HBO has given a series pickup to The Nevers, a new series from The Avengers and Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s Joss Whedon. The pay cable network landed the project in a competitive situation, with Netflix said to be among those pursuing it.

Whedon is the writer, director, executive producer and showrunner of The Nevers, an epic science fiction drama about a gang of Victorian women who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies, and a mission that might change the world.

It marks the first TV series for Whedon since he co-created ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the first solely created by him since the cult 2009 Fox drama Dollhouse. Before that he created the hit Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Firefly, both of which developed a devoted following that remains strong. Buffy also spawned a successful spimoff series, Angel.

“We have long been fans of the incredibly talented and prolific Joss Whedon and we can’t think of a better project than The Nevers with which to welcome him to the HBO family,” HBO president of programming Casey Bloys said. “We look forward to meeting the strange, multifaceted characters of THE NEVERS, to learn their stories, see them in action and share them with our viewers. We’re honored that Joss chose HBO as the place to build his ambitious new world and we are excited to get started.”

This marks a return to television for Whedon, who has been largely focused on features for the past few years, including writing and directing the first two movies in Marvel’s hugely successful The Avengers franchise, The Avengers and The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Earlier this year, HBO similarly landed in a bidding situation with streamers the first series in a long time by another top TV series creator-turned-top filmmaker, JJ Abrams’ Demimonde. Both shows are big-scope, sprawling sci-fi dramas as HBO has been ramping up its portfolio as it is preparing to bid farewell to flagship Game of Thrones.

“I honestly couldn’t be more excited,” Whedon said. “The Nevers is maybe the most ambitious narrative I’ve created, and I can’t imagine a better home for it than HBO. Not only are they the masters of cinematic long-form, but their instant understanding of my odd, intimate epic was as emotional as it was incisive. It’s been too long since I created an entirely new fictional world, and the HBO team offer not just scope and experience, not just ‘prestige,’ but a passionate collaboration. I could go on, but – I’m impatiently grateful to say – I have work to do.”

In addition to The Nevers, Whedon is executive producing a dark comedy with the working title of Pippa Smith: Grown-Up Detective, which is in development at Freeform.

Whedon, who shared a best screenplay Academy Award nomination for Toy Story, also wrote features Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which he later adapted as the series starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Alien Resurrection and co-wrote The Cabin in the Woods. He made his feature directorial debut with the 2005 Serenity, based on his Firefly series.

Whedon’s 2008 musical internet series Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog was an instant breakout, winning numerous awards including an Emmy, and will mark its 10th anniversary at Comic-Con. He is repped by CAA and Ziffren Brittenham.