We all had fun here on April Fool’s day, and celebrated by compiling a list of our favourite Star Wars pranks from around the web, proving that it is a prime source of good natured hi-jinks. So naturally when Dark Horse comics revealed that they’d be offering an “ultra-rare” variant of the recently announced Barb Wire #1 in exchange for sending in 20 copies of Marvel’s upcoming Star Wars #1, most believed it to be an elaborate ruse as the offer just happened to be announced on April 1st 2015. Now this may not seem the case, as Dark Horse editor Randy Stradley has recently revealed this to be in fact true!
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Stradley has said that “The whole point of the announcement was to get attention for the new Barb Wire series,” stating that the idea to announce it on April Fool’s day was deliberate as they found the promotion “funny”, but then decided “to come back a week later and say, ‘No, we’re serious,’ and get additional attention. Why take just one bite from the apple when you can take two?” The attention garnered from the announcememnt was positive, and Stradley mused that “We were glad to see that so many people got a laugh from it,” adding that the only one’s not willing to join in were “Mostly die-hard Marvel fans who seem to have been offended for Marvel’s sake, conveniently forgetting that a couple of years ago, Marvel pulled a similar kind of promotion with DC as the goat.”
Dark Horse are a Portland, Ore. based publishing company printing since 1986, and are known for their edgier comics series including Sin City and Hellboy. They had the rights to several movie comic series including Indiana Jones and The Terminator, and they had been publishing Star Wars comics for almost 23 years, which they did with aplomb. Their characterisations proved to be a huge hit with the fans and introduced new characters that have become favourites in EU literature including Cade Skywalker, Quinlan Vos and the New Sith Order. Stradley fondly reminisces “I personally ran the franchise at Dark Horse from 2001 to 2014, and I think, if you talk to any of the fans who were reading our stories, they’ll tell you that we did Star Wars right.” The grittier versions of fan favourites and newer characters added a sense of realism and excitement to the friendlier world we’d seen on screen, and the exquisite artistry and dense storylines really made the universe feel like a dark and dangerous place, which it can be when you delve into the EU.
Darth Talon vs. Cade Skywalker
“I personally ran the franchise at Dark Horse from 2001 to 2014, and I think, if you talk to any of the fans who were reading our stories, they’ll tell you that we did Star Wars right.” – Randy Stradley, Dark Horse Editor
The decision by Marvel to acquire the comics comes as no surprise to the fans, as Disney own their worldwide parent company Marvel Entertainment, plus they had their own run of the Star Wars comic adaptation back in 1977. The upcoming recoloured and rereleased anthology series of these original comics are due out in May, and currently have over one million copies in circulation over six print runs, so there’s plenty for those who want to honour Dark Horse’s promotion. Stradley notes his reaction to the acquisition of the publishing rights by Marvel “There was a bit of bitterness there, but we understand that business is business. What I personally didn’t appreciate was the posturing from Marvel as if they had somehow won back the rights. So when the idea for this promotion was discussed, I was all for it.”
There’s no denying that Disney are good for merchandising (evidenced by having their own store) and it may seem unfamiliar, and slightly disillusioning, to the hardcore collector collective seeing their favoured Boba Fett figures sharing shelf space with Timon and Pumbaa. But Star Wars has always been powered by the fans and their insatiable appetite for all things articulated, replicated and re-released. I myself am now the proud owner of a set of Star Wars bedsheets that I received for my 29th (sic) birthday, the packaging proudly displaying the Disney logo above Star Wars. So the level of merchandising shall not be dissuaded by the Disney takeover; if anything, it will reinvigorate and possibly redefine the way we collect from now on. Lest we forget that George Lucas made his fortune by retaining merchandise rights to the original movies, plus the introduction of the smaller 3 3/4 inch toys changed action figures forever, so this is a franchise made more exciting and accessible by the collectibles. The limited nature of the Barb Wire print could fall into Star Wars fandom as well, so even that may become a highly sought-after collectible in years to come.