It is recommended that you read comic books. Comics are the center of attention in all media these days, whether it’s movies, streaming, or network television. Knowing comics means spotting every deep cut Easter egg in Aquaman and having lots of Spider-Ham stories to tell your buddies after Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. It also means appreciating a form of storytelling found exclusively on paper – blockbusters are terrific, but comics can take chances.
As Kelly Sue Deconnick, a renowned comic writer, puts it, “Comics are always going to be hotter because we’re cheaper!”
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably decided that you want to start reading comic books. Perhaps you’ve recently acquired a large color tablet to play with. You may enjoy the medium, but getting to a comic shop is difficult. Maybe you don’t have enough space for a large collection of physical copies (like me), and you’re not going to disregard that (like me).
If that’s the case, you should switch to digital comics. There are more options than ever before for purchasing and reading digital comics, so here’s your guide to the best digital comics service.
WHAT IS THE BEST DIGITAL COMICS SERVICE IN THE WORLD?
Comixology, owned by Amazon, is the largest digital retailer of American comics (as well as certain manga and European comics). Over 200 publishers use Comixology to sell their wits; for many, it’s their sole digital outlet.
The back catalog of Comixology is huge, and the site regularly has massive bargains. Regardless of who’s books you prefer, you can probably buy and read them all in the same app or on your browser. You can also use Amazon gift cards to purchase anything in Kindle Comics with Kindle & comiXology badging, thanks to a partnership between Amazon and Comixology.
However, the back library of Comixology might be daunting. So, here are some alternative possibilities that could be more suitable for you.
Take it from the comics editor at Polygon: There are a lot of comics to choose from! The most common criticism I get from new readers is that they don’t know where to begin. Comixology’s Unlimited subscription is a simple option in addition to reading Polygon’s comics coverage for advice on new and fascinating series.
The name is a little misleading: “Unlimited” implies that this is a monthly membership service that grants you access to all of Comixology’s back library — similar to Marvel Unlimited (more on that later). Instead, Comixology Unlimited offers a constantly changing collection of comics from the industry’s largest publishers. It’s sometimes an entire run, other times only the initial plot arc, but it’s always enough to whet your appetite. Update: Select DC Comics titles are now included in the service.
This subscription will give up a sampling plate of the top titles out there if you want to taste more comics before buying collections or physical copies. When you decide to buy, Comixology Unlimited subscribers receive a 10 to 15% discount on all books from participating publishers.
As a long-time fan, I’m hopeful DC Universe’s collection expands, and I believe the app might benefit from some modest but significant quality-of-life enhancements. However!
There’s no doubt that there’s some great material on there – not just comics but a sizable percentage of DC TV and film adaptations. The Animated Series of Batman, the Superman films of Richard Donner, the Wonder Woman series of the 1970s, and more. Not to mention a growing list of unexpectedly good streaming originals.
DC Entertainment, like Comixology Unlimited, rotates the comics available on the app, typically to coincide with the premiere of its film adaptations — and it only began this summer, so it still has time to iron out the issues. Things are heading in the right direction since the service has announced its first library expansion, a large one.
Marvel Unlimited provides you access to a massive backlog of Marvel comics spanning decades. It’s not perfect, but it’s a good start. The database may also be searched by character, author name, series name, and even plot arc (with fair accuracy).
New releases are the only thing you won’t discover on Marvel Unlimited, and new comics arrive on the service after a three-month wait. So, although the service is fantastic for catching up (read those essential volumes to prepare for Captain Marvel), it’s terrible for remaining current. If you don’t need to remain updated, though, you’re set.
Did you know that a Crunchyroll membership also gives you access to a comprehensive library of anime and manga titles? You have it now.
When it comes to Western readers getting access to a large manga back library, there’s also a new kid on the block: Shonen Jump. Viz Media, America’s largest manga publisher, now has an equally great internet storefront, which opened in December 2018. On Shonen Jump, the three most recent chapters of any current series, such as Death Note, are free, and fresh English translations of chapters are available at the same time as they are released in Japan.
Furthermore, a penny-a-day membership provides access to over 10,000 older chapters of current and completed series, a convincing attempt to battle the problem of unauthorized scans and translations.