Marvel’s Major Digital Push – 700 Free #1 Comics and Crashing Comixology

Try to think of something more exciting than 700 free digital comics. If you were able to think of anything aside from meeting Stan Lee, smooching Katy Perry, or receiving 700 free paper comics, there’s a chance this story isn’t for you. For everyone else: Free Comics!

Update 4-11-13 – The Marvel #1 Promo officially went live today and I was able to download every Marvel Now! #1 issue with no problem at all. Props to Comixology for getting it right, privatizing the download link, and making sure everyone was able to – eventually – take advantage of the sweet deal. I’ll have some more thoughts on all the Marvel Now #1’s in the future, but for now pretty happy with Comixology’s handling of what could have been a disaster for them. – Update Over!

Major Update 4-7-13 – Comixology announced in an e-mail update today that the Marvel #1 promotion would be back online starting Thursday, April 11. If you previously provided your e-mail expressing your interest in the promotion, Comixology will send you a personalized code that grants access to every Marvel #1 Issue ever. If you MISSED that opportunity the first go round, you can still take advantage of it here: – Update Over!

Fresh off their announcement that Marvel Unlimited is available via iPad and iPhone, Marvel announced yesterday that they’re giving away hundreds of #1 digital issues via Comixology.

Naturally, the stampede of Marvel fanatics crashed the Comixology servers, and somewhere in the melee I’m pretty sure Brick killed a guy.

marvel's heroes
I’M GETTING ALL OF YOU!!! (Photo credit: thewhitestdogalive)

I’ll get to this technical crash in a minute, but first it’s worth pointing out the positive here. Marvel is having a HUGE SXSW, first generating press for the Netflix of Comics (We all know Marvel Unlimited is hardly new, but nice to see some increased exposure and mobile focus – Side note 2: I’m cool with calling MU the Netflix of Comics. Spotify of Comics is just all kinds of misleading as to the freshness level of the service).

To then turn around and announce free digital #1 issues of ALL of their comics – from the glory days of Stan & Jack on through the current likes of Rick Remender – is FANTASTIC marketing.

There’s just no way around it; it’s a great idea and it might be the single best digital comics strategy we have ever seen from a big-time publisher. By giving away the first issues of hundreds of comic books, Marvel is providing both long-time and fringe readers free access to:

  1. A digital comics reading experience
  2. The opportunity to test the worth of Marvel Unlimited. Like reading these first issues on your iPhone? Well how about the whole series?

It’s great promotion of digital comics and a clear effort to hook more subscribers up with Marvel Unlimited, meaning Marvel may be taking the digital subscription seriously as a long-term strategy.

OK, OK. So it doesn’t work. Comixology crashed, and although I checked the Marvel app (you can still buy new issues through the standard – not Unlimited – app), the freebies don’t appear to be available there either.

This is, of course, disappointing. Marvel will bring it back (link below for more on that), but how many readers might they lose from that initial rush of eager comic collectors?

In a lot of ways, this highlights a couple problems that will continue to plague Marvel:

  1. Their reliance on third-party digital comic providers for new sales. I mentioned during the release of the Marvel Unlimited app that the ability to purchase directly from Marvel puts all the power in their hands. 
  2. A consistent digitial failure to look before they leap! This has happened with both the release of the Marvel Unlimited app (the website mysteriousy displacing long-time subscribers information with no warning or update) and now this promotion. To some degree you have to just get things out in the world, but the quality assurance could be stronger.

Despite all that, I would rather enjoy what Marvel got right here: this is a great promotion and a huge step for digital comics. Assuming Comixology gets their servers straightened out, this will end up as a big win for Marvel Comics.

To make sure you’re in the loop when the free comics come back, here’s the actual link on updates from Comixology:

Thanks to TechHive for the original story.

2 Replies to “Marvel’s Major Digital Push – 700 Free #1 Comics and Crashing Comixology”

    1. Still no word from either Comixology or Marvel.

      This is the latest from Comixology, basically a promise to let everyone know when they’re ready to offer the free comics again. Marvel’s characteristically less informative, although same idea.

      I was able to sign up for e-mail update from Comixology back when that was still an option (really not sure why they took it down), so I’ll be posting here first thing I hear.

      But anyway, point is you’re not alone in not hearing anything. Kind of a strange two weeks of TOTAL silence given the press around this.

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