I was given a 1 year subscription to the Marvel Unlimited subscription service for Christmas. I was so excited to get started perusing the digital collection now available to me. I’m a novice comic reader so I have a lot of reading to do to get myself up to speed; especially concerning Marvel Comics.
I had been using the Comixology app on my Nexus 7, 10, and Samsung Galaxy S IV for quite some time and love the app. I know that the regular Marvel mobile app is written by Comixology so I was expecting the same experience in the Marvel Unlimited realm.
I’m sorry to report that I was disturbingly wrong. Where do I even start? Ok, let’s start with the pros. I will not limit myself to just the mobile app as I think there are some big pros that need to be mentioned, unfortunately, if I only reviewed the app, those pros would not be surfaced. So here we go.
- Tons of content
- There IS an Android app as well as iOS
- Search on the Web is Decent
- App is Buggy
- Almost every time I sit down to use the mobile app, it shuts down on me at least one time.
- Attempting to swipe to scroll from one title to the next often will initiate a click on a seemingly random issue, or will simply send the scroll on a roller coast ride at 100 MPH (slightly exaggerated)
- Browsing is not Good
- Using the browse option in both the browser and app are a little funky. Some titles seem to work better than others. I was trying to find the original Incredible Hulk titles and it took some scrolling to find issues #1-6 as some of the higher numbered issues showed up first even when I sorted by oldest.
- Reading is Second Rate
- Perhaps I’m spoiled by Comixology but the Marvel Unlimited reader for the mobile app is bad. Mind you, I’m using their Beta reader, though I tried out the regular one too and that one wasn’t much better.
- Site is Slow
- I’ve found as I try to browse the Unlimited site on my computer it is very, very slow, both at work and at home. It can sometimes take upwards of 60 seconds to load the initial page.
I wrote all of the above in January of 2014. I had been using the service for only about 12 days. It is now April and I’ve read nearly 200 issues. Overall, I’m very satisfied with the service, but only because it was so inexpensive. The pros and cons I noted above haven’t really gotten fixed since I first started writing this article. What has happened though? I’ve noticed two additional cons that I’m having a hard time getting over and one that is simply just annoying but I can live with. The app shutting down issue seems to have gotten worse as well.
- Missing or Partial Bubbles
- Some issues have dialog bubbles either missing, or they are cut in half. The hardest part about this is when there is one missing, then you start wondering if there are others missing. I’ve finished pages and been utterly confused as to what was happening, so I have to assume there were missing dialogs or thoughts. This truly hurts the issue and the story altogether. At least when they are just cut in half, I know I’m missing story.
- Missing Issues
- This hasn’t been too bad but I’ve found from time to time an issue in the middle of a series such as the Incredible Hulks where issue #609 is missing. I haven’t run into this too often, but it is frustrating when it does.
- Auto Size
- As noted, I have a Nexus 7 and 10. When I open an issue in the Nexus 7, the content fills the screen. When I open the same issue on my Nexus 10, it fills about 75% of the screen and I have to zoom in to get it to fill the screen. This isn’t a big deal, but I’ve notice the zoom is a little touchy which will be noted.
- Few App Updates
- I believe there have been about 2-3 app updates since I started and none of them have addressed any of the issues.
- Touch Controls are Finicky
- As already noted, the zoom control is pretty bad, the overall touch experience is not smooth at all. It feels as though it is either sticky or the screen is being broken into large squares in which you don’t have much flexibility in the amount of zoom you want.
Overall, for the 4 months I’ve had the subscription I have been very satisfied. The content is great, the quality is typically good visually, but the user experience is not very good and I’ve not seen any improvements. That being said, for the price I paid, I will not complain too much considering DC Comics has yet to come up with anything to compare with this service. My prediction is that Marvel will increase the cost to $100-$150 per year once they fix the app issues, if they’re going to continue with this subscription model. I hope they do.
This is the best thing for a new comic reader and it encouraging me to find titles I might never have read and even better for Marvel, to go out and buy physical issues of the issues/series I’ve truly enjoyed. Deadpool 2008 has been my absolute favorite series thus far and I hated Deadpool the first time I was introduced to him.
I highly recommend getting a subscription, namely because it’s such a good value. My goal is to have read 2 issues per day for the entire year. I’m actually a little behind schedule, but I should be able to read 700+ in one calendar year. If the average price per issue is $2 I’d have to spend $1,400 per year to get that much content. Instead, I’ve spend about $70.
I’ve noted some of the various series I’ve read or at least tried out. I haven’t made it very deep into the Marvel world and I’m finding it is getting more and more complex than I even realized, but so far I’ve enjoyed every issue I’ve read.
- Hulk 2008
- The Incredible Hulks 2009
- World War Hulks 2010
- Deadpool 2012
- Deadpool 1993
- Marvel Zombies 2004
- Civil War
- Captain America 2004
- Origin 2001
- Fantastic Four 1961
- Thunderbolts 2006
- Incredible Hulk 1962
- Deadpool 2008