Marvel, DC, and Comixology: a information to digital comics
The first season of WandaVision is nearing its end, but Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Black Widow, Loki, the Justice League, Suicide Squad, The Batman, GCPD and Peacemaker are just around the corner – and that explains other series outside of the major Marvel – and DC universes like MODOK, Titans or Harley Quinn.
There are more superhero TV series and movies debuting in 2021 than seemingly ever before, and there might be some people out there who want to immerse themselves in comics. WandaVision got some employees to look at previous storylines from Vision and Wanda Maximoff, for example. I started reading Kieron Gillen’s Eternals run, which led to the Marvel Studios film. Whatever reason people have for wanting to read comics, there are several ways to do it.
Comics can be an expensive hobby. New issues typically cost $ 3.99 each. If someone reads eight or nine different series at the same time, those fees can add up week after week. Don’t think of this guide as a recommendation for the series you want to delve into. If that’s what you’re looking for, Susana Polo, the comics editor on our sister site Polygon, runs a weekly review of books she reads and recommends. (It’s an essential part of my week, and it helps me figure out individual issues that I want to pick up on or start a series that I might like.)
Instead, this is a guide to the various subscription methods that are available for people who want to consume multiple comics at once and want to do so in an inexpensive manner. These aren’t the only options, but they are among the simplest. There are three primary subscription services for comics:
- Comixology Unlimited ($ 6 per month)
- Marvel Unlimited ($ 10 per month or $ 70 per year)
- DC Universe Infinite ($ 8 per month, $ 75 per year)
Because of the subscription models in place, it’s a very, very good time for people to get into comics. If you’re just starting out, I recommend Comixology Unlimited because it has the most diverse options, as well as many of the great mainstream products. (Comixology is available as an add-on through your Amazon Prime account.) There are more than 25,000 comics available.
In addition to top Marvel (Captain America, Iron Man, Immortal) there is the possibility of fantastic series from publishers such as Vertigo (Sex Criminals, Sweet Tooth, The Invisibles) or Image Comics (The Fade Out, Blackbird, Fatale and Kick-Ass) read about Hulk, Hawkeye etc) and DC series (Batman, Teen Titans, Wonder Woman, Justice League Dark etc).
What I love most about Comixology Unlimited is the ability to explore any type of book. I often click on a publisher like Valiant or Dark Horse and look for offers that are offered through the Unlimited subscription. At this point, when a commercial paperback book is available (this is a term used to refer to a number of individual print editions, between four and 12 editions, but usually six) that someone can read. For example, if someone wants to read Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye, they can do so by reading through various volumes that collect a number of individual print editions. This is the best way to find older gems that people may never have heard of before, especially if they are new to comics.
One downside to Comixology Unlimited is that Marvel and DC Comics’ offerings may not feel ideal for dedicated fans. When I tried reading a number of previous issues for WandaVision (and after seeing a Tumblr post about an old ’80s Incredible Hulk bow that I wanted to check out) I realized I still had to buy one Heaps of them. Although I could read a lot for free – for example, House of M is part of Unlimited – to read the entire story, I had to use Marvel Unlimited.
Marvel Unlimited offers more than 27,000 digital comics to read. You can download up to 12 comics to take with you at once, and Marvel’s team (along with recommendation algorithms) curates a number of books that pop up when you’re looking for something to read. It’s a great app for engaging in classic stories, and some of the best runs for popular characters like Iron Man and Captain America. There is also the Star Wars universe for people to explore.
The main disadvantage concerns new individual issues. Currently, new editions are uploaded to Marvel Unlimited in running arcs like The Amazing Spider-Man or The Eternals three months after their release. Roughly after the first three issues of a current run are available, they will appear in Marvel Unlimited. This isn’t good news for anyone trying to keep up with the latest on a range of Marvel titles. (These editions can also be purchased from Comixology for $ 3.99 or $ 3.39 with the Comixology Unlimited discount.)
I would say Marvel Unlimited is best for anyone who wants to really dive deep into reading almost every single comic book Marvel has released over the years. If you want to work through all of the different Spider-Man comics published since 1962, Marvel Unlimited is your best bet to do it at the cheapest price.
DC Universe Infinite
The same is mainly true for DC Universe Infinite. This used to be DC Universe, a service that contained some comics but also some TV shows (Harley Quinn, Teen Titans) and some older DC movies. When HBO Max launched, the TV shows and movies were streamed onto the WarnerMedia streaming platform, and DC Universe was relaunched as a comics-only platform called DC Universe Infinite.
To make DC Universe Infinite a special experience, DC Comics did some new things. According to Polygon, the company has pledged to carry back catalog titles from the comic book prints “Vertigo, Black Label and Milestone”. There will also be exclusive DC Comics titles that live exclusively on DC Universe Infinite. The platform currently offers more than 24,000 comics. As with Marvel Unlimited, new releases are not immediately available. You will meet DC Universe Infinite six months after its release.
Again, both Marvel Unlimited and DC Universe Unlimited are great for people who want to read as many previous comics as possible with their favorite superheroes for one low monthly price. They are not for everyone who just wants to read the latest. It’s best to use a digital retailer – or support your local comic bookstore if physical prints are more your thing.
What seems completely inevitable is that both Marvel Unlimited and DC Universe Unlimited will be bundled with Disney Plus and HBO Max, respectively. The entertainment conglomerates who own all of these properties want people to stay in their worlds – hence all new movies and TV shows via streaming services. When that happens, it will be a lot easier for people to watch an episode of something like Loki and then dive into the character’s story.