The comics crowd may still have mixed feelings on picking up the $500+ iPad when it hits shelves this coming Saturday (especially due to its Flashlessness), but as demonstrated by an early look at Comic Zeal's digital reader app for the device, those who do make with the early adoptage could make those longing for a digital reading experience that's close to print fairly envious.

BoingBoing had an early look at the reader in action this weekend, linking to sample shots of the app at work. Those who use the app in its current iPhone incarnation know the score - for $3.99 it allows users with a little savvy to upload and read CBZ, ZIP,CBR and RAR files on their phones. Comic Zeal 4 for the iPad is planned to work in much the same way, only with bells and whistles aimed at taking advantage of the new device's screen size for around twice the price.Comic Zeal isn't alone in its quest for iPad action, however, as ComiXolgy's iPad concept has been making the blog rounds for a few months now and current iPhone apps like ClickWheel, Panelfly and iVerse Media all have plans to greet the device with accommodating upgrades on or around its April 3 release.

Personally, I like the idea of Apple simply selling titles through iTunes for use on a built-in reader following their music model. It seems a little redundant to have all of these readers competing for a seemingly simple task. If - or until - Apple stakes its comics claim, though, readers seem to face an immediate future stocked with options at the ready. And who knows? Maybe the competition will prove advantageous to we, the consumers. Lower prices? Fast-paced software evolution? Comic Zeal 4's aesthetic value has me trying to think happy thoughts.

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