‘Star Wars’ comics to move from Dark Horse to Marvel in 2015

'Star Wars' comics to move from Dark Horse to Marvel in 2015Lucasfilm announced yesterday in an official press release that Star Wars comics will be moving from Dark Horse Comics, where they’ve been published for the last 22 years, to Marvel Comics, beginning in 2015. If this sounds like a monumental decision on the part of Lucasfilm to jump ship from a publisher it has a long history of successful partnership with for another, it’s not. In 2012, Disney purchased Lucasfilm and all things Star Wars. Disney also owns Marvel Comics.

It was only a matter of time before Marvel reacquired the Star Wars licence.

Marvel Comics was the first funny book company to publish Star Wars comics, beginning back in 1977 when the first movie first came out. It went on to publish Star Wars comics for nine years. Then, in 1991, Dark Horse Comics acquired the licence and began publishing comics based in the Star Wars universe.

If Disney didn’t own both Marvel Comics and Lucasfilms, I don’t see this move happening. At Dark Horse, the Star Wars property has center-stage. It’s the company’s top brand. At Marvel, Star Wars comics will never have a similar place with the company’s order of importance. At best it will always be a second-tier or third-tier property when compared to all the superhero stuff.

At Marvel, there’s also the outside chance that there will be an awful crossover with the Star Wars stuff and the superhero stuff. In the late 90′s, when Marvel had the rights to Star Trek, there were a couple of terrible crossovers with the X-Men. I think I speak for everyone when I say nobody wants to see Boba Fett and Deadpool team-up.

I’ve never read a Dark Horse Star Wars comic, and when I think about it, I don’t know why. I like Star Wars. I like comic books. I’m not sure why these two interests never intersected and resulted in me reading a Star Wars comic. I guess I should do something about that.

I wonder what’s going to happen to Dark Horse’s massive catalog of Star Wars collected trades. Will they be allowed to continue publishing these books after Marvel reacquires the licence. I’m guessing not. Now might be the time to start procuring these trades on Amazon while we still can.

Marvel Comics to introduce a female Muslim superhero

mamarvel1Marvel Comics will be publishing a new Ms. Marvel series in February where the title character will be a Muslim-American young woman from New Jersey. Kamala Khan, born to parents from Pakistan, discovers she has the ability to change shape and takes on the code-name Ms. Marvel, in honor of Carol Danvers, the original Ms. Marvel.

The book will be written by G. Willow Wilson, a former journalist and accomplished author of both comic books and word books. Wilson is also Muslim. She converted to the religion while attending college. At least that’s what it says on Wikipedia.

At first I didn’t know what to make of this announcement. On one hand, I don’t really understand referring to someone as a Muslim-American. A Muslim is someone who chooses to practice the religion of Islam. People aren’t born Muslim. Referring to someone as a Muslim-American, to me, seems as ridiculous as referring to someone as a Morman-American, a Scientologist-American, or a Baptist-American.

The religion someone chooses to practice is not the same thing as the color of someone’s skin.

On the other hand, a comic book about a female superhero who also happens to be Muslim, written by a woman who is also Muslim, might be interesting. Personally, I’m curious to see if and how Wilson handles the high level of misogyny that seems to be common in Islam. Will the character be forced to wear a Hijab when she is in the presence of men? Will her father allow her to drive a car? The book certainly has the potential to be… different.

Sometimes different can be good.

Gary Friedrich and Marvel Comics settle over Ghost Rider differences

Comic book writer Gary Friedrich and Marvel Comics (Disney) have settled their differences over ownership of the Ghost Rider character.

From Bleeding Cool, the comic book community’s website of record:

In a letter filed Friday to U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest by Friedrich’s lawyer, Charles Kramer, it is said that his client and Marvel ”have amicably agreed to resolve all claims between, among, and against all parties.” Deadlines for the case have been suspended pending a final settlement. The trial had been slated to start December 16th.

Hopefully this means Friedrich is walking away with some money for his troubles. Marvel Comics really showed its ass with its treatment of Friedrich, going after him for unlicensed Ghost Rider prints he was selling at various comic book conventions.

It was a ridiculous thing to do. First of all, the man created Ghost Rider. Without him, there would be no Ghost Rider. Second of all, anyone who has ever been to a comic book convention knows that it’s rife with copyright infringement. You have artists doing commission sketches for fans, many going for hundreds of dollars, based on characters they don’t have the legal rights to. You have vendors selling prints and other items featuring licensed characters without obtaining a license from the copyright owner.

Technically, it’s all copyright infringement. To only go after Friedrich was vindictive and mean.

The death of Peter Parker

ASM_700_CoverThe final issue of Amazing Spider-Man came out this week and it featured the death of Peter Parker, the secret identity of Spider-Man. Not only was Peter Parker killed off, it was done in the worst way imaginable: Doctor Octopus, Spider-Man’s genius archenemy while laying in his death-bed in maximum security super-villain prison, was able to lure Spider-Man to his bed-side where he then switched bodies with Spider-Man. I hate when that happens. Doc Ock now possessed the body of Spider-Man and Peter Parker lay dying in a diseased, stinky old man body of Doctor Octopus. As an added twist, the two men also have each other’s memories.

