Publisher’s Weekly recently put out an article regarding Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky’s excellent comic series Sex Criminals and the trouble that has been kicked up around Apple banning the book from being available for purchase within the Comixology app. The first issue made it through with no real issue but the second and third issues were blocked followed by the first issue being retroactively pulled. According to the article over 50 issues have been rejected by Apple this year. In the same year where digital comic sales on Comixology topped 200 million for the first time, more and more books are hitting stumbling blocks due to Apple’s terms and conditions for acceptability. As many are pointing out, this is a major reason why Android has started to take over a significant portion of the market share for portable devices. Personally I much prefer my Nexus 7 tablet over my old iPad. But this article isn’t about what electronics I prefer, it’s about the very serious debate regarding digital versus physical media.
I understand the drawbacks of owning actual issues all too well. I have forty longboxes filled with comic books that I will simply be unable to store much longer. But the drawbacks of digital collecting right now are so wide and varied that I have issues giving up my issues. First and foremost, there is the big issue that with Comixology you don’t really own your issues. Think about it. They’re somewhere on Comixology’s server. You sync them to your device but you don’t have the files backed up on a hard-drive somewhere because companies are afraid you’ll just distribute the books on torrent networks and drive them out of business. Image seems to eschew this by offering DRM free copies of their books on their website. But Comixology has created a sort of popularized monopoly on digital comics and having a single app to read ALL your favorite comics is so simple and convenient that they have become the online equivalent of Diamond Comics Distributors, for all intents and purposes. This may not be a major issue for some folks. Some people just want to read the books and forget about them afterward. But I enjoy re-reading books, it’s why I have so many boxes filled with issues and so many shelves lined with trade paperbacks. One day there may come a time when Comixology finds itself in financial trouble and you may no longer be able to access your comics. Is it a remote possibility? Yes, but it is a possibility.
Digital comics should not be this hard to make work. Image Comics direct model seems to be the best way to go about it. Download the issues at a fair price, DRM free in the format of your choosing. Marvel seems to be making a move to do something in-house with their digital comics that could be a step away from Comixology but, again, it seems to be based on a proprietary model where you do not actually own your comics. Until a system comes a long where I can safely feel as if i have ownership of my digital issues, I will not be able to switch completely. The convenience just isn’t as convenient as a regular pull list for me.
Marvel Now! is apparently Marvel Then, because All-New Marvel Now is set to debut this January, giving us a second wave of relaunched titles and characters in the wake of Jonathan Hickman’s Infinity mega-event. Thankfully, running titles don’t seem destined for a relaunch. Currently published titles will get .NOW issues to lead into the new wave. Marvel released a full-page press release to CBR hyping up the event.
The most popular characters. The most acclaimed creators. The most ambitious stories. This is the recharged All-New Marvel NOW!.
This Winter, the Marvel Universe heads in an exciting all-new direction, as the industry’s top creators like Brian Michael Bendis, Rick Remender, Dan Slott, Jason Aaron, Kieron Gillen & more, join the top Super Heroes– Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Spider-Man, Wolverine and other Marvel heroes– to deliver the best comics on the market with all-new ongoing series, AND must-read .NOW entry #1 issues for all readers!
It all starts in December with Avengers #24.NOW(=Avengers #1 in All-New Marvel NOW!), from the blockbuster creative team of Jonathan Hickman (Infinity, Avengers) and Esad Ribic (Thor: God Of Thunder, Uncanny X-Force), leading the Marvel Universe in a bold new direction by launching new series—often more than one—every week with unique mission statements, epic scales, and bigger conflicts than ever before.
Marvel then goes on to talk up some of their new titles, including a relaunched Invaders book and Matt Fraction’s long-gestating Inhuman title;
Then in January, All-New Marvel NOW! heads to the battlefront with All-New Invaders #1! From Eisner Award-Winning writer James Robinson (Starman, Earth 2) and red-hot artist Steve Pugh (Animal Man) comes a bold reimagining of your favorite Marvel Heroes. Brothers-in-arms Captain America, The Winter Soldier, Namor, and the Original Human Torch re-band for an all-new, all-different kind of war! But when the Kree Empire discovers a way to weaponize Norse Gods, can these timeless allies survive the deadly cosmic trenches? Find out as Marvel’s most enduring icons take to the stars in All-New Invaders #1!
But the start of the new year only gets bolder, as All New Marvel NOW! asks, “Are You Inhuman?” with Inhuman #1! Superstar creators Matt Fraction (Hawkeye, Invincible Iron Man) and Joe Maduiera (Avenging Spider-Man, Savage Wolverine) thrust the Inhumans into the spotlight as the newest power players in the entire Marvel Universe! Unfolding out of the cataclysmic events of Infinity, new Inhumans spring up around the globe forcing the once-secret society of Inhumans out into civilization! With Avengers-level powers and abilities, will they chose to stand with Earth’s Mightiest…or against them? As the chaos consumes the globe, discover the fate of King Black Bolt and his royal family as the world becomes Inhuman!
Sounds interesting to me, but even more interesting seems to be how hard Marvel is hammering their digital output. They’re running heavy with the digital codes, this time with an added twist;
Every FIRST ISSUE bearing the All New Marvel NOW! branding includes a code for a free digital copy of that same comic on the Marvel Comics app for iOS and Android devices. But that’s not all! Select .NOW! titles will also come with a digital code for the entire first collection of that series ABSOLUTELY FREE!
That’s right, buy the .NOW title and you could get a code to download the first collection of that series to boot. That’s an incentive that I can see driving more than a few people to pick up some titles they otherwise might skip. It’s a smart move by Marvel, one that pushes their digital presence and gives incentives to try out new books readers hadn’t previously thought of reading. Bravo, Marvel. You done good on this one.