I've been a bit surprised at how much Carter knows about comic book characters having never read a real comic book or even seeing a comic book movie. He is after all just four years old. But toys and friends at school seem to be the way he's learning about the big players like Iron Man, Batman, Super Man and both the Super Friends and Avengers. I just have to explain to him how the Super Friends and Avengers don't live in the same "universe" which he somehow understands.
Carter has downright spurned any attempt of me getting out one of my old comic books and trying to read it to him. He has absolutely zero interest in them. He does use the iPad frequently though, whether watching cartoons in the car or playing educational games or digital stories.
That's why when I heard about Marvel's new Infinite Comics line designed just for the iPad I thought it would be the perfect thing for Carter. There's plenty to like but a few glaring holes too.
The comics work with a tap. Unlike the converted paper-to-iPad books that populate the iPad apps for both Marvel and DC, the Infinite version uses the entire landscape mode to perfection. You're not jumping from small panel to small panel, then zooming out to full page layouts.
Everything is designed to work around this unique size and orientation. So if the character is flying around a helicopter the first "panel" shows him on one side, then TAP, he's on the other side with a trail showing the path all while the helicopter itself doesn't move.
This is very cool and done repeatedly through the first issue to use it, a prelude to Avengers Vs. X-Men.
Look at some of the pulp rendered versions and they're blurry and some of the text is hard to read, especially when reading from panel to panel. Not here. Easy on the eyes for dads is a good thing.
Paying for a short issue at $.99 a pop is going to be too pricey for families on a budget. I'm still surprised folks buy the regular comics at $1.99 for a digital copy, especially since collecting is a big reason for the concept of the comic book to begin with. You really need the interactivity of the Infinite Comics to be a viable digital format I'd pay for, but how about a subscription price?
The stories never end. Rarely is a comic book a single encapsulated story with beginning and end. They're tied into series across titles or multiple issues. My kid wants to read a story with an end that says "The End."
Comic books are pretty darn adult. Marvel would be smart to create some youth focused titles aimed at families. Then they'd probably see a very different but eager group ready to buy issues.
What Carter Thought
I told Carter I had a special story to read to him for his "last book in bed" and he was very excited just by that. When he saw it was on the iPad he got a little more excited. And then as the super hero appeared on the page he was darn right giddy. Although he didn't know who Nova was, he understood he was a super hero like Captain America.
I had to add some descriptions as Nova flew around obstacles running away from Phoenix, unable to control his powers. There were also lots of thought balloons I skipped.
By the end Carter loved it but the cliffhanger ending itself was a sore spot. He didn't ask what happened next but it sure wasn't the same as any other book he reads. He's gotten a few of the Super Friends books from the library and they're very simple, obviously. They're tailored for his age. But he could handle something more advanced than that.
At $.99 a pop I would definitely buy Infinite Comics if I knew they were complete stories. Why? Because Carter is going to want me to read it to him 20 or so times at least, so you get the use for the money. Tailor them directly to younger kids and I'd probably spend $1.99 an issue. Right now, they're for big kids so we'll stay away until Carter is ready. Of course then I might just take him to the comic book shop.