It seemed like a foregone conclusion following Disney's $4.05 billion acquisition of Star Wars owners Lucasfilm last year, but Marvel and Dark Horse Comics made it official today: The Star Wars comics franchise will move next year from Dark Horse, which has had the license for 22 years, back to Marvel, which published the first Star Wars comics when the original movies were coming out in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The announcement came in a Marvel press release which included this quote from Carol Roeder, director of Lucasfilm franchise publishing, Disney Publishing Worldwide.

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. 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.

Marvel Publisher and President Dan Buckley added this:

We here at Marvel could not be more excited to continue the publication of Star Wars comic books and graphic novels. 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 Mike Richardson issued a statement with a considerably more somber tone. Here it is, in full:

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.

Several lingering questions about the changeover remain, particularly about what will happen with Dark Horse's dense Star Wars backlist, and whether Marvel plans to continue existing series and storylines or simply reboot.

Marvel PR told ComicsAlliance that "plans are still developing" and those questions can't be answered at the moment.

Dark Horse did clarify later today that, "Reading Star Wars on Dark Horse Digital? Fear not, you get to keep your copies in your account's cloud." No word on whether digital titles will remain available to buy in 2015, however.

It would appear that Randy Stradley, the editor of the Star Wars group for Dark Horse, won't be part of the new team, though, if this tweet is any indication.



Of course, the question of whether the Star Wars franchise would move to Marvel had a fairly obvious answer. It was simply a matter of when after news broke that Marvel's parent company, Disney, had acquired the Lucasfilm brand.

Dark Horse has been a prolific publisher of Star Wars comics and produced material expanding on each of the six cinematic episodes and, essentially, every other multimedia aspect of the franchise. Most recently, Dark Horse has been publishing a comic adapting on Star Wars creator George Lucas' original "The Star Wars" screenplay, giving fans the closest thing to a completed version of the initial draft of the first film.

The potency of the Star Wars license has given Dark Horse the ability to hire a body of writers, artists and other storytellers not typically associated with mainstream or superhero comics. It will be interesting to see if Marvel will follow suit to an extent, or chiefly relegate Star Wars titles to its marquee stable of superhero talent.

At that time, Richardson stated that Dark Horse would hold onto the Star Wars license for "the near future." It appears the future is now.


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