"I'm against anything that's against people! Cruelty — brutality — exploitation... These are the enemies of the people — The enemies of Anarky!"
— Anarky dialogue by Alan Grant, The Shadow of the Bat No. 17, October 1993.
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.Originally, the character was portrayed with socialist, left-leaning views, but after Grant's own viewpoint shifted to reflect the influence of Frank R. Wallace's Neo-Tech philosophy, an offshoot of Ayn Rand's Objectivism, the character Anarky essentially shifted towards free market libertarianism. Which is funny if you consider that Rand did not like anarchism, and found the idea of combining anarchism with capitalism to be appalling.Anarky is sometimes seen as an Expy of V from V for Vendetta, and that comic was seen on Anarky's bookshelf as a homage. Anarky is sometimes portrayed as a hero in his own right, just with an approach that drastically differs from Batman's, while some portrayals, such as the animated series Beware the Batman, depict him as a villain. None the less, some critics had favorable responses to the original series' political/philosophical approach, with Roderick Long, an anarchist/libertarian political commentator and Senior Scholar at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, calling the comics "an impressive voice for liberty in today's comics". Conversely, Long criticized comics which depicted Anarky as a villain, stating that the original depiction of the character was much more interesting and casting Anarky as a villain made him less interesting.Comic Books
Anarky (Vol.1, 1997) - Comprising the entire "Metamorphosis" story arc, this 1997 limited series was retroactively labeled the "first volume" following its continuation in 1999.
Anarky (Vol.2, 1999) - Anarky relocates to Washington, D.C. to wage war against the United States government, in a financially and critically unsuccessful ongoing series published in 1999.
Batman: Anarky - A trade paperback collecting four stories featuring Anarky in various "Batman" related comics between 1989 and 1997.
"Anarky in Gotham City": Anarky's debut appearance in Detective Comics, in which Anarky begins a campaign of revolt in Gotham City.
"Anarky": 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.
"Metamorphosis": Anarky attempts to "deprogram" humanity of all social constraints in a four-part limited series, revamping Anarky with new abilities and philosophy.
"The Sins of the Father": 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 faces a mysterious figure who promotes gang warfare in Batman's absence. The final story arc of Robin reintroduces Lonnie Machin as "Moneyspider" after several years of obscurity.
Anarchy Is Chaos: Averted. Indeed, confronting the idea that this just might be what will happen if he succeeds in bringing about the anarchic revolution horrifies Anarky into giving up his plan in "Metamorphosis".
Anti-Villain: Anarky has slid along the scale of anti-villainy over time, starting out initially as a Type III in early incarnations, while a Type IV beginning with Anarky series. His Type IV status continued in some minor appearances during his period of obscurity and the Red Robin "Money Spider" era.
Bomb-Throwing Anarchists: A subversion, Anarky goes against the anti-intellectual, ineffectual, or violent stereotypes associated with anti-anarchist propaganda.
The second Anarky in Red Robin ( actually Ulysses Armstrong, the Enfant Terrible formerly known as the General) does fit the stereotype, much to Lonnie's horror and disgust.
Breakout Character: Only used sparingly by a single author for the first few years of his existence, Anarky was suddenly launched into the big leagues when he was given his own limited series in 1997, and followed it up with a trade paperback and ongoing series in 1999.
When Fabian Nicieza was given a mandate to write the concluding storyline for the Robin series, months before it was to be cancelled, he decided to revisit old Robin foes from the comic book's early years. Deciding to give cameos for lesser known Robin foes who Nicieza believed could become breakout characters in their own right, and Anarky in particular. Due to this appearance, Anarky was brought back into publication for the first time in years, and went on to become a recurring character in other stories for Tim Drake written by Nicieza.
Break the Cutie: Anarky gets this at the end of his "Metamorphosis" storyline, where he is confronted with a hallucinatory vision of his successful plan leading to the formal institution of "parasite tests", with failures being ghettoized and left to rot, a state of affairs that promotes Might Makes Right brutality and ruthlessness amongst the imprisoned until the strongest, meanest, most savage individuals are left and these promptly roll out of the ghetto, unleashing such barbarism against the "enlightened" that they end up reverting back to the "old ways" of authority in return for guaranteed safety against them.
Canine Companion: For the Anarky limited series, Grant decided to give Lonnie a dog, "Yap". Where he came from goes unexplained in-universe, but the dog is useful for when Lonnie needs someone to talk to, and after all, Lonnie has become the hero of the story. Of course, Alan did write that Yap was a stray that attached itself to Lonnie after they met on the streets, but you'd have to read his intro to the trade paperback that collects the Anarky series to find this single sentence throw-away explanation.
