Up to this point, I’ve genuinely been enjoying the Anarchy story, only to discover in this closing chapter that it was not an Anarchy story at all. As a reader, I feel lied to. It ends up being nothing more than a inventive ruse designed to hide the personal nature of the actual crime at hand. While this is actually quite clever on its own, it does not work for me given my knowledge and love of the original character. If the person behind Anarky’s mask had acted without subterfuge, it would have been too easy to pin them to the crime. Instead, the villain’s true crime of revenge was hidden behind the grandeur of a confrontation played out on a city sized stage. It’s like…resorting to burning down your entire house just to kill a spider.
It makes me wonder why the authors decided to even use Anarky. When the depiction of the character ends up being nothing more than the mask of a mask, it does not do the character any justice. At the end of the day, they could have easily created their own original villain to stand in for Anarky and I think the story would have played out pretty much the same. Anarky is a place holder that wasn’t essential to the telling of this story, much like the perfectly planned wedding, just waiting for the right Groom to come along. Looking at the work that Manapul and Buccellato have delivered, it is impossible not to recognize their love and knowledge of the old character and stories. Was their desire to use him so strong that they shoehorned him into a story that didn’t completely do him the service he deserved? Or perhaps the intention was to use the character to draw in a larger crowd. However, seeing as how Anarky is a C-list character, this theory is less likely. I am hoping to be mistaken on the former, considering that the individuals who would have recognized the name Anarky and came looking for something they knew, only to find this, would most likely be slightly offended by the misuse of their treasured character.
If I allowed my own personal feelings toward Anarky to effect my review, then I would most likely give this book a very low rating, based solely on the fact that the character is so misrepresented in this interpretation. However, I chose to evaluate the character based solely on this work, and not take previous works into consideration. The character presented here is actually quite intriguing, even without the addition of a masked persona. The level of misdirection that he is willing to perform in order to meet his goals is truly staggering. While his methods and the number of innocents that would have died in order for him to accomplish his revenge is truly unjustified, I can’t fault him for wishing to seek it out. I do have a soft spot for revenge stories…
My specific issues with Anarky aside, the final chapter of this storyline is not without its more genuine faults. Much like the finale of Icarus, I found the finale of Anarky to be less fulfilling than the lead up issues. There were also several conveniences involved in the wrap up that felt more rushed than they needed to be. However, this story does manage to fair better than its predecessor in several key ways. While Icarus decided to go with an over the top summer blockbuster ending that was inconsistent with the rest of the story, Anarky manages to stay much more grounded and cohesive. Even though the story ends up being majorly deceptive towards the reader, it still has an intimate air about it. While it might be difficult to personally empathize with the villain’s situation, one can still sympathize with the character.
This story had a fairly high level of violence in it, or perhaps I should say blood. I wasn’t shocked by the amount of violence in this particular issue, but it was more glaring than usual. After reading, I went back through and looked. Turns out that 3 out of every 4 pages in this book depicts blood. In some cases staggering amounts. I’m not exactly sure what my point here is, but it was something that really caught my eye while reading and I felt the need to share. I also thought the amount of physical punishment that Anarky was able to tolerate from Batman was somewhat unrealistic. Keep in mind that Anarky is just a normal guy and Batman was delivering some cripplingly painful moves to him.
The art in this book is overwhelmingly beautiful. Just look at that shot of Batman. He has been drawn several times in that very pose during Manapul and Buccellato’s run but I never get tired of looking at it. That is how I like my Batman to look. Hidden within the shadows and pooling fabric of his own cloak. I could go on for paragraphs about how beautiful the art is, but at this point, I think it is a given that their work is more reminiscent of something that should be hanging on a museum wall than adorning the pages of a comic book. I will, however, say that the final page of this issue seemed off to me. As if someone else was responsible for art duties on that one page. If you compare it with the rest of the book, the shading technique used isn’t consistent with the rest of the book. I have no verification of this, but it is possible that the two switched duties on the last page so that the other could have their pencils displayed in the book too.
It should also be noted that this particular issue is missing 2 pages. The $2.99 bat-books are 20 pages long, while the $3.99 ones are usually 22. This one was only 20. I’m hoping that this was merely because Manapul and Buccellato didn’t have any additional story they needed to tell and it isn’t a sign of things to come at DC.
- What exactly did Alfred think he was doing? Their minds were being controlled! Even the best motivational speech in the world wasn’t going to get through to them. Seemed like a rather unusual tactic to attempt, given the situation.
- I appreciated the fact that there was a subtle nod to the idea that Lonnie Machin could still become the actual Anarky. A nice carrot dangled in my face that I hope some writer decides to pick up.
- This particular panel reminded me of the cover of Detective Comics #609, which was also an Anarky story.
- You like your stories a little more intimate and less bombastic.
- You want to see how Manapul and Buccellato’s Anarky run wraps up.
While the finale to the Anarky story is definitely good, it lacks that certain “je ne sais quoi” to make it truly great! While fans of the original Anarky probably won’t be too pleased with the direction this takes, if you choose to look past that (mask aside), the core of this new villain has some intriguing elements that were worth exploring.
SCORE: 7.5 / 10