You may have heard that Marvel has put their “Netflix of Comics”, called Marvel Unlimited, on iOS after a lengthy time on the web experimenting. The application sounds interesting on the surface: 13,000 comics available, detailed search, up to six issues stored for offline reading… but in practice, while the app is compelling, there are still some flaws.
The first and most basic problem is that this is essentially an optimized, customized web browser for a specific website, not an app per se. Unlike Comixology, where you actually download the books, this is a slightly more limited and less responsive reader. It’s OK insofar as it goes, but if you’ve been using tablets to read comics on a regular basis, you’re going to notice the difference.
That said, you can actually read the comics, and the selection is fairly impressive. Although no book newer than six months is in the system, 13,000 is still a lot of comic books, and Marvel isn’t shy about putting major issues from heavy hitters on here. That said, you’re better off searching for characters and titles than for creators: The search engine tends to bring up books that writers and artists contributed to, regardless of how substantial that contribution actually was. Take Steve Ditko, for example; his “created by” credits make up half the list.
There are, however, gaps, mostly because Marvel has to go through and redigitize all of these books in their format. The net result is that Comixology will have some books, and MU will have some books, and to read a full run, you’ll need to swap between the two, or buy issues.
The key question is, is this worth $60 up front or $10 a month? If you read a lot of Marvel Comics, or want to get caught up in detail, sure. But if you’re not a hardcore fan, it makes more sense to buy a few trades, instead.