Marvel: Unlimited Inconvenience

Marvel has a $.99/1st month special till the 29th, and as a user of Comixology, I thought I would give it a try. Spoiler: it didn't turn out to be that great.

Thousands of comics

But let's start at what was great: the value. 15 000 comics for a month for only one dollar? That sounds great!


Of course, it is not all of Marvel's comics, not even all in the past couple years. Some from as recent as 2010 are just "not available". A weird example is here, with the Daughter of Galactus series, where the second issue is the only one which is available online, the first one missing. The weirdest thing is that that second issue is digital only, so you have no other legal options than buying the paper-copy of issue one and the digital of the second. Talk about inconvenience! And the rest of the series is not even mentioned on the Marvel site.

Online Readers

The online readers (I've tried both the regular old and the new beta) have one common and fairly big problem: you can't just click "go to next issue" at the end. Of course an even better option would be "go to next issue in continuity", especially for multi-publication spanning events, but that's just wishful thinking on my part.

Android App

The "Marvel Unlimited" Android app has this option, but it is plagued by other issues. One pretty big one is stability: I read only for a couple hours last night and I couldn't keep count of the crashes. Some caused information loss, like the downloaded issues (WTF?), or the issues added to my library (WTF #2).

The biggest limitation is, however, by design: you can only store 12 issues on the device for offline reading. I guess whoever designed it never flew to anywhere further than the states.

Only Issues, not collected volumes, are available digitally. So if you want to read a big arc (say Infinite Crysis), you are better off either ordering the paperback, or downloading it.

You can't mass add issues to your library or device. When you want to catch up with a dozen of issues, you have to individually go to their own pages, add them to your library, then add them to your local storage. Meanwhile, the app gets slower and slower, popping up a "loading" grey foreground that lasts sometimes half a minute. This is just to make the issues available for reading.

If you don't download them, you have to wait a minute till the comic issue is downloaded, and this process - while there is a cancel button - cannot be cancelled.

There is no side-menu, so to get to your library, you have to press back an ungodly amount of  times.

To remove something from local storage, you have to find it (either in your library or browsing to it) and specifically deselect it from local storage. Or sometimes wait for a crash that will delete it. I'm not sure of this functionality.

The search box in the browsing area is simply bad: it will only match starting the title, so if you type in "ultimates", it will not show "Ultimate Comics: Ultimates". It is not rocket science to get it even halfway right, but Marvel managed to fumble this one too.

Is it good enough?

Comixology is way better, and since they include a number of publishers, (Image and DC too) they have a more varied offering. I just wish they had a similar unlimited rate. If they had one, I'd be subbing that without a second thought. While Marvel Unlimited is a very good offer - especially with the $.99 promo - the means of accessing it are just too inconvenient for me to sub to any more than this too-cheap-to-miss month. In other words, this broke my record of fastest cancelling a subscription ever.

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