How do you keep customers from just downloading digital comics instead of trekking into the comic store? Marvel thinks its new AR (augmented reality) enabled print copies could help. With the technology, when you get to designated spots in a comic you'll be prompted to open up the Marvel AR app on your iOS or Android device and point it at the page, enabling an overlay with a 3D character (Iron Man, for example) zooming above the page. What sounds more promising to us are AR-powered commentaries from the artists and writers behind the stories — sort of like DVD bonus features for comics. One such commentary showed one of the creators introducing the story while standing in front of the comic book, and another displayed the barebones, black-and-white illustration of a panel when you passed your phone in front of the page.

The new feature will be included for free with purchases of Marvel AR-enabled print comics, starting with "Avengers vs. X-Men #1" in April. The company is launching another digital product alongside that comic called Marvel Infinite — the digital-only side stories will also be included with the purchase of the print comic, and the first one will be "Avengers vs. X-Men Infinite #1." Check below for a demo of Marvel AR from SXSW, and see the CNET source link for another video of the product in action.