Marvel Comics Launches New Subscription Service for iPad

Marvel has launched a new iOS app for comic book fans who want more access to their favorite superheroes. Back issues were previously only available via the Adobe Flash-based reader until Marvel launched an HTML5-based, iPad-compatible reader a few months ago. Now the companion Marvel Unlimited app will provide access to more than 13,000 comic books for a $10 monthly or $60 yearly subscription.

“The application comes with a free trial, though users must separately sign up for the subscription outside of the application, allowing Marvel to avoid Apple’s 30 percent share of all in-app transactions,” reports Apple Insider.

Marvel will release classic and newer issues each week, with comics as recent as 6-months old to be made available. Users can also have access to a full Web archive and select six comics at a time when they are not connected to Wi-Fi.

“Late last year, the company also debuted its ‘Marvel Now’ series, in which new print comics come with a download code that offers a free digital copy of the same issue. Users can enter that code on Marvel’s website, and the comic can then be downloaded and read through the official Marvel Comics iOS application,” notes Apple Insider.

“Marvel Now comics also include integration with an augmented reality application for iOS called Marvel AR,” adds the article. “The application uses the rear camera on an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to scan a page, which then streams a video related to that content.”

The unlimited service started with 2,500 titles in 2007, available via a Flash application. Phase 1 of the new Marvel Unlimited iOS app touts access to more than 70 years worth of comics.

“After playing around with it for a bit on my iPad, I can definitely tell that there’s a big difference in quality when compared with Marvel’s official comic store app that’s powered by ComiXology,” writes Tom Cheredar for VentureBeat. “The Marvel Unlimited app is very bare bones and resembles much of what you’d expect to find on the Web app.”

“And while I do think Comixology’s comic image pages are higher quality, it wasn’t that big of a deal to me,” explains Cheredar. “I probably wouldn’t have even thought about it if I was casually reading. But honestly, this isn’t meant to be a premium product and its a bit unfair to compare it to more sophisticated applications for mobile devices.”