Star Wars Returns to Marvel Starting in 2015

Star_Wars_LogoWhen Disney acquired Lucasfilm, it was a question on comic geek’s minds. What would it mean for the Dark Horse‘s Star Wars license? Well, the shoe dropped as today it was announced that Marvel has been granted exclusive rights to create and publish Star Wars comics and graphic novels beginning in 2015. That ends a successful 20 year run and relationship with Dark Horse.

The agreement marks a homecoming for the Star Wars comic books. Marvel Comics published the first Star Wars comic book, Star Wars #1, in March 1977, which went on to sell more than 1 million copies. Marvel Comics published its Star Wars series for nine years. In 1991, Dark Horse Comics took over the license, publishing fan-favorite titles like Dark Empire and Star Wars: Legacy. Last year, Dark Horse released The Star Wars #1, an adaptation of George Lucas’ original rough-draft screenplay for the film, garnering rave reviews and national media attention and ranking among the top-selling Star Wars comics of all time.

From the Disney/Lucasfilm/Marvel side of things, the announcement was positive and rosy.

Carol Roeder, director of Lucasfilm franchise publishing, Disney Publishing Worldwide said in the release:

 

Dark Horse Comics published exceptional Star Wars comics for over 20 years, and we will always be grateful for their enormous contributions to the mythos, and the terrific partnership that we had. In 2015, the cosmic adventures of Luke, Han, Leia and Chewbacca will make the lightspeed jump back to Marvel, to begin a new age of adventures within the Star Wars universe.

New_MVL_URL_LogoMarvel Worldwide Publisher and President, Dan Buckley in the same release:

We here at Marvel could not be more excited to continue the publication of Star Wars comic books and graphic novels. The perennial brand of Star Wars is one of the most iconic in entertainment history and we are honored to have the opportunity to bring our creative talent pool to continue, and expand Star Wars into galaxies far, far away.

Andrew B. Sugerman, executive vice president of Disney Publishing Worldwide concluded in the release:

We’re incredibly excited by this next chapter in the Star Wars saga. Bringing together the iconic Lucasfilm and Marvel brands to tell new stories will allow us to continue to thrill lovers of the original Star Wars comic books and entertain generations to come.

A statement in the form of a press release from Dark Horse proceeded the one by Disney/Lucasfilm/Marvel:

The End of an Era

All things come to pass. So too, do all licensed deals. I am sad to report that Disney, the new owner of Lucasfilm, has notified us here at Dark Horse of their intention to move the Star Wars publishing license to another of their recent acquisitions, Marvel Comics, beginning in 2015. This will end a partnership that has lasted more than two decades.

For those who are new to the industry, Dark Horse revolutionized the treatment of comics based on films. After a history of movie properties being poorly handled with little regard for execution and continuity, Dark Horse took a new approach, carefully choosing licenses and approaching them with excitement and creative energy. Our goal was to create sequels and prequels to the films we loved, paying careful attention to quality and detail, essentially treating those films as though they were our own. Star Wars has been the crown jewel of this approach. We began chasing the title as far back as 1989, and with the launch of Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy’s Dark Empire, a new era in comics was born. I’m not ashamed to admit that we were Star Wars geeks, and we have been determined to spare neither effort nor expense in the pursuit of excellence.

It is ironic that this announcement comes at a time when Dark Horse is experiencing its most successful year ever. For obvious reasons, we have prepared for this eventuality by finding new and exciting projects to place on our schedule for 2015 and beyond. Will they take the place of Star Wars? That’s a tall order, but we will do our best to make that happen. In the meantime, 2014 may be our last year at the helm of the Star Wars comics franchise, but we plan to make it a memorable one. We know that fans of the franchise will expect no less. The Force is with us still.

Mike Richardson

Soon after Disney’s purchase of Marvel, BOOM! Studios’ license to produce Disney comics ended, with hints Marvel would take up the reigns. So far, only reprints have been done, none to the level of success BOOM! produced.

It’s sad to see the change, as I remember purchasing Dark Horse’s first releases and becoming a die-hard fan for many years. It’s unknown what this all means for Star Wars canon, and if Disney and Marvel will reprint the classic Dark Horse work, or it will all be scrapped and start over as if the last 20 years never happened.

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