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:
As we’ve been reporting, the makeover of Disneyland’s Tomorrowland with a new Star Wars spaceport feel has another step forward, but only a small step. MiceAge, which has been the primary source of Disneyland expansion rumors, has reported that the “first phase of the Star Wars makeover of Tomorrowland did get the green light from Burbank in December.”
However, they go on to report that the first phase, of re-doing the front half of the Anaheim’s Tomorrowland area as a Star Wars-themed spaceport, as well as the second phase of creating a bunch of new attractions for a Star Wars land, might be on hold due to funding, and that on-hold state has allowed the design team to switch from just original trilogy elements to incorporating things from Episode VII:
The Imagineers assigned to the Star Wars Tomorrowland project have now been debriefed on the characters and plotlines coming for Star Wars Episode VII that opens in theaters in about two years. …. Those key [original trilogy based] attractions are all still part of phase two, but they are being layered or tweaked to include references from Episode VII that will be released in theaters at least 18 months before any of those attractions open.
As for bringing more Star Wars to Orlando? The word is that it “appears to be simply cancelled for Disney’s Hollywood Studios.”
With Episode VII scheduled to open December 2015, that “at least 18 month” timeframe puts into June 2017 or later.
While we’ve known that the “bonus content” being worked on for The Clone Wars wasn’t necessarily going to bring closure to the series, Lucasfilm told Newsarama that at least one of the show’s loose ends will be told in comic form this spring, giving a big finale both for Darth Maul and for Dark Horse Comics.
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir will be a four-part comic starting in May, based on unproduced screenplays. Newsarama interviews the writer, Jeremy Barlow, on what’s in store for this tale. With a title of Son of Dathomir, one might expect a return to the planet, and revenge against Darth Sidious, but Barlow also teases some more locales and characters as well, including a new one named Brother Viscus.
Newsarama points out that while this unproduced story arc is being told first in comic form, it doesn’t mean that it will only be told in this form. I wouldn’t take this as anything more than Lucasfilm simply leaving the door open, and not as a sign that it will be actually realized in animated form.
Although Newsarama is calling this storyline the series finale, the show’s “final arc,” there’s been some clarification from Lucasfilm folks:
The Maul comic is very cool, but it *wasn’t* the series finale. It was a 4-part arc that fell beyond what was already in production.
— Pablo Hidalgo (@infinata) January 8, 2014
If there's still confusion: the new Dark Horse miniseries only deals with a Darth Maul arc from near end of the series. Not a series finale!
— Jennifer Heddle (@jenheddle) January 8, 2014
Long story short: It wraps up the Darth Maul arc, but isn’t the show’s intended finale. Pablo also says it wasn’t intended for S6.
The LEGO Summer 2014 catalog has slipped out, and its Star Wars lineup offers a few hints for Rebels – and possibly more of The Yoda Chronicles? When the list of toy sets first started slipping out, Peter at Lightsaber Rattling explained what some of the set names might mean, while more recently Tomás at Groove Bricks got the list set descriptions, which puts most of the speculation to rest, and introduces some characters from Rebels.
The Ghost set, which is spotted in some online pictures of the catalog, is pretty clearly The Ghost, the new ship of Star Wars Rebels, revealed last year, and has a minifigure of a character named Zeb. The Phantom comes with a minifigure with a second character name: Ezra Bridger.
Join the Rebel resistance against the evil Empire in The Phantom attack shuttle, as seen in the exciting Star Wars: Rebels animated TV series! Place young Rebel hero Ezra Bridger in the detachable cockpit and store his cadet helmet and blaster in the carg
Fly The Phantom into battle against the evil Empire!
Jason Ward over at Making Star Wars pieces all the names (and ships) together.]
The other hard-to-decipher set name is what most sites are calling Jedi Hunter (or Jedi Hunter Frontier) while Groove Bricks also found a source calling it Jedi Scout Fighter. While Lightsaber Rattling originally speculated that it’s a Rebels-themed set, the minifigure list connects it to The Yoda Chronicles, with a new version of JEK-14. Unless JEK-14 (the Force-powered clone from The Yoda Chronicles) jumps from the LEGO Star Wars specials to Rebels, it seems that this set is a follow-up to 2013′s set based on The Yoda Chronicles. Does that mean that more adventures of JEK-14 are coming to the screen next year, since his fellow figures aren’t ones that I recognize from the three episodes of The Yoda Chronicles?
Also coming out this summer from LEGO: a new snowspeeder, AT-AT, Star Destroyer, B-Wing and Mos Eisley Cantina! Lots of love for original trilogy this summer.
So, we have a few more merchandise-related leaks for Rebels, and a sign that there might be more follow-up to The Yoda Chronicles?
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.)
The circle is now complete! Mythbusters, the Discovery Channel show that attempts to confirm or bust urban legends and Hollywood magic by recreating the circumstances and using science to explain, is leading off their 2014 season with a special devoted to Star Wars.
The January 4 episode (Discovery at 8pm ET/PT) features hosts and former ILM special-effects experts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, along with team members Grant Imahara, Tory Belleci, and Kari Byron as they verify the plausibility of several epic Star Wars stunts. Joined by R2-D2, Chewbacca, members of the 501st Legion and actress Sophia Bush, the two build teams will take on some of the favorite scenes, hoping to find out answers to questions posed by Star Wars fans for years:
While it was pretty easy to see today’s Marvel announcement coming, things are much less clear-cut when we’re talking about another high-profile Star Wars publishing licensee: Del Rey.
(I’m putting all issues of canon, continuity and the sequels aside for this post. Those are big decisions made at Lucasfilm, not by their licensees: We can discuss it another time. This post is solely about the franchise’s publishing rights.)
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.
A Fett movie is a pretty good bet at this point – no doubt why the character has continued to a focus of rumors – and we do know that Kasdan would be writing one of them. So it’s plausible, if nothing else.
Schnepp’s Fett comment comes at 04:10. “I know for a fact,” he says, though they then joke about a site that’s known for running (even more bogus than usual) rumors, so who knows. There’s another significant Star Wars portion that runs through 57:50 to about 1:21:00.