In general, I try to keep a positive outlook on Marvel Unlimited. The subscription library has come a long way since I fell head over heels for it in in 2010, and at the end of the day, the fact that reading this many comics at this price point is even an option is great. It could always be worse. It could be DC Unlimited.
Nonetheless, despite my endless recommendations, offline reading is somehow actually getting worse. For the reader who only consumes comics within the comfort of a Wi-Fi signal, this won’t matter, but for those of us commuting longer distances, inability to read comics offline is increasingly causing problems.
Here’s the scenario: I spend an inordinate amount of time curating twelve issues of comics to read (typically based on preparation for My Marvelous Year reading club’s next reading list). I dutifully set them all to “read offline,” with no bulk select option, and pull out my cheap but efficient RCA Viking Pro Tablet on the train the next morning.
Best case, my first offline comic loads no problem, but then inevitably the next comic in the series sends me the all too familiar refrain: “Oops! Something Went Wrong! Try reloading, or banging your head on a sharp corner!”.
Now, I’ve read an obscene amount of comics, and I’ve learned to take my lumps with Marvel Unlimited. I’ve been able to mostly just say “Ok, fine, not reading that one today,” and keep my level of ire to defcon “mildly annoyed.” In part, I also assumed that an app update would likely cure this behavior, sooner rather than later.
We’re going on well over a month now without a fix, and worse, I’m actually starting to see new problems. For example, this morning I loaded up Marvel Unlimited, only to find that all my offline reading options require me to sign in first.
You know, sign in. With an internet connection. That would mean I didn’t require offline reading in the first place!
Again, I try to keep a level head about these things. We live in a world where a free mobile app registers the rage and ire of Pokemon Trainers everywhere when it won’t load for a few hours. At the end of the day, my life is simply more enjoyable with Marvel Unlimited, and I’d recommend it to almost anyone.
Nonetheless, this IS a paid service, and I’d love to see it get better. I’m way too invested personally to walk away, but if I was a new subscriber, and every time I tried to read some comics on the train the app failed, I wouldn’t keep paying. I can entirely understand this mentality.
The most frustrating part for me is that this isn’t the first time we’ve been down this road. Offline reading has been plagued with problems at best, and downright unusable at worst. I had hoped with the introduction of Comixology Unlimited, and their significantly better offline reading capacity and experience, that Marvel Unlimited might feel some pressure to improve.
To date, no luck. There’s a lot to be excited about with Marvel Unlimited these days, including an ever expanding library that has been sprucing up weak spots in the catalog all 2016, but offline reading casts a dark hyperbolic shadow over the whole service.
If you’re reading at home, I can’t recommend Marvel Unlimited enough.
If you want to read on your commute? I can’t really recommend Marvel Unlimited anymore. If you do give it a shot, I’d make sure you bring some backup hard copies of DC’s Saga of the Swamp Thing, as I’ve had to do all month. You’re going to need something to read.
What do you think? Is Marvel Unlimited offline reading letting you down? Having no problems at all? Discovered the latest and greatest hacks to work around these issues? Do what feels right to you in the comments.