For a while, fans of Joss Whedon's long-running Buffy The Vampire Slayer franchise have known that the current Season 12 arc of the canonical comic will be the last, ending the story with September's issue #4. But Whedon himself confirmed for CBR that the move will lead to the end of the property's time at Dark Horse all together.
In an interview just posted on CBR, the writer noted "Fox is taking the Buffy license and the Firefly license back."
The move ends a 20-year relationship between the property and the publisher, which stretches back to a tie-in comic when the original Buffy TV series was still on the air. Early collaborative efforts between Whedon and Dark Horse included an in-canon adaptation of his original Buffy movie script and the futuristic Fray series. However, for the past decade the action has been focused on the various follow ups to the show, starting with 2007's best-selling Season 8.
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For the immediate future, comics will remain available though Dark Horse, including September's recently announced Buffy Season 10 Library Edition Volume 3 hardcover collection. But after Season 12 wraps, there will be no more new stories starring the characters.
"We made sure that the journey wasn't continuing. We wanted to give the Dark Horse era some closure," Whedon told CBR. "I heard about all of this after the fact. It's like Disney taking Star Wars over to Marvel. All of a sudden, we realize this is happening. So I'm writing this from a position that will leave everybody in a position where you feel some closure."
This is not the first time the rights to a Buffy or Whedon-related comic have shifted from one publisher to another. IDW published comics based on spinoff series Angel for a number of years before the character arrived at Dark Horse, and BOOM! Studios has new Firefly comics in the works. However, the immediate plans for Buffy post-Dark Horse have yet to be announced.
20th Century Fox Television has been working on a Buffy reboot with Whedon set to feature a black actress in the title role. Whether future comics will focus on this version or continue with the Sarah Michelle-Gellar incarnation remains to be seen.