Brian Reed Talks Red Sonja

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Brian Reed, writer of Ms. Marvel, New Avengers: Illuminati, and the Ultimate Spider-Man video game among other projects, has recently been called on by Dynamite Entertainment to share writing duties on their Red Sonja ongoing with Michael Avon Oeming. With that in mind Broken Frontier tracked down the writer for the inside scoop.


Broken Frontier: To start off with can you talk a little bit about where Red Sonja finds herself at the start of your run and what we can expect from issue #25?


Brian Reed: Sonja and the gang have been off on the far side of the world. When they return home the very first thing they are told is that while they were gone, Kulan Gath (the biggest, baddest, evilest sorcerer that there ever was) has conquered this half of the world. The very thing Sonja always feared has come to pass, and now she has to deal with it.


BF: Previously you've worked on more traditional superhero comics likes Ms. Marvel and New Avengers: Illuminati. How did it feel to drop the modern day setting and switch to something based more in swords and sorcery?


BR: It's not terribly different for me, honestly. It's funny how fast being in the "real world" fails to matter when you're dealing with a woman that flies and shoots laser bolts from her fists while battling space aliens. With Sonja, I still have this huge and fantastic world to deal with, even though Sonja herself is more grounded in reality (she has no super powers).


BF: Michael Avon Oeming has written Red Sonja since issue #1. Was it intimidating joining him on writing a character he knows so well?


BR: Nah, Mike's a fun guy to talk and have a drink with, so it wasn't intimidating at all. Mike welcomed me onto the project and told me multiple times, "Do what you want. Have fun. Have your way with it." So once I got up to speed on Sonja's history and I was ready to work, I did just what Mike said and had a lot of fun with it.


BF: Before you signed on to write Red Sonja, were you a fan of the popular '80s films with Brigitte Nielsen and Arnold Schwarzenegger? Did you actively read the Dynamite series or did you kind of have to play catch up a little?


BR: Conan the Barbarian is one of my favorite films from the 80's, and the Red Sonja movie is the only reason I even knew the character existed until a few years back. I had to play a lot of catch up since I hadn't been reading the series (something I was right up front with Mike about when he asked me onto the project). But I spent a weekend in my office with a pile of Red Sonja books and I was ready to go pretty quickly.


BF: Red Sonja has confronted Kulan Gath before. What about this encounter will be different from the first go around?


BR: Kulan Gath has won. Game over. That's it. He wins. Sonja's come home into the face of this total victory and now she's trying to decide how to deal. Obviously, she has to try and stop him, and undo what he has done - but how do you overthrow an empire that covers half the planet? That's what this arc is all about.


BF: Dynamite properties have run into Marvel ones pretty frequently as of late with the Marvel Zombies/Army of Darkness crossover and Spider-Man/Red Sonja mini dropping during the same year. Are there any dream crossovers between the two companies that you'd like to take a shot at writing?


BR: "Battlestar Galactica vs. The Mighty Avengers vs. Army of Darkness vs. The New Avengers." Mostly because I have no idea how that would work. (Laughs)


BF: What are some of the differences between working with Marvel and writing for Dynamite Entertainment?


BR: With Marvel, I'm in a great big sandbox with all the other writers and we're all playing with the same toys all the time. That is so much fun, even though it OUGHT to be maddening, it isn't. It's this really amazing collaborative game where you make sure your stories make sense with their stories and vice versa. With the Sonja project, it's just me and Mike doing our thing, and we only have to make sure we're staying within confines that the licensor is comfortable with. They're two very different experiences, yet they're both a lot of fun.


BF: Over the course of your writing career you've had the opportunity to script comics not only by yourself but with partners such as Brian Michael Bendis and now Michael Avon Oeming. Can you talk a little bit about the differences between writing by yourself and scripting with a partner and if you prefer one to the other?


BR: Writing alone is equal parts great and terrifying. The great part comes from the fact that you can (and likely will) do anything that comes to mind. The terrifying part is that when you look at that blank screen, you're the only one that's going to be able to put words up there and give the artist something to do.


When you've got a partner you can say, "I know what this scene is, I just don't know how to do it," and toss it over to them. Likewise, they can drop a whole pile of work in your lap and go off into the world with a clear conscience because, hey, we're working on it together and right now, it's your turn to work on it... right?


Honestly, both styles of work have their pleasures and their pitfalls, but I've been lucky enough to work with guys who are absolute professionals and a joy to create with. It's the grown up version of going to play over at your friend's house. Only now, you get paid for it.


BF: You also co-wrote the Ultimate Spider-Man video game with series architect Bendis. What was that experience like and how did it differ from scripting actual comics?


BR: The difference between games (movies and TV too for that matter) and comics is one of scale and implementation. In a comic I can write "Ext. The Louvre" and it just happens. The artist draws the Louvre and we move on to the next panel. But in the video game we had a level where you played as Venom, busting Electro out of prison. Well, game artists have to make the prison, the guards, the inmates, etc. And then the programmers have to make AI for those characters. And the animators have to make them all move properly. And all of that stuff takes time. If the Ultimate Spidey game had been a graphic novel, it would have been 800 pages, we had so much additional plot that never made it to the screen.

BF: After the dust settles from the battle with Kulan Gath, what's next for Red Sonja? What direction and tone do you see this comic striving for in the future?

BR: Wow. You're assuming a lot. Who said the dust was going to settle? I'm not sure I see that happening any time soon.

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