Report: Marvel to replace Dark Horse as Star Wars comic publisher in 2014?

Blue Sky Disney reports that it’s all but certain that Disney won’t be renewing Dark Horse’s contract to publish Star Wars comics, and that the Star Wars comics will return to their original home: Fellow Disney brand Marvel. Honor Hunter writes:

The Suits in the know have determined that no new contracts will be given to Dark Horse after the current ones expire. So all new projects after 2013 will be handled internally by Marvel.

A blog report is anything but confirmation, but there’s absolutely nothing surprising about this – it was predicted by most of us the very first day of the Disney sale.

Comment from Dark Horse? Randy Stradley posted “don’t believe everything you read on the Internet” on their boards today.

20 thoughts on “Report: Marvel to replace Dark Horse as Star Wars comic publisher in 2014?

  1. MattDoc

    This one is a no-brainer. I think we all knew this would happen eventually. Why wouldn’t it? I haven’t read any/many Marvel titles in a long, long time (never a good jumping on point for any titles) but I also haven’t been overly impressed with the Star Wars comics that DH has been putting out in the past couple of years either. So maybe this will be a good change that revives Star Wars comics.

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  2. Aaron

    >>I also haven’t been overly impressed with the Star Wars comics that DH has been putting out in the past couple of years either.

    Agreed. The last comic I seriously loved was the Jedi Covenant arc of KOTOR. After that, even that great series seemed to be going nowhere. Legacy had its moments, Dark Times startet out well… I had high hopes for Knight Errant, but that never went anywhere (still hoping for a second novel, though). All in all nothing in the past couple of years came close to either the boldness of Dark Empire and Tales of the Jedi or the depth and quality of some of the Republic and Empire comics (e.g. the Jabiim arc or The Short, Happy Life of Roons Sewell).
    Maybe a little Marvel magic might do the trick.

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  4. jawajames

    i’m not into comics that much except Star Wars comics, and so i don’t really know how well Marvel would do with the license (last Marvel books i read was the Whedon run on Astonishing X-Men). They have the potential for taking up a notch… or just letting it languish as not their core market – there is a reason that Marvel was foundering for so long before Disney bought the company.

    How many of the current writers and artists would be able to swap over with the license? There are some talented people who I’d like to see continue writing and drawing Star Wars.

    Dark Horse has invested a lot into developing new eras and working with LFL and Del Rey on greater overall continuity in the EU. It would be interesting to see if Marvel would keep on that or just go their own way.

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  5. Joshua Lapin-Bertone

    Dark Horse is a large part of what made the EU what it is today.

    Marvel abandoned Star Wars, got a second chance and dropped the ball again with Dark Empire. I love Marvel and I love their run on Star Wars, but this is the equivalent of dating a girl who falls out of favor, dumping her, seeing her with someone else who makes her super cool again and then saying you want her back.

    Granted different people were in charge back then so the analogy doesn’t fit exactly…

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  6. Dom

    I suspect this won’t work out well. 2014 isn’t that far away. Can Marvel develop enough stories by 2014 to be ready to publish? DH has a lot of lines now, and a sudden drop in 2014 could really hurt Disney’s credibility.

    Does Marvel know how to write Star Wars? Star Wars fans don’t exactly have a whole lot of confidence in Marvel (remember Jaxxon), so will they be willing to give them the benefit of the doubt?

    While I haven’t loved everything DH has done, the company has given SW a lot of attention and really developed a lot of different eras with a lot of different stories. I personally really like the Covenant arc in KOTOR and Legacy (and some Tales of the Jedi). I at least hope Disney gives DH time to wrap up its ongoing series, like Dawn of the Jedi and the new Legacy.

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  7. ImperialGirl

    Well, the comics are not a big thing for me. I’m enjoying “Agent of the Empire”, but it feels a bit..lightweight. Not much story per issue, lots of ad pages and filler. I’d be happy if Marvel continued it, I’d be equally fine if they didn’t. I like certain Marvel properties, though Id on’t read any nearly as much as I did when I lived walking distance from Newbury Comics. With the right writers and artists, it could be good.

    I suspect how much they work with existing stories will depend entirely on where Disney goes with the sequels.

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  8. Jason Ward

    I have to say, I don’t think this is exactly a no brainer at all.

    The fact of the matter is that artists and publishing under Marvel will up the production cost of the comics significantly.

    While both companies are a division of Disney, they will still account of their profits individually. So really, Lucasfilm as a division itself, it would seem, would be better served staying with Dark Horse in the name of yearly profits.

    If the comics reach the same distribution audience, moving the franchise to Marvel would lower the profits for the comic franchise in the end.

    It will likely also mean less comics published every year.

