For more than two decades Dark Horse has been creating and printing a fantastic lineup of comic books set in the Star Wars universe. That comes to an end when 2014 concludes, as Marvel and Lucasfilm announced today that Marvel will get exclusive comic and graphic novel rights to the franchise beginning in 2015. This is far from a surprising announcement, given that Disney now owns both Marvel and Lucasfilm, but it’s one that is met with a healthy dose of worry and skepticism from longtime fans of the Dark Horse titles. Marvel president Dan Buckley says:
“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.”
Given that Star Wars Episode VII is set for a December 2015 release, it’s safe to assume that the new comics Marvel publishes will tie into the upcoming sequel movies in addition to mining the established Star Wars expanded universe for storylines and characters. Marvel was the first comic publisher to hold the Star Wars license, and they printed Star Wars #1 in March 1977. The license moved to Dark Horse in 1991, where it has remained since then.
In an e-mail we received today, Dark Horse founder Mike Richardson says:
“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.”