EXCLUSIVE: Marvel AR Translates Russian To English In "AVX: VS" #3

This Wednesday, Marvel Comics releases "AVX: VS" #3, the latest installment of the "Avengers Vs. X-Men" companion series tracking all-out brawls between some of the Marvel U's greatest hero vs. hero match ups -- but one of these matchup has an augmented reality twist. While reading along with the Black Widow/Magik fight written by Christopher Yost with art by Terry Dodson, readers with smartphones can use the Marvel AR app to translate the Russian lettering to English, adding a new level of understanding to the brawling banter. The AR will translate every Russian line in the book, provided readers have the app installed on their smartphone or tablet with a camera.

To shed some light on how this particular technological Easter egg came to the pages of "AVX: VS," CBR spoke with Marvel editor Nick Lowe, who spoke about the origins of the story, the challenge of bringing a cohesive story together with non-English dialogue and the hand-lettered Russian of Chris Eliopolous -- and be sure to check out CBR's exclusive preview of "AVX: VS" #3.

CBR News: Nick, Marvel AR has so far been used to show behind-the-scenes looks at the aspects of "Avengers Vs. X-Men" -- what made you decide to use it as a translator for this fight in "AVX: VS" #3?

Nick Lowe: I was talking to Chris Yost about doing an "AVX: VS" story starring Black Widow and Magik and he said, "Can I do all the dialogue in Russian?" I thought it was ridiculous. And then I thought it was ridiculously awesome. My favorite thing about "VS" has been the fact that it's not about story. It's about fisticuffs, and the thought of a story that was in a foreign language drove that home even more. We ended up telling a story anyway (though I assure you, I fought it as hard as I could), making only some of the dialogue Russian. But someone said, "We could do AR." I can't remember if it was Tim Dillon or me or some random person off the street that we then had to escort out of the building.

Having two characters who hail from Russia facing off with each other certainly seems like the perfect place to test this concept. Was this feature something from the early planning stages of "AVX: VS" or did it occur after the stories got rolling?

The Russian aspect was in there from the beginning thanks to that awesome dude Chris Yost. But all of it was the caffeine-addled fantasies of Chris and me until Judy Stephens in our Digital department made it happen with our AR client. She took the ramblings of an idiot (me) and made it work great.

Readers who don't own a smartphone or tablet with the Marvel AR app (or read Russian)may miss out on a few cool easter eggs like this, but the key moments of the fight seem to mostly be in English. What was the challenge in trying to strike a balance between the two languages while still making sure a cohesive story was told?

There was a challenge to it, certainly, but between Chris Yost and the awesome editorial team that I have, we were able to make it work. Jordan D. White worked his tail off on this one. It was important to me that the AR was additive and not necessary so readers who gave us their hard-earned dough for the book still got the whole story. And huge props need to go out to the other Chris on the team, Chris Eliopoulos, who hand-lettered the Russian parts. It's one of the only hand-lettering I've worked with in the 10 years I've been at Marvel.
Compared to some of the other uses of Marvel AR so far, this is actually a pretty practical application of the new technology. Moving forward, is this use of AR something you plan to extend to other titles?

We're trying to experiment as much as we can in all areas of Digital, and that's going to continue. We're definitely going to play with AR more as we delve further.
What can you tease about the upcoming issues of "AVX: VS" and how Marvel plans to use AR to enhance the experience?

As of right now, we don't have more AR planned for "AVX: VS." But that may change.
Outside of "AVX: VS," the events of "Avengers Vs. X-Men" #5 held quite a few surprises -- including the introduction of the Phoenix Five. Any chance readers will get to see them throw down in "AVX: VS?"

Oh, you better believe it. Check out #4 for Thor vs. Phoenixed-up Emma Frost!

"AVX: VS" #3 hits stores this Wednesday, June 13


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