In a move that should surprise no one, Dark Horse announced yesterday that they no longer have the right to publish comics based on 20th Century Fox’s Alien and Predator franchises. At almost the same time, Marvel announced that they now have the rights to same. From a business perspective, it makes sense: Disney now owns Fox. Editorially, Marvel might not be interested in kids’ comics (they license their kid-friendly comics to IDW), but they do like aliens that could pose a credible threat to their superheroes.
And that’s it… it’s business. Though I’d argue that the main reason Fox realized they have franchises in those two creatures is because of Dark Horse’s work. In a gracious statement yesterday, Dark Horse owner/publisher Mike Richardson said as much:
…Our first Aliens series, written by Mark Verheiden and illustrated by Mark A. Nelson, was a smash success, moving away from the generic storylines common in film and television-based titles and toward actual sequels to the original material. The success of Aliens led directly to another series based on a Fox science fiction film, Predator, written by Mark Verheiden and illustrated by Chris Warner. This first series was the basis for the Predator film sequel, and Warner’s iconic first issue cover served as the inspiration for the sequel’s film poster. The natural extension of those licenses led Dark Horse to come up with the monster hit, Aliens vs Predator. Mixing the two franchises was a huge success with fans, and became one of the most successful series in the history of the direct market.
Richardson went on to acknowledge they have many new successful projects, some licensed like Stranger Things and Avatar: The Last Airbender. And as far as I know, they’re also still publishing occasional Disney/Pixar comics. (At last summer’s D23 Expo, Marvel touted their movies and television; the only new comics to be found were at a Dark Horse booth.)
As Dark Horse is in film and television production, this isn’t the loss it might seem. Because these IPs weren’t theirs in the first place, it means they have licensing money free to create new projects that maybe they could make transmedia — another Umbrella Academy, perhaps?
And as the Predator has crossed Batman, Superman, and even Archie, imagine it facing the X-Men in the Savage Land, or the Avengers in the savage streets of Manhattan…
Today, Marvel Entertainment announced three iconic franchises – ALIEN, PREDATOR, and ALIEN VS. PREDATOR – will be launching all-new stories with Marvel Comics starting in 2021! Revealed exclusively by IGN, the new comic series will feature new and classic characters from Earth and beyond to explore never-before-seen corners of both the Alien and Predator universes.
Following the debut of Alien in 1979 and Predator in 1987, the films built a cult following and expanded rapidly to include toys, games, novels, and comic books, eventually leading to 2004’s landmark crossover Alien vs. Predator. Marvel’s new stories will draw from all of these properties, building on decades of multimedia storytelling. Get a first look at next year’s deadly new chapter with spine-chilling cover art by David Finch!
“There’s nothing more thrilling than a story that will keep you at the edge of your seat, and Alien and Predator have delivered that time and time again!” C.B. Cebulski, Editor-in-Chief of Marvel, told IGN. “I can clearly remember where I was when I saw each of these modern masterpieces for the first time, and reveling in how both masterfully weave extraterrestrial dread and drama into some of the most iconic scenes we’ve ever seen on film. And it’s that legacy that we’re going to live up to!”
“The incredible legacies of both franchises offer some of the most compelling and exciting worldbuilding in all of science fiction,” said Marvel Editor Jake Thomas. “It is a thrill and an honor to be able to add to that mythology and continuity with all-new stories set within those universes.”
“Alien and Predator are the two of the most identifiable, iconic characters of all time, and I love them for that,” said Finch. “But mostly, it’s being fortunate enough to be a kid when they were new. I’ve seen every movie they’ve ever been in, and I cannot wait to see them wreaking havoc in the Marvel Universe. I drew my pictures of them with a massive smile on my face.”
“As a visual medium, comics are the perfect place to build on those moments, and we here at Marvel are honored to begin telling these stories for fans everywhere,” added Cebulski. “As our release schedule continues to return, we can’t wait to share more in the coming months!”
They may be telling stories set in their own contained AVP universe, but that’s not stopping the crossovers, as you can tell from the Predator image Marvel included.