, NY: DC Comics
Comprising the entire "Metamorphosis" story arc, this 1997 limited series was retroactively labeled the "first volume" following its continuation in 1999.
  • Anarky v2, 1 –8 (May –Dec, 1999), New York City, NY: DC Comics
Anarky relocates to Washington, D.C. to wage war against the United States government, in a financially and critically unsuccessful ongoing series.


A trade paperback collecting four stories featuring Anarky in various "Batman" related comics between 1989 and 1997.

Notable story arcs

Anarky's debut appearance in Detective Comics, in which Anarky begins a campaign of revolt in Gotham City.
  • "Anarky" Batman: Shadow of the Bat 40 –41 (Jul –Aug, 1995)
Batman and Anarky battle a terrorist Lonnie Machin has mistakenly funded, revealing Anarky's origin story in a two-part Shadow of the Bat story arc.
Anarky attempts to "deprogram" humanity of all social constraints in a four-part limited series, revamping Anarky with new abilities and philosophy.
Anarky seeks the truth of his parentage and learns the Joker may be his father in this controversial final issue of the ongoing Anarky series.
  • "Search For a Hero" Robin v2, 177 –182 (Aug, 2008 –Jan, 2009)
Robin faces a mysterious figure who promotes gang warfare in Batman's absence. The final story arc of Robin reintroduces Lonnie Machin after several years of obscurity.

See also


I. ^ Following Anarky's debut in "Anarky in Gotham City", the character's design incorporated the head extender in Robin Annual No. 1 (1992),[55] Green Arrow No. 89 (August, 1994),[62] and The Batman Adventures No. 31 (April, 1995).[68] The head extender was not included in Shadow of The Bat No. 18 (October, 1993),[48] and The Batman Chronicles No. 1 (Summer, 1995).[85]

External images
52 No.48 promotional cover. (Note the partially obscured circle-A in the upper-left.)[86]

