We Knew It Was Coming… Marvel to Take Over Publishing Star Wars Comics in 2015

Star_Wars_Logoby Aaron Einhorn
A year ago, The Walt Disney Company acquired the rights to George Lucas’s Star Wars (along with all of Lucasfilm, including film, television, video games, etc.) And immediately fans began to wonder what this meant for Dark Horse’s licensed Star Wars comics. Surely Disney wasn’t going to want to leave their very profitable franchise in the hands of another comic publisher?

Well, now we know that, in fact, they don’t. Beginning in 2015, the Star Wars license will go to Marvel from Dark Horse Comics.

There’s a little bit of “returning to our roots” with this move. Marvel published the first Star Wars comic in March of 1977, and kept publishing comics set in that universe for another nine years, until 1986 (a few years after Return of the Jedi), including kids’ comics based on the Droids and Ewoks cartoons under Marvel’s Star Comics imprint. Those comics are still looked back on fondly by many older fans, and elements of those comics are still considered to be “in-continuity” with the other works of the Expanded Universe. And, in fact, several collections of the old Marvel comics have been reprinted by Dark Horse Comics.

Dark Horse acquired the license in 1991, and has retained it ever since. In that time, they’ve published dozens of different Star Wars comics series, with stories that range from the days of the Old Republic, to stories occurring within the confines of both the Original Trilogy and the Prequel trilogy, to stories taking place shortly after Jedi, and all the way to the far future post-Jedi.

The nice part about this news (unlike the news of the end of Cartoon Network’s Clone Wars) is that we have a year between this announcement and the time that Marvel will start publishing new Star Wars comics. Hopefully this will give Dark Horse and the creators involved time to wrap up their respective Star Wars series.

Marvel’s press release regarding the announcement follows, along with a statement from Dark Horse Comic’s Mike Richardson.

From Marvel:

DISNEY’S LUCASFILM AND MARVEL ENTERTAINMENT JOIN FORCES TO PUBLISH STAR WARS™COMICS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS

Jedi, Sith, and the rest of the Star Wars Universe Come to Marvel Comics in 2015

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (January 3, 2014) – 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.

From Dark Horse Comics:

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

A little bit of Star Wars fan-fiction

StarWarsD20RevisedThe following is a character background I created for a character I’ll be playing in an upcoming session of Wizard of the Coast’s Star Wars Role-Playing Game. The game is set during the time of the Rebellion, and our players will be a team sent to assassinate Darth Vader. I can’t imagine this will go well.

I’ve been given permission to play the lone Jedi for the game. Our characters will be Level 6, so in my case, I’m a Miralukan Fringer 1/Jedi Guardian 5.

Enjoy!

“You’re not going to die. It isn’t allowed, do you understand? No dying on me today, Kevan!”

Delia slapped a medpack against the soldier’s chest, covering a nasty looking blaster burn that exposed the bones of his sternum. Delia tried not to think about the amount of blood she could feel spurt out under her hands, or the burns that could be seen on the interior organs.

Well, that’s not true. She did think about them, but, she tried not to worry about it.

There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.

Delia shut out her awareness of the battle raging around her, ignoring the blasts directed her way from the Stormtroopers who had boarded their transport.

There is no chaos, there is harmony.

Sending her thoughts through the Force, Delia examined Kevan’s injuries, adjusting the flow of blood and reknitting injuries with her mind as the medpack did its work. The powers of the Force combined with the best medical supplies the Rebel Alliance could scavenge, and the injuries began to reverse under her ministrations.

But even as new flesh grew under the burns and severed arteries reconnected, the trauma proved too much for the soldier’s system, and his lungs gave out.

Delia wanted to cry, but could shed no tears. Beneath the dark goggles she perpetually wore, Delia had no eyes, just like every other Miralukan. Her inborn connection to the Force more than made up for the lack of optic nerves, but did mean that she had a distinct shortage of tear ducts.

There is no emotion, there is peace.

Kevan had been her closest friend. The Corellian soldier had welcomed her when she first fell in with the Rebels at the age of seventeen, during the raid which had led to the death of her mother. Someone must have informed the Imperial Forces of the existence of a Force Healer out on Excarga, and the agents sent to take her and her mother were swift and deadly. Word had reached Rebel Agents at the same time, and although they arrived too late to save her mother, Kevan had led a group of soldiers to the rescue as Delia had been fighting them off with her father’s lightsaber. A stray shot had destroyed the weapon, and Delia was in danger of being taken when Kevan saved the day.

The human had been three years older than Delia, and had been the one to suggest she replace the typical blindfold used by her people with a pair of goggles, increasing her ability to appear human and not draw attention. He was the one who retrieved her mother’s lightsaber and presented it to her. He had provided the blue hair dye that she used to mask the long, flowing black hair she inherited from her parents, and the two had become lovers, despite the difference in their species. That was two years ago.

