The Walt Disney Company’s Lucasfilm Ltd. granted Marvel Entertainment exclusive rights to publish Star Wars comic books and graphic novels beginning in 2015. This marks Marvel’s return to the Star Wars Universe, as Marvel published a Star Wars series for nine years before Dark Horse Comics gained publishing rights in 1991.
“We here at Marvel could not be more excited to continue the publication of Star Wars comic books and graphic novels,” Marvel Worldwide Publisher and President Dan Buckley said in a press release. “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.”
Dark Horse Founder and President Mike Richardson wrote in an email to the press, “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.”
In a January 2013 interview with Paste, Star Wars comic book writer Brian Wood cited concerns over the comics’ possible move to Marvel at the time.
“I don’t think anybody could do the job that Dark Horse does,” Wood said. “My editor’s been editing this for like twenty years. [Dark Horse] has contributed as much to the Star Wars Universe as anybody has. That body of work, it’s part of the extended universe now. My worry, and it’s just my own gut feeling, is that if it became a Marvel book, the books would become about who the creators were than about Star Wars. Once it goes to Marvel, there will be this new class of creator that wants it. It’s going to be super-star writer A and super-star artist B on the Star Wars book. I feel like it shifts the focus in this incorrect way. That’s my feeling.”
Dark Horse’s Star Wars comic book series will wrap up this year with issue No. 20, while their Star Wars: Legacy series will end with issue #18. Both series are expected to conclude in August.