By Jim Beard
You’d think that another writing project couldn’t excite veteran Marvel scribe and video game writer Brian Reed, but he’s beside himself with glee over his upcoming episode of "The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!" This Sunday, January 23, will mark Reed’s debut in the field of animation with the Disney XD premiere of "The Kang Dynasty" at 10:00 a.m. ET.
“It was my first gig in TV or animation, so it was a whole new experience,” he says. “I was sent the show bible with all the information regarding characters and story arcs, as well as a few sample scripts from earlier in the series and I used all of that to get my bearings then write my episode.
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"'The Kang Dynasty' was meant to be over-the-top action from start to finish. The script involved rockets and space battles and time traveling ninjas, so I hope I accomplished that goal."
Reed’s episode completes a trilogy of Kang stories for the show, along with "The Man Who Stole Tomorrow" and "Come the Conqueror," wherein the time-traveling villain invades Earth and in doing so must face the mighty Avengers. With experience handling the Marvel characters in the comics fresh in his mind, he dove right into his animation assignment.
"The story arc was already in place, and I was given a list of things I had to get into this episode to wrap up the arc, but I was otherwise given free reign to decide how I got to those story beats," he explains. "For my part of the job, there wasn't a lot of leaning on the comics just because [series Story Editor] Chris Yost had already done a lot of the heavy lifting of deciding which bits of the comics to bring into the show, and the two episodes prior to mine had defined a lot about how the character spoke and behaved.
"It's mostly about the pacing of dialogue and action. In a comic you can be a bit wordier, putting in one panel what might be ten seconds of television dialogue. Likewise, in two panels you can put characters in wildly different positions and have implied a lot of action. Having to actually say words out loud and physically move characters from place to place results in changing how you think about staging scenes."
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Admitting that much of Kang’s incredible history became the responsibility of "The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!" writers before him, he nonetheless found the character fascinating to work with--and to witness the Conqueror come alive through a voice actor.
"I find that I don't ever have a voice I hear as I write dialogue, or read it for that matter," Reed says. "I know speech patterns and cadences and personality traits, but I'm not a writer like Dan Slott who actually does voices as he writes. As far as Kang’s voice [in the episodes], sure, I love it. Just speaking as a fan, I've really enjoyed all the voice work on the show. We've come a long way in quality since the super hero cartoons I grew up on."
"The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!" features some of the most popular of the Marvel headliners, but Reed also reports that one in particular among them stands out as a favorite. In fact, the writer seems to have some future plans for him on the show.
"Hulk!" he enthuses. "I could write that guy all day every day. If they told me I had a Hulk cartoon, I'd hand them a season worth of scripts by week's end. Hulk is just crazy, crazy fun. I even worked him into one of my season two episodes where he didn't belong just because I was having so much fun with him."