If you’re a big comics fan, you may be wondering which service to splurge on. But if you’re a beginner and are unfamiliar with them, you may be hesitant where to put your money. Before I present the rundown to see which is the best comic subscription service, here’s what you need to know about Comixology vs. Marvel Unlimited:
Comixology is an online marketplace to buy digital comics, manga, and graphic novels. It was first launched in 2007, but Amazon acquired it in 2014. The “Big 3” of comics publishing — DC, Marvel, and Image — sell some of their stuff here. Comixology is not just a marketplace of publisher’s titles, though. It has also put out its own through Comixology Originals, which is exclusively available on Kindle and Comixology.
On the other hand, Marvel is a well-known superhero comics publisher. In 2007, the publisher launched Marvel Unlimited, its flagship subscription service. This is actually different from Marvel Comics, which sells digital comics à la carte.
Now that you know a little bit about them, let’s start this Comixology vs Marvel Unlimited showdown.
Changes in Comixology
Around the middle of February this year, Amazon implemented dramatic changes in Comixology, including a major update rollout. These changes, however, received heavy backlash from the community. Since the app was overhauled, readers with large libraries bemoaned that they had to re-download their previous purchases. Desktop users also complained that they now have to read via Kindle Cloud Reader as the native Comixology web reader has been phased out.
Comixology’s website has also moved to Amazon, which feels chaotic to navigate. There are many buttons to click and advertisements to skip before getting anything done.
For those who live outside the United States and subscribe to series, it’s also a pain in the neck. Since its integration with Kindle, series subscriptions on Comixology have been unavailable.
These are just few among the slew of major changes in Comixology, and they still continue to be a source of grief today.
How Much Does Comixology Cost?
You can buy a title à la carte or pay $5.99 per month to access Comixology Unlimited. Said service is pretty much like Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, but for comics and other image-heavy titles like manga and graphic novels. Comixology Unlimited offers perks such as discounts and “unlimited” reading of select titles from publishers, which they update once in a while. Still, as with other services that boast unlimited usage, there are restrictions. Comixology regulates the among of content you can access.
Comixology also offers a one-month free trial, but it’s only available in the U.S. for now.
Amount of Comics Available and the Quality of Catalog
Almost every American comic book is available on Comixology, especially those from the Big 3 of comics publishing. According to their website, there are 230,000 comics, graphic novels, and manga available for purchase. Then there are also additional thousands of comics in Kindle Unlimited, which can be accessed in Comixology.
The catalog is definitely expansive if you’re just buying à la carte. However, it’s a different story if you’re a Comixology Unlimited subscriber. The titles you get there depend on the selection they make available every month.
Comixology: Under the Hood
It’s easy to look for titles in Comixology. There’s the “New” tab for new releases, which includes titles that can be purchased individually and can be accessed in Comixology Unlimited. There’s also a section for new Comixology Originals comics, manga, and indie titles. What I find very helpful is that you can also see new releases by publishers such as DC, Marvel, Image, and Kodandsha among others.
I’ve recently noticed that Comixology has been aggressively pushing its Originals titles; in the app and the website, there’s a prominent tab for it. These are comics you’d be getting if you’re subscribed to Comixology Unlimited. You’d see which ones are added to the roster; the trending titles; and the ones featured in TV, film, and more.
What Is Less Great About Comixology
The app, while providing a great reading experience, feels bare-bones. In the library alone, you can only see your downloaded titles. It is possible Amazon isn’t yet finished figuring out the whole shebang.
Meanwhile, though they said that they’ve already addressed reader complaints back in February, reading on the web app is still not recommended. The titles you purchase are accessible via Kindle Cloud Reader, which is worse than the built-in and efficient Comixology web reader they had before. Unlike in the mobile apps, you can’t tap on a comic panel to zoom it. There’s a zoom option but you can’t view a specific panel. What’s worse is that the images are blurry. If the mobile app feels bare-bones, the web app is terrible as there aren’t a lot of reading options.
