As most hardcore Star Wars fans are only too happy to recount to you, Dark Horse Comics has had a long and both creatively and commercially profitable relationship with Lucas Books and its publication of Star Wars comic books for nearly 25 years. Dark Horse’s publications have taken fans all across the timeframe and scale of the galaxy far, far away, reaching as far back as the Knights of the Old Republic era (thousands of years before the movies take place) and far into the Legacy era (nearly 150 years after Return of the Jedi).
This is all about to change come 2015, a big year for the entire franchise, as the Force of Star Wars comics has now found a room inside the House of Ideas: Marvel Comics.
Announced today on Marvel’s official website, the Disney subsidiary and home to such memorable comics characters as Spider-Man, the Avengers, and the X-Men will assume the duties of publishing Star Wars related comics starting next year, the same year that the franchise surges back into the public consciousness when Star Wars: Episode VII hits theaters that December. The official announcement is somewhat correct in pointing out that this is a bit of a homecoming for the franchise, as Marvel published the very first Star Wars comic book back in 1977.
The writing was on the proverbial wall for this change in publication home for the franchise as soon as it was announced that the Walt Disney Company had purchased Lucasfilm. Since they had also recently acquired Marvel, it makes the most sense that Disney would want to publish new Star Wars comic book material in-house, at what is one of the top two comic book publishers in the world.
At this point, it’s unclear exactly what kinds of material Marvel will start publishing when they begin, but it likely won’t be anything from the established “expanded universe” of Star Wars fiction that’s been built since Return of the Jedi bowed in 1983. Since the new film will likely do away with most if not all of the expanded universe material, Marvel may start rebuilding that expanded universe to fit more cohesively with the forthcoming film series.
The current comic book series published by Dark Horse and simply known as Star Wars, with no subtitle, may possibly continue, at least thematically (writer Brian Wood has stated that his run ends at #20), since it a) takes place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, and b) is written by a creator who already has a firm home in Marvel in some of their other franchises, like the X-Men.
Either way, whatever ends up happening, it’s definitely an end of an era for a great creative relationship between Lucasfilm and Dark Horse comics. While it’s always exciting to find something new and shiny waiting on your doorstep, it’s also good to reflect on what came before. Dark Horse’s creative devotion to the franchise has done right by that space opera since 1991, and as we turn the corner into the “new Star Wars,” fans should always look on that era of stories with fondness.
Look for the first new Marvel Star Wars comic in early 2015.
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