    I could be wrong though. I just think a lot of this is coming from the presumption that Disney will work as a cohesive company and not as division, as it does. But what do I know?

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  9. MattDoc

    One thing just hit me…IMO, some of the best DH Star Wars comics came out at the same time that we were also getting new Star Wars movies. When you can tie the comics in to that material, I think it’s much better. So I’ll be optimistic that we’ll get a similar treatment from Marvel.

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  10. jawajames

    Jason: why do you think that moving to Marvel will mean less comics published?

    MattDoc: your optimism that we’ll get better comics simply because we’ll have movies to tie into doesn’t necessarily mean good or ill for a change to Marvel – and in this case, DH has a track record as you point out, while Marvel is an unknown.

    What do you think:
    In the same way we are expecting Disney to be rather hands-off about Lucasfilm in producing content, what if Marvel was able to bring over most of the DH Star Wars “division” (ie editors, writers, artistis), and be hands-off on it?

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  11. Dunc Post author

    Well all love to mock the big green bunny, but James is right: We have no idea what Marvel would do with Star Wars now. Comics have changed quite a bit since Jaxxon’s day…

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  12. Lane

    Moving the IP to Marvel just makes all the sense in the world.

    I think folks need to keep in mind that Marvel is a VASTLY different company since they last worked with Star Wars. It’s difficult to point at their previous efforts and say that if this IP goes back to Marvel, it’s going to be a repeat of those comics. Different people are running the show now, different writers and artists are working with Marvel.

    More than that, the comics industry has changed dramatically since Marvel worked with Star Wars last. The landscape is different and the storytelling methods have evolved. Today Marvel is perhaps the premiere comic publishing house in the world. There’s incredible talent and resources at their disposal that could easily find their way to Star Wars.

    So yes. I think Marvel getting Star Wars is all but guaranteed because it makes a ton of sense. More than that, I think going to Marvel at this point in time might be the best thing that’s happened to Star Wars comics.

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  13. Jason Ward

    James,

    I’m assuming doubling the overhead cost of the comics and selling them to the same audience would mean new titles would be riskier. When they’re producing comics at Dark Horse and it costs about half the price, it is okay to try new things. Of course, I’m working on a model that assumes moving it to Marvel won’t bring in a ton of new readers. If it does, than my assumptions are all wrong. But I kind of don’t see why it would as you can get Dark Horse comics most anywhere (at least where I am in California).

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  14. Palob Phrase

    It seems like Darkhorse has so much into it at this point, having worked so long with Lucasliscencing to keep building this Expanded Universe and keep it in continuity with as much as possible, why derail it? Regardless of who makes the comics, they still have to pay to get them made, in house or out… Who’s to say the better business deal wouldn’t be to have them outsourced? They seem to be doing something right, what with the Star Wars and other Darkhorse titles taking up half the space on the shelf in the Fred Meyer, I barely notice what Marvel titles are even there…I guess the hard core comic people go to a comic store, or just get it from TFAW or something… my point is is that a liscencee will just send them a check every month, no worries, and Darkhorse seems to be one of the more consistent ones.
    This all makes me wonder about the future of Lucas licensing in general… There a so many independent outfits making Star Wars things as diverse as you can get; Darth Vader toaster, Tauntaun sleeping bag, $1200 Sieko watch to name some of my favorites in the “you’re joking, right?” category. (I’m writing this as an avid Star Wars collector, mostly Hasbro, Lego, Darkhorse, Del Ray…)
    Hypothetically-Is Disney going to keep this wide range of licencing going, or try to trim it down in an effort to have more control over their new property?

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  15. ImperialGirl

    Eh, I don’t do digital. Only real paper. I tried ebooks and I never finish them. (Except one, and I wound up with THREE real copies of it after I finally found an original hardback for only 100 GBP.)

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  16. Joshua Lapin-Bertone

    For the love of Kenobi people…

    Jaxxon was decades ago and most of the regime from back then is gone now..

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  17. R D

    I don’t think Lucasfilm will risk moving the comics to Marvel. Dark Horse has provided higher-quality SW comics for over 20 years now. Dark Horse has already proven for 20 years that it can provide profitability and consistency. Marvel wasn’t the first choice for Lucas back in the 1970′s. A move to Marvel would just present too many disruptions and high-risk. The writers, artists, editors – and even accountants – must be aware of the many unknowns. The voluminous SW publishing of Dark Horse would not be able to shift to Marvel.

    The only other possibility is if LucasBooks were to start publishing comics…which it has never done without Dark Horse. Let’s face it that Lucasfilm has always outsourced the many media facets of Star Wars – leave it to the experts in their respective art forms!

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