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Buy Digital Comic Books

DC launched its platform in 2018 as a combination streaming service and comic reader app to mixed results. The DC Universe Infinite app boasts an expanding archive of comic books, but new books take six months to reach the app. Both services feature app-only comics, stories and extras. If you live, breathe and eat Marvel or DC content, both act as interactive digital encyclopedias for their respective fandom. Each starts at $9.99 for a monthly subscription with exclusive plans going up to $99.99.

buy digital comic books

Comic books. If you're of a certain age, you may remember their ubiquity, as they were sold in supermarkets, bodegas, and newsstands. If you're a bit younger, you may remember comic books as those periodicals that exist in dedicated stores or as trade paperbacks in Barnes & Noble. Sadly, neither comic book stores nor Barnes & Noble are as commonplace as they used to be just a few years ago; instead we suggest firing up a PC, smartphone, or tablet and diving into the thrilling, convenient world of digital comics.

New digital comics go on sale on the same date as their paper counterparts. The digital move means never having to endure walking into a shop to discover that a highly anticipated book has sold out. In that sense, digital comics are more reliable than print books. In addition, a digital title like Dynamite's Shaft even includes bonus material not found in the print version.

Still, that doesn't mean that digital is the perfect way to shop. For example, you won't find highly desired variant covers that are exclusive to comic book shops. Plus, you can't have a favorite creator sign your digital comic at San Diego Comic-Con or New York Comic Con.

DC, Dark Horse, Dynamite, IDW, Image, Lion Forge, Marvel, Valiant, and numerous other large and small publishers offer digital comics, either via their own services or an all-encompassing platform like Comixology.

If you're looking to get into a one-shot comic book, graphic novel, trade paperback, or series published in the last decade or so, there's an excellent chance that you'll find what you seek in the digital space. In fact, publishers have taken greats strides to fill catalog gaps. Marvel, for example, now has the famous (or is it infamous?) Secret Wars II limited series, a title that represented a notable catalog hole for some time. If superheroes aren't your thing, or your comic book love extends beyond capes and tights, you can find science fiction, relationship, horror, and comedy comics, too.

One of the most underrated aspects of a digital comic book store like Comixology is the opportunity that it gives readers to explore the medium's history. You can find Action Comics #1 (Superman's debut), Amazing Fantasy #15 (Spider-Man's first apperance), and other landmark superhero titles for less than a cup of Starbucks joe. That said, Comixology and other digital comic book stores have just a splattering of comics from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, such as Two-Gun Kid, USA Comics, and Young Romance. That, however, may be due to the challenge of obtaining the source files.

Tablets are the best way to read your favorite titles due to their comc book-like dimensions, but smartphones and web browsers can do the job, too. Fortunately, there are many free and paid desktop, Android and iPad digital comic book readers. Most are standalone apps that let you flip through the pages of your favorite DRM-free titles (oftentime with panel-by-panel reading modes designed for mobile devices), but a few like Comixology, Dark Horse, DC, and Marvel feature integrated stores that let you buy digital comics from anywhere your device can grab a wireless signal. Just don't do it in a comic book store while a manager is nearby. Trust me on that one. Trust me.

Please note that Comixology's iOS app, simply known as Comics, no longer lets you make in-app digital comic book purchases in order to avoid giving Apple a cut of profits. If you're on an iPhone or iPad, you must make purchase via Comixology's web-based store. There is no such issue with the Comixology Android app.

You can even find digital comics in unlikely places, one of the most headscratching being Spotify. Yes, that Spotify. The popular streaming music service struck a deal with Madefire to offer Archie motion comics. The fully voiced comics are available to free and paid Spotify members.

That said, digital collections sometimes cost less than their paper counterparts. Publisher Top Shelf sells the digital versions of its graphic novels for a few dollars less than their print counterparts. For example, Chester 5000 costs $7.99 as a digital file, but $14.95 as a physical book.

Marvel also offers an all-you can read model: Marvel Unlimited. The $9.99 per month service lets you read as much Marvel as your eyeballs can take. The only catch is that Marvel Unlimited's library is months behind what you'll find in Comixology or a comic book store. So, if you want the newest Captain America issue, you'll need to buy it elsewhere. Still, Marvel Unlimited's a great way to get caught up on more than half-century's worth of back issues!

Likewise, Comixology offers a subscription-based digital comic book service. Comixology Unlimited lets you read more than 10,000 comics from a variety of publishers, including DC and Marvel. Comixology Unlimited is a tremendous value to US readers (it's set to roll out to other regions in the future), as the service lets you explore new titles at little financial risk. Unfortunately, Comixology Unlimited mainly lets you dive into select titles, typically those that are good jumping-in points for new readers.

Publishers often have dedicated staff just for converting comics from print to digital. In the case of Image Comics specifically, the books need to support various formats, including PDF, ePub, CBR/CBZ, and Comixology's format, which requires file maintenance, tracking, and uploading to various digital comics marketplaces.

There's another reason digital comics cost the same as print: Publishers don't want to undercut themselves or the comic book shops they rely on for real-world distribution. On the upside, digital comics lack advertisements.

Readers of digital comic books have taken a number of hits, with the award-winning Madefire shutting down and Amazon significantly changing the interface for the best-known digital comics library, ComiXology.

So if you're looking for a new digital comic book company to try out, what alternatives to ComiXology are available? Do you have to pay for all digital comics? Or can you access some legally for free too?

Most of the major comics publishers have their own digital platform. After a few false starts, DC finally settled on DC Universe Infinite, home of all their heavy-hitters like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the Justice League, Harley Quinn, and plenty more besides.

Fans were understandably annoyed when the previous DC Universe effectively closed down, with its video content moving to HBO Max, and their subscriptions segueing over to Infinite. But this service is still well worth the money: while not actually "infinite", it gives readers access to over 24,000 comics from the archive, digital-first comics, and issues six months after they hit shelves in physical stores.

Similarly, Marvel Unlimited is the ideal place to move your subscription to if you love the Avengers, X-Men, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Fantastic Four, and lots more. Marvel Unlimited hit the ground running in a way no other digital comics service has, and, while a few are unhappy with some of the app's updates, the access you get to the comic book archive is unparalleled.

Marvel Unlimited now boasts nearly 30,000 issues, from long-running series like The Amazing Spider-Man and Daredevil to more obscure titles like Howard the Duck and Power Pack; limited series hits like Vision (2015- 16) and Hawkeye (2012- 15) to digital-exclusive "Infinity Comics" like the Moon Knight Primer and Eternals: The 500 Year War.

And now for something completely different. Humble Bundle is unlike any other digital comics service, in that it isn't a subscription app, doesn't just offer comics, and has a rotating line-up of titles.

Humble Bundle includes software, games, eBooks, and a wealth of other material, including comic books. These are rarely from the "Big Two", i.e. Marvel or DC, but you can still get digital issues from large, small, and indie publishers.

While they're listed as comics, most are actually graphic novels. If you're not sure of the difference, graphic novels typically collect numerous issues of a comic series together (although some original graphic novels are created specifically as standalone, done-in-one tales). That basically means you're getting more to read.

The list of items you can borrow is extensive. Even if you don't take advantage of the comics on offer, you can still enjoy a vast range of other goodies. You can access material online, via Android and iOS apps, and streaming services like Roku, Chromecast, and Fire TV.

Libby, available on iOS and Android, is arguably the more accessible app, as it uses your local library to show you an archive of available material. This is more focussed too: Libby primarily allows you to borrow graphic novels, magazines, and audiobooks. That means there's something for the whole family, with separate sections dedicated to comics aimed at kids and teenagers. Expect a lot of Disney for children and youthful superheroes like the Runaways and Young Avengers for teens.

It has never been easier to stream comic books digitally. Whether you're looking for DC and Marvel superhero comics, creator-owned indies, or the best of manga, there's an option that will have you covered for a (relatively) affordable price point. Frankly, if you're comfortable reading comics on a digital device, you could quite easily never leave your home again! (Are there other reasons people go outside other than to acquire more comics?)

That said, there's plenty of variety in the 'all-you-can-eat' streaming options, and plenty of variance in quality and cost. Any kind of streaming budget is also going to run into tradeoffs, especially when you consider that TV and Movies streamers like Disney+ ($109.99 USD annually) and HBO Max ($149.99 USD ad-free, annually) aren't priced that much higher than the most expensive comics streaming option (DC Universe Infinite Ultra at $119.99 USD annually). 041b061a72


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