Marvel Unlimited is not so great.

Panels has posted a review of the Marvel Unlimited app/service. Their conclusion:

So, is Marvel Unlimited worth it? If you’re planning on doing any significant Marvel reading in the coming months or years, especially as the cinematic universe is expanding, then really, it’s a no-brainer. If you don’t mind being behind on what’s coming out (or don’t mind purchasing those issues on top of your payment to Marvel Unlimited) and can deal with the frustrating interface issues (which they really are making better with every update. Now they just need to tackle the comics discovery problem!), then you absolutely should subscribe. It’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but honestly, it’s good enough.

I'm not sure I agree.

I signed up for Marvel Unlimited a few weeks ago after seeing some references to it on Twitter. $9.99 per month to get broad access to the publisher’s back-catalog? Seemed reasonable, and worth checking out.

When it’s good, Marvel Unlimited is great. I blew through a number of different story arcs I was interested in, and as with any streaming service (vs. buy/download), not having to worry about the cost of any individual title is a pretty fantastic feature.

The problem is that when the service is bad, it’s really bad. Their iPhone app is clunky, and the panel-by-panel reader (which is basically the only practical way of reading comics on a phone) is pretty terrible. Across multiple titles, it routinely cuts off the edge of panels, almost always chopping the edges of word bubbles in the process. That is pretty unforgivable in a comic reader. I also encountered a number of instances where it skipped over parts of pages, or even whole pages at a time. Additionally, I found that syncing of where I had stopped reading was highly inconsistent.

The Panels review touches on the problems with title discovery. I agree–it is rather dodgy. Searching for stuff in the mobile app is a fairly wretched experience, and it’s not much better on the web version. Particularly frustrating for me is the intermingling of titles and series that are available online with those that are only available in print. Sure, there is a check-box to filter only for titles that are available digitally, but given that the entire point of the service is to read comics online, this decision seems like a pretty dumb one.

Overall, Marvel Unlimited strikes me as a really good idea spoiled by a cruddy implementation. The long delay in availability of new issues and titles means I will stick with Comixology as my source for new stuff. I could see sticking with Marvel Unlimited for back-catalog titles and series, but the clunky search and reader functionality make even that limited use much less appealing.

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