Tag Archives: AR
In a previous column I discussed what I felt were short comings of some of the options being bandied about as the future of the comic book medium. Motion comics, web comics, etc., all had their flaws. I think, though, that Marvel has settled on something truly unique and revolutionary. It’s not perfect, but it brings something new to the table that adds to the experience without feeling overly gimmicky.
Marvel has branded this new feature AR, or Augmented Reality and it functions kind of like DVD bonus features. The first issue to offer it is Avengers Vs. X-Men #1 (a.k.a. AvX 1) which is a smart place to do it, as it’s the heavily hyped crossover of two of the biggest franchises is comics and film. The first small downside to AR is that, as far as I’m aware, you need a decent next-gen device to use it. Android or Apple, you’ll need to download the Marvel AR app. You’ll also need 3G or a wifi connection. Got all that? Okay, now you just need to turn the app on and point your camera at the cover of the comic.
Just like that, a trailer for the issue starts up. Including that one, I counted 8 instances where you could use the AR. One was an intro to the story from Axel Alonso. Another was Brian Michael Bendis discussing his favorite scene. There are others that are a bit more nerdy, like a power chart for the X-Man Hope and a breakdown of the faculty of The Jean Grey School that Wolverine started. It’s pretty unobtrusive to the actual issue, just a little AR icon in the corner of a panel. I read through the issue once, and then went back through and checked out the AR content.
First off, the good. It definitely gives you more bang for your book. Now that some comics have hit $4.99, this gives you a bit more justification for paying that price. Instead of reading the issue in 20 minutes or less and then storing it, you can go back and appreciate the art and some of the work that went into the issue. It also gives you a chance to get to know some of the behind the scenes people in a way that you wouldn’t normally be able to. It’s an extension of Stan Lee’s bullpen bulletins where he would make the writers and artists a bit more accessible.
Secondly, the bad. The creators who we get to meet don’t really sound comfortable or at ease. They might benefit from having someone else to banter with, as opposed to droningly addressing the reader. Also, anytime one of the AR things was text based it was almost impossible to decipher. At least, that’s the way it felt on my iPhone. Text was so grainy that it was hard to make it out, but it might benefit from having a narrator read it outloud. I know they’re probably trying to save people some bandwidth, but what’s the use of having a mini-bio of Hope if you can’t read it?
Finally, the issue also included a free download of Avengers Vs. X-Men: Infinite #1 a sort of prologue to the main series written by Mark Waid and drawn by Stuart Immonen. As far as digital comics go, it really impressed me. I think it helped that it was made specifically for the digital format, whereas most of the other digital comics I’ve read were meant for paper and then got crammed onto a little screen. There was a feeling of motion, but stuff never really moved in any way so as to make it feel like a crappy cartoon.
All in all, I was very impressed. With a few tweaks, it could be a great addition the medium.
Graham Becksted spends so much time on his phone it’s starting to feel like an omni-tool. If only it could do Cryo Blast. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 59th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.