In the past, comic readers could subscribe to individual comics via the U.S. Mail, but as such services continue to make their way out, digital distribution has been on the rise. Today Marvel Comics announced one of its modern subscription models will get a facelift.
In advance of their appearance at the SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, TX, the publisher revealed to tech blog Gizmodo that the service formerly known as Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited has been rebranded as Marvel Unlimited. First introduced in 2007, Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited is an online service that provides thousands of streaming back issues for a monthly (or yearly) fee. Previously only available on browsers, Marvel Unlimited brings it to iPads and iPhones, and Gizmodo (who call it “Marvel’s Spotify for Comics”) reports that it’ll be out on Android “soon.”
The subscriptions will run $10 a month or a $60 annual fee if readers jump on during the initial offering period. The tech blog notes that 13,000 Marvel comics exist in the server, and the app will allow you to store six comics at a time on your device to read when not online — a “borrow function” synched to their comiXology-powered app. Access to the publisher’s ever-growing line of comics is the selling point here rather than the tricked-out functions of Marvel’s app; new issues of current Marvel comics will be made available through the service after about six months.
The company also offered a hint that more upgrades to the services catalogue were in the offing, including the possibility of expanding the six-issue “borrow” limitation as well as a possible “fan club” option later this year.
The iOS app is a free download and features a resolution roughly as sharp as ComiXology’s app, though without guided view and noticeably more sluggish when zooming in and out on a page. Marvel Unlimited was first beta tested on iOS devices late last year.
New releases on Marvel Unlimited include last year’s Avengers vs. X-Men #1, issues of the current volume of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, early #20s issues of Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force run, older titles and more. Gizmodo quotes Marvel Digital SVP Peter Phillips as saying that most major titles “should be in there at six months; we’re pretty timely with that.”
Phillips also told Gizmodo that this is “Phase 1” of Marvel Unlimited, with a “fan club membership opportunity” to come in the future. With multiple announcements promised by Marvel for South by Southwest this Sunday, there are likely more digital comics announcements to come from the publisher.