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Marvel Unlimited launches on iOS with subscription-based access to 13K comics

Marvel Comics' digital subscription service landed on the iPad and iPhone on Thursday in the form of a new, highly anticipated application: Marvel Unlimited.

For years, comic fans have asked Marvel to offer its digital subscription service on Apple's iPad, but users were restricted to reading back issues with an iOS-incompatible Adobe Flash-based reader. Marvel began offering an HTML5-based, iPad-compatible reader a few months ago, but on Thursday the company launched its companion Marvel Unlimited app for iOS.

The free application requires users to subscribe to the newly renamed Marvel Unlimited service, which costs $10 per month, or $60 for a full year. The application comes with a free trial, though users must separately sign up for the subscription outside of the application, allowing Marvel to avoid Apple's 30 percent share of all in-app transactions.

Marvel Unlimited has access to a back catalog of more than 13,000 comics spanning over 70 years. Marvel adds classic and newer issues every week, with comics as recent as 6-months-old available via the subscription service.


Those who subscribe to Marvel Unlimited get full access to the archive on the Web and with the Marvel Unlimited application available for iPhone and iPad. Members can also select up to 6 comics at a time to be read when not connected to a Wi-Fi network.

Marvel was an early adopter of the iPad for digital comics, and had an official application available on the App Store when the first-generation iPad debuted in 2010. That application, which offers sales of newer comics the same day their print counterparts hit shelves, allows users to download high-resolution scans of comics through the service ComiXology.

Late last year, the company also debuted its "Marvel Now" series, in which new print comics come with a download code that offers a free digital copy of the same issue. Users can enter that code on Marvel's website, and the comic can then be downloaded and read through the official Marvel Comics iOS application.

Marvel Now comics also include integration with an augmented reality application for iOS called Marvel AR. The application uses the rear camera on an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to scan a page, which then streams a video related to that content.