The weekly assembling of notable Marvel news items from March 10th - 12th, 2013! This week's theme seems to be Marvel's push into the venue of digital comics! To whit:
Marvel Unlimited replaces MDCU; unites with Gizmodo!
In 2007, Marvel Comics first launched a digital comics project called "Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited", which allowed users to access a library of digital comics for a monthly fee. There was some attempt at exclusive content, although it often was usually printed physically anyway. Since then (or since 2010), Marvel have formed stronger ties to ComiXology to distribute digital content. Available only via browsers, Marvel have teamed up with Gizmodo to launch "Marvel Unlimited" (or "Marvel Spotify" as Gizmodo calls it) to expand this subscription program to iPads and iPhones. It will also be available for Android phones "soon".
The current rate for digital comic subscriptions via Marvel Unlimited is $10 a month or a promotional price of $60 to cover an entire year. At present, the digital library holds some 13,000 digital comics, including both recent issues and back-issues. While the HTML 5 app isn't the most advanced application, promises to upgrade it subsequently have been made. While major publishers like Marvel were hesitant to engage in major digital comics promotion - fearing undercutting direct market sales via physical shops - the truth is that digital comic sales don't seem to have effected the sales of physical comics in any negative way, and thus Marvel are now more willing to increase their efforts.
Marvel announces Project Gamma and #1 issue digital sale; ComiXology crashes!
At the South by Southwest interactive festival in Texas this weekend, Marvel revealed two major digital comics announcements. The first was called "Project Gamma", an initiative to add an "adaptive audio experience" to reading digital comics - perhaps akin to old 1980's cassettes which were sometimes interactive with some packaged comics. The second was a promotional sale with their ComiXology app to offer some 700 digital copies of #1 issues - from classics to recent launches - absolutely free until 11:00 p.m. tonight (March 12th).
The end result? Offering something free apparently is a swift way to overload a server. Since Sunday's announcement of the "Marvel #1" digital sale (or giveaway), ComiXology's servers have slowed or outright crashed for various intervals. The CEO of ComiXology, David Steinberger had to issue a statement promising to fix this situation and to honor any "sales" during the promotion that are ordered but can't be downloaded yet. In fact, as of last night, the program had to be suspended to allow ComiXology to fix and maintain their servers.
Naturally, the intention is to offer free product - especially the debuts of recent "Marvel NOW" launches - to encourage people to purchase subsequent issues or trades. One wonders that if Marvel are aware that such things work digitally, why don't they lower the price of physical #1 issues to encourage impulse buys?
Infinite Comics expands with more Wolverine!
Last year in advance of the "Avengers vs. X-Men" event, Marvel announced the "Infinite Comics" format - comics geared exclusively for the digital format and exclusively sold as such. Their first presentation mostly focused on Jeph Loeb's newest Nova. This week, Marvel announced that the format was going to become weekly starting in July. The first offering of this new era will be "Wolverine: Japan's Most Wanted", a 13 chapter story written by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour, with art by Pazo Diaz and digital storyboards by Yves Bigerel. The story features on the Hand, Silver Samurai, and Sabretooth adjusting tactics to try to kill Wolverine once and for all. Being created for the digital format and after the "Project Gamma" announcement, expect some animation and even sound and voice effects for this series.
The kick off on July 9th is hardly a coincidence; it is a fortnight before the release of "The Wolverine" by Fox Studios starring Hugh Jackman. While properties licensed to other studios outside of the Marvel/Disney wheelhouse such as Sony or Fox may not bring as much profit to Marvel as "Iron Man" or "The Avengers", it still is in their best interest that these films succeed, or at least don't bomb.
In additional Wolverine comics news, last week it was announced that Zeb Wells and Joe "Mad" Madureira would reunite for a Wolverine story featuring him teaming up with Spider-Man and Elektra. This week, it was revealed that this story would in fact be featured in one of the character's two ongoing series, kicking off in "Savage Wolverine #6" and running three issues. This is presumably to give Frank Cho - the writer/artist for "Savage Wolverine - lead in time for a second arc.