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Updated: Marvel takes over Star Wars comics and graphic novels starting in 2015

Jan. 3, 2014by: Paul Shirey

UPDATE: Scroll below for Dark Horse's response to losing the license.

With Disney laying claim to Marvel and now Lucasfilm this seemed inevitable. Beginning in 2015 the Star Wars comic book license will revert back to Marvel where it originated before being transferred to Dark Horse comics. Dark Horse owned the rights for two decades, churning out a wide range of STAR WARS themed books and expanding the universe to a high degree. It will definitely be the end of an era for Dark Horse, but it makes perfect sense that Disney would turn the property over to Marvel, seeing as they own the company and with the first film of a new trilogy on the horizon they would naturally want as much control as possible, especially with movie tie-ins. STAR WARS: EPISODE VII will no doubt spark a major resurgence for the brand and that could easily translate into big business for the comic book market.

Here's the press release:

The Walt Disney Company’s Lucasfilm Ltd. and Marvel Entertainment are joining forces to bring new Star Wars adventures to readers across the galaxy, with Marvel granted exclusive rights to create and publish Star Wars comics and graphic novels beginning in 2015.

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.

“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,” said Carol Roeder, director of Lucasfilm franchise publishing, Disney Publishing Worldwide.  “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.”

“We here at Marvel could not be more excited to continue the publication of Star Wars comic books and graphic novels,” said Marvel Worldwide Publisher and President, Dan Buckley. “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.”

“We’re incredibly excited by this next chapter in the Star Wars saga,” said Andrew B. Sugerman, executive vice president of Disney Publishing Worldwide. “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.”

Marvel has continued to push comic book publishing forward with innovations and experiments like motion comics and digital-only releases, in addition to its deep, ongoing catalog of monthly series and graphic novels created by some of the industry’s most gifted artists and writers.

UPDATE: Statement from Mike Richardson, publisher and owner of Dark Horse Comics:

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

Personally, I loved the work that Dark Horse put out with the STAR WARS license, but I think that Marvel will offer some new opportunities to expand upon the brand and give it some new life. There's a lot of potential there and I expect that we'll see a lot of cool stuff in 2015, especially with the new trilogy kicking off.

STAR WARS: EPISODE VII hits theaters on December 18, 2015.

Extra Tidbit: Could we see a comics version crossover of Star Wars and The Avengers? Insane? Crazy? Possible? Anything could happen...

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8:56PM on 01/04/2014
As much as I love some of the Dark Horse books, I grew up reading the Marvel books, so I'm o.k. with this.
As much as I love some of the Dark Horse books, I grew up reading the Marvel books, so I'm o.k. with this.
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7:00PM on 01/04/2014

Poor Dark Horse

They kept Star Wars relevant during its hiatus from the theaters. When Marvel let the line go defunct and Dark Horse picked it up we got the beautiful sequel Dark Empire (something I have an inkling will some how bleed into the script of the new flick like Fatal Attractions did in The Wolverine). They gave us KOTOR and expanded the universe (good or bad) far beyond the scope of the films. Comparatively to the novels they had more hits than misses. I expected this to happen, in fact I was
They kept Star Wars relevant during its hiatus from the theaters. When Marvel let the line go defunct and Dark Horse picked it up we got the beautiful sequel Dark Empire (something I have an inkling will some how bleed into the script of the new flick like Fatal Attractions did in The Wolverine). They gave us KOTOR and expanded the universe (good or bad) far beyond the scope of the films. Comparatively to the novels they had more hits than misses. I expected this to happen, in fact I was wondering what was going to happen to Del Rey and Dark Horse when Disney got the Death Star and figured they'd assimilate it back into their empire. Already Kennedy said the EU is no longer cannon (So now there's what, G level & D level? Shit I dunno) in regards to the films. Assuming this is so the new flick won't have to worry about stepping on eons of history established by comics, novels and games...they can just jump in (and bring back Khan or some dumb shit). Its sad to see Dark Horse lose what was their flagship, their keystone. Personally, and this is just an opinion, I don't see the quality improving. Dark Horse was by geeks for geeks, Disney is about the mullah as priority numero uno. Their first order f business is to get back preROTJ to do some Vader....you know this to be true. They didn't pay the equivalent of the gross national debt of Greece to not use one of the most recognizable pop icons in American history. Vader is coming back to the screen. Marvel is going to bring the same mundane writing to these comics that are all over the MCU. Dark Horse will fall of the map and we get to watch JJ obliterate Star Wars like he did Trek (waiting for his tweet- guess who is helping me polish the script. My old pal Lindleoff, yay!).
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12:04AM on 01/04/2014

