What Might the Disney Deal Mean for STAR WARS Comics?

When the news that Disney bought Lucasfilm hit on Tuesday afternoon, it was difficult to process all the implications at once — especially with the "Episode VII coming in 2015" bomb that was simultaneously dropped.

One of cloudier aspects of the acquisition is what this will mean for Star Wars comics. Dark Horse has had the license since 1991, and it's something that the publisher, Lucasfilm and fans have all seemed pretty happy with for that whole period. But now that Star Wars and Marvel are part of the same corporation, it's certain that something will change — Dark Horse president and founder Mike Richardson said the deal "changes the landscape" though exactly how is yet to be seen.

At this point, here's what we see as the three most likely outcomes of the Disney deal on Star Wars comics.

 

Marvel Gets the Star Wars License: Historically speaking, this seems like the most likely outcome.

A similar thing happened after Disney bought Marvel in 2009 — the Disney comic license was at BOOM! Studios, who were publishing well-received original material and reprints of classic stories. At first, the Disney/Marvel deal didn't affect BOOM, who kept their Disney line going. But gradually, their amount of Disney books started dwindling, before disappearing entirely.

Then Disney books starting popping up at Marvel — first reprints of existing Pixar comics, then an original miniseries, and a previously unpublished Roger Langridge series originally commissioned by BOOM.

If Disney can legally exert the right to publish Star Wars comics through Marvel, why wouldn't they? It won't happen right away, but it's a very real possibility.

And unlike most Disney comics, Star Wars matches very well with Marvel's target demographic and general sensibility — especially with the major push they're giving cosmic titles like and . There's history there, too, as Star Wars comics started out at Marvel, from 1977 to 1986.

That could all be cause for fans of Star Wars comics to be hopeful about a potential Marvel future. Though recent Marvel acquisitions haven't caught fire after launch — CrossGen has been dormant for more than a year, Disney releases have been sporadic, and is still mired in complex legalities — Star Wars is a distinctly different case, though recent history indicates that they'll probably start off slow, rather than the four new issues a month that Dark Horse has been averaging.

Depending on the details, Marvel would also be picking up Dark Horse's massive output of the past two decades' worth of Star Wars comics; reliable sellers in the bookstore market and a potentially massive digital backstop.

 

Star Wars Stays at Dark Horse: It could happen. Star Wars has been at Dark Horse since 1991, and it's been a mutually beneficial relationship for both companies.

Dark Horse's Star Wars comics have been generally very well regarded by fans, exploring the eras before, after and during the films, contributing greatly to the "Expanded Universe" continuity and even providing their take on "What If?" with the miniseries. Though Disney isn't in the business of watching out for the well-being of other publishers, maintaining the current situation would effectively mean they don't have to do much except observe and collect licensing fees.

Until Disney and Marvel have a definite plan for Star Wars comics, they could very well sit things out and let Dark Horse continue their robust crop of Lucasfilm-inspired books — including the Brian Wood-written Star Wars ongoing launching in January, set in the midst of the original trilogy.

 

Marvel Runs Wild With It: Hey, if Marvel is going to publish Star Wars comics, why not go all the way?

As soon as it was announced that Disney was buying Lucasfilm, fans took to social media to speculate on potential Marvel/Star Wars crossovers — from Star Wars/Guardians of the Galaxy to a Nick Fury/Mace Windu Samuel L. Jackson tour de force.

Though that probably won't happen on the big-screen (though, at this point, it's at least not impossible), such interactions could definitely happen in comic books. And lately, Marvel's been all about celebrating stories that could happen in comics — that was one of the big selling points, since the live-action rights of the two franchises are at different studios — some type of Star Wars/Marvel mash-up might be too tempting to resist for long.

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