Comic Legends: Did Editorial Retroactively Keep Anarky From Killing?

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and ninety-ninth installment where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

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Denny O'Neil saved Anarky from being a killer even after he was drawn killing someone.



While Mister Zsasz will probably end up being the most famous character that they created in a general sense (as he is much more likely to show up in outside media like TVs, movies and video games), if you asked Alan Grant and the late, great Norm Breyfogle who was the most notable character that they introduced, they likely would have picked the young anti-hero known as Anarky.

He debuted in Detective Comics #608 as a vigilante punishing the corrupt people in society. His first victim is Johnny Vomit, a rock singer who also slung dope. Check out the encounter...

The fascinating thing about that panel is that Batman's dialogue about Vomit being unconscious is really the only hint that he WASN'T dead, right? That's because Breyfogle drew him AS dead, which is what the script called for!

Alan Grant explained the situation in a classic interview that Daniel Best had with Grant and Breyfogle years ago. In this section, it is amusingly just Grant and Breyfogle going back and forth between themselves...

NB: I think so too. I think they misperceived that. Although in the first issue Anarky was more of a villain than he was after. In the first issue I believe he killed somebody, didn’t he?AG: In my original script, Norm, Anarky did kill the drug dealer. Anarky electrocuted him with a ‘taser and in my original script the guy was killed. Denny O’Neil called me up and said he didn’t think that was right, that he liked the character and thought it was a terrible thing that someone that young would do something so unchangeable.NB: This was pre-Columbine of course.AG: He basically talked me into reversing it. I mean Denny was the editor and if he decided he didn’t want Anarky to kill the guy anyway he could have done it without my permission, but Denny tended to do things right. He asked first.NB: Although that issue still does stand with Anarky having killed that guy as I recall it.AG: No, that guy’s not dead.NB: Really? I’ll have to look that up because I assumed he did. I remember it after all this time because that was the only time Anarky ever killed anyone.AG: Nope. Only in my script.NB: We’re talking about the first victim in the alley way with the Anarky symbol on the wall?AG: That’s right.NB: I’ve thought he was dead all along! That’s interesting.AG: I know you thought he was dead because the script says that he is dead. Later on, in a later scene we have a newsreader on the television saying, “News from the hospital where pop star so and so is recovering from an electric shock.”NB: Oh; okay. I’d forgotten that. I probably had forgotten it because, like you said, I was remembering the original script.

Pretty hilarious. It reminds me of the Batman #1 story where the Joker was meant to be killed, but the editor had the dialogue change so that the Joker survived!

Thanks to Daniel Best, Alan Grant and the much-missed Norm Breyfogle for the information!

Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed - Was Elmo around on Sesame Street for years before Elmo debuted on the show (yes, it is actually as strange as that sounds)?

OK, that's it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for this week's covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo, which I don't even actually use on the CBR editions of this column, but I do use them when I collect them all on legendsrevealed.com!

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