Many comic book companies, including the Big Two of Marvel and DC, offer digital copies of their comic books for sale. However Marvel has something extra to offer with its Marvel Unlimited Service, a subscription service that has access to over 15,000 comic books. Using the website or the Marvel Unlimited Application available for download on both Google Play and App Store, fans can scour a wide variety of content and stream the issues as they read. The app even allows you to download up to 12 comics for offline reading,
Costs are kept down by restricting the amount of ‘new’ comic books. The latest issues available within the unlimited membership are approximately 6 months old, meaning fans are about a collected edition of stories behind. Membership is available on a monthly basis at $10 U.S. or in an annual package at $69 or $99 (the more expensive annual package includes various free gifts, such as exclusive comic book variants and limited edition merchandise).
There are certain issues with the service. Occasionally comic books that state they are available won’t load properly or random pages are missing, whilst the app for both Apple and Google devices can have their own issues, particularly when downloading comic books for offline reading only to later discover some have failed to download properly. However these issues are not constant and are generally expected when dealing with any type of application.
The pros heavily outweigh the nitpicking cons with this service. As well as the new comics that appear every Monday, normally between 10 and 20, there is a huge back catalogue to get through. If your interest has Daredevil has been piqued by the recent Netflix series, you can easily read a host of classic stories including the work by Frank Miller- his run has a heavy influence on the recent on-demand series – as well as more recent issues by Bendis, Brubaker and Waid. Fans of last years surprise hit movie Guardians of the Galaxy can also find the characters of the film (and other iterations of the team) within the extensive library. Not every issue of every series is available (some of the Clone Saga stories from the Spider-man books from the 90’s are missing) however you can always find something new to read.
The ability to search for specific comic books is quite easy, with options to search via characters, titles or creators as well as specific spotlights which vary over time, including character must-reads and complete event categories (allowing you to read crossovers in their correct order, such as “Civil War” or “Secret Invasion”). Recent additions also include Star Wars which allows you to explore the expanded universe with ease.
Considering the cost of modern day comic books, the service is incredible value for money. Even if you pay monthly (which you can cancel at any time) and only read a dozen books a month, you have gotten your money’s worth. Ideally you will read entire series and discover characters and creators you have never tried before. There are also some free issues available to try out the service for those unsure if reading digitally will work for them. Give the service a go and if you enjoy it, be vocal about it and perhaps one day, DC will follow suit.