FATHER FIGURE: Reed Talks "Young Avengers Presents"

Wed, February 20th, 2008 at 12:00am PST

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Dave Richards, Staff Writer

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"Young Avengers Presents" #2 on sale February 27

Teddy Altman -- also known as Hulkling-- dealt pretty well with the revelation that the Kree Captain Marvel and the Skrull Princess Annelle are his real parents. But now that Captain Marvel has seemingly come back from the dead, Teddy is faced with the terrifying task of getting to know the father he never had.  This is the premise of "Young Avengers Present" #2 by writer Brian Reed and artist Harvey Talibao, and Reed spoke with CBR News about the comic.

The opportunity to create an issue fully dedicated to the first meeting between Hulkling and Captain Marvel came as an unexpected boon to Reed. "I was writing issue #3 or #4 of 'Captain Marvel' and I was working on this scene where Marvel goes to Camp Hammond, the headquarters of the Initiative," explained Brian Reed. "He had gone looking for Ms. Marvel and the two were having this serious discussion, when Hulkling walks into the room on accident. That's literally how I wrote the scene because I didn't know how else to get it into the book and I was dying to. I only had a page and I wasn't getting anything done that I wanted to. It was coming off like a bad sitcom so I just went, 'Screw this. It's just not going to happen. I think I had given up on it five minutes before I got a phone call from [editor] Molly Lazer who goes, 'We're doing this Young Avengers thing and we're wondering if you wanted to write the scene where Hulkling meets Captain Marvel?' and I went, 'You know, oddly enough, I do!'"

Devoting a full issue to the meeting of Hulkling and Captain Marvel gave Reed a chance to get inside the Young Avenger's head. "What I really got from him is that he doesn't know who he is. That's where a lot of his personality comes from," Reed said. "And that even extends to his shape. He's got this boy shape he does but is that really him? He's also got his Hulkling form and there's the Skrull aspect as well. I think these all carry over into his psychology.

Pages from "Young Avengers Presents" #2
"There's also the fact that he's never really known any of his parents," Reed said. "The woman he thought was his mother was really a bodyguard hired by the Skrulls. And now she's dead.  But now here comes his dad who was dead. And his talks with Captain Marvel are sort of like, this is who I was as a kid and this is what I needed from a dad I never had. That was a lot of Hulkling for me; he doesn't know who he is or who he's trying to be when he grows up."

In early issues of "Avengers: The Initiative," it looked like Hulkling had joined the government's superhero army, but "She-Hulk" #21 revealed the Hulkling in the Initiative was actually Teddy Altman's counterpart from another dimension. Instead of addressing where Hulkling's been and what he's been doing since "Civil War," Reed jumps head first into his story. "The book literally begins with Teddy standing on a rooftop staring at Captain Marvel flying through the sky and thinking, 'What am I going to say?'" Reed said. "The thing that always drives me insane, and it's partially a writer thing, is the scene at the start of a comic book where they're trying to remind you of who a character is. They go, 'My name is blank.' And it's like, 'Really?' So the first line of this book is, 'My name is Teddy Altman. No wait! That's crap!' Then you realize it's him trying to think of a way to introduce himself to Captain Marvel.

Pages from "Young Avengers Presents" #2
"Then you get a couple of pages of Teddy going, 'Hey Cap! How's it going? I'm your kid.' And trying to explain to him how he knows he's his kid. Captain Marvel looks at him and goes, 'I'm going to have to think about this for awhile.' It's like everything this kid wanted to have happen in this meeting didn't and everything he was afraid would happen did. That's kind of where the book starts."

Fortunately for Hulkling, his unintentional ambush of Captain Marvel isn't the last conversation the two have. "Teddy got so excited and so wants to talk to him that instantly blurts out  exactly what he knows he shouldn't blurt out,' Reed said. "All of the tact he knows he should have he just doesn't have it right than. Once they do get together again it's kind of a big moment for both of them. They get to talking and you get to learn a lot about who Captain Marvel is and what he thinks about having a kid."

Reed couldn't be happier with the way Harvey Talibao has depicted all the various elements of his story. "This was one of those cases where they need the script yesterday and they didn't have an artist picked out yet. So I had no idea who I was writing it for," Reed explained. "I just wrote it and turned it in and it's been great seeing Harvey's art come in because he's able to draw two people talking and have it look very heroic. You don't just go 'Oh, talking heads.' 

Pages from "Young Avengers Presents" #2
"He's really good with the acting," Reed continued. "There's one scene that when I wrote it I knew it had to be there but I also knew that if the acting didn't carry it off the whole book would fall apart, which is dangerous when you don't who's drawing  your book. But Harvey pulled it off. When I saw that colored page, I went, 'That's it.' He nailed it on the head.

"I had a lot of fun writing this story," Reed added. "It was a story I didn't think I'd be able to tell. And it was great fun to go in and tell it from Teddy's point of view."

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