The DC Comics App: This Will Save The Company?

Senior Contributor
08.31.11 2 Comments

As you may have heard, starting today DC comics are hitting digital stands day-and-date with bricks-and-mortar ones. If your friendly local comics shop has closed, getting your comics on an Android tablet might be your only option. But is the app worth the free download?

The short answer? No. You should download the main Comixology app instead. In fact, DC’s app is such a mess in so many ways it’s kind of shocking it’s available.

First, the praise: the comics look great. There are a few exceptions: I downloaded “Impulse #1” because it was free and it had faded captions and ink blots, and “Robin #1”, also free, had color separations that looked like messy divorces, but overall, even older comics like “Whatever Happened To The Man of Tomorrow?” were clear, with vivid colors. Books like “Kingdom Come” held up to zooming in, even up close: these are great scans.

Also, the app coordinating your pull list with your local retailer is pretty damn neat and very useful.

I’d like to tell you what the whole John Bryne relaunch of “The Man of Steel” looks like, but I can’t. Because I bought an issue, tried to download it, and I’m still waiting. I got charged for it, but no comic, and Comixology’s help desk is useless. This is a problem with the Comixology app in general, but for DC, this is fatal. If you buy a comic, it has to download, and with this app, that’s a crapshoot. This may be due to Android revising in-app purchases, but it’s still a black mark that the help desk couldn’t help at all.

But for me the real problem is the selection. If you use the main Comixology app, you get access to Vertigo books. It’s not day-and-date, but they’re there, and a pretty wide selection. With DC’s app? Forget it. Oh, they’ll list Vertigo books…but the books themselves won’t be available.

Similarly, the choices for back catalog titles are schizophrenic and weird. “Kingdom Come”, for example, is sold by the issue, which is nice since it means I don’t have to buy a hardback, but surprising in that DC has to be losing money on this deal. Currently there’s a heavy emphasis on late ’80s and early ’90s books with a smattering of books from other eras, mostly origin stories of the big guns. But even those are incomplete: I bought “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow”, foolishly thinking that either I’d get the whole story or have to buy the second issue. No dice; it’s not available. Worse, there’s no indication it’s not available.

In short, this app just isn’t ready for prime time. Until the downloads become consistent, and until the catalog gets a lot deeper, I’d say avoid this app.

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