Later this year, writer Neil Gaiman makes his return to Marvel Comics. According to The New York Times, the "Sandman" and "Eternals" writer will re-enter the Marvel Universe with a collaboration on the final issue of "Age of Ultron" with writer Brian Michael Bendis before co-writing "Guardians of the Galaxy" #5.
Perhaps even more intriguing is the announcement that Gaiman plans to introduce Angela to the Marvel U, a character the writer originally created as part of Todd McFarlane's "Spawn" mythology. Gaiman won a long-running legal battle in 2012 , awarding the co-creator 50-percent ownership of the character with McFarlane. While a crossover between two publishers is hardly unprecedented, this is the first time a character from another publisher has been introduced with the intent of being a larger part of the other's universe.
"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]," CCO Joe Quesada told the Times. Marvel's Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso likened Angela's appearance in the final issue of AoU to "the post-credit scenes in one of our Marvel studio movies," saying it's designed to get fans hungry for more.
Gaiman was already slated to make his comics comeback this fall with Vertigo's "Sandman" prequel illustrated by artist J.H. Williams III, but his return to Marvel opens up a number of other possibilities. Gaiman was well known for his attempts to obtain the rights to Marvelman/Miracleman, writing "Marvel 1602" in 2003 specifically to fund a legal fight over the character. Marvel announced it had acquired the Marvelman rights in 2009 and began printing previously-released material by the character's creator Mick Anglo, but the disposition of the rights -- and whether Marvel has the legal capacity to print new material featuring the character -- is still not publicly known. However, given Gaiman's new relationship with Marvel, the possibility that he'll write the character again in new stories seems stronger than ever.
"I know that we’ve been trying our best to reach out to all the creators involved, but I believe there are still a few that we either haven’t heard back from or that we still need current contact info for," then-Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada said following Marvel's announcement in 2009. "And yes, that night, after the announcement, when I finally got back to my hotel room, my email inbox was filled with creators who had ideas and pitches. It really is thrilling to see what this character brings out in the creative community.
Stay tuned to CBR News for more on this story as it develops.