Now Kevan was dead, and knowing that his essence had joined her mother and her father in the Force was little comfort.

There is no death, there is the Force.

But his killers were still here, and advancing on her and the other members of her squad.

There is no passion, there is serenity.

Dispassionately, Delia stood, and with a flick of her mental energies, called her lightsaber from the open pouch of her medkit into her hand. She allowed her fear, her anger, her hatred all to flow out from her the way she would wash a wound of its poison, and filled herself with the battle-surety of the Force.

Her lightsaber snapped to life with a hiss, and the amber blade hummed as she held it before her.

“If the only way I can save lives is by ending yours, then so be it,” she said as instinctively she brought her blade up, deflecting a bolt that had been fired her way, and reflecting it back into the squad mate of the one of the troopers. With that, she rushed forward, bringing the blade down through the blaster rifle and forearm of the first trooper.

* * *

Nineteen years earlier, her parents had been happy. Both members of the Service Corps, their talents with the Force were weak enough, and their love for each other were great enough that neither advanced on as a Padawan towards the path of the Jedi Knight, but instead found contentment in serving within the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. Her mother worked in the Medical Corps, while her father served in the Educational Corps. Both were content, and were eager to meet their child when she would be born.

Until Order 66 happened.

Darth Vader had led the troopers of the 501st Squadron in to the temple, killing hundreds of younglings, padawans and others who served the Jedi. Delia’s father died that day, and Delia’s mother fled, with only her husband’s lightsaber, a handful of datachips taken from the archives and the unborn child in her womb to remember him by.

She managed to flee the temple grounds and get to a space port where a transport was bound for Excarga, and away she went.

* * *

As the years passed, Delia began to show more and more aptitude for the Force. By the time she was fourteen, Delia was a better healer and more adept with a lightsaber than her mother. Delia’s mother realized that she had little left she could teach her child.

“You need a Jedi Master, my daughter. You could, and should, be a Jedi knight. But there are no Jedi left in this galaxy. No Knights who can take you to right wrongs, and no Jedi healers to teach you the deeper mysteries of the Force. All I can give you are these.”

At the age of fourteen, Delia had never seen the data chips her mother presented before. “In the absence of a Master, a holocron would be better, but we could not save one of those. What we have here are the basics of training of a Jedi Guardian, and you will need to study on your own.”

“I will, mother,” Delia promised.

* * *

Her skills as a healer hadn’t been enough to save Kevan, and her skills as a Jedi hadn’t been enough to save her mother, but still Delia did her best to serve the Rebellion. After Kevan’s death, Delia began to move from one cell to another, putting her skills to work on a variety of missions for the Rebels, always keeping her ears open for word of another who had been trained in the Force. Delia knew that she had learned nearly all that could be gathered from the library her father had died to protect, and that only with instruction from a Jedi Master would she be able to truly become a Jedi Knight. She might have been born for the role of a Jedi Healer, but that path was likely forever closed to her, and all because of the work of one rogue Jedi nineteen years prior. Anakin Skywalker. Darth Vader.

“Delia,” her commander began. “I’ve got a new squad I need you to work with, if you’re willing. They’re going on what might be a suicide mission, but it is of utter importance to the future of the Galaxy and the Rebellion.”

“Of course, sir, whatever I can do.” A suicide mission didn’t scare Delia. Most of the missions the Rebellion undertook could, in the most charitable of scenarios, be described that way. But if the Galaxy would be freed from the yoke of the Empire, accomplishing the impossible was both necessary and becoming routine.

“What’s the mission?”

“We have had limited but significant success on most of our tasks. Our troops are the equal to any of the Empire’s forces on a good day. Our pilots and soldiers make up in passion what the Empire has in resources and training, but that all changes when one of the Emperor’s lieutenants appears. We need to level out the playing field. We’re sending a hand-picked team to start evening the odds, beginning with one of the biggest trump cards in the Emperor’s sabaac deck.”

Delia’s heart began to race. He couldn’t possibly mean…

“We’re sending the team in to kill Darth Vader.”

There is no emotion, there is peace.

Delia wasn’t excited about this.

There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.

Delia knew exactly what the risks were. Vader had been a Jedi Master nineteen years ago. His skills were considerable.

There is no passion, there is serenity.

Delia considered the enormity and importance of the task with a calm mind.

There is no chaos, there is harmony.

Delia knew the team would be carefully assembled, to mix the best possible group of skills for optimum chances of success.

There is no death, there is the Force.

Well, “Lord” Vader would have to be the one to let her know about that, now wouldn’t he?

A slight smile came to Delia’s lips as she answered her commanding officer. “I’m in, sir.”