Does Return of Bruce Wayne only happen in the area that becomes Gotham City? Does that Gotham has a pirate period and a Western period?
Oh, yeah. Yeah, it's got a pirate period and a Western period. You'll see how that works -- the Western one has Jonah Hex in Gotham, but we also get to see a bit outside Gotham as well, just to see a little bit more against a Western backdrop. But yeah, all of these things tie together, and Batman leaves messages to himself through time to try and remind himself who he is, because he's an amnesiac at this point.
Were they any other time periods considered? Did you think about going international? Maybe Samurai Batman? Centurion Batman?
Oh I did. I'd actually written an issue that was about Gladiator Batman, and had him running across the forum in Rome in A.D. 40 or something. But then I realized it didn't quite work, and the way the story was going it had to take place around the entire locale that Batman's famous for, so it was a cave, and the future site of Wayne Manor, and the three islands that would become Gotham. I decided that every moment of his time journey should be in that area, and it made the story work better, to tie into his history and into the history of other characters from Gotham. But yeah, it was a bit of a let-down to lose the Gladiator and Medieval Knight Batman.
That's a major plot element that I can't tell you about right now.
So he didn't just get lucky and find one, then.
[Laughs] Of course not. This is serious, this is realism.
Serious caveman Batman action.
As soon as Andy [Kubert] drew that thing - because that wasn't in the original brief - Andy drew this beautiful image of Batman with a giant bat on his head, and I thought well I have to now explain the goddamn giant bat. But I actually turned it into a really good part of the plot. I did a nice little twist. It kind of takes Batman to a particular limit that's never been seen before. So yeah, the monster bat does actually get an explanation.
When Batman is a private detective in issue #5, is he in '40s or '50s Gotham?
It's a kind of mash-up. It's that old-time Batman, but it's noir-ish, but you know it's obviously in the real world that could only be 20 years ago, but it looks old-fashioned. It's got a kind of old-time gangster movie style. So yeah, it's the Gotham of his parents' time.
Well, he's going to be very chronologically close to his parents' murder. Will he consider trying to save them?
Well, he still has amnesia so he doesn't remember. By the time we see him piecing all that together, it might be too late. But we get to see some of the Wayne scandal that appears in Batman RIP where they try to smear Thomas Wayne and his wife as drug addicts and perverts, and we actually get to see that period and the Black Glove of that time. So it ties into everything.
You've discussed that you have a five-part "definitive" Batman series which includes Batman and Son, The Black Glove, RIP, Batman and Robin, and a fifth series. So what's the fifth series going to be?
I just can't tell you about it. I know what it is, and it's kind of a big culmination of everything. After the return, you know Batman is coming back, obviously, and there's a completely new status quo after that. So we'll be building off of that to do something a bit different with Batman. But yeah, I've got it worked out to the very end, but it's another two years' worth of stories for me.
Do you have anything after that, or are you going to be done with Batman for a while?
I think by the time I get to the end of that, I've said everything. I've touched on the character and what he means to me in every possible way that I can. So after that I don't have any plans, but you never know in the future.
What do you consider your "definitive" Batman? Is it what you were talking about before, the entirety of his career, and the TV show and everything, as one life?
Yeah, I felt that was the only way for me personally to do it. And it also gave me a lot of nuances for the character, because the idea that it could be a young man, and that young man is represented by the 1939 Batman, and he's a bit crazy, but that's also the same Batman from Frank Miller's All-Star Batman and Robin, that crazy, young, laughing, lunatic Batman. So I kind of tried to fuse them all together, because I love all of them. I love the Bill Finger Batman, I love the Frank Miller Batman, the Neil Adams Batman. This story was my way of trying to tell every possible story, and every angle, and every possible place Batman could be taken to, in one big epic.
Thanks to Grant Morrison for his time, DC for giving TR the opportunity, and Jessica Bradfield, Princess of Power and transcription.