Star Wars comics are heading back "home" to Marvel Comics in 2015, Marvel, Disney, and Lucasfilm announced Friday afternoon.
The news came via a press release, and while not a surprise, still came without the usual fanfare of teasers and pre-release interviews. When Walt Disney Company purchased Lucasfilm, it seemed the writing was on the wall for the Star Wars comic book license to return to Marvel, who published Star Wars comics for nine years in the late 70s and early 80s. That day will come in 2015, as they receive "exclusive rights to create and publish Star Wars comics and graphic novels."
Dark Horse Comics has held the license since 1991, and was praised in the press release for publishing "fan-favorite titles" and "garnering rave reviews."
“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 the press release. “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.”
Dan Buckley, Publisher and President of Marvel Worldwide expressed his excitement for the deal, saying, "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."
Dark Horse founder Mike Richardson responded to the news immediately, sending out this statement about their time with the license.
"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."