i endorse this decision... :P

i expected this to happen, and think its the right choice for the franchise to breathe new life into it's medium, at a time where Marvel's at its pinnacle of innovative, unique, & polished creativity & incredible plot-evolved writing & with an immensely epic continuity-loyal drive & focus.... plus, its coming full circle, considering they were the original comic-license holders. and i fully expect that they'll be bridging the gaps between the previous films and the upcoming new, re-vamped
i expected this to happen, and think its the right choice for the franchise to breathe new life into it's medium, at a time where Marvel's at its pinnacle of innovative, unique, & polished creativity & incredible plot-evolved writing & with an immensely epic continuity-loyal drive & focus.... plus, its coming full circle, considering they were the original comic-license holders. and i fully expect that they'll be bridging the gaps between the previous films and the upcoming new, re-vamped trilogy/series....
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9:53PM on 01/03/2014
Disney is 50 years, maybe less from being the only movie production company making movies that cost more than 100mil. From a business aspect they are on path for a full takeover of all large film productions. Universal has gone public that they are desperate, Sony is depending on Spider-Man for the future (They do the new Bond movies right?) other than those 2 they got no safe bets. Fox is Fox. Paramount has kind of become more of a distributing company than a production company, you can pin
Disney is 50 years, maybe less from being the only movie production company making movies that cost more than 100mil. From a business aspect they are on path for a full takeover of all large film productions. Universal has gone public that they are desperate, Sony is depending on Spider-Man for the future (They do the new Bond movies right?) other than those 2 they got no safe bets. Fox is Fox. Paramount has kind of become more of a distributing company than a production company, you can pin point that shift when Disney bought Marvel Studios who Paramount was co producing and distributing until then (They even got a logo credit and the begining to Avengers even though they had nothing to do with it). It's only a matter of time until Disney acquires back ALL THEIR MARVEL CHARACTERS, they pretty much have already gotten half back without spending a dime...

But with all that aside... all i am really wondering is does this make my complete collection of original marvel star wars comics finally worth something? Been out of the comic book loop for a long minute now but last time i checked they were worth around the same as X-Men #1 volume 2.
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9:42PM on 01/03/2014
Sadly this is likely the end of Dark Horse...
Sadly this is likely the end of Dark Horse...
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7:43PM on 01/03/2014
This is very sad, but naturally it was expected. It will really suck, however, when Marvel starts all their re-numbering, mini series, spin-off, crossover, renumbering again, Marvel Star Wars NOW!, 1-1000 variant cover, letting TPB or omnibuses go out of print, bi-monthly "event" books, and then eventually renumbering one more time bullshit. Dark Horse did such a great job with these stories and their TPB collections, although smaller than normal size, always allowed me to pick up a series I
This is very sad, but naturally it was expected. It will really suck, however, when Marvel starts all their re-numbering, mini series, spin-off, crossover, renumbering again, Marvel Star Wars NOW!, 1-1000 variant cover, letting TPB or omnibuses go out of print, bi-monthly "event" books, and then eventually renumbering one more time bullshit. Dark Horse did such a great job with these stories and their TPB collections, although smaller than normal size, always allowed me to pick up a series I missed, no matter how old it was. The customers will still come in droves, but Dark Horse always seemed like a fan-first company, rather than the dollar-first mentality that Marvel displays when they relaunch or remix their series so often.
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+10
1:52PM on 01/03/2014
Being that I live so close to Dark Horse Comics this is kind of sad for us Oregonians. But it makes sense to give it back to Marvel. DHC had a great run tho.
Being that I live so close to Dark Horse Comics this is kind of sad for us Oregonians. But it makes sense to give it back to Marvel. DHC had a great run tho.
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2:35PM on 01/03/2014
Crazy, I'm from Oregon and a comics reader and never realized Dark Horse was based out of my home state.
Crazy, I'm from Oregon and a comics reader and never realized Dark Horse was based out of my home state.
1:50PM on 01/03/2014
Makes sense. I really like Dark Horse, but I think that Marvel will do a very good job with the storyline.
Makes sense. I really like Dark Horse, but I think that Marvel will do a very good job with the storyline.
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