Less than two weeks ago, rumors began to circulate about Marvel planning a New 52-style reboot with their books. Teaser posters were released featuring 52 slashes and the word “FIRST” with a #1 made up of the names of the brand’s biggest heroes. Shortly after those hit the web, new versions of the posters were unveiled that said that we would get our answers at this year’s South By Southwest Interactive Festival. It was then on March 10th at the Marvel panel that the House of Ideas revealed some of their biggest ideas to date.
First, they announced Project: Gamma, an adaptive audio experience for digital comics that links music with the images that you’re seeing on the screen. Marvel is teaming up with Momentum Worldwide and CORD (A Cutting Edge Company composed of composers and producers of films such as ‘Looper’, ‘Drive’, and the ‘Harry Potter’ series) to make this a reality. Not exactly a soundtrack per se, but Editor In Chief Axel Alonso says that it will be more like a video game where the sounds change as the environment changes. Senior Vice President & General Manager of Marvel’s Digital Media Group Peter Phillips sums up Project: Gamma with the following:
“The music will not speed up as you flip the page. Its modulated in such a way that whether you’re a fast reader or a slow reader, it will stick with you, it’ll be by your side. This is embedded music to enhance the experience of what you’re already enjoying. And it paces itself to how you’re reading. So that’s really the key.”
Marvel.com reveals that this project will be launching later this year as a part of a Marvel event that will be announced in the near future in order to “truly compliment what it offers in expanding the reader experience”. Until we get more on it, you can check out the trailer for Project: Gamma below:
Next, we’ll move on to the poster with the 52 slashes. Everyone concerned about a reboot can now be at ease because that is most definitely not happening. It turns out that the slashes actually have to do with Wolverine. Spinning out of their success with ‘Avengers Vs. X-Men’, Marvel’s Infinite Comics were announced as regular additions to the company’s publishing slate at SXSW.
Currently, we’re getting a ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ prequel series from Brian Michael Bendis, but starting this summer, we’ll be getting even more of these unique digital comics every week. Starting with a story called ‘Wolverine: Japan’s Most Wanted’ written by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour, with art by Paco Diaz, Marvel will be releasing four 13-part, weekly Infinite Comics every Tuesday starting on July 9th that features four of the company’s biggest names. All together, there will be a total of 52 weeks of new Infinite Comics. I see what you did there, Marvel. Very cheeky.
Alonso reveals that these won’t be standalone stories that take place in alternate timelines either. Each of these new stories will be contained within the current Marvel continuity:
“The reason we’ll be involving the monthly writer of each of these comic book stories we’re going to be telling through Infinite is that they’re all part of continuity. You know it’s as relevant to that particular character as anything you’ll find on the comic book stands that Wednesday.”
He goes on to say that Marvel is providing the next evolution of comics with their new line:
“We’re at the forefront of developing a new language for comics. If we go back to the way comics were told, it started with a horizontal strip of panels and evolved into a comic book page. [Then] you could go vertical or horizontal and page design was a part of the process. Now we’ve taken it to the tablet and the handheld media and you’re seeing how, even in a short year or so that we’ve been doing [Infinite Comics], how we’re evolving this and getting better.”
In the video below, you can see for yourself how these Infinite Comics work:
Finally, we get to the biggest news of all. When Marvel first instituted the Marvel NOW initiative, the idea was to create a natural jumping on point for all the new readers looking to get into comics. Now, they’re taking this idea to a whole new level with Marvel #1. Until 11:00pm EST on Tuesday, March 12th, Marvel is offering over 700 first issues on the Marvel Comics app, the comiXology app, and the Marvel Comics Digital Comics Shop absolutely free. The selection includes first issues from every era like ‘House of M’, ‘Captain America Comics’, ‘Amazing Spider-Man’, ‘Civil War’, and many, many more. Not only are there books from your favorite heroes to check out and explore, but also there’s plenty of your favorite creators as well such as Joss Whedon, Stan Lee, Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction, Robert Kirkman, Ed Brubaker, Mark Waid, Kevin Smith, and more.
Marvel SVP – Sales, Digital & Print David Gabriel explains why the company is deciding to all of a sudden give away thousands of free comics to their fans:
“At its core, Marvel #1 is all about bringing new readers into the fold. That doesn’t just mean fans who have never read a comic, but [also] longtime fans [who want] to jump into books they may have been waiting to try. With a plethora of great content and digital devices—be it tablets or smart phones—in more hands than ever, there is no better time to launch an initiative such as this.
We’d love for everyone who is a fan of our films, comics, games, apparel, toys and beyond to try out this promotion. No matter when you started falling in love with Marvel, we have something for you. Do we expect folks to try and download [every #1]? We encourage it!”
Unfortunately, due to the overwhelming demand for these free issues, the servers couldn’t keep up with the downloads from Sunday night to Monday afternoon. Comixology’s head David Steinberger announced on the company’s blog that their systems are struggling to keep up. Because so many fans using the apps essentially crashed them, the promotion has to be temporarily postponed.
However, that doesn’t mean that Marvel #1 is over. If you didn’t get your chance to pick up your free issues, worry not! Agent M aka our main man inside all things Marvel Ryan Penagos tweeted the following message:
Before the promotion was put on hold, many fans (including me) managed to snag numerous amounts of comics for free. Be on the look out for Marvel #1 to return so that you too can get your hands on some.
Marvel definitely brought their best to SXSW this year. These are some of the biggest announcements in the entire comic book industry in the past decade probably. It just goes to show that Marvel is absolutely at the top of their game these days. What do you think about Project: Gamma, Infinite Comics, and Marvel #1? Are you thoroughly satisfied with these new offerings from Marvel Comics? Share your thoughts in the comments below!