Marvel's App appears on the iPad.
Not long ago, I reported on Marvel Comics offering their books on different comic reader iTunes Apps like ComiXology, iVerse and PanelFly. Well, time with the release of the iPad (which according to Apple is magical in nature), Marvel has released it's own app to the public. Reviewing shall commence... now!
The iPad app in portrait mode.
First a disclaimer, I don't own an iPad. Not because I don't want to own one but because I own an iPod Touch already and don't have at least $500 to blow. I'm sure the app looks even better on the iPad than on my Touch. Which is not to say that it looks bad on the Touch, quite the opposite. Colors are vibrant, artwork is crisp and double tapping on text makes it easily readable.
The app does a wonderful job guiding you through each page from panel to panel and then zooming out to reveal everything. It's very responsive when you rotate your device to accomodate the current panel size in portrait or landscape mode. The left and right navigation is quick and natural.
The app navigation itself is fairly easy, once you create a marvel.com account. It automatically signs you in and keeps track of your downloaded comics and recently viewed. You can browse and search by series, creator, genre... etc. There are also tabs for Featured comics and Free comics and it is very cool to see all of your downloaded comics in the cover flow mode.
The functionality of the app is top-notch. Look and feel were exactly what I expected. The drawback that I found to the app was that each digital comic costs $1.99 (with a few free ones to hook people in). I couldn't bring myself to buy any of them! I downloaded all the free comics that were available and the application itself is free, but all the comics being $1.99 felt too pricey. I felt the same miserly feeling as when I buy movies that aren't packaged with a digital copy: I won't pay for the same entertainment twice. If each physical comic came with a code to download the digital copy or if I didn't already collects a majority of those comics, perhaps I wouldn't have felt so cheap.
Overall, the app is a great first try at bringing comic books into the digital marketplace. It doesn't sacrifice art or story to translate into the new medium. It also doesn't enhance the experience in a way that justifies paying for it, the way a motion comic (also $1.99) does justify. I think it will be a great tool for bringing in a few new readers who are enamored with the novelty of reading comics on their iWhatevers, but I can't say that this is the business model that will keep comics alive in digital form nor do I think it will revive comics (were they dead?). At least Marvel is trying, though. I've yet to hear or see anything like this from DC. Tell me how brilliant or psychotically deluded I am in the comments below!