Video and screengrabs in this post: a first hands-on experience of the free Marvel Comics app for iPad, produced with Comixology (who produced a popular iPhone app). Word is that more than 500 titles will be available through the application at time of launch on Saturday. The pre-launch copy of the application I'm testing shows many titles offered at $1.99, and a number of selections also available for free. All the Marvel classics are here: Avengers, X-Men, Hulk, Spider Man, IronMan, Captain America, and a number of newer titles. User interface details of note: the ability to finger-flip through, page by page; scrollable bar of thumbs for all pages at the bottom of the page view, so you can skip ahead easily; double-click to zoom into an individual frame and finger-flip forward to advance frame by frame instead of page by page.
First impression: I like it. Scrolling is intuitive, brisk, and elegant. I'm amazed at how smooth. The store interface makes sense to anyone familiar with iTunes and App store. Flipping and reading, one luminous full-color page at a time, I do not miss paper. When zooming deeper into single frames, to scroll frame-by-frame, transitions (with "animated" option selected) feel almost cinematic— but sometimes zoomed-in art is not as crisp and high-res as I'd like (it varies by title). Unless I'm missing something, no way to view two pages at a time, as you might with a paper comic. I didn't miss that detail, but others might. And some comics were designed and drawn by the artist with that view option in mind. I'll be interested to see how the app and the content available for it evolve.
Hannu Rajaniemi is the Finnish-Scottish mathematician and science fiction writer whose debut, 2012's Quantum Thief was widely celebrated; now, in Summerland, Rajaniemi delivers new kind of supernatural historical spy procedural, set in a 1938 where the afterlife has been discovered, colonized and militarized.
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