SDCC: Joss Whedon on His Dark Horse Buffyverse

One of the biggest changes for the Buffyverse (as fans learned at the end of Season Eight) is that characters from “Angel,” previously published by IDW, are now under the Dark Horse umbrella, giving the writers free range to take the storylines to broader places. Whedon plans a tonal shift as well, and will try to bring Buffy back to down to Earth and make her more adventures more relatable.

“Having discovered I can do it differently from the television show,” says Whedon of the bigger-than-TV world of “Season Eight,” “I discovered that I didn’t really want to.”

The notion of breaking the comic book releases into seasons is one that is designed to continue Whedon’s approach to the series, attempting to tell a complete story before considering moving forward.

“Every season was designed for us to be cancelled,” he says of his television experience with the character, then adding with a sigh, “Oddly enough, something we didn’t prepare for with ‘Firefly.'”

The “Firefly” universe, meanwhile, has been the subject of several Dark Horse comics prequels. Though nothing solid is planned, Whedon revealed that the company now has the rights to continue the adventures of “Serenity” and her crew in comic book form.

As for live-action projects, Whedon announced that a “Doctor Horrible” sequel is well underway with many of the songs already written.

Of course, the big thing on Whedon’s plate at the moment is Marvel Studios’ The Avengers, which is slated to hit theaters on May 3, 2012.

“They are, as a troupe,” says Whedon of his cast, “actually a much better team than the Avengers are… [T]he only problem I’m having is, where is the 14-year-old girl with super powers? Is it you, Robert Downey Jr.? It’s probably Clark Gregg.”

He does joke that he’ll be returning to the big screen Marvel Universe immediately for another reboot of the “Spider-Man” franchise.

“It’s going to be Justin Bieber and Elle Fanning,” he quips, “And it’s going to be really, really bad.”

As far as future projects go, Whedon responded to a fan question about doing a story with a strong gay lead by saying that it’s something he’s been wanting to do for some time and has a plan for something in the future (though he doesn’t reveal the medium).

“At some point,” he says, “you write enough lesbians and people go, ‘Wait, this is just a guy! This isn’t feminism. This is Cinemax!'”

Look for the current “Dollhouse” mini-series in comic book shops now, “Angel and Faith” in August and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Nine” beginning in September. Also, be sure to ask your local comic shop for a special code that will let you download a digital-only tie-in issue featuring Spike.