This morning, Marvel Comics announced that Matt Fraction and Carmine Di Giandomenico's "Invincible Iron Man Annual" #1, an 80-page monster featuring Matt Fraction's definitive retelling of the origin and Marvel Universe history of archenemy the Mandarin, will be released day-and-date on the Marvel Comics iPhone/iPad app alongside the printed copy.

This is a Big Deal.

As a matter of fact, this will be the very first of what is almost unquestionably going to be the new paradigm for serialized comic distribution (even if IDW and other publishers have been doing it for awhile now), so I'd go so far as to say this is history-making for the Big Two. Quite frankly, I didn't see it coming this fast, or with so little pre-buzz or fanfare, but then again I guess this is just an exploratory project, albeit a massively important one, especially if it's a success, although I doubt that we as readers will ever get to see the raw economic data that this experiment produces. Still, we'll be able to guess how well it did by Marvel's willingness to do it again.However, the issue is apparently in three parts, and will be available in collected print form for the "low" price of $4.99, or via three sections on the Marvel app, likely at the standard price of $1.99 per chapter so that the digital version is actually more expensive than the print version. While the move to digital releases should be lauded, this partially defeats the purpose of the endeavor from an economic perspective. While this may provide some consolation to retailers that they have the value advantage, it's unquestionably less expensive to distribute digitally so Marvel's essentially charging an early-adopter's fee. So while I'd like to support the digital revolution, I'd rather just not pay an extra dollar and grab the print version anyways.