Spider-Man, where are you coming from? Spider-Man, nobody knows who you aaaaaaarrrrrrrrreeeeee!
Motion comic technology has been around for decades. Some might even say it peaked in the 1970s with Spidey Super Stories on The Electric Company:
That’s Morgan Freeman narrating, by the way, long before Morgan Freeman narrating stuff became a thing. In all fairness, though, those were really a hybrid of motion comics and live action, but as far as the underlying technology, things haven’t really advanced all that much in 45 years.
2008 brought us the Watchmen motion comic, narrated by Tom Stechschulte. This is notable both for being better than Zack Snyder’s movie adaptation, and for the fact that Stechschulte performs the voices for all of the characters, which sounds kind of silly.
Marvel tried to get back in the motion comic game in 2009 with Astonishing X-Men: Gifted and follow-ups like Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D.. In case you’re wondering, “The Great One” Brian Bendis’s trademark dialog sounds exactly as it reads when spoken aloud. Kooties!
Unfortunately, motion comics have never really taken off, probably due mostly to the fact that animated superhero adventures can be found in dozens of actual cartoon series that feel more natural and tend to have a much higher production value, while the comics medium is almost certainly best consumed in its original form, rather than trying to shoehorn it into a cartoon. That being said, motion comics do allow stories that might not otherwise be adapted for animated or live action to come alive, and there is something to be said for using the original art. Still, reception to motion comics has always been mixed at best, and their success limited.
But, as the old adage goes, if at first you don’t succeed, wait five years and try again under a different name. That’s what Marvel is doing today, as they launch a “brand new” line of “video comics” that look suspiciously exactly like the “motion comics” that came before them. Marvel has released 3 episodes of Spider-Man and Iron Man: Training Day along with Black Panther: The Visitor on the Disney XD YouTube channel and the Disney XD App. The description of the comics, from Marvel’s website:
In “Training Day,” super powers don’t come with a training manual! After Spider-Man (Cole Howard) stops some crooks from robbing a Stark Enterprises facility, Iron Man decides to pay him back with a little help from FRIDAY (Tabitha St Germain) and some on-the-job training. Iron Man’s plan goes awry when D-List villain, Batroc the Leaper (Marc Oliver), reveals some major upgrades that push him to the A-List. Both Spider-Man and Iron Man (Brian Drummond) are going to have to learn some new tricks if they’re going to be able to best Batroc 2.0.
In “The Visitor,” Black Panther (Omari Newton) gets a visit from envoy Everett K. Ross (Brian Drummond) to discuss security for a possible international summit in Wakanda. The visit is interrupted when Super Villain Ghost (Marc Oliver) appears to steal Wakandan treasure. Black Panther and his loyal Dora Milaje (Evans Johnson) have to both stop Ghost and show Ross why Wakanda has never been conquered or invaded.
And now, you can watch them all below:
Not bad… but I think I’ll stick with the classics: