17 Aug 2012


In Caught In The Web, we set aside the printed funny books temporarily to delve into the world of digital and web comics.

Writers: Mark Waid
Art: Reilly Brown, Marte Gracia, Chris Sotomayor & Yves Bigerel
Marvel $1.99

Matt C: Marvel’s Infinite Comics initiative has seen them take a proactive step forward in the digital comics arena, creating comics that are specifically designed to be read on the iPad or similar tablets. When the first Infinite Comic appeared, coinciding with the launch of Avengers Vs. X-Men #1, I didn’t possess one of those devices, but now I do (a new toy!) and seeing as how Marvel are giving them away for free if you purchase  a copy of the paper and ink series, I couldn’t pass it up, even though my preference is always going to be to have something tangible in my hands, something I can turn the pages of.

Saying that, having read the previous instalments of Avengers Vs. X-Men: Infinite along with this, the latest issue, I’m now convinced of the potential to utilize the digital medium to tell stories in a unique way. It’s not a replacement for comic books or graphic novels in my eyes, but instead it compliments and enhances what the ‘floppies’ do – it’s an additional way to consume the medium we love, not a delivery method that exists to replace our current reading experience.

As with the preceding two issues, Avengers Vs. X-Men: Infinite #10 provides a look behind the curtain, so to speak, of the events occurring in the issue proper. Where that deals with Cyclops assault on the Avengers in K’un Lun, here we focus on the lead up to the battle, as Tony Stark and Hank McCoy enlist the help of Scarlett Witch and her probability power to figure out the best way to defeat the Phoenix-enhanced mutant. Whereas the main series emphasizes the spectacle and the epic scope, the digital ‘backups’ allow the human drama to come to the forefront, injecting a level of emotion that, to be honest, has been largely absent from the uneven event book.

For me, the crucial ingredient to why there has been a consistency in quality in the Infinite issues that the main series hasn’t replicated is Mark Waid. I will start to sound like a broken record soon after all the praise I’ve heaped on him recently, but he has an enviable ability to balance frenetic action with intimate drama and make both elements seem equally essential to the progress of the narrative. And here, with the aid of co-plotter and storyboarder Yves Bigerel, he creates an experience that would be impossible to replicate by simple page-turning.  Artist Reilly Brown brings the visual ideas to life in superb fashion, particularly via several pages (do we still call them pages?) where a three panel grid is employed to effectively demonstrate the three most probable scenarios where the Avengers may come up trumps.

Is this the future of comics? It seems highly possible that this is an indication of how the medium may mutate over the coming years as the ways we can access and consume the material change, but the most important component will always be the story, and if the tale you’re setting out to tell isn’t compelling enough, no amount of fancy trickery can cover that up. Fortunately Waid’s one guy you can rely on to inject genuine emotion into the proceedings, and with him at the forefront of this endeavour it’s turned out to be an unqualified success. The next time Marvel start ramping up for a big event/crossover and need someone to take charge, perhaps they need to consider knocking on Mr Waid’s door. 9/10

1 comment:

Stewart R said...

Good review Matt and I will try to pick this up at some point - though I am restricted to my Galaxy S2 phone other than my desktop!

The biggest question for me is at what point do these digital comics stop being referred to as 'comics' and start being referred to as 'animations'? How much movement and interaction comes into play in the medium before it can no longer be termed a comic?

I'm not attempting to poo-poo the idea of digital comics, I just think it's interesting to see if there is in fact a distinct line where one crosses into another.