A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a little comic book company called Marvel published a book named Star Wars #1 in the spring of 1977, which went on to sell over a million copies. According to my cursory understanding of inflation, that’s like a billion copies today. They continued to publish Star Wars comics for 9 more years until the partnership dissolved like so many Obi-Wan Kenobis getting skewered by so many lightsabers. After a period of radio silence, Star Wars found a new comic book home with Dark Horse Comics in 1991. The Dark Side, Dark Horse — it seemed like a match made in Jedi heaven, but now after more than 20 years, it’s coming to a close. Today, Disney announced that the Star Wars license will be reverting from Dark Horse to Marvel and Lucasfilm in 2015.
In a statement on Marvel.com, director of Lucasfilm franchise publishing Carol Roeder said, “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.” All good things must come to an end, though, she added. “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.”
The news wasn’t entirely unexpected; it has been a question looming large on readers’ minds since the first announcement of Disney’s Star Wars acquisition. Frankly, it’s a wonder that they didn’t try to reclaim the license sooner, but given the quality of Star Wars comics coming out of Dark Horse, I’m glad they didn’t. Not one to remain mum on the matter of one of their flagship franchises departing, Dark Horse Comics president Mike Richardson offered this statement:
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.
So, there’s still a year left for fans of Brian Wood’s epic Star Wars run or the delightfully Uncanny Valley experience that is J.W. Rinzler’s The Star Wars before the license falls under Imperial control.
What do you think? Are you excited to see Star Wars land at Marvel? Will you miss Dark Horse’s stewardship? Let us know in the comments below.