Marvel comics and superheroes are in the limelight today more than they ever have been. This year alone we’re getting four movies starring the various characters from their line up. Since these films are going to be seen by audiences of millions, it only makes sense that the company try to leverage all of those people into taking a look at where those characters originated: the comics.
With how long these characters have endured and how many people they’ve touched, it’s easy to get caught up in thinking that the books are what drive the Marvel brand. But honestly? I’m not so sure that’s true, or event that it’s been true for the past two decades.
Getting caught up with a comic book is intimidating for potential new readers. Continuity in the books goes a lot deeper than just a few prior movies. There’s years worth of books that need to be read if readers want to get a complete understanding of some characters. And even if they know the hero from the movies, the comics often follow different storylines and development that can alienate any potential new buyers.
I think the difficulty lies in finding out where to start. With hundreds of books and storylines to comb through, how is anyone supposed to know where to start without completely breaking the bank (let’s not forget a trade paperback that collects about five or six issues can cost as much between $15 and $25).
But that’s why I’m so, so happy that the Marvel Unlimited service has become so effective.
If you’re not aware, the app collects most of Marvel’s 50 year backlog. Thousands upon thousands of issues and full storylines for anyone to read from start to finish for the price of $9.99 a month.
There are a few caveats: The books are published into the app about 6 months after they’ve hit the stands. Also, this being an iOS and web app, there are bound to be some bugs that keep you from he content you’re paying for every once in a while.
Still, that waiting period is hardly an issue when you’ve got so much content to read at your own pace for less than the cost of ONE 6 issue trade paperback.
I think the app represents Marvel trying to connect with the way that todays consumers want to experience media. If Netflix and the rise of binge watching has taught us anything it’s that people want a-la-cart content. It may seem overwhelming, but it’s also sort of exciting to know that you can get into a new story whenever you want.
Now before you go watch Civil War in theaters in a few weeks, you can take the time to read through the series and enjoy comparing and contrasting the differences. If you’re excited to see Black Panther on the screen for the first time, you can get to know his character even better by reading through some past storylines in one convenient place.
Look, I know torrent sites already exist where you can read all of these comics for free. But honestly if these stories are important to you and Marvel is making a genuine effort to make them easy to find, meet them half way and don’t mooch.
Marvel Unlimited is probably the best thing to happen to my comic reading habit in forever. And I’m really excited to see if other big publishers decide to double down on their digital content the way the House of Ideas has.