It’s official: Star Wars comics will return to Marvel in 2015

Marvel Star Wars #1Marvel will take over the Star Wars comics license in 2015, 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“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.

What will Disney buying Lucasfilm mean for the Star Wars Expanded Universe publishers?

What will happen to the Expanded Universe? Well, it’s too soon to tell, honestly, but a sequel trilogy could certainly mean upheaval in the galaxy far, far away – and the post-Return of the Jedi continuity that’s been in the works for the past several decades. My bare bones advice? It’s time to start hardening yourself to a more fluid concept of continuity and canon. (You might also want to check out IGN’s Joey Esposito’s great post on the 007 approach to continuity.) But it is far, far too soon to speculate about what new Star Wars movies will bring to the party when we don’t know anything about them aside from their basic existence. (Yes, I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts on all that later, but one thing at a time!)

One place we can speculate on is who’s going to handling that future in publishing. We’ve seen no indication that Disney is going to shake up the way Lucasfilm works, so we can assume that Lucasbooks will remain the guiding hand. But what of the licensees themselves? They all have contracts, so things will stay as they are for now. But once those contracts are up?

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LEGO extends Star Wars license for another decade

LEGO announced at Toy Fair that they have extended their license with Lucasfilm for Star Wars-themed toys, video games, etc. for another ten years. So not only will there be twenty new Star Wars LEGO building sets released in 2012, we’ll be seeing lots of LEGO Star Wars merchandise until 2022 (or probably longer).

As part of the announcement, they released some stats including that the LEGO Star Wars video game franchise has sold more than 30 million units with their four titles (and Joystiq seems to think they have a sequel in the works to their 2011 The Clone Wars video game). Also, from Toy Fair, Kotaku has some photos of some The Old Republic building sets and The Lord of the Rings sets (a new license for LEGO) and Collider’s got images of The Avengers sets. And for those who want to drool over all the revealed sets, FBTB has your full LEGO Star Wars set coverage from Toy Fair.

Star Wars is on the money, at the zoo, and more…

Chewbacca and Han Solo are looking to make a few more credits.These credits will do fine: The Pacific island nation of Niue will be issuing a series of Star Wars coins, starting in November. Ten $1 coins and eight $2 coins are being issued in this first part of their Star Wars series, which will continue with additional designs to be released in 2012, to coincide with the 3-D movie release, for a total of 40 coins. While they are legal tender on Niue (Queen Elizabeth II is on the obverse) and made by the New Zealand Mint, the coins probably won’t see much circulation on their island home as they will be minted in small quantities for sale on the collector’s market – no more than 50,000 of the $1 coins will be minted, while the $2 coins will be limited to only 7,500.

The $1 silver-plated coins sport the likenesses of ten classic trilogy characters: Yoda, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, C-3PO, Han Solo, Obi-wan Kenobi, R2-D2, Chewbacca, and Emperor Palpatine. Each of these, shipped in a holder, will cost about $20 US.

You got an ATM in that torso Lite-Brite?The $2 coins will come in special four-packs with display cases – the dark side set of four coins (Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, Stormtrooper, and Death Star) comes in a case shaped like Darth Vader’s mask, complete with breathing sound effects. The Rebel Alliance set comes in a Millennium Falcon case with hyperspace sounds and includes a Luke Skywalker & Princess Leia Organa coin, Han Solo & Chewbacca, Yoda & Obi-wan Kenobi, and C-3PO & R2-D2. Don’t expect to just pay 2 Niue dollars for these, as each of these coins is a whopping one ounce of silver!

Don’t feed the rancor! The Los Angeles Zoo will be having a Star Wars Day on August 27, including character visits, a sneak peek at the Blu-ray special features, and lots of comparisons between real world animals and the creatures and aliens of a galaxy far, far away. Just don’t pull a Jar Jar and accidentally let the animals loose!

Revelations decoded? Last week saw the release of two Star Wars comics, and launch of comics reviews on Big Shiny Robot by a familiar face. Check out GONK’s review of Invasion: Revelations #2 andThe Old Republic: The Lost Suns #3.

Gencon: Fantasy Flight previews Star Wars games

After announcing last week that Fantasy Flight Games had obtained the licensing rights for Star Wars-themed RPG, card and miniatures games, it seemed pretty natural for them to be demoing their upcoming titles at Gencon this past weekend. Beasts Of War interviewed Fantasy Flight Games on the two upcoming titles demoed the gaming convention: X-Wing, the miniatures game, and Star Wars: The Card Game. io9 enjoyed their chance to try out a demo version of the starfighter combat minis.

Buzz on Board Game Geek for the card game seems to be positive, especially from the fans of FFG’s other cooperative Living Card Games. But a few CCG gaming friends tried it out and weren’t as positive – was it a poor demo experience (not being told that it was cooperative and not competitive)? Several players remarked on the game having some bad artwork. Hopefully the look and feel will get more polished as they finish it up for its 2012 release. But as a co-op game with all players being the Rebels against the Empire, players seeking to play on the Dark Side of the Force will be left unhappy.

TheHopelessGamer has some pictures of both Star Wars: The Card Game, and X-Wing.