The over-arching story for these one-shots appears to be Bruce Wayne's assessment of those who have carried on the Bat legacy in his absence through time since the ending of Final Crisis. Since the final issue of the Return has not come out yet, its unknown the circumstances of how Bruce gets back to the future. What is know is that he seems to want to test those within his inner circle to determine how he will fit into the new dynamic that has been created in his absence.
Batman and Robin
Bruce begins his tests with the new version of the dynamic duo - Dick Grayson Batman and Damian Wayne Robin. Bruce is dressed up in a special suit that mimics the powers of the Justice League so he can get himself out of tight spots. Not sure why he would give that suit up later on to go back to the Batsuit but that's a story for another time. Fabian Nicieza writes a story showcasing how the methods of the new team differ from Bruce's but is effective nevertheless. Bruce notes how the team is thriving in their new roles and seems satisfied to move onto his next subject, Red Robin. The other sub-plot of the issue is Vicki Vale's continued investigation into the identity of Batman and his inner circle. Her meeting with Hush Bruce Wayne convinces her that the real Bruce Wayne is missing and that she is on the right track to her big story. The art in this issue is nothing spectacular but it served the story. 3 out of 5 bullets.
With the Red Robin issue, things are a bit different as it appears that Bruce has allowed Tim to know that he is back and they are working together to stop the assassination plot against the Mayor of Amsterdam. Again, Nicieza writes the story which provides a good summary of Tim's outlook as Red Robin as Bruce sees how his newest son has changed his approach to crime-fighting. The issue moves along and is an entertaining read. Nicieza moves the action along revealing bits and pieces over the overall plot while maintaining the observation viewpoint of Bruce as he tests Tim's mettle. The Vicki Vale sub-plot continues in this issue as she takes some time to talk to Alfred about her suspicions and about the fact that Dick put a Bat-tracer in her bag. Alfred, sly fox that he is makes a switch and schools Vicki on the obvious lesson that you never take your evidence to the people you are going to confront with it. A better issue that the start-up story 3.5 out of 5 bullets.
Next up is the Batgirl part of the arc. I like the Batgirl title as it is a bit lighter fair than the rest of the Bat-titles for the most part. Pere Perez's art is light and clean and really captures the fun of the character and the tone of the series well. I am disappointed that Perez's run is coming to an end and that Dustin Nyguen is taking over. I don't think his art fits the title but that is another story for another time. Again we are following the formula of the first two parts with Bruce testing Stephanie this time. Bruce takes some tech from WayneTech and Steph is the first responder and with the help of her tech team of Oracle and Proxy she tracks down leads to find out what he will use the weaponry for. The end of the book shows a confrontation between Bruce and Steph as he reveals his identity to her and her response to him that you have to see to believe. I enjoyed this issue the most out of the series so far as the regular team of Bryan Miller and Pere Perez manage to continue Batgirl's story while working in the Bruce Wayne stuff. 4 out of 5 bullets.
The next stop on the Bruce Wayne world tour is the country of Markovia to check in on the Outsiders. I haven't been following this title since Dan Didio took over and it seems that, like Bruce, I have missed a number of changes since I last looked in on the characters. From what I could glean from the issue, Geo-Force, as the ruler of Markovia made an alliance with New Krypton that has ticked off his subjects and now he is faced with rioting and threats of assassination. Black Lightning and Metamorpho are not on the team any longer but Looker returns in this issue. Mike W. Barr (writer of the original Batman and the Outsiders) writes this issue but follows a pretty standard formula of how Bruce-man takes out the whole team with his JLA suit. The story was rather formulaic and again the art was serviceable but nothing to rave about. The Vicki Vale sub-plot continues here with Vicki deciding to get her hair colored red for some strange reason. She looks like Oracle when she has a conversation with Jack Ryder about whether or not she should kill her story about the Bat family identities. This sub-plot is all over the map in terms of how Vicki Vale's personality is portrayed so far by the different writers. 2.5 out of 5 bullets.
End of Part I. Stay tuned for Part II of the Road Home reviews covering the last half of the one-shots: Catwoman, Commissioner Gordon, Oracle and Ras Al Ghul.