Detective Comics #963 review

Lonnie Machin, how I’ve missed you.

During the course of TheNew52, we have actually seen three Anarkys.  The first was in a ZeroYear tie-in that featured one of the Green Lanterns and had something to do with people hiding in a football stadium to escape the hurricane about to hit Gotham.  When I was told this had happened I was initially really excited because I am a big fan of Anarky, but then it turned out to not really be Anarky, so I pushed it from my mind.  Next up, Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato introduced us to Anarky in the pages of Detective Comics #37.  Once again, I was ecstatic.  So ecstatic, in fact, that I wrote an entire in-depth article about Anarky and his history to coincide with the Manapul/Buccellato storyline.  You see, this time I had even more reason to be excited because Lonnie Machin was actually in the story.  Unfortunately, his inclusion turned out to be a red herring and the guy underneath the mask was once again not the real Anarky.

James Tynion IV to the rescue!  He did it for Tim Drake as soon as Rebirth was launched.  Taking a character that was massacred by the writers of the New52 and putting him much more inline with the Tim we all know and love from pre2011.  Now, hopefully Tynion can do it again with Machin.  And so our story begins….

Tynion starts things off with a nice little flashback.  When Rebirth started, Tim and Steph were already depicted in the throws of a full fledged relationship and we just had to accept that things blossomed behind the scenes/off the page.  Personally, I was able to insert the feelings I had garnered from watching their romance in the pre2011 eras.  So even if the specifics of those older stories no longer applied, I could at least understand some of the chemistry between them.  Still, it’s nice to be given a little taste of the interplay that these two have shared over the years.  It also serves as a reminder of the whole Belfry experiment and Tim potentially going off to college and leaving all this behind.

Of course, I can never get through a scene without finding something that makes me raise an eyebrow.  What is up with this?  Tim is concerned about video?!?  How about being concerned with the fact that you are without your mask in daylight.  I know it’s dawn, so a lot of people might still be asleep. And I know they are on the top of a building, so it’s not necessary super likely that someone would look out the window and see them.  But come on!  It’s possible.  Let’s not forget how many stories have involved villains tailing our heroes on their nocturnal outings.  On top of that, Tim himself followed Batman around with a telephoto lensed camera before he became Robin.  He’s got first hand experience with what a few photos and some simple detective work can lead to.  Shame on you Tim.  Shame, shame.

When we get back to the present, we find out that Lonnie has been trying to recruit Steph in order to help him make Gotham a better place outside the methods of the Batman.  During their scene, I just love this little bit of dialogue that Steph delivers:

Gee Steph, maybe it’s because Batman actually knows what he is doing.  I’m not going to rag on Steph about this because it’s seems to me it’s something she needs to experience for herself before she can come to terms with it.  I mean, she is a teenager after all.  How many times in the history of the world has an adult given a child advice in regards to something only to have that advice get ignored, the child go through a trying ordeal, and only then come to the realization that what the adult said was correct but they needed to discover it on their own.  I’m going to guess quite a bit.  So yeah, maybe it is a little annoying to see her going against our hero when we all know she is in the wrong, but that is kind of an element of the character.  I mean, this isn’t the first time in Steph’s history we have seen her go against Batman.  This is just the way Tynion has chosen to incorporate this particular element of the character into his narrative.

A large portion of this story is dedicated to Clayface and Victoria October.  As story elements go, Clayface’s stuff has been some of the more emotionally moving sections of Tynion’s narrative.  On top of that, I’ve really been getting a kick out of Victoria October.  She is a new character that Tynion came up with and I find her quite interesting.  Unfortunately, I don’t feel like either of the elements that make these two characters so enjoyable to read are really at full force during their scenes within this particular tale.  More than anything, it feels like little more than a recap of what has been going on in case you haven’t read any of the previous issues.  Now that I’ve said that, I guess you could actually say that 3/4ths of this book is little more than a creative recap.  Fun at times, but still just a recap issue.

For me, the real draw for this particular story is the inclusion of Lonnie Machin back into the role he started.  When Anarky was first introduced back in the late 80s, he was extremely arrogant and cocky.  But as the character grew up, he became much more of an intellectual and spent plenty of time waxing poetic on a multitude of philosophical topics.  What I’m seeing here is definitely more of the later Anarky.  Quite capable in a fight and quick to act when action is the only solution left, but also as proficient at moving you with his words as he is with his fists.  I particularly enjoyed  the way he chided Steph for her juvenile mentality on the nature of Anarchy.  It’s the perfect blend of condescending Lonnie but with the temperament of his later self.  I know that Lonnie is planning on showing Steph a way of living that resides outside of the parameters that Batman has established, so I would imagine his ultimate goal would be to convert her to his perspective.  But perhaps Lonnie’s clarity will simply rub off on Steph enough that she will be able to see past her current turmoil in a way that doesn’t necessarily involve her becoming an acolyte of Lonnie’s teachings, but to simply become more aware of her own shortcomings.

Art for this issue is handled by Carmen Carnero.  It seems that Carnero has become the go to artist to handle the Steph-centric b-plot that is currently going on in Tec, this being her third go with the character thus far.  And while I can’t say that there’s anything about her art that’s struck me as  truly memorable, there’s also nothing bad about it either.  It’s simple yet consistent featuring clean lines without any distracting stylistic quirks.  In essence, it works, but I don’t think she’s going to end up being a household name in the realm of comics any time soon.

Interesting Facts:

  • Seeing as how Lonnie Machin is finally back, and in the interest of not forcing myself to rewriting an entire article that I already wrote, I have opted to include a link to my original Anarky article:  Know your villains: Anarky, the boy who was almost Robin.  If you aren’t familiar with the character, this is pretty much an inclusive look at his history.  So, I hope you take the time to click the link and enjoy.

Recommended if:

  • You’ve been waiting for Lonnie Machin to get back in the Anarky suit.


All-in-all, this issue is little more than a reminder of pertinent events that have already transpired and a brief set-up for things to come.  There are a couple of brief moments that are genuinely charming, but for the most part, the only thing that really got my attention was the return of Lonnie Machin to the role of Anarky.

SCORE: 7 / 10