Additionally, Android users can’t buy titles directly in-app because of a recent Google policy update. They’d have to buy titles on Amazon and have them synced to mobile devices.
Comixology Unlimited can be misleading. When reading a series, you can access the first ones for free. But if you want to know what happens next, you are forced to buy the next one. Overall, using Comixology can be jarring. There’s lots of external links to visit when accessing content, and synchronization between the website and the apps is confusing.
Marvel at Marvel Unlimited
Marvel Unlimited is a bit pricier at $9.99 per month, but you can try it for free for seven days. The service has many classic titles, but the publisher delays the release of newer comics for at least three months. At $99 per year, there’s a subscription tier called Annual Plus that comes with a membership kit, additional discounts at ShopDisney.com merchandise store, and invites to events.
Marvel Unlimited seems to be available outside the U.S., with the exception of Marvel Unlimited Plus.
How Many Titles Are Available in Marvel Unlimited?
According to their website, there are 30,000 comics spanning the entire Marvel Universe. The catalog is almost complete, but many Marvel fans report that some issues are still missing.
Though Comixology Unlimited also carries titles from Marvel, their catalog pales in comparison to that of Marvel Unlimited. You also don’t get the bells and whistles of Marvel’s ecosystem.
At some point, there used to be a limit of 12 issues that users can download at once, but apparently, Marvel has lifted that restriction.
What Makes Marvel Unlimited Special
Marvel Unlimited’s app is much more grand. You’ll see recommended series, weekly new releases, popular series, reading guides, popular characters, and select content creators. The reading guides are helpful especially if you don’t know where to start or if you’re a newbie to the comic world.
There are also trending, backlist, and premiere titles available on the app. What I find impressive is that Marvel Unlimited has issues available that were released decades ago but are now available for the first time in digital.
When it comes to content, Marvel has its own Infinity Comics. These are all-new in-universe stories, which are told in vertical format.
As for the reading experience, Marvel’s web reader is top-notch. Unlike Comixology, you can tap on the panels, which are not blurry. You can read by panels or by full pages. And you can also do these on the mobile app.
Because of Marvel’s massive catalog, you may be wondering if it’s difficult to find which titles are eligible for their subscription service. With Marvel Unlimited, you would know. When you view a series, say for example, Daredevil, you can filter out which titles are available under Marvel Unlimited.
Marvel also has a reader program called Marvel Insider. You can earn points by reading comics, which you can redeem for rewards.
What’s Lacking in Marvel Unlimited
Unlike Comixology wherein you get some free titles without signing up, you have to actually become a member in Marvel Unlimited to access content.
When it comes to reading, Comixology beats Marvel in the panel tapping feature. Tapping on a comic panel on Marvel feels flat, while it feels smooth on Comixology. It makes a world of difference when you’re reading.
Comixology vs Marvel Unlimited: So Which One Should You Choose?
Comixology vs Marvel Unlimited? It depends. Comixology Unlimited is decent if you want to try the first issues of a series. It’s also a great place to look for obscure titles or ones you might not have heard of.
If you’re a comic fan in general and don’t have a specific preference, Comixology may be a better fit as it almost has everything from every known publisher; it can fulfill your comic fixes. If you’re a casual Marvel fan and don’t really mind not reading everything from them, then Comixology Unlimited might work for you.
If you’re a big Marvel fan, however, you’d better subscribe to their service, even though there’s a significant release delay. Maybe you can try exploring other series (and there are so many!) while waiting for your favorite ones to arrive in-app. Marvel Unlimited’s catalog is simply way better than that of Comixology; you’ll get to read many titles you wouldn’t have thought possible to buy. Plus, you’ll get exclusive benefits you can’t find in Comixology.
The choice between Comixology vs Marvel Unlimited is all up to you as it really depends on your reading habits, preferences, and needs.
If you want more options in choosing a comic subscription service, here’s a comparison between Marvel Unlimited and DC Extended Universe.