Is Marvel Unlimited Worth It In 2017?

Now that I’ve written reviews of Marvel Unlimited for over 5 years, I’m well aware that most “Is Marvel Unlimited Worth It” conversations can be quite succinctly summed up by a simple one word: YES!

Heading into the New Year, though, this question isn’t quite so simple. Although Marvel Unlimited continues to offer the single best value for digital comics subscriptions by several thousand miles, the service has been plagued by technical issues that can truly limit new users ability to actually read their comics.

An evaluation of pros and cons is well worth it before you commit your money.

Marvel Unlimited app
The Marvel Universe awaits

What Is Marvel Unlimited Exactly?

For the uninitiated, Marvel Unlimited is the digital subscription service offered by Marvel Comics. For a monthly fee of $9.99, or an annual fee of $69.99 (or $99.99 for Marvel Unlimited Plus), you get access to the Marvel Unlimited digital library of comics on your desktop or mobile app.

Once you’ve paid and signed up, you can read as many Marvel Comics as you like, as often as you like, whenever you like.

In short, it’s a Netflix or Spotify “all-you-can-eat” style service strictly for Marvel Comics.

I’ve detailed what’s in the Marvel Unlimited library here, but essentially you can read the entire history of Marvel Comics, and well over 15,000 comic books, at whatever pace you choose. Seriously, the library of comics is immense, to the point that Comic Book Herald’s reading club covered Marvel Comics published in every year from 1961 through present day with more than enough to read, and only minor gaps.

The question has come up several times, so note that Marvel Unlimited is different from reading comics on the Marvel Comics app. Once you have subscribed to Marvel Unlimited, you do not need to pay for individual comics on the Marvel Unlimited app.

Why Wouldn’t You Sign Up For Marvel Unlimited?

Honestly, if you’re interested in getting started with Marvel Comics, or catching up on series you may have missed, Marvel Unlimited is a fantastic value.

Seriously, for the price of an annual subscription you could purchase maybe 7 new trade paperbacks of Marvel stories, totaling something like 42 issues of comics. As a reminder, Marvel Unlimited has well over 15,000 comics plus the Star Wars comics universe.

It is insanely good value.

As such, I find it easier to discuss the reasons you might not want Marvel Unlimited. Since I brought it up in the intro, we’ll look at technical issues first.

Marvel Unlimited app crashing error
The 5 ugliest words in Marvel Unlimited

Marvel Unlimited Service Downtime

Following the launch of the Marvel Unlimited app in 2013, there were a number of years where app functionality was the primary setback for MU.

At this point in time, that’s largely a thing of the past. Both Anroid and iOS apps are generally easy to use and operate, with fewer of the quirks that prevent you from reading comics.

Unfortunately, Marvel Unlimited has developed an even bigger issue: It will kick users out for extended periods of time, requiring you to reset your password to no avail.

I’ve received messages from plenty of upset comic readers who simply can’t access Marvel Unlimited, despite paying for the service, instead inundated with a stream of “reset your password” prompts. It’s a nuisance-loop enough to drive any paying customer a bit batty, or ironically, to pirate the comics they tried to pay for!

Marvel Unlimited does have a support team, and while they have improved at responses (particularly on Twitter), the issue has remained unpredictable for months.

Personally, I’ve been frustrated several times this year where I simply couldn’t use Marvel Unlimited for weeks. I know the service has so much value that I’m willing to wait it out. Not everyone would, and that’s something you simply have to determine for yourself.

It’s not perfect, but in my experience, limiting your login to one device helps with the password reset issue.

Marvel-now-2.0-comics

You Only Want To Read The Newest Comics

Marvel Unlimited is most useful for anyone who wants to catch up on a vast, overwhelming library of 15,000 plus comics. It’s for readers who want to consume every story ever told.

It’s not great for readers who want to keep up with the latest and greatest in Marvel publishing. If you want to know what’s going on in Amazing Spider-Man right now, Marvel Unlimited is not the service for you. Your best bet is going to be picking up Amazing Spider-Man issues from your local comic shop, or digitally through Amazonology.

For the most part, Marvel Unlimited adds new comics 6 months after their publication date. For example, Civil War 2 began publication in May 2016, and by the end of the year the first issues of the 2016 event were available in MU.

It’s worth noting as well that the Marvel Unlimited team has gotten very effective at adding more comics to the library this year, filling in older series like Power Man & Iron Fist or 90’s X-Men. New comics are added weekly, so the library is constantly expanding.

You Use a Kindle or Surface (Or non iOS & Android compatible device)

I’ve enjoyed reading comics on a Kindle Fire for well over a year now, but one of the biggest downsides is there is no Amazon compatible Marvel Unlimited app.

Tech savvy comic fans will point out that you can sideload Marvel Unlimited onto your Kindle, but this always sounds like a challenge to me, and not necessarily a risk I want to run on my tablet.

It’s unclear whether Marvel has any plans to add compatible app versions for Kindle, Surface, and the other outsiders. It’s possible Amazon’s ownership of Comixology makes Marvel less likely to play within their ecosystem, although that’s purely conjecture. If you’re home on WiFi or have plenty of data, you could also always use the desktop application of Marvel Unlimited, although I certainly prefer the in-app experience on a mobile device.

