With the San Diego Comic-Con International officially kicking off Wednesday night, Apple's App Store has yet to offer anything that can get you straight to the front of the lines in Hall H. A handful of iPhone apps do promise services and entertainment that could make your convention-going experience a little more pleasant, though.

In addition to comics reading apps from companies like comiXology and Graphicly, as well as publishers like Archie, DC, Marvel and Dark Horse, Apple's online software dispensary also contains a few handy free tools, interactive guides and games that could help you forget about long lines and how dangerously dehydrated you are (but for goodness sakes, get some water).

Hit the jump for a rundown of necessary freebies and comics-oriented iPhone apps that you may want to consider acquiring, whether you are storming the gates of the convention center or enjoying the fruits of the industry's big week from afar.


Official Comic-Con App (Free)

Whether or not you are able to get access to serviceable Wi-Fi or mobile data will be a different issue entirely. If you can, however, CCI has put out a program for your pocket that currently includes a countdown clock and recent announcements, as well as quick menu of links to useful pages on the show's website.

Marvel Events (Free)

Design-wise Marvel's iPhone program is way sexier that CCI's and offers a sleek, accessible menu with panel, signing and booth schedules. The fan photos haven't started rolling in yet, but Marvel has also included options to upload your own con shots and gawk at cosplay and marriage proposals posted by other users.

Zap-Kapow! ($2.99)

The title may sound like the opening sentence from one of many mainstream press articles on comic culture that you'll be reading in the coming days, but the information Zap-Kapow! contains should be more useful. As a mobile database of comics, creator credits and back issue prices, this app could be a fine companion while you're sifting through back issue bins. Just know that you will have to pay more for updates.

PullList (Free)

Need to stay abreast of current print releases? The folks at comiXology have a free app that make take a while to update, but can get you a list of new comics with visual previews. If you plan on sitting through some publisher panels and want to know more about what they're telling you to buy, put this on your iPhone ahead of time.


How to Draw Anime and Manga (Free)

If you haven't already invested a few solid years of your life standardizing your anatomy proportions and developing a lexicon of facial expressions, the sad reality is that you are not going to become a comics superstar overnight. If, however, you need some basic tips for sketching out concepts at a hotel drink-and-draw meet-up, you can't beat the price on this app.

ComicBook! ($1.99), Halftone ($0.99) or Strip Designer ($2.99)

Do you want to show off your con-going experience to your friends and make it look like a digitally rushed vanity press comic made by someone who refuses to pay money for passable lettering or fonts? These apps allow you to dress up your photos and turn them into stories told through panels and photo filters. Making the "best" use of them will probably involve irony.


X-Men ($0.99)

The button-mashing melee fighting just doesn't have that same feel on a touch screen that it did on this 1992 arcade classic's cabinet controls. Konami did a spirited job of bringing Wolverine, Cyclops and Dazzler to a portable touch platform, though, and Colossus' odd growling explosion attack remains just as powerful as it ever was.

Classic Cartoons – Superman (Free/$2.99)

Max Fleischer's Superman cartoons from the 1940s still look great. Unfortunately, lite and full versions of this app don't allow you to watch episodes in the iPhone's landscape display mode, but the free download with its 7-and-a-half-minute episode "The Magnetic Telescope" is worth your time and bandwidth.

Marvel KAPOW! (Free/$1.99)

This game has more in common with Fruit Ninja than it does with "Ultimate Alliance," but if you enjoy a quick arcade-style poke'n swipe game built out of familiar costume props and nice artwork, download the free lite version of Marvel KAPOW! and give it a try.


San Diego Offline Map and Guide ($1.99)

If you own an iPhone, you probably already know how to use Google Maps and its public transportation suggestions. If you don't trust your data service and think you may be hoofing it through unfamiliar streets in San Diego, though, this single-download guide to Comic-Con International's host city might be a good failsafe plan to download ahead of time.