Interview: Fabian Nicieza on Bruce Wayne: The Road Home

By now, most readers know that Bruce Wayne, AKA Batman, is on his way back to the streets of Gotham City. But what will he find after being away for so long? Writer Fabian Nicieza delves into this question with the three one-shots he is writing as part of the Bruce Wayne: The Road Home event, which will take the place of the regular Batman family books for the month of October. I spoke with Fabian to learn more about Bruce's return and how his friends and foes in Gotham City will react.

Matt Adler: Can you tell us a bit about the inception of the Bruce Wayne: The Road Home one-shots? Where did the idea for them come from, and how did you wind up writing these three in particular?

Fabian Nicieza: Mike Marts and Janelle Siegel approached me about helping to act as the "architect" for an 8 title event in October that would serve as the bridge between Bruce Wayne's return and the start of Batman, Inc.

We went back and forth on how many issues I would write, between my preference to write all 14 issues of an 8 issue event or their preference not to let me write any. We settled on 3. Plus Batman #703, which I'd been asked to write as an emergency fill-in for Peter Milligan, and ended up using as a launching point for the event.

MA: How do they complement Grant Morrison's ongoing story?

FN:Grant is great at the big idea and about hitting the ground running with that great idea. We needed a pause, which the scheduling allowed for, that would give Bruce Wayne a chance to see how several other characters in the Bat-family had functioned without him. There have been lots of changes in a short period of time, a lot of great character development that was a natural result of his "death," and this was a good chance for the characters — and for Bruce — to reflect on that.

MA: Given the title of these books, is that an indication that they focus more on Bruce Wayne, the man, rather than Batman?

FN: Yes, but personally, I don't really separate the two. The shadow of Batman falls over a wide swath of the DC Universe, and the titles are colloquially called "the Bat-family" for a reason, so whether through "Bruce's eyes" or Batman's, it's all a reflection of one man.

MA: Are you going to be dealing at all with how Bruce reintegrates into his civilian life, and explains his absence?

FN: Not really, no. Not a lot of time for civilian life stuff, since the event takes place very soon after the end of his return in Grant's limited series and a lot of characters still don't know he has come back. Besides, as far as the general public are concerned, Bruce never went away, so he might have some emotional aspects to re-assuming his normal routine, but not many logistical ones.

MA: What are the biggest changes in Gotham that Bruce has to deal with upon his return?

FN: How smoothly everything has been functioning in his absence might be a source of pride for Bruce, or you never know, it could be a little sore spot or point of jealousy. He would expect that Dick, Tim and Barbara all assumed responsibility, but seriously, did they have to do SUCH a good job without him…? 🙂

MA: Bruce is known for his meticulous planning, to ensure any given situation turns out as he wants. Is it particularly hard for him to accept changes in his beloved city that he wasn't able to oversee?

FN: Maybe not so much hard, but it certainly informs aspects of his thought-process for Batman, Inc.

MA: The first of the one-shots focuses on Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne, who served as Batman and Robin while Bruce was away. Damian obviously has problems, and Bruce wasn't involved in his life the way he was in Dick's; do you think he's dealing with abandonment issues made even worse by Bruce's disappearance?

FN: I'd say so and those have been touched on in the books he's appeared in. I think Damian is becoming more popular because now people are seeing the "soft underbelly" to the character. Those of us writing him always knew it was there and would manifest itself, but first he had to want to change, then he had to make the changes and now making those changes work for who he is (and who he wants to be) is what we're seeing more of.

I didn't like the character at first as a reader, then once I wrote him I loved him and totally got why Grant started where he did with Damian and where he was going.  It's been a blast to get to write little bits of that process.

MA: For Dick, is there any trepidation about possibly losing the role he's trained his whole life for?

FN: I don't think he's trained his entire life to be Batman IN THE LEAST. Just the opposite, which was one reason he was reticent to become Batman. If anything, what this year has done for most people is shown them what a great job Dick Grayson has done in training for his entire life to be DICK GRAYSON.

Call him Robin or Nightwing or Batman or Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and you still have Dick Grayson, the greatest hero in the history of fiction. There, I said it, even better than Harold from Harold and the Purple Crayon.

MA: The next one-shot focuses on Red Robin, AKA Tim Drake, whose ongoing adventures you're currently chronicling in his monthly series. Tim was really the only member of the Bat-Family to be absolutely convinced Bruce was alive all along; why is that? Is there something different about his relationship with Bruce than the others?

FN: He found what he construed as evidence and went ahead to try and prove it accurate. More than any of the other characters, Tim embodies the traits of the Detective from Bruce, the need to have information, use information — even control the information. Sometimes that can be a bad thing, and it's tripped Tim up once in a while as often as it's tripped up Bruce, but ultimately it's what I think gives Tim such a unique place in the Bat-family and among his contemporaries in the DCU.

MA: You're also doing a Ra's Al Ghul one-shot; one would think an adversary would be happy to have an opponent like Batman out of his way, but instead Ra's seemed to have as much interest in Bruce's return as Tim. Will we learn more about why in this one-shot?

FN: I think you'll learn a lot about Ra's, both in terms of his respect for Bruce, his need to have Bruce — or a worthy challenger — to face — and his desire to continue "playing the game" with Bruce. The title of the issue is "A Life Worth Living" and it says a lot not only about Bruce and Vicki Vale, but also about Ra's and his dynamic with Batman.

MA: Have you seen art for any of the books yet?

FN: Not a lot yet outside of Ramon Bachs' pages for Red Robin, which look great. He's a machine, so most artists can't keep up with his pace.  We're tight on the schedule, but it's coming along. I was very intensively involved in the outline, plotting and full script stage with the various writers, but outside of some initial character design work that needed to be done for Bruce, I don't think I'll be looking at too much of the art outside of my own issues.


MA: What other projects are you working on?

FN: Geez, this isn't enough? Let's see, we have:

And that doesn't even include my non-comics work for both Starlight Runner Entertainment and a kids' social network site for sports gaming for which I'm a co-founder and CCO!

And when I write all that down I want to go lie down and rest, which I think I'm going to do right now…


Matt Adler prays that Bruce is granted the serenity to accept the things he cannot change, the courage to change the things he can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Plus a new Batmobile.


  1. I love how he says Dick Grayson is the greatest Fictonal hero ever! i agree 🙂

  2. Nicieza is definitely my favorite bat family writer. I just don’t like Morrison.

  3. Great interview. Fabian is knocking it out of the park with Red Robin and I cannot wait for these one shots. They all sound so cool.