‘Star Wars’ comics leaving Dark Horse, returning to Marvel in 2015

Jan. 03, 2014 | 11:21 a.m.
"Star Wars" No. 12 by Brian Wood. (Hugh Fleming / Dark Horse Comics)

“Star Wars” No. 12 by Brian Wood. (Hugh Fleming / Dark Horse Comics)

Marvel will publish new “Star Wars” comic books beginning in 2015, the company announced Friday.

The agreement between Lucasfilm and Marvel, both owned by the Walt Disney Co., kicks off the same year Disney will release a new “Star Wars” film, J. J. Abrams’ highly anticipated “Episode VII.”

“The perennial brand of ‘Star Wars’ is one of the most iconic in entertainment history,” said Marvel Worldwide’s publisher and President Dan Buckley in a news release. “We are honored to have the opportunity to bring our creative talent pool to continue, and expand ‘Star Wars’ into galaxies far, far away.”

The deal marks the franchise’s homecoming after more than 20 years away from Marvel, which published the first “Star Wars” comics beginning in 1977 with the official movie adaptation by Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin, followed by some off-kilter stories that introduced some eccentric characters to the Star Wars universe (see green space rabbit Jaxxon).

“Star Wars” comics explored more of the galaxy at Dark Horse Comics, which took over the license in 1991 and succeeded in making “Star Wars” series and graphic novels one of its flagship titles, beginning with Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy’s “Dark Empire.”

"Star Wars" No. 5 by Brian Wood. (Rodolfo Migliari / Dark Horse Comics)

“Star Wars” No. 5 by Brian Wood. (Rodolfo Migliari / Dark Horse Comics)

“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,” said Dark Horse founder and publisher Mike Richardson. “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.”

Recently, Dark Horse got a boost from the acclaimed Brian Wood-written “Star Wars” series, set between the events of “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back.” And the company’s “The Star Wars,” an adaptation of creator George Lucas’ early screenplay, also garnered attention.

Marvel and Disney are quick to praise Dark Horse’s handling of the brand.

“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.

Dark Horse is looking to new projects for 2015, but Richardson said the “Star Wars” stories at Dark Horse won’t languish in the meantime.

“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,” Richardson said. “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.”

– Noelene Clark and Blake Hennon | @LATHeroComplex

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