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
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
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
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
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.