Neil Gaiman returns to Marvel bringing a Spawn character with him

For the first time in six years, Neil Gaiman's headed back to Marvel Comics, and he's bringing a friend.

The Hugo, Nebula and Eisner Award-winning author who became a comics superstar with his legendary Vertigo series Sandman, has collaborated with writer Brian Michael Bendis on the 10th and final issue of Marvel's Age of Ultron miniseries. The issue, which will drop in June, will conclude the next big Marvel event, and will introduce the Gaiman-co-created character Angela to the Marvel Universe.

This is big news for a number of reasons. For one thing, Angela isn't a Marvel character (or rather, she wasn't a Marvel character). She first appeared in issue #9 of the Todd McFarlane-created Image comic Spawn, one of the company's longest-running and best-selling titles. Sometimes she's Spawn's ally and sometimes she's his nemesis, but her biggest claim to fame is the 10-year legal battle between McFarlane and Gaiman over ownership of the character, which Gaiman first wrote and McFarlane first drew. That dispute ended with a 50-50 split between the two men, and while we don't know how McFarlane feels about it, it seems Gaiman decided to cross the character over into another comic-book universe.

As for her appearance in Age of Ultron, Marvel bigwigs insist  that it's not a spoiler to let you know Angela will be popping up at the end of the book. Rather, they'd like you to think of it as a kind of post-credits teaser to let you know that something big is coming.

"We were looking for a good entry point to tease our fans and to let them know [Angela] was going to be a major player [in the Marvel Universe]," Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada said.

After Age of Ultron, Angela will pop up in July's issue #5 of Marvel's new Guardians of the Galaxy series. That issue will also be co-written by Gaiman and Bendis. From there, we don't know, but it's clear Marvel wants as many readers as possible to know that Angela has arrived, so more adventures for her can't be far behind.

As for how much Gaiman will be involved beyond these two comics, we don't know that either. He hasn't commented on the news yet, and we know he's already got a new Sandman prequel coming over at Vertigo this fall. Could he be adding more Marvel work in the coming months? Gaiman fans have their fingers crossed.

(NYT via CBR)