In September, DC Comics started releasing nearly all of their comic books via digital means day-and-date with their print counterparts. Now Marvel Comics, the nations's biggest comic book publisher, has announced it is following the example of DC, the number two comic book publisher. As first reported by Gizmodo, Marvel Comics will offer nearly all of their comics in digital form on the same day they are released in comic book stores by March 2012.
Marvel has, in fact, been slowly offering many of their comics at the same time as their print version for a little while now. The Ultimates line of books have had that kind of digital release schedule for a while and more recently the Spider-Man titles have had the same treatment.
This new move means that the only books that won't be released day-and-date digitally from Marvel will be their licensed titles, such as their Ender's Game, Halo and The Stand books, and the MAX line up of mature themed comics. The story did not say why these books will be excluded from this plan.
With both Marvel and DC Comics now planning to offer the majority of their comics digitally at the same time as the print versions, some might be wondering if this could be the beginning of the end for comic book retail stores which have relied on comic book readers to purchase print editions. Some retailers have teamed up with Comixology, the leading comic book download service, to get a portion of sales from every digital purchase. In addition, both DC and Marvel have offered very limited programs where a fan who purchases a particular comic gets a code to download the same comic for free.