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All the pros and cons of Marvel’s digital comics subscription service, Marvel Unlimited.
If you can spend hours digging through back issues of Marvel Comics, you need to check out Marvel Unlimited. For a small monthly fee, you can read hours’—if not days’ or weeks’—worth of your favorite characters: Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Deadpool, Iron Man, Thor, Wolverine, Black Panther, and more. Here’s everything you need to know about the service, including the potential downsides, before signing up.
What is Marvel Unlimited?
Marvel Unlimited is a Netflix-style subscription service for Marvel Comics. You can access it on the Marvel Unlimited website or download the mobile app for Android or iOS (for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch).
Once you have an account, you can read on the website site or mobile app. You can go to an individual comic’s page, or check out Marvel’s curated reading lists for specific characters, crossover events like Civil War, or background reading for upcoming movies.
Unlimited offers more than 20,000 comics, including all the recent Star Wars tie-ins, but you won’t find everything from Marvel’s back-catalog. Some older comics aren’t available because they’re too obscure or haven’t been digitized yet. Occasionally, a lesser-known title might cut off halfway through its run. But for popular characters and recent comics, it’s excellent.
There are only two exceptions: Adult-rated series like Jessica Jones and Punisher MAX aren’t available, and new issues don’t arrive until six months after their initial publishing date. New arrivals appear on the homepage, and when you visit a comic’s individual page, all the free issues are marked with the Unlimited logo.
- The complete Marvel Studios movie calendar
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How much is a Marvel Unlimited subscription?
Marvel Unlimited is $9.99 a month, and you can cancel anytime. But you can save money by either buying an annual pass or upgrading to Marvel Unlimited Plus. An annual pass costs $69 per year (which breaks down to $5.83 per month). Marvel Unlimited Plus costs $99 per year (which averages out to $8.25 per month), and it comes with a few added perks, like 15 percent off digital comics and 10 percent Marvel merchandise. More importantly, it comes with a membership that boasts an exclusive Tony Stark future and Thanos patch, as well three variant comics: Edge of Venomverse #1, Spider-Men II #1, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Telltale Games #1.
Does Marvel Unlimited include Marvel movies and TV?
No, and it doesn’t include Marvel novels either. Just comics!
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What are the downsides of Marvel Unlimited?
In terms of usability, it’s not quite as good as Comixology if you’re reading in a browser window instead of the mobile app. That’s because, with some comics, there’s no middle ground between single-page view (slightly too small) and zooming right into individual panels (way too big).
This isn’t a problem if you use a bigger screen or a vertically oriented screen like an iPad, but it can be a little inconvenient for laptop users. That being said, it’s considerably more affordable than buying zillions of comics that you may only read once anyway.
One piece of advice: Unlimited’s search engine isn’t very good. When looking for a particular title or issue, you’re often better off googling “[Comic Name] Marvel Unlimited” instead of using Marvel’s search bar.
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Is there such a thing as DC Comics Unlimited?
Inexplicably, no. Archie Comics has a similar subscription service, but if you want to delve into DC canon, you still have to buy all the books individually. We’re unlikely to see anything like Image Comics Unlimited because many of their comics are creator-owned instead of belonging to a branded library like Marvel or DC.
Is Marvel Unlimited worth it?
As we mentioned before, you may not find everything you want on Marvel Unlimited. But unless you’re only interested in adult-rated comics or brand-new issues, it’s good value for money.
Marvel Unlimited is a great way to catch up with the first few volumes of current bestsellers like Ms. Marvel. The main downside is that if you rely on Unlimited to explore new titles, they may get canceled before you begin. Sales are primarily judged by monthly orders from comic stores, and some books get canceled within the first six issues—before they’ve been published in a collected volume, or uploaded to Marvel Unlimited. So if you want to support a particular title, you should actually buy it. (And yes, we agree this is a stupid system.)
Still, Marvel Unlimited is definitely worth the money if you want to delve into Marvel’s extensive back-catalog.
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested.