Life Without Batman: Peter Tomasi Talks The Outsiders

Peter Tomasi Talks The Outsiders

Batman and the Outsiders Special

A couple of weeks back, DC’s Dan DiDio revealed that Peter Tomasi would move into the writer’s chair of Batman and the Outsiders, beginning with January’s Batman and the Outsiders Special with art by Andy Kubert.

As fans of the team have noticed from the cover image released with the January solicitations, the “new” team of Outsiders that Tomasi is putting together bears a striking resemblance to the original team assembled by Batman back in 1983 – Black Lightning, Geo-Force, Katana, Metamorpho, and even Halo. Oh, and the Creeper and…Owl-Man?

But – Batman’s dead, right? So what’s a team to do when their leader and organizer isn’t around (okay, okay, the guy wearing the costume who led and organized them)? We spoke to Tomasi for the answers.

Newsarama: Peter, as Dan has explained to us, you’re coming on to Outsiders as the new regular writer. So how’d you land the gig?

Peter Tomasi: Actually, Dan Didio continues to try and destroy my brain cells and all semblance of my personal life by offering me more work and more deadlines. And along with making me an offer I couldn't refuse, I find myself saying 'yes' at every turn.

NRAMA: Fair enough, but you’re obviously coming in after a status-quo changing event, that is, “Batman R.I.P. ” – so was this a case where DC had the larger direction of Batman and the Outsiders planned out, or were they looking for directions to do in?

Batman and the Outsiders Special, pages 4-5 by Adam Kubert

PT: Basically, Dan and Mike Marts said to me we'd like you to climb aboard The Outsiders and make it your own with very few caveats, which really appealed to me at that juncture. And, with the added bonus of getting to work with Adam Kubert on the first issue special, it made my choice an easy one.

NRAMA: Can you explain your direction a little? As Dan has said, a large part of what’s driving the team now is a contingency plan that Batman put into place should he ever go missing, or die, correct? And as the cover to the special clearly spells out, each of the team-members are “pieces” of Batman?

PT: Obviously not wanting to give too much away, yes, Batman being Batman is always ten steps ahead of everyone else, so while everyone is trying to see the forest for the trees, Batman has his eye on the big picture. His main war will always be in Gotham, but that doesn't mean there are not significant battles to be fought that have far-reaching implications to the common good, which this particular first story arc will examine. The short answer is simply that The Outsiders were formed so that no matter what, there'll always be a Batman outside of Gotham, taking the fight to evil wherever it is. What we'll learn is that there was a specific reason for this team to be brought together that wasn't always clear at its formation, but will slowly come to light as the first story moves along.

NRAMA: Let’s talk about these pieces of Batman: Black Lightning, Geo-Force, Metamorpho, Huntress, Katana, the Creeper, and is that Halo an…Owl-Man? Before we get to this Owl-guy…was this always Batman’s plan with the original, Mike Barr, Jim Aparo Outsiders, as that’s who’s being pulled back together here – to have them be able to replace him?

PT: Yeah, that is Halo and Owlman. And like I mentioned, The Outsiders are put together for a reason, not just to replace him if need be, though that is a factor, but Bats has another reason or two for doing what he does.

NRAMA: Can you just briefly touch on what each “part” does? What fragment of Batman’s psyche does each replace?

The Outsiders #15

PT: Well, Geo-Force is the reluctant leader. Batman picks him due to the fact that the team rallies around him after his victory over Deathstroke. But no one knows to what ends Geo-Force achieved that victory. Black Lightning I see as the heart of the team, the emotional center, the guy who wants to make the world a better place just as Batman does. Katana, humorless and driven by the death of her own family, she is the focus and drive of the team, and she understands, more than anyone else in the group, how the role of a vigilante working outside the law can see that justice is served. Owlman, well, all I can say about him at this juncture is that Batman picks him because of his complete faith in his detective skills. The Creeper is Batman's fear factor. Halo, for me, is the 'Robin' on the team. What I mean by that is she's truly the light, the positive vibe of youth and optimism that Robin brought into Batman's life and in turn what he feels is needed within this team. Metamorpho is quite simply Batman's utility belt, a cache of walking weapons always at the ready. And then, of course, there's Alfred Pennyworth, the mission leader, their command central and also their conscious.

NRAMA: While long-time fans will smile at the reunion of the original team, still – there’s been a lot of water under that bridge. As the solicit and you mention, the Special picks up after Last Will where we saw the lengths that Geo-Force was willing to go through, not to mention what Black Lightning went through…despite their “noble” calling, that is, to replace Batman, what’s the dynamic among them like?

PT: At first, it's fine, Black Lightning respects Geo Force. He doesn't know to what ends that victory over Deathstroke was achieved. But as time goes on, Black Lightning starts to worry about Geo-Force's ideas on how best to go into battle, along with his emotional stability.

NRAMA: Why do they do it? Do they all view Batman so highly that they follow unquestioningly? Are his after-“death” instructions just that damn compelling or specific that there’s no way they can’t not follow them? What gives?

PT: It’s as simple as they respect Batman enough to sign up, and being that it was one of his last wishes, it has even more weight, but it's not without serious questions and some misgivings that they've signed up. To some it's a job, to others it's a way of life that gives them a reason to be and a focus at this particular moment in their lives.

NRAMA: Okay – the Owl-Guy…can you at least give us a name so we can stop calling him Owl-Guy? From the solicits, we’re assuming that he’s the guy that’s “never-before-seen character important to the Batman mythos!” can you give us a little more to go on that that?

PT: His name is Owlman, and you'll discover, right off the bat so to speak in the special, who and what he does. It's not gonna be one of those belabored events of keeping an identity secret where in the end you go, "that's it, that's the big reveal"? I'll just say that Owlman serves a much grander purpose than is originally shown. Owlman not only gets addressed in the special, but the identity situation gets addressed by The Outsiders themselves in a very realistic and compelling way.

NRAMA: So how does the story get rolling? The new team is set up in the Special, and then takes off on its first mission in issue #15? What’s that first mission about anyway?

The Outsiders #16

PT: Well, I definitely wanted the book to be accessible, so for new readers the Batman And The Outsiders Special is a perfect place to jump on board. Aside from laying out some plot seeds, I'm going heavy on character so you can relate and plug into the members of the team so you'll be invested once the first mission starts. It's a basic "round up your team" opening with a buncha twists that will have major repercussions as the series progresses.

NRAMA: Speaking of their jobs, who’s giving them these “missions?” Are they working off of Batman’s “to-do” list?

PT: Completely. Batman is the catalyst for this original team reforming and his presence will be felt in each and every issue. But the one thing to bear in mind, is that although Batman has initiated this team and mission, there are a great many holes and shadows that even Batman did not take into account or could completely foresee, so these things will need to be uncovered and revealed if The Outsiders are to succeed.

NRAMA: So wrapping up, where are we headed in the future? As time has shown, the Outsiders – that is, heroes pulled into Batman’s world with his m.o. informing their actions – are a very volatile mix. Can this team hold together while continuing Batman’s missions?

PT: I hate to be cryptic, but there'll be plenty of tension and drama as the series moves on and by the end of it there will definitely be some big changes.

NRAMA: Finally, as of issue #15 – it’s no longer ”Batman” and the Outsiders, correct?

PT: Right. Only the special is titled Batman and the Outsiders, the ongoing monthly from issue #15 onwards is simply titled The Outsiders, what with Batman being dead and all, it kind of didn't seem right to keep ol' Bats on the marquee.

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