Software : Marvel Comic Book CD-ROM Library (Vol.1)

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Book of the Month Club

This review was first published on: 2007.

Background...

Here's something a little different. This is a CD-ROM which contains electronic reprints of 100 classic Marvel comics. I'm not quite sure what the street price is for this little box, but I bet it's a heck of lot less than any other reprint format you can find... and way, way less than the original comics will cost you!

In Detail...

Marvel Comic Book CD-ROM Library (Vol.1)
Jun 2003 : SM Guest
Find at Amazon.Com
Summary: Features Spider-Man
Publisher:  Topics Entertainment
Creator:  Graphic Imaging Technology Inc.
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The cover claims that this box contains "100 Original, Full-length Digital Comics on CD-ROM!" Now, I'm not sure what that's supposed to mean... since the comics on this CD-ROM are all classic reprints. Looks like the marketing guys got a bit excited, and forgot their grammer. But that's OK, we knew what they meant. I'm sure they weren't trying to trick us, because it's pretty clear what you're gonna get.

So, what do you get? You get the first ten issues of Avengers, Captain America, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Hulk, Iron Man, Silver Surfer, Spider-Man, Sub-Mariner, and the X-Men. Quick count up. Ten times ten. Yep, all present and accounted for. Note that only the cover and the story pages are reproduced. No ads. Now, there's not much more I need to say about the contents of those classic tales, instead let's skip onto the presentation format and see how this CD-ROM is assembled.

There's a single CD-ROM, with 384 Mb of data. That means that 40% of the disk is actually wasted space, and they could have fitted another 60-70 comics onto the CD. Not complaining, just noting. The file format is interesting, it uses a graphics format called "Deja Vu", and the CD layout is actually a browsable HTML tree with embedded ".djvu" files, so you read the comics in Internet Explorer, or Netscape, or whatever - as soon as you install the required plugin, since Deja Vu isn't supported by standard browsers without a custom plugin.

I was really pleased to see that the guys at G.I.T. had gone with a web-browser solution, because I'm a Linux user (Fedora 2, since you asked), and I would have been furious if I just some some giant Windows .EXE file on the CD! But nope, as soon as I downloaded the Linux Mozilla browser plugin from http://djvulibre.djvuzone.org/, I was up and running. The CD-ROM includes plug-in installers for Windows and for Mac OS X. Everybody else is on their own.

The images themselves are 300dpi, and are quite sharp. However, there's a really interesting point to note. The graphics are digitally restored from the B&W artwork, and are computer colored. This means a high quality picture, with perfectly white "paper". However, the coloring is naturally not a perfect match for the original printings. This can be rather disturbing if you are familiar with the real thing.

In General...

Let's weigh all this up: Good Things - cheap price, good selection, simple browsable format, supports all operating systems, good resolution, clear white backgrounds.

By comparison, let's check out Bad Things - digital re-coloring, no ads, CD only has Windows and Mac OS X plugins on the disc, CD is 40% empty.

The digital recoloring is a major minus in my honest opinion, it really is quite disconcerting. However, I happen to know that GIT is currently preparing to release an 11 CD set of Amazing Spider-Man #1-#500, with all ads included, and all pages scanned from actual paper copies! Now that ought to do the trick!

Overall Rating...

The good and the bad pretty much balance out, so let's give this collection a perfectly average three webs. I have much higher hopes for the upcoming ASM set!