Gizmodo broke the news Thursday that Marvel Comics will finally make its line of popular superhero comics available to digital comics customers on the same day they go on sale as print products in comic book stores. The initiative, which has been anticipated by proponents of digital comics, will be deployed unevenly, with some titles going same day digital earlier than others to capitalize on various publishing events. The entire Marvel Universe line will be same day digital by the end of March 2012. Licensed titles such as Marvel's adaptations of Stephen King's Dark Tower are exempt from this plan, as are the publisher's mature readers MAX titles.Marvel's move to what's known in the industry as day-and-date digital follows similar schemes by its main rival DC Comics, whose massive relaunch of its entire superhero line was bolstered by offering every new issue of every title digitally on the same day as print. However, as Gizmodo notes, Marvel has experimented with digital distribution for many years, beginning with CD-ROM collections of classic comics and the Marvel Digital Comic Unlimited subscription service, whose function is somewhat in question now that all new issues of Marvel titles will be available via the publisher's popular comiXology Web and mobile device apps. The MDCU service is part of a promotion with Starbucks whereby users of the coffee chain's wi-fi networks enjoy free access to the MDCU archive.

The publisher indicated its intentions to go fully same day digital all the way back in July. At Comic-Con International in San Diego, Senior Vice President of Publishing David Gabriel began the move with the announcement that the Spider-Man and X-Men titles would be available digitally on the same day as print.

So as not to exclude traditional retailers, Marvel announced last month that the first issues of the forthcoming Avenging Spider-Man title by Zeb Wells and Joe Madureira will include codes with which to download free digital copies. The publisher is expected to deploy such the scheme across additional titles.

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