Last night’s round of #AskStarWars lead to a funny exchange between @StarWars and @Marvel. Alas, negotiations broke down, but everyone parted as friends. Or, well, happy step-siblings. See the tweets below the cut.
It’s been a week since the news went out that the Star Wars comics license will go to Marvel Comics for 2015, leaving Dark Horse Comics after a twenty-two year run. With the news on Tuesday that Dark Horse will be releasing a new series, adapting the unproduced The Clone Wars scripts for the finale of the Darth Maul storyline, we know that 2014 will still be a big Star Wars year for Dark Horse. Over the course of the past week, questions about the switch have started to get some answers, at least from Dark Horse:
Friday’s bombshell that Star Wars comics will be moving to Marvel may not have been a huge surprise, but it did elicit a lot of emotions in fans and pros alike.
Dark Horse’s Randy Stradley addressed the change Sunday, speculating that the changes coming due to Disney and sequels may result in less freedom to do the sorts of comics that they prefer anyway:
But Dark Horse must lose the license, this is probably a good time for it. From my perspective, the upcoming films will mean less freedom to do what we at Dark Horse have always done best: expanding the universe. With a new film scheduled every year, and a new television series, it is likely that there will be a lot of comics pages devoted to adaptations and direct spin-off stories in support of the films and TV shows. That’s not where my interests lie, and it has never been Dark Horse’s strong suit. That would be too much like real work to me. :)
He goes on to say that he’s “immensely proud” of what Dark Horse’s comics creators have done, and encourages fans to channel their anger into gratitude and thanks for them.
John Jackson Miller, who owes his own Star Wars tenure to Dark Horse, reminisces and thanks the company, as does Jason Fry. Heidi MacDonald at The Beat has weighed in, as have the fans at Eleven-ThirtyEight.
On the business end of things, The Hollywood Reporter’s Graeme McMillan weighs in on what the licensee change may mean for Star Wars comics. The numbers are not particularly encouraging – I was shocked that Dark Horse actually has a bigger share of the bookstore graphic novel market than Marvel. It’s not super encouraging at this point, but as I said Friday – Marvel has some very big shoes to fill, and they have to know it. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of product they end up putting on the table, and Dark Horse still has a year to show them how it’s done.
One thing that’s still in question – and has fans worried – is the state of comic reprints. Although Dark Horse has confirmed that digital comics will remain in a buyer’s cloud on their app, the future of print collections is less clear. A Dark Horse rep told Big Shiny Robot that reprints “would require Disney to purchase the original files directly from Dark Horse,” but what can Dark Horse do with them come 2015? Can they reprint – or recollect – the older material they produced under the license, or is anything not in print by the end of 2014 doomed? Is it all in the hands of the IP holder – that is, Lucasfilm? (Where are they in that statement, Dark Horse?) Is that why Dark Horse was able to reprint the old Marvel material from the OT days: because Lucasfilm gave it to them?
In short, if you’ve been waiting to pick up any Star Wars trades or omnibuses from Dark Horse I’d probably grab them ASAP. (As always, I recommend Star Wars Tales and Tag and Bink.)
Marvel will take over the Star Wars comics license in 2015, StarWars.com announced this afternoon.
Marvel was the original comics home of the franchise, publishing Star Wars #1 in March 1977. There was plenty of speculation dating from almost the moment the Disney sale was announced that the license would return to Marvel. Dark Horse is the third-largest comics publisher, but Marvel is one of the big 2 – and perhaps more importantly, Disney also owns them.
Despite their history with Marvel, when Star Wars was beginning a renaissance in the early 90′s, Dark Horse was awarded the license. They’ve published a great many influential series over the years, from Dark Empire and Tales of the Jedi early on to fan-favorites like Legacy, Knights of the Old Republic and the new Star Wars series. Of the current ongoing series, Brian Wood’s Star Wars will end at #20, while Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko’s Legacy will end with #18.
I don’t know enough about Marvel to speculate on what they may do with the franchise, but it’s safe to say that Dark Horse was one of the more beloved licensees in fandom. They’ve always been willing to innovate and look outside the box, and there’s no doubt a lot of fear out there in fandom, no matter how expected this may have been. We’ve become very attached to the folks over there, from editor Randy Stradley on down, and it’s sad to see the end coming on that partnership.
“Dark Horse revolutionized the treatment of comics based on films,” company founder Mike Richardson said in a statement. “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.”
There’s no doubt that Dark Horse has changed the game and set a pretty high standard for a fandom that doesn’t take things lying down. Will Marvel manage to build on that success? Here’s hoping.
Ahead of this afternoon’s Disney earning call, Marvel and Netflix have announced that they’re teaming up to produce for original 13-episode series’ featuring the characters Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage, that cumulate in a Defenders mini-series.
Disney already has a distribution deal with Netflix that will make them “the exclusive U.S. subscription television service for first-run, live-action and animated movies,” including Lucasfilm. (That deal starts in 2016, which means the 2014 ‘digital library’ hint is still open to interpretation.) Could this Marvel deal foreshadow something similar with Star Wars eventually? It’s early yet, but keep it in mind for the future.
Explosions! Black Widow! Nick Fury! The Falcon! Robert Redford!
With Thor: The Dark Work on the horizon, Marvel and star Natalie Portman are launching the Ultimate Mentor Adventure to inspire more girls to explore STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. Girls 14 and up are eligible to apply. UL (Underwriters Laboratories), Dolby Laboratories, National Academy of Sciences and Girl Scouts USA are also sponsoring the effort.
Portman, who reprises her role as astrophysicist Jane Foster in the film, also had some interesting things to say about female characters:
“I want them to be allowed to be weak and strong and happy and sad – human, basically. The fallacy in Hollywood is that if you’re making a ‘feminist’ story, the woman kicks ass and wins. That’s not feminist, that’s macho. A movie about a weak, vulnerable woman can be feminist if it shows a real person that we can empathize with.”
Marvel may not have any (announced) movies with an undisputed female lead in the pipeline, but could they have a TV show? Deadline reports that they’re currently developing a show based on Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter. Atwell recently starred in Agent Carter, a short film on the Iron Man 3 DVD, that takes the character beyond the events of 2011′s Captain America. The short was well-received by early audiences.
Atwell’s return isn’t a sure thing, and the show going forward will no doubt be somewhat dependent on how Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. does, but it’s a welcome development. The Iron Man 3 DVD and S.H.I.E.L.D. both debut next Tuesday
So the spate of summer cons where Lucasfilm might announce news related to Episode VII has come and gone, and we’ve gotten some announcements, but nothing mind-blowing. As Dunc said earlier this week, let’s not lose our heads over it. Is it frustrating that Celebration Europe’s big reveal was John Williams, and nothing much came from D23 Expo? Perhaps. Especially when compared to the glut of Marvel movie news that came out at Comic-Con and appearances made at D23. But as film franchises go, Marvel is not Star Wars. And Star Wars is not Marvel.
The latest trailer for Thor: The Dark World reportably contains some of the footage that was shown at Comic-Con, and also features plenty of Loki.
Below the cut: New looks at Ender’s Game and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire