I recently discovered Marvel Unlimited, the House of Stan’s “Netflix but for comics” app. It has changed my nerdy life, and anybody with even a passing interest in comics should take a look at it. Here’s why.
Spoiler: It’s awesome.
[For what it’s worth, Nerds On Earth has no official connection to Marvel or this app. I just like it that much.]
As a kid, my nerdish interests were video games, action figures, and movies—I loved a lot of other things, but these were the avenues I traveled to young nerdhood.
For a kid that loved to read as much as me, it perplexes me that comic books didn’t have much appeal. I had a smattering of random issues that caught my eye, some X-Men trading cards, and a much-thumbed novelization of The Death of Superman that I checked out over and over from the library (What kind of kid wants to read a novelization of a comic but not the comic itself?), but that was about it.
So, for whatever reason, comic books just aren’t a part of my cultural roots.
I came to Marvel, DC, and the other comic labels in my twenties. Like millions of other people, the journey started in the movie theatre; the MCU and The Dark Knight trilogy sparked my interest in the stories told in the comics books.
That was in the late 2000s; in the decade since, I’ve spent hours tracking down trade paperbacks, collecting single issues out of bargain bins to complete storylines, and subscribing to Star Wars, Darth Vader, and Doctor Aphra.
I enjoyed the process of finding comics, but the returns decreased as the years went on—the trades that contained entire storylines were too expensive, single issues were a pain to dig up, and my life continually filled up with other things (marriage, a house, pets, jobs). Trips to the comic shop became a luxury I didn’t have the time or money to splurge on.
All of that changed when we welcomed our baby earlier this year. Parents know that kids change everything in your life, but my knowledge of this fundamental truth was academic until three months ago. Everything really, actually, forreal no lie does change. The routines and habits you have, the hobbies and pastimes you enjoy, your sleep and diet and workout routine, all of that and more changes when the baby arrives.
It was the 3 A.M. feedings that did it. It was the sleep-addled nights that led me to Marvel Unlimited. Giving my baby a bottle is cute and endearing, but at a certain fatigue point you need something to keep your exhausted brain awake.
You also need something you can do or read one-handed.
I gave Comixology a try, but their model—the app’s free, as are the first few issues of a line, but to read the entire story you have to fork over some cayash—turned me off. The benefit of the app (a bunch of free comics) was outweighed by the cost if I wanted to read whole stories or runs. Looking for a way to easily read comics one-handed, I downloaded Marvel Unlimited and signed up for the week-long free trial.
My description of Marvel Unlimited as the Netflix of Marvel wasn’t flippant. The app makes browsing a joy, like going to your favorite library; you can find all kinds of stories, check out a ridiculous amount of books, expanded your horizons, anything’s possible! Marvel Unlimited gives me that same anticipatory rush and sense of literary adventure.
With 80 years of comics in which to indulge, my Unlimited reading list is luxurious to the point of sinfulness.
- I’ve got multiple Spider-Man stories going
- Immortal Hulk is putting a really cool horror spin on Bruce Banner, and just so happens to intersect with the new Avengers run, which I’m also reading
- The Unbeatable Squirrel-Girl is the best surprise (so funny, so surprising; Earth Nerd Clave even wrote on its infectious optimism!)
- The Jane Foster story in Thor is fascinating (check out our review here!)
- I finally got to read Infinity Gauntlet
- I’ve been able to go on a deep dive with Christ Claremont’s limited series Nightcrawler (my fave member of the X-Men)
I could (should? will?) write several more articles about the comics I’ve started because of Marvel Unlimited.
Curated and Convenient
It also highlights authors, interesting/famous/fun storylines and events, and gathers all of the issues in a simple, streamlined manner.
Gone are the days of trying to map out which issues of Web of Spider-Man and Spirits of Vengeance you need to finish the Spirits of Venom storyline from 1992. To a comics newbie like me, that kind of esoterica would be a headache at the least and reason to give up on the story at worst. But that would be the result without the app.
Marvel Unlimited removes that obstacle, and by doing so it’s made reading comics enjoyable for the first time in my life. I find myself getting sucked into the artwork and dialogue instead of worrying about missing a tie-in or annual or traveling to the store to pick up the next issue or trade.
The math here is simple. For $10/month, you’re not going to get more high-quality comics for your hard-earned bucks. The experience is streamlined, professionals curate the decades-long backlog, and the actual comics are beautiful to look at.
If you read comics regularly, are interested in what you see on the big screen, or want to rectify a gaping hole in your nerdish background like me, Marvel Unlimited is an excellent place to start.