Today Marvel has officially launched its brand new app for reading comics on the iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad. I figured I’d give the app a quick download and post my initial impressions. To start off with, Marvel has teamed up with Comixology for this app. That means the Marvel app works exactly as Comixology does. You can read the comics in any orientation you please. The screen is divided into three sections, for ease of use. So here’s how it works. You touch the left portion of the screen in order to flip to a previous page/panel, touch the middle portion of the screen to bring up the menu, and finally touch the right portion of the screen in order to flip to the next page/panel. The biggest difference between the two apps is that the Marvel app features only Marvel titles.
Marvel actually went back to the drawing board in order to create digital comics in a way that just makes sense. As you read a comic only one panel at a time is displayed. While on the iPad you have the choice to read the comic as you would a normal book, it’s far nicer to read panel by panel. For starters, the images look downright amazing on all of the devices. On the iPad though, I would imagine they look the best of all, simply given the sheer quality of the screen. As you move from one panel to the next, by touching the right portion of the screen, there is a brief animation that takes you to the next panel. What I like about this system is that it focuses your eye on where the writer/artist want your eyes to be. You can’t spoil the experience for yourself by glancing to the bottom of the page, which often happens while reading your everyday comics.
At any moment you also have the ability to zoom in ultra close on any of the given panels. What’s really nice with this ability is that you can see the art in a whole new resolution. The print books don’t come close to matching the overall quality featured here. That’s saying something too. If you’re a fan of a certain artist you’re going to adore this app.
Finally, the Marvel app features a robust search engine that makes finding a certain series by either its name, its writer and artist, a complete breeze. I was easily able to find the early Spider-Man stories by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko with just a few easy screen touches. The settings menu also allows you to activate push notifications so you’re warned whenever Marvel puts a new comic on their store for a specific series you’re interested in. You can also ask to be warned of any update made to the store.
If you leave the app to work on something else, you can return to your comic of choice at any time by simply pressing the Marvel app icon. This is a great feature if you’re reading a book on the go, and need to do something else for a few seconds. After you’re done, just hit the Marvel app icon, and presto, you’re back to reading Amazing Spider-Man again.
Currently Marvel is offering six comics for free if you download the app today, or within the next few days. The free comics include Amazing Spider-Man #546, Amazing Spider-Man #547, Fantastic Four #570, Hulk #1, New Avengers #1, and New Avengers #2. Keep in mind that I’m downloading these comics from the Canadian store so it’s entirely possible that the books on the American store will differ slightly.
I suppose the last thing to talk about is the price point Marvel is currently using for their digital comics. Right now all comics are $1.99. That’s a bit much considering a real comic goes for $2.99/$3.99. I know $2 really isn’t much, but I was really hoping for $1 books. The idea here is to try and convince more people to buy comics and get them involved in the industry. I do understand that Marvel had to go back and digitize all of these books, in order to make them look at stunning as they do, but still, $1 would have been the perfect price point.
My initial impressions are very positive, and I strongly believe that if Marvel lowers the price to $1 or comes up with some kind of subscription plan, then they could really do some damage. Right now I highly recommend everyone gives this a download to try the free books out. If you’ve never been into comics before, this may just open your eyes. For real comic collectors out there, I’d give this a download solely to see what the fuss is all about, and to purchase some of the rarer books out there. $2 to read Amazing Spider-Man #1 is a lot better than $10,000.