Comic books went digital a while ago. It began with webcomics. Then Comixology came along and made some print comics available digitally. The big two have been in the digital fray for a while, particularly Marvel Comics with Marvel Unlimited. Launched in 2007 (after a few other, less-successful platforms), it is the go-to digital platform for Marvel Comics. If you’ve been on the fence about Marvel Unlimited for the last 15 years or haven’t looked at it in a while, you might be wondering, is Marvel Unlimited worth it?
Well, here’s your comprehensive review, guide, and answer to that question.
What is Marvel Unlimited?
Marvel Unlimited is the subscription-based digital comic book platform for Marvel Comics. The service provides unlimited access to thousands of comic books via mobile device, tablet, or computer. There are three pricing options for the service.
- Monthly for $9.99 per month
- Annual for $69.99 per year
- Annual Plus for $99.99 per year
The Monthly and Annual plans are identical other than price. Annual Plus includes some physical swag that changes each year. Right now, it includes:
- Limited Edition Hasbro Marvel Legends Captain Kate Pryde figure
- Spider-Gwen pin by Scottie Young
- S.W.O.R.D. patch
- X-Men (2021) #1 Marvel Stormbreaker Peach Momoko Variant
- Sinister War (2021) #1 Marc Aspinall Variant
The Annual Plus membership also includes invitations and access to Marvel events as well as 10% off some merchandise through shopDisney.com.
Which Comics are Available?
There’s no way to compile an exhaustive list of all the comics on Marvel Unlimited. There are literally thousands of issues dating back to the founding of Marvel Comics. The folks working behind the scenes seem to constantly be working to digitize classic titles from years and even decades ago, plus new titles are available on the service as soon as three months after release. Most titles are available six months after their release in your local comic book shop.
Some may see this as a hassle or dealbreaker, but it’s a boon for comic book shops. Want to read the latest thing that all of your fellow nerds are going to be talking about? Get thee to your comic book shop and support that local business.
In addition to brand-new issues, Marvel MAX titles are also missing, likely to make sure the app can keep a 12+ rating on the Apple App and Google Play stores. Some classic and obscure titles are also missing, though you never know when those titles will be made available, as they keep digitizing issues.
Is the Interface Easy to Use?
The iOS and Google Apps are a breeze to use. The entire catalog is searchable, but you can also browse in a myriad of ways, such as by writer or artist, title, character, or entire storylines. This means you can find all the issues your favorite writer or artist contributed to. You can also browse to find not only mainstream issues for your favorite character, but weird and obscure issues in which they made an appearance.
My favorite part of the interface is the Reading List section. Here, the folks at Marvel Unlimited have put together complete reading lists of major and minor storyline events throughout the years. Big crossover events can be hard to keep straight when they include so many titles, so these lists have organized these events chronologically so you can read every issue in the crossover in the right order. There is a little extra tapping involved to do this, since finishing one issue will prompt you to read the next in that series, but it’s not too hard to tap back a couple of times to get back to the reading list.
When reading comics, tablets are a natural fit, since some of them approximate the original print size. If you have a larger tablet like an iPad Pro, then the pages are even larger than the print versions. There is also an option to read one panel at a time, which is beneficial when reading on a smaller device like a phone or when viewing a two-page splash.
Issues can also be downloaded for offline reading, which is handy if you’re going on a flight or somewhere with poor Wi-Fi. The apps also allow you to save titles to your own library for reading later, and it remembers what you’ve been reading recently. This includes if you’re like me and bounce around between multiple series. I can always pick up where I left off.
The computer interface leaves a lot to be desired, however. You can search by series, character, creator, or event the same way. Those Reading Lists are there, too. This interface will not allow you to save things or remember what you were reading last, however. The entire experience can be confusing as well, bouncing you between the login screen and the Marvel Insider page, which is just trying to sell you on brand-new titles that aren’t on Marvel Unlimited.
Is Marvel Unlimited Worth It?
If collecting is the driving force behind your love of comic books, then Marvel Unlimited isn’t worth it for you. This service is pretty much the opposite of filling long boxes, and having artists and writers sign an iPad just isn’t the same.
For my money, absolutely. For $69.99 a year, I have access to more comics than I could possibly read in my life, let alone a year. I’ve been able to catch up on the years I spent away from a local comic book shop as well as read classic storylines like Frank Miller’s run on Daredevil, the original Secret Wars, and all of the cool stories with Cosmic Ghost Rider. And there are so many more amazing stories on there to read. Absolutely worth it.