If it sounds like a stupid premise, even for a comic book, it’s because it is. It’s kind of like the movie Freaky Friday, only not done as a silly, wacky comedy.

Peter Parker, trapped in the body of Doctor Octopus, is able to escape prison with the help of some other lesser super-villains and he tries desperately to get his body back. His attempt of course fails and he ends of dying in the street after a final battle with his archenemy, who everyone thinks is really him.

Peter Parker is dead, but nobody, not his family, not his friends, know it.

Amazing Spider-Man is no longer. It ends with issue #700. In its place is a new book called Superior Spider-Man with Doctor Octopus taking the role of Spider-Man.

I find it strange the Marvel Comics would allow this to happen. Only a few short years ago, they decided that Peter Parker couldn’t be married because young people couldn’t identify with a married Spider-Man. Instead of just having Mary Jane and Peter Parker just divorce like regular people, because that would be immoral, they concocted this silly idea that featured Peter Parker striking a deal with the Devil. Peter Parker and Mary Jane would no longer be married and in exchange, Peter’s Aunt May wouldn’t die from a gunshot wound.

Only in the world of funny books would striking a deal with the Devil be more moral than getting a divorce.

If kids couldn’t relate to Spider-Man because he was married, how on earth will they relate to him now that he is secretly a middle-aged former super-villain with a Moe Howard haircut?

Comic book writer receives death threats in response to story

From a Dan Slott interview posted on Comic Book Resources in late August:

I’m really happy with our 1-2-3 punch of #698, #699 and #700. I think people are not going to forget this one. This story will raise some really strong emotions in Spider-Man fans. It will probably be one of the biggest things I ever do to a Marvel Comics character in my career.

I don’t know if people will start making little dart boards of me or not for this one. I’ve said it before, but I’m going into hiding after issue #700 comes out. I’m not looking at message boards. I’m not poking my head up out of that hole, because what happens in issue #700 is big!

It would appear that even though Amazing Spider-Man #700 hasn’t been released, it hits funny book shops on December 26, those really strong emotions in Spider-Man fans have already been raised. Spoilers to the issue have been popping up online and reportedly Slott has received death threats over the story.

Seriously, death threats.

It’s difficult for me to understand how anyone can threaten the life of someone over something they wrote about a fictional character. There’s real life and then there’s pretend life. What happens in comic books is pretend life. It’s hard for me to believe how anyone could threaten, let alone kill someone over a comic book. Then again, before last Friday, it would have been hard for me to believe that a person could go into an elementary school and slaughter 26 defenseless people, 20 of which were small children, with a military style assault rifle.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that there are some really weird and deranged people out there who are capable of just about anything.

Photo: CJM

Worst book review ever

The Wall Street Journal published a book review of Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics. The “review” is written by Tim Marchman, a baseball writer who used to work for the now defunct New York Sun newspaper. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book review published by the The Wall Street Journal, so maybe this is normal, but the article does’t really deal with the book being reviewed, but instead focuses on how awful both Marvel and DC are.

After reading Marchman’s article, I know less about Tall Buildings than I knew before.

Marchman doesn’t just go after the Big Two in comics publishing, he takes personal cheap shots at some of the people working in the field of superhero comics. For example, writer J. Michael Straczynski:

The first issues of “Before Watchmen” will be published next month. Among the writers working on it is former He-Man scripter J. Michael Straczynski, who once penned a comic in which Spider-Man sold his marriage to the devil. (This is the rough equivalent of having Z-movie director Uwe Boll film a studio-funded prequel to Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver.”)

That’s how Marchman defines Straczynski, that he’s the former writer of He-Man? The man has done so much more that. In fact, before reading this article, I hadn’t even known he once wrote He-Man cartoons. Why would I? Checking Wikipedia, it appears Straczynski wrote nine He-Man episodes. In comparison, Straczynski created the science fiction TV series Babylon 5 and wrote 92 of its 110 episodes. The show won two Emmy Awards and two Hugo Awards. Not a word about that, no, instead Marchman goes with He-Man, evidently Straczynski’s first job in television. Classy.

What’s even more ridiculous than the He-Man reference is the bit about Straczynski writing a comic where Spider-Man sold his marriage to the devil. Though technically Straczynski was the writer of said storyline, it wasn’t his idea. He was very vocal of the fact that he hated the premise and went so far as to try to get his name removed from the final issues. Either Marchman didn’t know this or chose to ignore it when throwing Straczynski under the bus. Either Marchman is ignorant or dishonest. Considering that he wrote the article for the WSJ, one of the country’s most respected newspapers, I don’t know which is worse.