Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Robin Annual #1 (1992) - "The Anarky Ultimatum" Review

Writers: Alan Grant, John Wagner
Artists: Tom Lyle, Scott Hanna
Release Date: July 21, 1992
Cover Price: $2.50

Review by: Joey Casco
Please go check out Joey's awesome site 

It's time for more 90's Tim Drake goodness! This is not only Robin Annual #1 from 1992, but it's also Part 12 of the "Eclipso: The Darkness Within" series, which retconned Eclipso's story of being the dark half of Bruce Gordon and changed it to a body-possessing vengeance demon.  In this issue, Anarky has collected five shards of the "Heart of Darkness" diamond that contains Eclipso and can be used to summon him, and he plans on using it for his anti-authoritarian agenda and, of all things, planet conservation. It's up to Batman and Robin to stop Anarky from releasing Eclipso and endangering citizens!

I always found it weird that Anarky would swing around Gotham on ropes just like Batman and Robin, especially since that elongated neck on his costume couldn't make it easy, but I just learned that the Anarky character, AKA Lonnie Machin, was created as a possibility to become the new Robin after the death of Jason Todd. Instead, he ended up being a big rival to that new Robin, Tim Drake. And this is the first time they actually meet.
The issue starts with Anarky scaling a tall building up to the top, and he crashes down through a moon roof into an apartment. It's the studio of Sergio Pantalone, and Anarky wants the diamonds that the artist intends to use in one of his pieces.

We then see Robin swinging through the city and arriving at the scene, sent there by Batman. Anarky is no longer inside but Pantolone is tied up and gagged on a chair. Robin releases him, and he explains the only things that were stolen was five black diamonds. I haven't read any of the "Eclipso: The Darkness Within" issues besides this one, but Robin does mention that three of the black diamonds were found in previous works of art by Pantolone, and that Anarky must have suspected Pantolone would have more.
Robin tells him to call the cops, so obviously it's not like Robin had just beaten the cops to the apartment. I'm not sure how Batman and Robin knew something was up at Pantolone's studio but maybe they had it under surveillance because his art had those diamonds. I dunno.
Anyways, Robin runs outside to the patio and sees Anarky making his escape. Robin chases after him, wondering if Anarky even knows what those diamonds can do.

Anarky uses a smoke bomb break away from Robin and heads out onto the streets of Gotham, where a drunk guy is cursing out the Gotham People's Bank for kicking him out of his home and losing his wife. Anarky runs up to the man and hands him one of the diamonds, saying that it would make him feel better, but drunk guy tells him nothing will make him feel better and he throws his bottle of booze at an ATM. Then something starts happening to him.

A giant Eclipso beast comes out of him and then runs right through the wall into the closed bank and starts destroying the place. Robin has caught up and gets his solar flashlight ready, as solar energy is the only thing that can destroy an Eclipso, but the building starts to collapse and he makes it out just in time. When things have settled, the Eclipso shoots through the wreckage and Robin blasts it with the flashlight. The Eclipso disappears, the drunk guy that it came out of is okay, and Robin collects the diamond that Anarky gave him.
While Batman is checking on Lonnie Machin's (Anarky's) parents, Robin goes to his room at juvenile hall. He hacks into his computer and discovers that Lonnie has been doing a bit of hacking himself. Because he's found access to all GPD files and infortmation, yes, Anarky knows exactly what the diamonds do... and that's exactly why he wanted them.
Meanwhile, Anarky has dropped off a VHS for the Mayor that lays out his demands. If they aren't met then he's going to blow up the new bridge that's opening tomorrow.

We then see Anarky at said bridge. Just thinkin' to himself. A lot of thinkin' and wonderin'. Maybe he has some intrinsic music for this thoughts. He tells himself that Jim Gordon's files say that there are two ways that the diamonds work; a passive person will evoke an Eclipso as a separate being (like drunk guy, as angry as he was) while an aggressive person will become the Eclipso. He then sets a timer on a device and gets himself riled up by imagining all the cars emitting pollution that will be crossing that bridge...

As Eclipso, he cuts the suspension cables and the bridge comes crashing down. With his anger relieved, Eclipso remembers "Anarky's trickery" and goes to turn off the device that was set. But it's too late and he's hit with a solar flare, which turns him back into Lonnie and drops him into the river.

Robin is looking through Lonnie's files when he gets the call from Batman that Anarky has struck at the bridge. When he goes to leave via the window to meet with Batman at the scene, he finds some grain on the windowsill. Could it be a clue? Of course it is.

Batman is sure that Lonnie's parents aren't harboring him, so he goes off to have a word with his old anarchist friends while Robin stakes out Bradford Heights, the neighborhood that Lonnie grew up in until they moved. After some interviewing, Tim rides his bike past a milling company, which reminds him of the grains that he found at juvie. So he puts on his Robin gear and goes inside, where he finds Anarky's hideout with plans for his next attack.
Also, Lonnie isn't happy that Gotham won't take him seriously, or at least he thinks they don't.

The mayor is like: Listen, kid. Banning cars? The city would come to a stop. Housing the homeless? That costs money that the city doesn't have. But they do take Anarky seriously because he just destroyed a friggin' bridge, and the mayor doesn't want any more destruction so he begs for some common ground. But Lonnie isn't up for any compromising, and hangs up on them while rocking a white long sleeve shirt under a sweater with cut-off sleeves that reads "SAVE THE EARTH" because he loves the plant, damnit!
Robin rushes to the Carnival, which is the scene of Anarky's next attack. He swings on ropes and rides on the tops of buses while he fails to get in contact with Batman for backup. And at the Carnival, we watch Dinah bust her boyfriend Jimmy with Cindy Turpin! Cindy shoves Dinah into a trash barrel and calls her a "Dinah-saur" because "she's extinct". Meanwhile, Anarky is setting up his solar flare on top of the tower.

Anarky drops the diamond and it falls into Dinah's purse.

And now Dinah has created a Dinah-saur! Rampaging through the Carnival, looking for Cindy!

Robin grabs Cindy and throws some smoke bomb at Dinah-saurus, allowing them to escape. Anarky uses a carnival ride to try and take down the Dinah, but she keeps raging on. The Dinah-saur chomps through the cables on the cable car ride, and one of the cars drops right on Robin!
With Robin down, Anarky leads Cindy to the rollercoaster and tries to hide her, but to no avail. And then...

Robin pulled himself together and used the headlights of The Car of Tomorrow, a car run on solar power that was featured at the Carnival, to quell Eclipso. Then he took in Anarky.

Bits and Pieces
You don't need to read any of "Eclipso: The Darkness Within" to enjoy this issue and you don't need to read any of the Robin series to enjoy it either, which is really what an annual should be about. Anarchy's presentation was done well, and it made him come across as a real threat even though he's only 14 years old. I really like how they made it clear that Batman was working on this case too, but even the greatest detective was ineffective on a case that the boy wonder was all over. What I didn't like was that there was a lot of filler, panels involving thought bubbles that didn't need to happen, just to make it 55 pages. Still, this is good stuff with an intense climax. A must read for Tim Drake fans.


1 comment:

  1. Great review! I love the art, I'm gonna track this sucker down.