Missing the Batman - Frank Tieri on Batman & the Outsiders

Tieri on Batman & the Outsiders

This week, the latest tie-in to “Batman R.I.P.” kicked off in DC’s Batman and the Outsiders by Frank Tieri and Ryan Benjamin. Given that it’s starting off a little bit after Batman has gone MIA as far as his extended family knows, this week’s Batman and the Outsiders #11 finds the team without its headlining leader…and rather worried about his whereabouts and safety.

We spoke with Teiri about the tie-in issues, and what Batman’s absence will do to the team.

Newsarama: As we've seen in the other Batman family books, by this point in the R.I.P. storyline, Batman is out of the scene, and as the solicitations suggest, he's MIA to the Outsiders as well. How do they take the news? Time to party since “dad’s gone?

Frank Tieri: Quite the contrary.

Let me be brutally honest here for a minute … there are certain heroes that could vanish into thin air tomorrow and it wouldn’t really make much of a difference in their respective universes. (Sorry, fanboys. I only calls ‘em like I sees ‘em)

But Batman is definitely not one of those heroes. Batman goes missing and all Hell breaks loose. That’s something we very much touch on during my stint, especially in the first issue where we’ll see how Batman’s disappearance affects not only the Outsiders, but also his fellow heroes (Superman, Nightwing, Black Lightning in this case), the criminal underworld (Penguin, Intergang, and the inmates at Arkham) and of course, Gotham City itself (including Commissioner Gordon and Jeremiah Arkham).

In fact, I’d say Batman & The Outsiders #11 is basically our “search and rescue” issue, with all these different parties looking to find Batman. And what they find by issue’s end is very interesting.

NRAMA: But still - why this response? I mean, if you look at the shared universe concept, there are periods where all characters would have "gone MIA" to their friends in regards to their own adventures. Is thinking something bad has happened to Batman the team's first response?

FT: Not just the team—but everybody.

It’s something we address immediately in the storyline, as a matter of fact, in a scene between Green Arrow and Superman. They’re in the mess that Wayne Manor has become and Supes, ever the optimist, brings up just what you said…

Until he sees what’s happened to the Batcave. And then even he realizes it’s different this time.

Batman may not be coming back.

NRAMA: Judging by all the characters you’ve mentioned, obviously there’s going to be a lot of guest stars during your run. Is that it or are we missing anybody else?

FT: Well, like I said, something like Batman going MIA is going to have ripple effects throughout the entire DCU, so we wanted a good representation.

So with that in mind, yeah, Batman & The Outsiders # 13 sees a few other familiar Bat characters pop up. Man-Bat, for one, will play a very important role in this arc -- and fans can also expect Spoiler and Riddler to make appearances, as well.

NRAMA: Who takes the disappearance the hardest on the team? Who could give a crap?

FT: I’d say they all take it pretty hard, actually... but each does it in their own unique way. That’s definitely something we explore in this storyline—loss, and how different people deal with it differently. There’s some reactions you’ll expect—Grace will be angry, Rex will try and lighten the grim mood…

But then there’s reactions that may surprise you. Like Nightwing’s. And Thunder’s.

NRAMA: As we've also seen (in Nightwing for example, those responsible for RIP'ing Batman have been playing with the others in the family. Do they turn their attention to the Outsiders at all?

FT: Well, if I was going to slap a big “BATMAN R.I.P. “ banner on this thing, then I felt it was only fair to the fans to deal with as much of the main "R.I.P." action from Grant’s book that we possibly could. So with that said...

About your question about Black Glove specifically? Um... no comment.

NRAMA: Can the team hold together without Batman? The "Outsiders" he's picked before have managed along just fine without him...

FT: Well, that’s the $64,000 question, now isn’t it? That’s what they’re all asking themselves right out of the gate. Batman put this team together, he set up their mission statement—so with him missing, what does that mean exactly? Are they still a team? Maybe the bigger question is do they still want to be a team?

BATO fans might not want to hear this, but there’s a very real possibility they don’t. I mean, the name of the storyline is “Outsiders No More”, after all.

NRAMA: Nature abhors a vacuum, and in the world of superheroes, it also abhors a team without a leader. Who takes the reigns of the members and tries to make something out of it? Does anyone?

FT: Batgirl does. In fact, from issue #12 on you could almost change the name of the book to Batgirl & The Outsiders.

Let’s face it… Batgirl’s a character right in my wheelhouse. But beyond that, she’s a character with a lot to play with. Look, whether or not you think it was a mistake to turn her into a villain, you have to figure she still has this tremendous guilt because of it-- that she has this great need to redeem herself—just like we’re seeing in the Batgirl limited series that’s going on now.

And in her mind, she was going to get that through Batman. So now that he’s missing… what does that mean for her? Well, we’ll see that she gets very much into a “what would Batman do?” mode, eventually leading her into conflict with some of her own team mates.

And that’s even before #12 hits. That’s where everything really hits the fan and something truly bad happens-- and unfortunately, Batgirl’s sort of right in the middle of it.

NRAMA: She doesn’t only come into conflict with her fellow Outsiders though, right? The cover to your final issue—BATO #14—shows her duking it out with one time Outsider and Batman sidekick, Nightwing.

FT: What we’ll wind up with there is really a battle over Batman’s ideology more than anything. Batgirl believes there’s a certain way that Batman does things and Nightwing is totally against the methods she’s using. It all leads up to a huge, knock down, drag out, slobber knocker between the two in our grand finale.

Think of it as sort of like two kids fighting over their parent’s inheritance. Only with colored underwear and deadly weapons.

NRAMA: DC is being very quiet on what may happen at the end of RIP - and you're not going to say anything about what's to come past your arc....but are we looking at a long-term different dynamic here?

FT: No doubt about it.

Like you said, I can’t really say too much, but I can promise fans they can expect some major stuff going down before this is all over with. At least one member of the cast dies, somebody else ends up in a coma and we may not have an Outsiders team anymore when all’s said and done.

That enough of a different long term dynamic for ya?

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