The success of film series such as the Spiderman and X-Men franchises has the world thinking beyond comic books when Marvel comes to mind. Now a mainstay in the movie business, the veteran comic publisher has decided to take its tales of super heros and villains even further by introducing them in all new digital formats.
Classic Comic Adventures Reborn
At this year’s SXSW, the annual festival that brings together entertainment and technology, Marvel Entertainment announced a digital comics revolution aptly called “ReEvolution.” The initiative aims to integrate traditional print and digital media to create an experience the likes comic fans have never witnessed before. With smartphones and tablet devices flying off the shelves faster than they can be stocked, now appears to the perfect time for Marvel to attempt something like this.
To begin, Marvel is rolling out its ReEvolution project in two phases: Marvel Infinite Comics, and Marvel AR. Marvel Infinite Comics is a new format designed to bring the art of comic book story telling to the smartphone and tablet platforms. AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #1 INFINITE, the first title to be launched in the new format, will be available on April 4, 2012. Fans can purchase the digital comic on the Marvel Comics app, which is free when redeeming the code inside of print versions of the issue.
Powered by Aurasma’s visual browsing technology, Marvel AR (Augmented Reality) is also set for an April release on Android and iOS devices. AR is essentially a mobile app that allows comic book fans to scan select Marvel products to unlock exclusive material featuring the Hulk, Wolverine, Spider Man, Thor, Iron Man and other popular characters from the Marvel universe. The exclusive content is said to include new and behind the scenes footage, commentary from the comic book creators, details on industry events and much more.
Competition the Best Motivation
Although Marvel has been a leader and top sales getter in the comic book industry for years, the ReEvolution initiative shows that it truly understands the importance of “evolving.” With long time rival DC making moves to dive deeper into the digital realm, the last thing it could do was sit back and do nothing. It is that type of mentality that led to Borders being outpaced by the forward-thinking Barnes and Noble, who has managed to remain relevant despite the emergence of digital publishing.
When it comes to combining the traditional print and digital worlds of comic book publishing, a resource-loaded giant like Marvel has plenty of paths from which to choose, but targeting the tablet crowd definitely appears to be a step in the right direction. The Age of Bronze, a graphic novel series created by Eric Shanower, was released last year in the form of an iPad app. Titled “Age of Bronze ‘Seen,'” the app is powered by software publisher Throwaway Horse’s “Behind the Scene” engine, a technology that integrates features such as links, maps and community involvement. The app has been a huge success thus far, and if this serves as indication of what Marvel can do, comic book fans could be in for a real treat.
Last summer, DC took a huge step forward in the comic book game with a relaunch of its entire line of super hero titles. Dubbed “The New 52,” the initiative, which saw DC introduce its heroic tales in both print and digital formats, helped the publisher steal some of the spotlight from Marvel, as well as a spot at the top of the sales charts. Not to be outdone, Marvel is fighting back by trying to take digital innovation in the comic world to a whole new level. It is an epic battle, but one thing’s for sure: the fans are the real winners here.