<i>Angel</i> returning to Dark Horse late next year

An announcement in Dark Horse's Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Riley one-shot has fans wondering, and worrying, about the future of IDW Publishing's Angel series.

In a column at the end of the issue, in stores today, Dark Horse Senior Managing Editor Scott Allie teased "the return of the Angel series to Dark Horse in late 2011, in tandem with our Buffy Season 9 relaunch." (You can read the full column after the break.)

Angel, based on the Buffy television spin-off created by Joss Whedon, was published by Dark Horse from 2000 to 2002, first as an ongoing series and then, briefly, as a miniseries. However, IDW acquired the rights to the property in 2005, and since has released numerous miniseries and an ongoing series. Angel #36 was released this week; a Spike series debuts in October. Dark Horse published Buffy comics from 1998 to 2004 before launching the highly successful Season 8 in 2007.

Word of Allie's brief announcement quickly spread online, both on the Whedonesque fan community and on the IDW message board. Reaction has been decidedly mixed, with fans looking for clarification on the future of Angel, and how the move might affect the rest of the "Buffyverse."

Chris Ryall, IDW's publisher and editor-in-chief, posted on his company's forum earlier today, telling concerned Angel readers that, "We'll be addressing this soon, so please bear with us. Thanks, for your patience and your support."

A conflict emerged in January when it was revealed that Twilight, the villain lurking behind the scenes for much of Dark Horse's Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, was actually Angel. Although Allie assured fans that the surprise twist wouldn't conflict with the continuity of the IDW series, and would be "made to work," new Angel writer Bill Willingham was quick to point out that he was never informed of the plot development.

But as recently as Friday, Allie tweeted about brainstorming with Ryall, Spike writer Brian Lynch and IDW editor Mariah Huehner, suggesting that the two companies had overcome any coordination glitches.

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