In March I posted my brief review of the 40th Anniversary Spider-Man CDRom Collection. That was a 9-CD set for about $40 that contained 501 issues of Spider-Man going back to Amazing Fantasy #15. Marvel followed that up with the 44 Years of Fantastic Four on DVD-ROM which collects 550 issues of the Fantastic Four title through 2004 (alas, no Ultimate FF).
I picked a copy up for $50 at the local comic book store (unlike the Spider-Man collection, I haven’t seen this for sale at computer superstores yet).
My first experience with the collection was not happy. I could not get my HP to recognize the DVD-ROM. I sent an e-mail to the tech support folks listed on the box, but did not receive a reply. Fortunately, a Dell machine I use did recognize the DVD. The DVD turns out to be double-layered and I imagine my DVD drive has some sort of incompatibility.
Anyway, although Marvel has gone to a different company to produce the Fantastic Four package, its basically the same. These are high resolution scans of comic books put into PDF files (one PDF file per issue). They include everything — covers, advertisements, letters columns, etc. If it was in the print version of the comic book, its here. The only drawback is that, as with the Spider-Man collection, some of the early issues are scanned from less than pristine comics and the printing method they used in the 1960s wasn’t the greatest to begin with.
On the upside, no copy protection as far as the files are concerned. I simply copied all 5+ gigs to my hard drive and store the disk. Where copy protection does come in is printing. Acrobat will insert a “Marvel” watermark overlay on top of the printed page which is quite ugly. There are, of course, plenty of ways around that, so it’s not much of an issue for me. A non-technical user who wants to do a lot of printing of these comics, however, is likely to be disappointed.
I have never been a big fan of the Fantastic Four, but I was very happy to have the entire run of the book for about $50 after taxes.
But the best news is yet to come. In October, Marvel and Graphic Imaging Technologies will be releasing probably the coolest such set to date — 40 Years of X-Men on DVD-ROM. All 480 issues in that title through 2004 (but again, probably no Ultimate X-Men).
The big question is when is DC going to get in on this? Where is the 65 Years of Batman on DVD-ROM set?