II. ^ 52 was promoted as a comic that would attempt to incorporate as many DC Comics characters as possible. In a Q&A session hosted by, Michael Siglain answered a series of questions regarding which characters fans wanted to see in the series. Question No.19 asked "We were told Anarky would be playing a part in 52. Could you please tell us when we can expect his appearances?" Siglain's simple response to readers was, "check back in the late 40s."[87] Speculation centered on the prospect of Anarky appearing in issue No.48 of the series, as the solicited cover illustration was released to the public several weeks before the issues' publication. On the cover, the circle-A could be seen as a minor element in the background. In a review for "Week 48", Major Spoilers considered the absence of Anarky a drawback: "It’s too bad we didn’t see the return of Anarky as hinted by this week’s cover"[88] Pop culture critic, Douglas Wolk, wrote, "I guess this issue's cover is the closest we're going to get to Anarky after all (and by proxy as close as we're going to get to the Haunted Tank). Too bad."[89]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Best, Daniel (2007-01-06). "Alan Grant & Norm Breyfogle". Adelaide Comics and Books. ACAB Publishing. Archived from the original on 2007-04-27. Retrieved 2007-05-18. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Kraft, Gary S. (1997-04-08). "Holy Penis Collapsor Batman! DC Publishes The First Zonpower Comic Book!?!?!". Archived from the original on 1998-02-18. Retrieved 1998-02-18. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Berridge, Edward. "Alan Grant". 2000 AD Review. Retrieved 2007-01-26. 
  4. ^ a b "The Panel: Why Work In Comics?". 2005-09-20. Retrieved 2007-12-15. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Cooling, William (07-04-21). "Getting The 411: Alan Grant". Archived from the original on 2005-11-13. Retrieved 2004-08-14. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Best, Daniel (2003). "Norm Breyfogle @ Adelaide Comics and Books". Adelaide Comics and Books. ACAB Publishing. Retrieved 2007-01-24. 
  7. ^ a b "NYCC: DCU — Better Than Ever Panel"., LLC. Archived from the original on May 24, 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-25. "Referring to all the requests for Anarky appearing in 52 that were made two weeks ago at WonderCon, Didio said that since that San Francisco show, the writers have come up with a way to include the character in the story." 
  8. ^ a b "ROBIN No.181". Warner Bros.. 2008-09-15. Archived from the original on 2008-12-8. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  9. ^ "ROBIN No.182". Warner Bros.. 2008-10-15. Archived from the original on 2008-12-8. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  10. ^ a b Brady, Matt (2008-09-15). "January Sees 'Faces of Evil' at DC — Dan DiDio Spills". Imaginova Corp.. Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f Nicieza, Fabian (December 20, 2008). "Fabian Nicieza Q&A Thread for Robin". The Comic Bloc. Comic Bloc. Retrieved December 24, 2008. 
  12. ^ a b c d Nicieza, Fabian (2009-06-08). "How Do Comic Writers Feel..........". The Comic Bloc. Comic Bloc. Retrieved 2008-12-07. 
  13. ^ Irving, Cristopher; Breyfogle, Norm; Grant, Alan (June 2007). Eury, Michael. ed. "Pro2Pro: Gotham City's Other Dynamic Duo". Back Issue! (Raleigh, North Carolina, USA: TwoMorrows Publishing) 1 (22): 18–24. ISSN 1932-6904. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h Grant, Alan (1999). "Intro by Alan Grant". Batman: Anarky. New York: DC Comics. pp. 3–4. ISBN 1-56389-437-8. 
  15. ^ a b Klaehn, Jeffery (2009-03-14). "Alan Grant on Batman and Beyond". Midlothian, VA: The Book Report, Inc.. Retrieved 2010-08-05. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g Breyfogle, Norm (1999). "Intro by Norm Breyfogle". Batman: Anarky. New York: DC Comics. pp. 5–6. ISBN 1-56389-437-8. 
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h Alan Grant (w), Norm Breyfogle (p), Steve Mitchell (i). "Anarky in Gotham City, Part 1: Letters to the Editor" Detective Comics 608 (November 1, 1989), DC Comics
  18. ^ a b c d e Alan Grant (w), Norm Breyfogle (p), Steve Mitchell (i). "Anarky in Gotham City, Part 2: Facts About Bats" Detective Comics 609 (December 1, 1989), DC Comics
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i H-C Chan, Vera (1999-4-9). "Comic Un-Conventions". Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, California. United States: MediaNews Group): p. TO26. 
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  31. ^ "ANARKY Vol. 2 No.8". The Unofficial Guide to the DC Universe. Retrieved 2007-01-24. "Greta claims that the Joker is Lonnie's father and recollects when she met him. However, as it is not 16 years since the Joker debuted in the DC Universe Lonnie's age suggests that even if the Joker is his real father the circumstances surrounding his birth had to be different from what Greta tells him." 
  32. ^ a b c James Peatty (w), Eric Battle (p), Jack Purcell (i). "Anarky In the USA" Green Arrow v3, 51 (August 1, 2005), DC Comics
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  39. ^ "NYCC: Batman — Battle for the Cowl Panel". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 2009-05-15. ""We do plan to involve Anarky in the future," Marts said, noting the character appeared recently in Robin." 
  40. ^ Renaud, Jeffrey (2010-04-01). "Nicieza Returns to Tim Drake in "Red Robin"". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 2010-04-27. "...I'll be bringing back characters I'd percolated in my previous run, villains like Lynx, Scarab, Anarky and Moneyspider." 
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  46. ^ Mike O'Ryan. "The Norm Breyfogle Interview – Part 2". O'Ryan's Observatory. Retrieved 2009-05-15. 
  47. ^ a b Irving, Christopher (1998-1-13). "A State of Anarky". Midlothian, VA: Richmond Comix. Archived from the original on 2007-02-10. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  48. ^ a b c d e Alan Grant (w), Bret Blevins (p), Mike Manley (i). "The God of Fear, Conclusion" Shadow of The Bat 18: 19/3 (October, 1993), DC Comics
  49. ^ a b Alan Grant, John Wagner (w), Jim Fern (p), Steve Leahloha (i). "The Last Batman Story" Batman Annual 15 (1991), DC Comics
  50. ^ a b Who's Who in the DC Universe 14 (November 1, 1991), DC Comics
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  52. ^ Misiroglu, Gina; Eury, Michael, eds (2006). "A". The Supervillain Book. Detroit, Michigan. United States.: Visible Ink Press. p. 11. ISBN 1-57859-178-3. 
  53. ^ a b "Anarky: Bat-villain turned hero". Comics International (8 Trinity Road London N2 8JJ, England: Quality Communications) (104): 4. February 1999. 
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  55. ^ a b c d e Alan Grant, John Wagner (w), Tom Lyle (p), Scott Hanna (i). "The Anarky Ultimatum" Robin Annual 1 (1992), DC Comics
  56. ^ Alan Grant (w), Norm Breyfogle (p), Josef Rubinstein (i). "Metamorphosis, Part One: Does a Dog Have a Buddha Nature?" Anarky 1: 8, 14 (May, 1997), DC Comics
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