Comixology Unlimited Impressions – Online comics store launches unlimited content service
I have, at various times, messed around with Marvel Unlimited, the Marvel Comics app/website that allows you access to a Hulk-ton of backlog titles (More than 17,000 according to their ads, and some as recent as about six months old, I believe, although someone can correct me in the comments) for $9.99 a month, but I have wondered what a similar service not centered on the ‘mainstream’ comic publisher (nor DC, its chief rival, although no such service exists to my knowledge) would look like. And now, Comixology – a major distributor of online comics – has answered that question by launching Comixology Unlimited. The pitch is exactly what I wanted to hear: All the comics you can read for $5.99 a month. Plus, there’s a free 30 day trial, so that was enough to get me to sign up, even with the risk that I wouldn’t unsubscribe before the deadline and get charged. Full thoughts on the service after the jump.
The experience is familiar for anyone who has worked with Comixology. You can ‘borrow’ any of the titles in the Comixology Unlimited catalog and then read them on a Comixology device or browser, including downloading them to your phone. The catch is expected: You don’t keep any of them if you ever unsubscribe, much like Netflix, Spotify or the aforementioned Marvel Unlimited. I had no trouble getting the books to download, and the interface is very good (and the same as you would have from any other Comixology book), although the biggest thing holding it back I have dealt with on the web interface (not sure about the app right now) is that I can’t find a way to just have it alphabetically list all Unlimited books, something that seems necessary in order to really just find things you like. I borrowed and read Classic Usagi Yojimbo Vol. 1 (Stan Sakai’s classic bunny-starring samurai epic) and X-O Manowar Vol. 1 (The 2012 relaunch of the 90’s Valiant book about a barbarian who ends up in modern times after getting a suit of alien armor). I have meant to read more Usagi for a long time but I probably never would have paid for X-O Manowar by itself, which is the value of this sort of service and it is worth noting that I really enjoyed both books, which is a nice bonus.
So, the selection, which is really what makes and breaks this sort of service. If you are the sort that is very peculiar about which books you read, you will definitely want to check availability first. I can’t find a specific number of comics on the service, but it is a broad service. Even though it does not feature books from the big two publishers, it has a good selection of books you have heard of: Hellboy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Wicked + The Divine, Lumberjanes, Saga, Umbrella Academy, Atomic Robo, Appleseed, Locke & Key, Mind Mgmt, and Attack on Titan all make the list and that is just scratching the surface. Plus there’s a bunch of stuff I wouldn’t normally buy, but I might not read if it were part of the service like G.I. Joe, Ghostbusters, Transformers, Ghost and the other new Valiant books. The biggest drawback I have found (aside from finding an uncurated list of Unlimited books, which I may just be missing) is that while the collection has great breadth, the depth is sometimes lacking. It’s a good service for trying new things, but it won’t keep you up to date on series right now, even several months behind. As an example, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World only includes the first volume. The Sixth Gun includes the first two volumes. The aforementioned 2012 X-O Manowar includes volume 1 of 11. The Walking Dead includes volumes 1 and 2 of 25. Lone Wolf and Cub includes volumes volumes 1 – 4 of the 28 volumes. And so on.
All of that said, if you are anything but the most voracious comic reader, there appears plenty to get a taste for a bunch of comics on the service, but it is not clear yet if the service will do a good job of adding backlogged books going forward so that you can do the Netflix thing and just wait a couple of years to catch up or if it will stay a service to try to get people interested in the first couple of volumes of books in order to get ongoing buyers, or even how aggressively they will add the first volumes of future titles.
As of right now, I will probably try it out for a bit. Certainly, I’m happy to have to try the free trial. Right now Comixology Unlimited, at a $5.99 per month price point, looks to be a good service for those that want to try out a lot of series to see if they like them enough to buy them. It’s viability going forward will depend on how the service is supported. Hopefully, I can check back in six months or a year and see how that is going. If you’ve tried the service, I’d love to hear your thoughts down in the comments.