Mike Mignola-illustrated cover of Angel #12, published by Dark Horse Comics in 2000.
Angel is moving from IDW Publishing back to his original home at Dark Horse Comics, as both publishers confirmed late Thursday afternoon.
The news first broke in odd fashion on Wednesday, in the "Horsepower" column appearing in the back of Dark Horse's releases this week. Dark Horse senior managing editor Scott Allie wrote that readers could expect "the return of the Angel series to Dark Horse in late 2011, in
tandem with our Buffy Season 9 relaunch," leaving fans confused as to what brought about the move, and what it meant to the Angel comic books currently being published by IDW.
Following statements from both publishers, the picture is a little bit clearer. IDW's Angel ongoing series starts its final arc with November's #39, which sees both new co-writers in David Tischman and Mariah Huehner, and the return of a familiar Angel enemy, interdimensional law firm Wolfram & Hart. The six-issue arc is meant to transition directly to where Dark Horse Comics will pick things up in late 2011.
According to Allie in Dark Horse's statement, the return of Angel and his supporting cast is "necessary" to Buffy and Angel creator Joss Whedon's plans for the upcoming Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 series, not entirely surprising given the key role Angel has played in the currently unfolding Season 8 comics. No specific plans for a new Angel-starring series from Dark Horse were detailed at this time.
IDW's press release states that they did not coordinate the "Horsepower" announcement with Dark Horse.
"Dark Horse really regrets that this news was released before a joint statement from both companies was issued," Allie said in the statement. "Behind the scenes, we’d been working closely with IDW to ensure that the hand-off went smoothly. It was never our intent to catch Angel or IDW readers unaware."
Dark Horse was the original publisher of Angel comic books starting in 1999, before IDW acquried the rights to the character in 2005. Like Dark Horse's Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, much of IDW's comics have been canonical follow-ups to the Angel TV series, starting with 2007 miniseries Angel: After the Fall.
Angel, starring David Boreanaz as the title vampire-with-a-soul, spun off from Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series in 1999, lasting five seasons on the since-shuttered WB before ending in 2004. Angel and Buffy had been distributed by separate sources before — the last two seasons of Buffy were on a different network than Angel, the similarly defunct UPN.
IDW's official release on the situation is online here, Dark Horse's statement is here.