Marvel Comics, via The New York Times, announced this morning that Angela -- a character created by Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlane in the pages of Spawn, the rights to whom were contested between the two creators for years -- will be appearing in the Marvel Universe, making her Marvel debut in the pages of the publisher's current Age of Ultron series.

Angela first appeared in Spawn #9 in 1993, and ownership of the character eventually became a well publicized and decade-long legal battle between Gaiman and McFarlane, until the dispute was finally settled last year, with Gaiman being legally acknowledged as co-creator.

Now Gaiman is bringing Angela -- an Angelic bounty hunter who, working under the auspices of the kingdom of Heaven, served as a foil to Spawn, a servant of hell -- into the Marvel Universe. Marvel Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada told the NY Times that this move had "been in the works for quite some time." Angela will appear in a special epilogue story at the conclusion of June's Age of Ultron #10, written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Quesada. Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso stated the character's appearance in Age of Ultron would be handled in similar fashion to the "post-credit scenes in one of our Marvel studio movies," but that only represents the beginning of her involvement in the publisher's larger plans. After that, she'll be appearing in Guardians of the Galaxy #5, co-written by Bendis and Gaiman. With a Guardians of the Galaxy film due in theaters next summer, Marvel has been heavily pushing this new title, and attaching a writer of Gaiman's stature to the series, for however long (there is as yet no word as to whether or not Gaiman will be on for more than one issue), will almost certainly help the title's visibility, at least in the short-term.

Image Comics was formed in 1992, when Todd McFarlane and six other popular creators at Marvel (including current DC Comics co-publisher Jim Lee) announced they were leaving the publisher's employ, stating a desire to fully own their work. As such, the fact that Angela, a character created early on Image's flagship book, will now be appearing in the Marvel Universe is a development that some, if not most, will consider ironic.

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