Last October, Marvel Comics launched its Marvel NOW initiative, which was designed to lure in new readers by offering new titles featuring classic characters (Uncanny Avengers, Indestructible Hulk) and resetting the numbering of several ongoing series, with each new issue #1 being designed to be a good jumping-on point.
Now they are doing it again, and this time they are bringing more digital comics into the mix.
On Monday, Marvel announced the “All-New Marvel NOW,” with even more new series, more jumping-on points, and more crazy renumbering: Avengers #24.NOW is also Avengers #1. That comic is due out on December 24, and Marvel NOW rolls on from there with story arcs in the ongoing series that are accessible to new readers and two new series that will launch in January, All-New Invaders #1 and Inhuman #1.
Just as the first Marvel NOW brought back lesser known characters such as Guardians of the Galaxy, the new reboot will draw in Black Widow, the Silver Surfer, and, as one might guess from the title above, the Inhumans. As Marvel editor in chief Axel Alonso told USA Today, “My favorite thing is showing people why those characters that aren’t necessarily household names like the Falcon and Silver Surfer should be, and why they’re every bit as vital to the Marvel mythology as Spider-Man and the Avengers.”
Here’s where digital comes in: Each #1 issue will include a digital code that allows the reader to download a free digital copy. But that’s not all: In order to help readers catch up with the story, some issues of ongoing series will include a digital code good for the first volume of collected issues. So if you’re coming in halfway through a series, you can read the first four or six issues digitally for free. That seems like a pretty smart move on Marvel’s part, because you have to figure they have already made their money back on those issues, and the marginal cost of offering them for free is zero. If lures more readers into the fold—first to buy the issue with the code and then to buy the rest of the series—then it’s a great strategy. And one that would be unimaginable with print: No one will ever say, “Here, buy this comic for $3.99 and we’ll throw in a 100-page book for free,” but with digital, it makes a lot of sense.