Blink and you'll miss it. In a recent preview and press release sent to journalists, Marvel dropped in a quick mention that the "Ultimate Comics Captain America #1 hits stores and the Marvel Comics app on January 5th!" The simultaneous print and digital release of the comic by Jason Aaron and Ron Garney wasn't a big announcement, but maybe it should have been. It's Marvel's second miniseries to be released in print and digital, after Ultimate Comics Thor, and another step on the road to industry-wide day and date digital releases. Unlike Ultimate Comics Thor, Ultimate Comics Captain America was announced to little to no fanfare, which is an interesting move.The Ultimate line seems to be Marvel's playground for day and date digital releases. Other than an Iron Man Annual earlier this year, which was offensively priced higher than its print version, Ultimate Comics Thor and Ultimate Comics Captain America are both miniseries priced at $3.99 for both print and digital releases. The miniseries format allows Marvel to dip its toe into the waters without committing fully toward digital releases.

The Ultimate line is a successful venture for Marvel, but still isn't the "real" Marvel universe, so the day and date releases can be seen as an experiment off to the side, rather than the coming future of the main line. I can't speak to the sales figures of miniseries, but a story serialized over four issues probably gives them a pretty good idea of how the sales will work out and if doing every series day and date is feasible.

Plus, early adopters, the people who end up subsidizing future development, are paying four bucks a piece for digital comics, two whole dollars above Marvel's usual asking price for digital. If the market can support $3.99 digital comics, please believe that Marvel will deliver them. Here's hoping they don't, of course, because at that point, the only appeal of digital comics is convenience, and that may not be enough.