Star Wars Transition“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, a part of Disney Publishing Worldwide.  But despite this glorification of Dark Horse’s wonderful Star Wars comics, she went on to inform fans that “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.”

This statement and others released by Marvel and Dark Horse set the internet ablaze this morning as the official word was out that starting in 2015 Marvel would have the “exclusive rights to create and publish ‘Star Wars’ comics and graphic novels.”

This comes as no surprise to anyone really, or at least it shouldn’t. This move has been speculated about for over 2 years now. We here at SG2M had learned at the Long Beach Comic and Horror Con this last November, from the creative team of Brian Wood’s ongoing Star Wars title, that #20 would be their final issue; obviously hinting at the end of Dark Horse’s Star Wars license. In early spring 2013 founder and president of Dark Horse, Mike Richardson, had talked about the licensing contracts ending in 2014. He even went on to mention that while the overall contract ended at the end of 2014, each individual title had their own contracts and there was currently no word on if, as those contracts ran out, they would be renewed for another run. Even if another run could start and end before the exclusive rights had expired.

Marvel president Dan Buckley had this to say in his press 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.”

In Dark Horse’s Mike Richardson’s official statement he said “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.” He later added, “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.”

When Disney acquired Lucasfilm from George Lucas in 2011 one of the first things I wondered about is what would happen to Dark Horse in all of this, knowing that it was more than likely that the books would revert back to Marvel. I mean why not, Disney knows what they are doing. They didn’t blindly spend $4 billion without knowing the kind of revenue they themselves could generate. If you own Marvel Comics, why would you outsource to Dark Horse? I also began to get fairly excited over the thought of the property reverting back to Marvel. I mean think of the stable of talented writers and artists they have access to. Then about 8 or 9 months ago I started hearing rumors that if the exclusive publishing rights do in fact go back to Marvel that they would essentially reboot the Expanded Universe and the detailed and loved 22 year old Dark Horse EU would be ignored and disregarded. So now I don’t know what to think, now I’m apprehensive at best. I would like to think that someone at Disney would realize that doing something like that would really upset loyal fans of the EU, and would likely hurt sales. I guess we will wait and see a year or so from now. Here is hoping us fans get an amazing 2015 full of Star Wars awesomeness.