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Marvel adds sound to its digital comics

In a major upgrade to its Marvel Unlimited reading app, Marvel has added an “adaptive audio” feature. For the first time, you can pick up comics with an accompanying soundtrack that changes in style and mood as you switch from panel to panel.

After a year of development, Marvel is hoping that the new capability proves to be a hit with fans — it’s waiting to see what the reaction is from comic lovers before rolling out adaptive audio more widely. For now only one title, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, has the option to download and play audio while you read. A five-comic storyline, stretching through episodes 8, 9 and 11-14, has been scored by Emmy-nominated composer David Ari Leon.

“With adaptive audio it really is a user-controlled, immersive experience,” says Kristin Vincent, Marvel’s Vice President of Digital Products. “It really is truly another storytelling device as opposed to just being some music that plays in the background. Music is playing and then a new stem of music comes in as the user panels through. The user can go forward or backward and controls the pace of when the music stems change. It’s really different every time because each user reads at a different pace.”

The iOS update is available now, with an Android update expected in the coming days. Marvel is also running a special promotional offer for SXSW — you can subscribe to the service for a month for 99 cents rather than the usual price of $9.99.

The updated Marvel Unlimited app has also swapped out HTML5 for native code, leading to smoother animations and transitions within each comic. Other improvements include the additional of ‘DVD extras’, short video clips accompanying comics that offer context or additional information without interrupting the flow of the story.

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