Captain Geographic: Capital Eagle, a USA-flag themed character, and official government mercenary, Alan Grant intended to use in the 1999 Anarky series.
Cartoon Bomb: Anarky's primary weapon may be his scepter, but his secondary weapons include wick-fused bombs of the stereotypically anarchist sort. His asssortment of trick bombs typically includes gas bombs and smoke bombs.
Conveniently an Orphan: Originally written as the single son of a middle class couple, Lonnie's biggest problem in his early stories, in Grant's own words, was his need to hide his activities as Anarky from his parents by sneaking out of his home. Wanting to give the character a greater degree of freedom, Grant wrote a scene that faked Anarky's death, allowing him to callously let his parents believe he was dead. This is presented as an example of Anarky's self-righteousness at first, but becomes a point of shame at the start of the ongoing series. Mandated by editors to remove Anarky from Gotham City at the start of the comic, Grant used the Batman: No Man's Land storyline to make them disappear. The search for the missing parents gets derailed when Anarky's investigation suggests he was adopted. As this plot was cut short by the cancellation of of the series, the fate of his missing parents remains unknown. While Anarky fell into obscurity for quite a while afterward, Lonnie's never had to worry about his parents since.
Corrupt Politician: You would think an anarchist would have more of these to fight. Anarky, however, was created as a Batman antagonist rather than a fully independent character. Thus, he was never proactive in taking down corrupt politicians until he got his own series. Then he catches one trying to sell bio-weapons intelligence to Ra's al Ghul.
After defeating this guy, he gets a visionary bureaucrat to become his presumptive Arch-Enemy, the mysterious Mr. Staines. However, as the series was cancelled soon after Staines is introduced, the character goes unexplored here. Staines was later used by Grant and Breyfogle in another story, Batman: Dreamland, where we learn h's an idealist who believes in creating a brave new world though mass mind control.
Other politicians are portrayed as not necessarily corrupt, but in disagreement with him. Nonetheless, they are portrayed with an edge of malevolence betraying their own moral corruption.
The Dark Age of Comic Books: Anarky was created in 1989, three years after the publication of The Dark Knight Returns, Crisis on Infinite Earths, and only ten months after the conclusion of the A Death In The Family story arc. With a partial inspiration in another Dark Age predecessor, V for Vendetta, Anarky was an early product of the comic book Dark Ages. However, while he was originally intended to conform to the compromised, anti-hero sensibilities of the era, the early decision to not have him kill, and to make him an idealistic, rather than nihilistic figure, was enough to set him on a very different path.
As one reviewer put it: "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."
Dead Man Writing: In the 1995 Shadow of the Bat story "Anarky", Lonnie's parents find a letter written by their son in the event of his death. They proceed to read the letter, which acts as narration over the course of the story as Lonnie must stop a terrorist from killing thousands in an explosion. At the climax of the story, Anarky sacrifices himself to save others as his parents conclude the letter. This becomes the last time his parents are seen, as by his next appearance revealing his survival in the Anarky limited series, he is operating underground and does not reveal that he is alive.
Democracy Is Bad: Anarky's made several statements denouncing democracy on the basis that it is compromised and corrupt. A Secret Origins introduction for Anarky carried "Democracy is the tyranny of the minority!" as its tagline. This is a twist on the classic "tyranny of the majority" phrase. For Anarky, mob rule isn't the problem behind democracy— oligarchy is.
Doomed Hometown: The 1999 Anarky series begins with this. After Alan Grant was ordered to remove Anarky from Gotham City, Grant was forced by circumstance to find a plausible justification for removing the character from his hometown. His solution was to take advantage of the then-current status-quo: "Batman: No Man's Land." As Gotham City is ravaged by an earthquake, Anarky finds his home destroyed, his parents missing, and is forced out by Batman's verbal threats.
Elaborate Underground Base: In the 1999 Anarky series, a new base of operations was needed for Anarky, given that editors insisted Alan Grant remove Lonnie from Gotham City during the events of "No Man's Land". Having established that Anarky had built a teleportation device in the '97 series, Grant explained that Lonnie had secretly excavated a base under the Washington Monument.
Enfant Terrible: Averted before the character saw publication. Originally created by Alan Grant to be violent and extremist, the first script for Anarky was quickly toned down when Grant was convinced by Dennis O'Neal that this was a bad idea. Arguments against it included that the portrayal of a child as an unrepentant murderer (Anarky was introduced as only 12-years-old) was morally reprehensible, and that if Grant wanted audience sympathy, non-violence was the way to go. For his part, Grant has said he is now glad he took the advice.
