Marvel Reveals Big News At SXSW Including An Adaptive Audio Reading Experience

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Once again, Marvel is at South by Southwest with big news and cool swag for attendees. Their panel, Marvel: House of Ideas, was packed to overflowing with people sitting on the cold concrete floor just to hear Peter Philips, Axel Alonso, Joshua Shimkin and Arune Singh talk about what they’ve got for planned for the coming year.

Marvel has made plain their focus on print and digital, and they reinforced that commitment today with the announcement of Marvel #1. This new initiative gives readers over 700 first issues for free through Tuesday, March 12th.

With 700 titles, you know there’s something in there for everyone—and they’ve even included some of their Infinite Comics. These are all titles designed to take advantage of the digital medium and offer a richer experience for comic fans.

But that’s not all…

They also announced plans to increase the Infinite Comics program beginning on Tuesday, July 9th with the release of one new digital comic every Tuesday for a whole year. These new titles will feature some major characters that they’re not revealing beyond the first issue which will be Wolverine: Japan’s Most Wanted. They described it as Wolverine going to Japan to kill ninjas. Yeah, what’s not to like there?

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You’d think that was the end of the news, but not even close. Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited is becoming simply Marvel Comics Unlimited. This news was announced a few days ago, but they talked about it at the panel as a way to give greater access to over 13,000 titles through the addition of iOS compatibility.

The biggest news, or at least the news that was met with the greatest number of oohs, ahhs, and cheers was Project Gamma. After much speculation, the project was revealed to be Adaptive Audio. The idea was to create a musical score to complement each scene, making it better and more immersive for readers.

The music that plays matches exactly what you’re seeing on the page. There is no skipping or looping so you’re not just listening to the same music over and over—and it in no way interferes with what you see and read. It enhances it. I was amazed by how much the score added to the pages they showed at the panel.

It was still very much a reading experience, very visual, but the soundtrack made the feelings and emotions of the characters resonate in an entirely new way. It immediately made me think of listening to music while playing an RPG.

A little background music while you’re role-playing makes a pub feel more like a pub, a dungeon feel more like a dungeon, and a fair feel more like a fair, but without intruding on your adventure. That’s what Adaptive Audio aims to do and it is truly something you have to experience to appreciate.

Lastly, as a nice little piece of swag for the audience, they had a special, limited edition SXSW variant of the new Ultron comic. They even signed them and no, I did not hurt any small children to make sure that one was mine. Okay, I pushed this one guy out of the way but he only had a slight limp when he walked away and it was totally worth it to snag one of those comics.

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