In a move that many fans have been anticipating since The Walt Disney Company acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, Marvel announced today that Star Wars comic books will return to the Disney-owned publisher beginning in 2015, the same year that will see the release of J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: Episode VII.
Marvel Comics first began publishing an ongoing Star Wars series when the original George Lucas film hit theaters in 1977. For the next nine years, Marvel followed the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo in an ongoing series that filled the gaps between each big screen adventure, even continuing for a while after the events of Return of the Jedi.
Although the move offers new possibilities for the license, some fans may find saying goodbye to Dark Horse Comics a more somber affair. Dark Horse has published Star Wars comics since 1991, launching with the saga sequel Dark Empire, which picked up post-Jedi.
"Dark Horse Comics published exceptional Star Wars comics for over 20 years," said Carol Roeder, director of Lucasfilm franchise publishing, Disney Publishing Worldwide said in a press statement, "and we will always be grateful for their enormous contributions to the mythos, and the terrific partnership that we had. In 2015, the cosmic adventures of Luke, Han, Leia and Chewbacca will make the lightspeed jump back to Marvel, to begin a new age of adventures within the Star Wars universe."
"We here at Marvel could not be more excited to continue the publication of Star Wars comic books and graphic novels," said Marvel Worldwide Publisher and President, Dan Buckley. "The perennial brand of Star Wars is one of the most iconic in entertainment history and we are honored to have the opportunity to bring our creative talent pool to continue, and expand Star Wars into galaxies far, far away."
"We're incredibly excited by this next chapter in the Star Wars saga," said Andrew B. Sugerman, executive vice president of Disney Publishing Worldwide. "Bringing together the iconic Lucasfilm and Marvel brands to tell new stories will allow us to continue to thrill lovers of the original Star Wars comic books and entertain generations to come."
Plans for new Star Wars comics are almost certainly tied to the December 18, 2015 release of Star Wars: Episode VII. Check back for further details on both as soon as they become available.