The full Marvel Universe

Why I Love Marvel Unlimited

Despite the limitations mentioned above, Marvel Unlimited is my favorite paid comic book subscription service, and is a big part of the reason I’m so in love with Marvel Comics.

If you’re comparing services, Marvel Unlimited offers full runs of series it includes, separating it tremendously from the sampler platter first collected volumes of Comixology Unlimited.

If you’re into my other favorite digital comic library service, Hoopla Digital, Marvel Unlimited offers a perfect complement, since Hoopla doesn’t carry Marvel books to date.

At the end of the day, I think new subscribers need to be cautioned that Marvel Unlimited has serious technical problems that need to be resolved. They can limit your access to the service, and obviously if you can’t get to your comics, all that value is negated.

Nonetheless, I’ll continue happily subscribing Marvel Unlimited, and expect that their team is hard at work improving a service that has only gotten better in the 6+ years I’ve been using it.

There’s no other way to enjoy Marvel Comics so easily so despite its flaws…

Make mine Marvel Unlimited!

Need Help Getting Started With MU? Try These Comic Book Herald Guides

Comic Book Herald’s Complete Marvel Reading Order

The Best 100 Marvel Stories From 1998 to 2015

Where To Start With Marvel Comics in 2017?

If you have any questions of your own, you can send them to @comicbookherald on Twitter, or dave@comicbookherald.com. If you want to join a Marvel Unlimited reading club, check out My Marvelous Year.

9 Replies to “Is Marvel Unlimited Worth It In 2017?”

  1. I have not seen the “Unfortunately” screen above. What platform/app are you on when you see that?

    The main problem I have had is when I get the sample instead of the full comic. To solve that, I generally have to log out, then log back in. This is irritating, but it only happens for the first comic of the day at most.

    Really, the value is amazing, and I have gotten to read so much that I would never have sought out in print. 2015’s addition of almost the entire Star Wars output from Dark Horse was a major positive change in the service.

    1. Android tablet gets that error a bunch. Usually I just try, try, try until finally something clicks. Really just a matter of patience, but not something I experience with other apps.

      I get the sample problem a bunch, too. I’m always signed in when it happens which is bizarre. I’ve been lucky enough to just click back to the comic details and when I reload the issue it takes me to page 4 as if nothing happened. Logging out terrifies me because I’m worried I won’t be able to log back in without resetting my password!

      Like you say, though, I wouldn’t love Marvel Comics like I do without Marvel Unlimited. Not even close. Also, I’d be completely, wholeheartedly broke.

  2. It’s hard, really hard. I love the value we get for the price but right now, with the reading club starting again I have so many problems with the app on my IPad Air 2.

    I always have to download the comics because it doesn’t load the just to read the online.
    The loading takes sooooooo much time….

    But the weirdest or worst or I don’t know is, that there are great HD like looking comics (f.a. X-Man #60) and at the same time there are really bad looking ones (uncanny x-men from the some time period). I like to read in smart panel mode but for some it works perfect and for some It just fails. It’s almost as if there are two totally different modes sometime. One that’s new and working without a flaw and a second which is …. can’t read anything.

    1. Yeah, this is exactly it. The irony is that MU’s biggest upside (value) is perpetually undermined by software issues that devalue. That’s been the story for years. Nothing really beats even the possibility of all those comics at your fingertips, though.

      My general sense of smart panel reading is it works quite well for any comic added to the Marvel Unlimited library after 2013. Anything earlier – especially those late 90’s through early 2000’s books – it’s basically unusable.

      1. Tried it on my Android Phone abd there the loading works far better. Seems like the apple app is not as good as the google store app?!

  3. Planning to get MU in this week.Already subscribed to Comic Book Herald’s reading club hope I will start reading MU from this week

  4. I’ve sideloaded MU on my Kindle and it really wasn’t that hard and I haven’t had a lot of issues with it. I’ll even go so far to say that between my phone, my Kindle and my PC it seems to be less buggy on the Kindle. It’s really slow but still it’s there and it works consistently.

  5. I find I get very few issues with the app. I’d say it works well 95% of my time (running it on two android devices). If anything, it’s my tablet that will screw up more than the app.

    Away from that, Marvel Unlimited has been great value for me. I started off as a comic newbie 6 months ago, and now I’ve read about 100 comics per month. I’ve been making my way through comics from early 2000s with my goal of finishing at Secret Wars, at which point I’ll go back and read specific series in their entirety.

    I guess you could say, when Marvel claims their app has over 17,000 comics, I see that as a challenge to read them all.

  6. Just a datapoint.

    I use the iOS app primarily. (6sPlus, 9.7″ iPad 2 and 12.9″ iPad) I have never gotten a “Stopped working” dialog or has it ever asked me to reset my password.

    My largest issue has always been older comics where Smart panel was broken (zooming way too far into a panel) and if you click very quickly on the RHS or LHS to advance pages, Smart panel will turn off.

    MU is an insanely good value and is the app I use to show off why my 12.9″ iPad Pro is not “too big” 🙂

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