For the past 23 years, Dark Horse Comics has developed and fostered a multitude of Star Wars stories, contributing to the ever growing expanded universe. From Dawn of the Jedi to Legacy, Dark Horse writers and artists have delved into and focused on different points of the Star Wars timeline. It felt like everything and anything was up for grabs when it came to exploration and creativity. It is with great sadness and excitement that we see an era come to an end with Dark Horse as Star Wars returns to Marvel Entertainment. The next age of Star Wars adventures is set to begin in 2015.
With this change comes the possibility of new and exciting prospects. In 2012, Marvel re-imagined comics by introducing their comic readers to a world that combines both the print and digital medium known as augmented reality. Using their smart phones and tablets, fans are able to unlock exclusive content by scanning certain panels, which enhances the reading experience. There could also be the possibility of seeing Star Wars comics done in the fashion of Marvel’s Infinite Comics, which are digital comics that combine the feel of a traditional comic book and the tools available to artists and writers in the digital realm (similar to motion comics).
Marvel is constantly thinking about the future and how to engage the average comic book reader. In order for Star Wars comics to move forward with emerging comic book technology and distribution methods, I think they’re in good hands with Marvel in that aspect. However, I am still wary of the story content in future Star Wars comics. With this new age, does this mean that we’ll see comics solely focusing on the sequel trilogy or will the saga be allowed to expand as it did under Dark Horse Comics for the past 23 years?
In the press release, besides the quotes and sentiments of a positive future, the words “Disney Publishing Worldwide” stood out the most for me, the publishing group controlled by The Walt Disney Company–the same publishing group that gears their books towards young children (0 through 12 years old). With the growing concern about the future of Star Wars novels and Disney consolidating its products, does this spell out bad news for Star Wars books and the expanded universe in general? Your guess is as good as mine. Currently, Star Wars books are published under the LucasBooks imprint, which is published by Del Rey. Del Rey Books is a branch of Ballantine Books, which is owned by Random House, Inc. Star Wars and Del Rey Books have an even longer relationship together than that of Dark Horse, since it was the original publisher, beginning with the novelization of the 1977 film months before its release. That said, it would be an even harsher blow if the Star Wars novels were to move to a different publishing group.
Am I delighted about the Star Wars comic book news? Well, I wasn’t over the moon about it, that’s for sure. Marvel and I haven’t been seeing eye to eye lately in terms of content and it has been some time since I last picked up a Marvel comic. Let’s just say, I’m somewhere in between. All I know is that I’m thankful for what Dark Horse has done over the years. Although I had been reading Marvel comics long before, my first Star Wars comic was Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Slaves of the Republic, Chapter 1: The Mystery of Kiros. As an avid Star Wars: The Clone Wars fan, I remember being so excited for its release.
My most prized possession? Star Wars #1, the first issue of the original Marvel Star Wars series of comic books.
Dark Horse Comics still has a lot Star Wars in store for the rest of 2014:
- Jonathan Rinzler’s The Star Wars #0 is out now
- Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows #2 (of 5) on sale January 15, Cry of Shadows #3 on sale February 19, Cry of Shadows #4 on sale March 19
- Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi—Force War #3 (of 5) on sale January 15, Force War #4 on sale February 19, Force War #5 on sale March 19
- Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman’s Star Wars: Legacy #11 on sale January 22, Legacy #12 on sale February 26, Legacy #13 on sale March 26
- Rinzler’s The Star Wars #5 (of 8) on sale February 5
- Star Wars: Legacy Volume 3 Hard Cover on sale February 12
- Star Wars: Dark Times Volume 7 — A Spark Remains Trade Paperback on sale February 26
- Matt Kindt’s Star Wars: Rebel Heist 4-issue mini-series is set to premiere in April
- Brian Wood’s Star Wars #13 on sale January 8, Star Wars #14 on sale February 12, Star Wars #15 on sale March 12 (his series will end with issue #20)
According to Newsarama, fans with a digital comic collection from Dark Horse need not worry about the future of their collection. However, when 2015 comes around, readers won’t be able to purchase new Star Wars comics through Dark Horse.
Luckily, Dark Horse Comics has confirmed to Newsarama that yes, your digital purchases of Star Wars comics will still be available to you, either on your device of choice, or accessible via the cloud storage. They won’t go anywhere with the license transfer, so feel free and secure to keep buying that way if it’s your preferred method. If you didn’t even know you could do such a thing, you can do it right here at the Star Wars brand section of the Dark Horse Digital store.
Unfortunately, fans will not be able to purchase new digital Star Wars comics on the Dark Horse store post 2014, the publisher confirmed. So if you’re hankering for a big digital collection of their 22 year history, you need to start your buying now, and do it by the end of the year.
Also, to read an analysis about how the Star Wars move to Marvel could affect comic book readers, I recommend Graeme McMillan’s article over at The Hollywood Reporter.
Image source: Marvel