Marvel Comics came to Comic-Con International: San Diego 2014 with some digital news in their annual "House of Ideas" panel, bringing the latest in how they hope to innovate in the digital realm.
Marvel.com's Ryan "Agent M" Penagos welcomed fans to the panel, and said, "I have a lot of videos to show you because I find them very engaging."
From there, Penagos made good on his word, starting with a "Marvel What The?" stop-motion animation short. The story features Daredevil vs. She-Hulk in a courtroom battle that resorts to name-calling.
"We get a little wacky on those," Penagos said, and said they'd be premiering another one later in the panel.
C.B. Cebulski, SVP Content Creator and Content Development (a relatively new title) was the first panelist introduced. Daniele Campbell, VP of CRM, and TQ Jefferson, VP of Games Production joined him.
"This year is our 75th anniversary, and we have so much going this year," Penagos said, and spotlighted Axis, Guardians of the Galaxy (plus the video game The Universeal Weapon), Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors which will feature multiple Spider-Men from across the multiverse, and Agent Carter.
"I've seen Guardians of the Galaxy twice so far, and I cried both times. It has a lot of heart and might just be my favorite movie we've done yet," Penagos said. Cebulski echoed that he cried as well.
Campbell took fans through how they can read Marvel's comics digitally. There's the Marvel Comics App where readers can pick up the individual issues the same day that they come out in print. Penagos pointed out that many of their books include a digital code for a free copy, "and if you want to just share that with a friend or get someone else to read a book, do it! It's great. I'll give someone issue 12, and they'll go back and buy 6-11!"
Campbell said that she loves guided view, which makes it "a cinematic experience - it's super compelling." You can also buy single issues and collections through several other online stores.
Marvel Unlimited though, lets readers read as much as they want of Marvel's extensive digital backlist - fifteen thousand comics. Right now, for the week of Comic-Con it's 99 cents for the first month of the subscription service, which is streaming but also allows you to download up to 12 issues to read without an internet connection. Marvel Unlimited Plus is $99 for a year, and you get many bonuses. This year they got a gold Ultron figure. There are also two exclusive Marvel Unlimited Plus panels this weekend, including one on Sunday that members will get to see "some Hall H footage from our Marvel Studios panel" - they'll also be revealing a new bonus at the panel.
Some comics have added in "Marvel Adaptive Audio," where they add in little music and sound effect cues.
"It was tough - when you read a comic, there's a voice in your head. When you see a movie, you hear the voices and get a sound track. It's not a locked audio track - it's adaptive, so it goes as you're going back and forth. Comics are such a personal reading experience that it's hard to add another layer to it," Cebulski said, "but when we showed it to our creators at the retreat, it was so cool, they really loved it."
Penagos likened the music cues to video game audio, with "boss battle" style music depending on what's on screen.
Marvel Video Unlimited adds a video dimension, as well.
Marvel Infinite Comics have also been added into Marvel Unlimited, including the recent Guardians of the Galaxy comics, which Penagos said "are really great!" and can be read in either of their apps. There's also a new infinite comics series for the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, which will be completely free.
In the major announcement of the panel, a special infinite comic called All-New Captain America: Fear Him is coming this fall (see the art in the story and above). The infinite book is by Dennis Hopeless and Szymon Kudranski, coming in six digital issues in October 2014. It "bridges the gap" between Captain America #25 and All-New Captain America #1.
Marvel AR was spotlighted next, where there are behind-the-scenes videos and work produced in order to see more about the stories you love.
New short-form documentaries, starting with Civil War, are launching as "Marvel's Tales to Astonish." It shows you scenes from Marvel's crossover epic with characters and creators from around Marvel Comics, Studios, and more talking about the story and what it meant.
Next was another "Marvel What The?" video, with Thanos trying to get into a Guardians of the Galaxy Hall H panel. The video continues taking off Comic-Con.
Next slide was "The Marvel Gaming Universe." TQ Jefferson talked next about the cohesive Marvel Gaming Universe, which all fits in with the mysterious "ISO-8."
Guardians of the Galaxy: the Universal Weapon is the newest game, as written by Dan Abnett, allowing fans to jump into the game with their favorite characters from Marvel Cosmic. "It's 5 bucks, but once you get it, you don't need an internet connection and there are no in-game purchases needed," Jefferson said. "You can unlock lots of characters in the movie and the Guardians IP." He also said that they'll continue feeding new, free, content into the game.
Other games in the Marvel Gaming Universe include Avengers Alliance, Captain America: The Winter Soldier the Official Game, Marvel War of Heroes, Marvel Puzzle Quest, Marvel Avengers Initiative and Iron Man 3. "It's a fun time to be making games for Marvel. Avengers Alliance just blew up on facebook."
"What you're seeing there is a mixture of games coming out alongside films, and games that are digging deep into the Marvel lore and Marvel characters." There's also a Marvel Games panel Saturday from 1230-130 where they'll be making some new announcements, including those with some of their partners. "There's a lot of special stuff going on."
In the last two years, they've had Deadpool takeover and a proposal of marriage - by TQ to his girlfriend (she said yes), so there are always surprises there, they promised.
Marvel.com/75 is doing special content for the 75th anniversary, going decade to decade with a Marvel Historian. Cebulski talked a bit about "The Marvel Family" and being able to "pull back the curtain" thanks to things like these features and social media, where fans can talk to the creators directly themselves. A video promo for Marvel 75 played.
Marvel's two podcasts were featured, with This Week in Marvel and Women of Marvel, both offering unique looks inside Marvel.
From there, a fan Q&A began.
Marvel is looking into how to better manage your library collection in the Marvel App. "You'll see some news about that in the future," Campbell said.
Cebulski said that fans "don't need to pick and choose" whether things like Print, Digital, and the enhanced digital mediums exist. "Having those things around that maybe some younger fans will have an easier or more fun time check out is important." Penagos added, "they're not mutually exclusive," and Campbell praised the "easy accessibility" of digital devices and platforms.