Expressive Mask: While initially created to use an unmoving stage mask that would hide his identity, a golden toned, but flexible mask was used for the 1999 Anarky series. This would allow for a level of humanization not possible with a creepy, unmoving mask. However, in appearances following the cancellation of the series, Anarky has returned to his inexpressive, metallic mask.
Expy: As noted above, "The Terrorist", V is usually seen as the inspiration for Anarky, but Grant, like V's creator Alan Moore, drew his philosophical approach from his own beliefs. The 12-year-old Lonnie could also hardly be based on a mysterious adult terrorist. In truth, Grant based Lonnie on Chopper, a child graffiti artist/rebel from Judge Dredd, given Chopper's popular debut just a few years earlier. Anarky even used spray painted circle-a (anarchy) symbols as his calling card, in a nod to Chopper's hobby.
Failure Is the Only Option: Given that the DC Universe exists as a plausible mirror representation of the real world, so long as an anarchist revolution doesn't take place in reality, Anarky can't overthrow the governments of the DC universe.
Homemade Inventions: To explain the earliest tools used by Anarky in his first appearance, Alan Grant simply explained that Lonnie had devised his stun baton and trick bombs at his school lab. In later appearances, as he continued to escape from his juvenile detention center, there is no explanation for any of his tools. In the Anarky 1997 limited series, it was explained that Anarky had set up a dummy online company for radical literature during the late-'90s "dot-com" bubble. Becoming a dot-com millionaire overnight, he now had the financial resources to support his activity. With his prodigy genius, he simply went about building his new series of anarcho-gadets in buildings owned under false names.
Insult Backfire: The eponymous character confronts Physical GodDarkseid and begins to lecture Darkseid on why everything he does is wrong. Just when he's about to use the E-word, Darkseid cuts him off and proudly finishes the "insult" for him.
Flat Earth Atheist: Following Grant's transition to Neo-Tech, he wanted to use Anarky as a vehicle for rationalism, and atheism as an extension of this. Encountering supernatural demons, Anarky cooly noted that holy water he used against them worked even though he didn't believe in it. He then used a crystal battery to capture some of their energy, commenting "science is magic explained."
Gang of Hats: The anarkist gang doubling as a social movement in Batman: Arkham Origins wear hoodies, red armbands and theater masks. Some of them also have the Circle-A symbol on their uniforms.
Informed Loner: The Anarky series. For most of his adventures, Grant did play Lonnie as a straight forward loner. As an antagonist, it wasn't necessary to give him a cast to have dialogue with: dialogue is for protagonists and their plucky sidekicks. Any necessary dialogue for Anarky could be had with his parents telling him to stop plotting to save the world, and get back to cleaning his room and doing his homework. However, for the Anarky series, Lonnie needed someone to bounce his ideas off of. So he was given an artificially intelligent computer that was very chatty.
Intelligence Equals Isolation: When Grant decided to continue using Anarky, he started to try filling out the back story he failed to give the character initially. One decision he hit on was to portray Lonnie Machin as a bookish loner who lost contact with children his own age because he preferred the company of a good book on philosophy. Said one character on his memory of Lonnie:
Walter Kempinski (a bookstore owner who knew Lonnie as a child.): Oh, yes, I remember young Lonnie, all right! Sad boy, I always thought. Old before his time. Didn't make friends easily. Spent too much time in places like this [bookstore]. Reading, always reading. Far too serious.
Kid Hero: The Anarky series shifts Lonnie into the role of a misunderstood Hero Antagonist. The Anarky limited series notes he's 15-years-old, while the ongoing series sets his age at 16.
Look What I Can Do Now: As a child vigilante, Anarky was no physical threat to anybody, so his early activity involved no fighting. He just used dangerous weapons like gas attacks and stun batons to attack others. However, for the 1997 Anarky limited series, Grant decided that as a teenager, it was finally time to give him some fighting skills. Anarky's described as exercising and training for hours each day, and trains hard enough to create a hybrid fighting style based on several techniques. Grant may have gone a little overboard though. This training takes place between Batman's last encounter with him, so in the showdown with Batman, Anarky surprises him with by holding his own in hand-to-hand combat. Of course, Batman still has more physical power and experience, and prevails on those strengths.
Mugging the Monster: In The Shadow of the Bat No. 16 (September 1993), Lonnie escapes from a juvenile detention center and flees into the shadows of an alley. Followed by a pair of knife-welding punks who demand his cash, he emerges from the shadows as Anarky and responds with his tazer-scepter.
