Frank Tieri Joins "Batman & The Outsiders"

Frank Tieri is working his way into Batman's world one bloody battle at a time.

With the ninth and final issue of the writer's and artist Jim Calafiore's underworld miniseries "Gotham Underground" shipping this week from DC Comics, CBR has learned that Tieri's next Bat-gig will be writing two issues of the team book "Batman & The Outsiders," which will tie into Grant Morrison's deadly-sounding "Batman R.I.P." storyline starting with September's "Batman & The Outsiders" #11. And while the writer best known for his tough as nails takes on superheroes and villains may seem a natural fit for a rogue team of characters like the Outsiders, Tieri explained that he may not have been able to write his latest Bat-book without his first.

"Okay, confession time -- outside of the animated series and what I remembered as a kid, I didn't really know Batman continuity all that well going into 'Gotham Underground,'" Tieri told CBR News. "I remember when I first got the project, they were saying, 'We want this guy in there. We want that guy in there,' and I just kept nodding my head, but I really didn't know what the hell they were talking about half the time. This meant I had to go back and do a lot of homework, which I did over the next few months. And you know what? Doing all that research was actually a blessing in disguise because it really made me more in tune with all things 'Bat' �" and that certainly helped a lot to push me forward with other Batman-centric projects. Not to mention it certainly won't hurt going into the 'Batman & The Outsiders' R.I.P. stuff."

As for the story of Tieri's "Outsiders" issues, the writer's lips are relatively sealed as many of the planned tie-ins DC is prepping for the R.I.P. mini-event play off of yet-to-be-seen plot twists in Morrison's story in the monthly "Batman" title. However, Tieri did reveal that he'll be joined on his arc by recent "Detective Comics" artist Ryan Benjamin ("Grifter/Midnighter") and that fans looking for a hint of what's in store for Katana, Geo-Force and the rest need look no further than his storyline's title.

"The name of the arc is 'Outsiders No More,' so make of that what you will," said Tieri. "We're all sworn to super secrecy as to what ultimately happens in 'Batman R.I.P.,' so I really can't say too much at this point. What I can say is expect some big things to be happening in this book �" things that play a lot off of what's happening in 'Batman R.I.P.' I think it's fair to say that the ramifications of this event will significantly impact all the Bat-books with this book being affected as much, if not more, than any of them. And again, while I can't say much, I can say fans should expect some major, major changes moving forward for this title, probably the biggest thing being, not everybody's going to come out of this alive."

But before readers can start wondering upon which Outsider Tieri's sights may be set, there's still the matter of who rules the roost in Gotham's underworld. And while a certain Metropolis-based crime outfit has dropped into Batman's city like an atom bomb, the final issue of "Gotham Underground" will explore one of the Dark Knight's oldest foes as he faces the new status quo.

"The last issue of 'GU' is very much a Penguin-centric issue �" in fact, I'd almost say it's a tribute issue," Tieri said. "You know, reaction to 'GU' has been tremendous, but if there's one thing I believe that fans appreciated most with the series, it was our portrayal of the Penguin in particular. We treated that character with some dignity and respect he often doesn't get, made him a viable player in Gotham again and even made him a sympathetic figure in some respects.

"I also know that a lot of fans really dug the friendship we've shown between him and The Riddler. We'll actually see some of that played out as well in this issue. But keep in mind the last time these two saw each other, Penguin had Riddler beaten up pretty badly, so the two of them certainly have some fences to mend."

Tieri revealed that Oswald Cobblepot will have quite a bit more than just repairing his relationship with the Riddler to worry about. "As we've seen by the end of 'GU' #8, everything's fallen apart for Penguin. He took a shot as Gotham's top dog, lost big time, and now we're going to see what the fall out's going to be. With Intergang now having taken over the Gotham Underworld scene, what do they intend to do with him? With a title like 'The Day The Penguin Died,' long time Penguin fans might not like the answer, " said Tieri.

But just because villains have taken the limelight in "Gotham Underground" so far, that doesn't mean the creators have forgotten about the caped crusader, who bounced back hard in recent issues of the mini to start reclaiming his own turf.

"Batman was off the board for a while in our series, but he's back now and people are going to get their ass kicked -- as we saw with Vigilante," said Tieri in regards to the brutal brawl in "Gotham Underground" #8. "We got a big reaction from fans about that fight�"partly because I think certain readers have been not-so-patiently waiting for Vigilante to get his ass handed to him, but also partly because Bats was so damned nasty about it. My whole reasoning behind it is I think Batman has a hatred for vigilantes who kill over almost anything else�"maybe even his own rogue's gallery. It's like, 'They're sick in the head. They can't help themselves, but you're supposed to know better. You think you're going to come here and do that in Gotham? In MY city? Nuh-uh.'"

Whether or not Batman will be kicking that much ass in the latter chapters of "R.I.P." is yet to be seen, but as for Tieri himself, the writer will be plenty busy beyond his "Outsiders" gig "I've got things in the works at both of the 'Big Two' -- including a Punisher project and more Bat stuff. Unfortunately, I can't talk about any of that yet."

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