For those of you who have not yet heard or read about it, Dark Horse – holder of the Star Wars publishing license for over 20 years now, and the publisher of such fantastic stories as Dark Empire, Knights of the Old Republic, and my most recent favorite series, Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin – is losing Star Wars to Marvel, come 2015. Or, should I say more aptly, to Disney. Check it out on Dark Horse’s website, right here.
Our fearless leader and editor monkey, Chuck, called this last year, after the Lucasfilm/Disney deal was done, as we stood in Royal Collectibles, our home away from home. I sighed and said that I could see it happening, but hoped otherwise. Alas, Chuck, you were right again – dagnabbit, stop that.
What’s the big deal, right? After all, isn’t it like Star Wars is going home? Marvel published the first Star Wars comics back in the ’70s, right? Why, yes. You’re right. In fact, somewhere in the deep, dark recesses of my storage space, I’m pretty sure I still have my giant Marvel special edition Star Wars comic, which I read and carried, folded in my backpack (please don’t judge, I was young and dumb), and read by flashlight night after night long after I was supposed to be asleep.
What’s the big deal, you ask? For me, it’s a matter of monopoly, I guess. It’s yet another huge merger – Disney owns Marvel, therefore it’s got to move everything under one roof. It’s a loss of diversifying, for one thing, which will inevitably (but hopefully not) lead to losses of jobs and income for one company while a megacorporation gets more.
It’s a loss of amazing storytelling. I don’t remember where or when, but sometime in the early 1990s, I came across Dark Empire. I hadn’t seen a Star Wars comic in years, but there it was. This was before Timothy Zahn gave us the Thrawn trilogy and helped bring about the Star Wars novels that so many of us love today. No, at the time I discovered Dark Empire, I had my movie novelizations, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, and Brian Daley’s Han Solo trilogy to keep my bookshelf happy. To discover a new Star Wars story was tremendous. And it was GOOD. The writing, the art – it was all just amazing. It introduced me to the art of Dave Dorman, who is still one of my favorite Star Wars artists of all time. For a fangirl who was only just learning about comics, this was the equivalent of Dorothy landing in Oz.
Dark Horse, through the years, has continued to give me phenomenal Star Wars storytelling, and allowed me to share my love of the series and comic books with my kids. My sons taught me to play Knights of the Old Republic on PC. In turn, I gave them the KOTR omnibus. My 10 year-old would ask me to check my pull list, week after week, so I could tell him when to expect the next copy of Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin. There was Legacy, Crimson Empire, Purge, Star Wars Tales (Peter David, people!), and so many other stories. Yes, they’ll still be there – in fact, Dark Horse has assured their digital customers that their comics will not be going anywhere; they’ll be in the cloud, safe and sound – but will Marvel give them the heart that Dark Horse did? This is purely a portfolio enhancement Disney. It’s bringing all their properties under one roof. For Dark Horse, a self-described bunch of “Star Wars geeks”, this was a passion.
For those of you who remember my little tirade when Marvel canceled Journey Into Mystery and Gambit (and coming next: Young Avengers!), let’s also remember that they are very quick – VERY QUICK – to cancel titles, no matter how long-standing. Journey Into Mystery introduced Thor to audiences, folks. In 1962. So what happens if a Star Wars title doesn’t bring in Avengers numbers? Will Disney show the dedication to titles that Dark Horse spent 20+ years world-building?
Let’s look at the human equation. This move could hurt fans who don’t live near a comic book store, but do live near a major bookseller. Marvel has pulled back considerably on their bookstore presence for single issues, because they don’t bring the numbers that comic book stores do.
Gaining Star Wars isn’t going to make or break Disney/Marvel. But it could hurt Dark Horse – lord knows, I hope it doesn’t, but it could happen. And now, Dark Horse has to fill in this space with a title that will bring in Star Wars-type numbers. Can they do it? They have a year to start building a base, and I’m with them all the way. (Psst… guys. More Hellboy. Much love.) Look what they’ve done with Hellboy – they’ve created a solid universe that includes BPRD, Abe Sapien, and Lobster Johnson, not to mention finally bringing my man Big Red back, doing time in Hell.
Bottom line: Yes, Marvel could totally bring in Star Wars fanboys and geeks to continue the stories and give us new ones. I’m hoping that’s how it shakes out. Why wouldn’t I? I’m a comics fan and a Star Wars fan, I don’t want anyone to fail. At the same time, this news makes me sad, because it seems, on the surface, like yet another bloodless move by a big kid to grab all the marbles from the little kid who really worked hard to collect them.
Good luck, Dark Horse – I’m with you. And Marvel – don’t screw this up.