No Face Under The Mask: Anarky's first encounter with Batman. Batman pulls off the mask, revealing the head-extender beneath. A brief clue that the person under the mask is a child.
Offstage Villainy: Used in Anarky's depiction for "The Last Batman Story." Before Grant firmly decided that Anarky should not kill, he dabbled with the idea in an alter-world future, where Anarky was much more violent and murderous, in a style consistent with Grant's original intentions for the character. This was only described in dialogue, meaning any killing Anarky did was purely a past-tense affair. Otherwise, he was rather non-violent in the actual story.
Powder Keg Crowd: When Anarky encounters a gathered group of homeless men outside of a construction yard that was once their tent city, but is now in the process of being turned into a bank, the men are passing around bottles of booze to drive off the cold. None have any idea what to do next or where to go. The only thing they still have left is each other. However, it only takes one rousing speech from Anarky and his lead in hot wiring a forklift, which he crashes into the scaffolding, to turn the crowed in mourning into a full scale mob riot.
Reed Richards Is Useless: An attempted subversion, Alan Grant has been known to make the criticism of superhero geniuses who use their intelligence to fight crime rather than cure cancer. In the Anarky limited and ongoing series, Grant presented Anarky as using his intelligence with greater focus on the long-term consequences of his goals. Rather than fight crime, he wants to save the world. However, Anarky is still shown using incredible high-technology at times for mundane purposes, such as building a device capable of generating wormholes though time and space, only to use it as a simple mode of transportation, and then sometimes not even consistently, as he still has a motorcycle.
Subverted in the Anarky limited series, when Anarky's mad-scientist doomsday machine liberates the minds of humanity, creating a world where Mr. Freeze's technology is used to advance space exploration and Poison Ivy's botanical knowledge is used to help find a cure for cancer. When Batman confronts Anarky, Lonnie's dressed in casual clothes and tells Batman to cut out the costumed superheroics, dismissing them as redundant. Since Status Quo Is God, this brave new world was revealed to be a hallucination.
Reflective Eyes: A unique effect sometimes used for Anarky's metallic mask, allowing the audience to see the emotion of someone Anarky is looking at reflected on Anarky's own face.
Shout-Out: In an effort to provide some kind of citation for his ideas, Grant decided to include numerous literary references in his stories with Anarky. However, these weren't put in captions or dialogue. Rather they appeared as the books themselves sitting on bookshelves in Lonnie's room or in his hands as he read them. Books in Lonnie's room included anarchist literature, or just carried the names of anarchists. V for Vendetta and the British anarchist magazine Black Flag both appeared in one story.
Several titles referenced books. Some are of obvious radical bent, such as "Economics of the Madhouse", but other titles such as War and Peace are not specifically anarchist related (although the author, Leo Tolstoy, is seen today as a contributor to Christian anarchist philosophy.)
Song titles were occasionally referenced as well, such as "Revolution No.9" and "Anarchy in the UK", which was cleverly changed to "Anarky in Gotham City" and "Anarky in the USA", by Grant and James Peatti, respectively.
Social Circle Filler: In Lonnie's debut story, he briefly appears at school, talking to two schoolmates and politely rejecting an offer to hang out. As Lonnie will be arrested in the juvenile correction system by the end of the story, we won't see them again soon. This is compounded however, when Grant soon decided not to give Lonnie any friends, and to retroactively give Lonnie a Friendless Background to underscore the character's dedication to his cause by sacrificing his social life.
Static Stun Gun: Anarky's primary weapon is a scepter/staff, which aside from being a melee weapon, is also a disguised taser. In the Anarky series, it was given other functions, such as having a built in grappling hook. As stated above, Anarky's originally lethal portrayal meant the weapon would kill those who were zapped by it. However, when Anarky was made a non-lethal character, the scepter instead just knocked out its victims. Portrayals varied depending on who was writing the story, but the aftermath of the victim could, at the low end of the spectrum, simply be knocked out and wake up later. Others may need to be hospitalized. One of the most graphically portrayed victims was in the Green Arrow story "Anarky in the USA". When Anarky turns his attack on full strength, the victim is left smoldering and is severely bleeding from the mouth. The story also tried to upgrade Anarky's scepter into a ranged weapon. By throwing it, the scepter became an electrical grenade. It could then be magnetically retrieved remotely by an electrical charge in Anarky's glove.
Street Urchin: Roach, a recurring character created for the 1999 "Anarky" ongoing series was a street-wise girl who lived among the other homeless of Washington DC. Given the short duration of the series, she wasn't used as often as Grant or Breyfogle wanted. She was to be included in two issues that went unpublished.
