When Bruce Wayne was eight years old a faceless mugger unloaded a revolver on Bruce, his mother, and father after a late showing of Zorro. Bruce caught three in the chest his mother one, and his father one in the gut and one in the face. If not for the intervention of Doctor Leslie Thompkins, who was returning from a house call, it would have been a triple homicide instead of a double. At ten, after recovering at Willow Wood House, Bruce stumbled upon his father's secret lair under Wayne Manor and the Wayne Papers showing Thomas' plans for his son, if Thomas had survived. The Wayne Papers laid out a plan for the training of a child to become the perfect instrument of justice. A traumatized Bruce seeing as how his father was the infamous Batman and still got killed by a random mugger took a dim view of the process. His mind however, as clever as it was would not let the idea go and he began reading through his father's casebooks and notes putting together his own plan.
Six months later he presented his plan to Alfred who not wanting to see the boy do something utterly stupid made some calls to old spy contacts and with the admonition “You now owe me. You don't understand what this means yet, but you will.” sent Bruce off to be trained by the ninja master Kirigi. At sixteen Bruce left for Russia to find Innokentiy Gregor who his father had listed as “Learn the techniques of, but do not learn from”.
Unlike the Wayne men who were generally slight of build Bruce took after the Kane side of the family and at sixteen was almost at his full height and shaving daily. When the magistrates asked his age and he told them nineteen they saw no reason to question this. In the time since his father had heard of the man Gregor had ended up in a gulag and Bruce had to assault a number of corrupt police in order to get sent in. Alfred altered the appropriate paperwork to get Bruce sent to the same gulag as Gregor. Bruce spent quite some time talking to and playing chess with the old criminal before deciding he had learned all he could and escaped. From Russia Bruce traveled to Paris and to another man on his father's “do not learn from directly” list – Henri Ducard, the greatest living hunter of men.
It was Ducard who convinced Bruce to create the feeble crippled image of Bruce Wayne the wealthy eccentric and attend university in this guise. An unimpeachable, unquestionable public persona. Altered medical records would show the three bullets Bruce had taken to the chest created life-long heart and lung problems. Fellow students remember Bruce Wayne as “quiet, brilliant, and strange” with impossible hair and an unruly beard.
While training with Ducard and earning degrees in economics and engineering Bruce found time to explore Paris under a number of different disguises, accents, and names. It was during one of his few undisguised outing he would meet the enigmatic and alluring Talia Head.