Et Cetera

The Words & Writings of Sean Richmond

Marvel Infinite Comics: First Impression

I am a longtime comics fan, and over the years I've amassed a relatively large collection of singles that I am still putting off organizing and cataloguing. It used to be that there wasn't a week that you wouldn't find me in my local comics shop with a literal arm-full of comics ready to go.

Sadly, those days are passed. Days when I lived with my parents and didn't need money for anything other than my own entertainment. Now I apparently need to pay rent and other somewhat more grown-up things, and can't support the Habit any longer. Happily though, I wasn't forced to go completely cold turkey, thanks to my iPad. With it, I was able to download the occasional Annual Event and read it without having to buy another pallet to haul the things on. Even so, reading on the tablet was sometimes a pain. Yes, the colors were always gorgeous, but there was always the annoyance of having to switch between horizontal and vertical orientations, and whenever there was a gorgeous two-page spread you could only see half of it at a time.

But now Marvel is trying to change that. Infinite Comics is Marvel's latest attempt at doing something new and innovative in the publishing world. The concept is that they are enabling their own writers and artists to create comics specifically with the tablet reader in mind, allowing them to do things that would be impossible in a traditional paper comic.

The potential for this is astounding, and incredibly exciting in my mind. Not only will the art be drawn with the tablet size in mind, eliminating the constant flipping and panning and zooming that is necessitated by so many comics now (especially anything written by Brian Michael Bendis), but they can actually unveil word balloons, panels, character expressions, and much more at the pacing that the story requires. No longer will you be going back and forth between word balloons trying to figure out the order of the dialogue, or trying to look past the dialogue clutter to the art beneath it, this will all be done for you.

Now, it remains to be seen how necessary or even whether this is actually a good thing, but as a concept I love it. So far, they have only released one pilot issue for the line, Avengers v X-Men #1 Infinite, a story that runs concurrently with the non-Infinite issue. I read it last night, and I must say I enjoyed it thoroughly. The art was absolutely gorgeous, with colors that popped and space used in such a way that it was just a pleasure to look at. Stuart Immonen really did a fantastic job with the art, while Marte Garcia outdid himself with the coloring.

The story itself is very good, andthey really did a great job using the tools available to them. While I'm writing this I've been flipping through the issue again, not really reading anything but just looking at the transitions and the art itself, and I've noticed something. More than once, they actually unveil the panels in a non-sequential reading order. What I mean by that is that instead of simply reading from left to right as we traditionally do, they actually unveil panel 1 in the left, panel 2 on the right, and panel 3 in the center, overlapping panels 1 and 2.

Later, as Nova loses consciousness the screen goes to black, and as you page forward things slowly come into focus as he begins to awaken. This is a great example of something that, while technically possible in a more traditional format, is not nearly as effective if you are simply looking at different pictures one page after another that slowly gain focus.

Is this actually some "revolutionary" new step in the medium? That's harder to say, and while this first foray doesn't quite peg it as such, it does point the way towards something that could indeed be the future of the industry. I eagerly look forward to the next issue in the line, and I actually can't believe I'm saying this, but...

Good job Quesada. Oh man, I think I ripped something when I said that.