Technical Pacifist: Primarily in the 1997 limited series and followed up in the 1999 ongoing. Initially presented as a more violent character in early years, Anarky was toned down for the series when Grant decided that a non-aggression principal was the most logical path an anti-authoritarian could walk. While not the final word on anarchist philosophy and the ethics of violence and revolution, this meant that Anarky used his fighting skills to fight off attacks, while instead using sabotage to undue an enemy's plans.
The Dog Was the Mastermind: The debut storyline gave heavy suggestion that Mike Machin, Lonnie's father, may have been Anarky. The big reveal at the end shows Batman's detective abilities, when he sees through this mistake and catches Lonnie.
The End Is Nigh: Lonnie funnels money to several political groups he supports, and mistakenly funds a delusional cult leader who wants to stage a terrorist attack to fulfill his own prophecy of calamity. The cultist decides to waste a chunk of the money on hiring homeless people to be his paid advertisers, complete with "The End is Nigh!" sandwich boards.
The Only Way They Will Learn: Throughout Grant's early work on Anarky, the character took a messianic tone to justify his behavior. When Grant underwent a shift in thought, he wrote the Anarky limited series to present a new message: ends don't justify the means, and "revolutionary leaders" are not revolutionary. The story ends with Anarky learning that he can't force change, but that he can help people choose it. However, this trope applies to Anarky, rather than the people he seeks to convince: he himself couldn't have learned this lesson without the events of the story.
Thicker Than Water: When Mike discovers that his son's an anarchist vigilante and is confronted by Batman, he doesn't hesitate to hide his boy and claim to be Anarky himself in a futile bid to take the fall for Lonnie.
Averted in the storyline "Anarky", in which we see both parents are frustrated with trying to raise their son and wish he would be normal.
Averted when Lonnie confronts the Joker to find out if they are related. Mr. J immediately denies everything, then holds Anarky hostage in the middle of a breakout from Arkham Asylum. When push comes to shove, Joker doesn't hold back from shooting Lonnie in the chest. Luckily, superhero bulletproof vests are able to take a point-blank blast from a shotgun with no real harm done.
Trashcan Bonfire: Nearly every time Anarky encounters the homeless people of Gotham City to recruit them to his cause, they have one of these burning.
Utopia Justifies the Means: Anarky attempts to reveal the truth of the world to the citizens of Gotham City through a ray powered by crystals containing partial life forces of good and evil beings. This leads to parasitic "Enemies of the People" being separated from the producers of the city via a test that determines whether you are a contributor of worth or practice deceit and force, contribute nothing and take from those that have earned what they possess. Since the Ventriloquist's dummy, Scarface, is a manifestation of dissociative identity disorder, he's not affected by the rays and eventually stages a coup. It's eventually revealed that all of this was a dream, and Anarky realizing that Batman was right when he suggested that this may be Playing God (which would be against Anarky's philosophy) and a bad idea.
Voice with an Internet Connection: During the 1999 Anarky ongoing series, Anarky gains a sidekick in the form of an artificial intelligence named "MAX" (Multi-Augmented X-program) that acts as this.
During Fabian's work with the character, Anarky was paralyzed and his mind was given an internet connection, thus reducing him to this for Tim Drake.
War Is Hell: Anti-militarism was an occasional theme in Anarky's stories. The point is driven home in Anarky No. 7, when Anarky witnesses a pointless war between zombies resurrected from Arlington National Cemetery. The zombies rise up against the current US government, seeing its behavior as a betrayal of the principals they died for. Seeing the zombies reenact the battles that got them killed in the first place, Anarky refuses to participate and abandons the battlefield.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: In any normal comic, someone trying to destroy every government on the planet would be the bad guy. Anarky, however, is doing it to free the people, and holds himself to a high moral and idealistic standard while he's doing it.
Writer on Board: Anarky exists to be a vehicle for his creator Alan Grant's political views. This is why Anarky's ideology abruptly shifted from libertarian socialist to Neo-Tech between appearances (matching Grant's own conversion) and why few other writers use him.
Kevin Dooley used Anarky as a mouthpiece for his views on gun control.
James Peatty, who used Anarky as a foil for his critique of Green Arrow, a character most people consider radical. Presenting Anarky side-by-side with the jade archer showed just how moderate the aging, so-called "radical" has become.
Zorro Mark: Early influence by Judge Dredd character Chopper gave Grant the idea to have Anarky leave graffiti of an anarchy symbol as a Calling Card. However, the mark has stayed with him over the years, decorating his base of operations.