The Digital Divide

I have fallen really and truly behind in my Captain America reading. Every month I buy Brubaker's monthly and somehow, some horrible how, I end up with it at the bottom of my pile and it never gets read. This is a great and true travesty- those Captain America comics are surely among the great comics of our time, as they have been since Brubaker took over the title five years ago. To be completely honest, I miss the Captain a great deal, and one of my comics related new years resolutions was to make sure I read as much good Cap stuff as there is, on time and monthly. I want to do this partially so I can review it and consider it critically (I do, after all, have aspirations towards being the world's foremost Captain America scholar), but mostly because I want to read the stuff; although I've mostly moved away from character based purchasing, in the case of Captain America (and sometimes Iron Fist) I just can't help myself from wanting to read all of it, even the bad stuff (and some of it is really bad). Luckily for me, some of the Cap stuff that's coming out appears both great and essential: I'm trade-waiting Mark Waid's "Man Out of Time" mini, although Gorga has had some great things to say about it, and with the upcoming movie and the character's upcoming 70th birthday, there's bound to be more good stuff to come.

Including, of all things, Jason Aaron and Ron Garney's Ultimate Captain America. Aaron has slowly and sneakily become one of my favorite writers: between Scalped and Punishermax he's written some of the best comics of the last couple of years and has even managed to get me interested in characters as lame as Ghost Rider and as ubiquitous as Wolverine (every time I pass a new issue of the current "Mr. Logan Goes To Hell" arc I have to try really hard not to break down and buy all the issues so far. On that day you will know I have failed, for the cries of joy and despair will be spread across the four winds) and I was pumped to see him write my favorite character. Even better? Ultimate Captain America was going digital day and date.

Some of you might already know this, but back in October I cracked the screen of my laptop by falling on top of it (the story is very short and pretty funny, but I'm not going to speak of the incident anyway) and solved my problem by hooking up my laptop to a monitor on my desk and buying an iPad for mobile use. It didn't hurt, of course, that I could buy and read comics on the thing. I'm not sure I could ever give up on physical format comics (I'm twenty, but I still buy vinyl!) and particularly not at the prices their being offered for at the moment, but I'm always up for trying something new and interesting- it helps that comics look great on the thing, without the limitations of printing and absurdly high-res.

In fact, I was so interested in the way comics look on my fancy new toy that it was inevitable, given my interest in the comics consumption problem, that I would also become interested in the differences between the two formats. I proposed to Gorga that we each review the whole of the series in one of the formats, and use it as a springboard to talk about the pros and cons of each format. I was more excited for this series of posts than I was for the comic itself, and so when the release date rolled around on Wednesday, I was pumped. I booted my iPad, logged onto the Marvel comics app and...

I found that Ultimate Captain America was missing.

And then I realized that Jonathan Hickman and Carlos Pacheco's seriously brilliant Ultimate Thor (featuring Ultimate Captain Britain wearing a lab coat and his costume AT THE SAME TIME!), also announced as day and date, hadn't shown up the last week in December, when it came out in physical stores everywhere. That comic has had some distribution problems of its own, so I wasn't that worried about it, but it hasn't appeared since either. I don't want to speculate too much on why this is, but I'm having trouble believing that Marvel is going back on their day and date announcements, particularly in the wake of the recent news about the death of Ultimate Spider Man. It's too bad, too: starting off their same day digital release program with two minis that were likely to be very popular was a smart move for digital readers, although it may have damaged some relations with physical retailers, but promising something that never appears is a good way to turn readership off of digital comics entirely, particularly given what seems to be a wide preference for comics you can read off of paper and prices that are simply too high for a product that only exists digitally.

I hope to see the minis soon- I would like to read them, after all, and am getting tired of waiting. It's a fast moving comics business and I wouldn't want minis that are deserving of attention to fall in the same spot in my stack as my poor ignored Ed Brubaker Captain America comics.

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