Guiding Lite: Marvel Unlimited

Marvel Unlimited Loading Bar
House Marvel Loading Bar – The bubble’s progress means nothing!

Digital comics are still coming along and learning to adapt to the medium. The way that Mark Waid’s Thrillbent works – reducing everything to a single panel that can change is fantastic. It won’t necessarily work for everyone to start and it still doesn’t address the thousands of other comics we have being formatted digitally. After finishing a major Marvel Unlimited binge, I want to talk about what works and what doesn’t on digital comics for computers (as opposed to tablets).

Marvel Unlimited has a immersive collection of comics for a monthly fee and despite some absolutely frustrating gaps (see missing blocks and issues of runs with no apparently logic) it is a fantastic way to catch up on event comics and get back into the Marvel Universe.

I spent my weekend reading House of M, Fear Itself (underrated as an event), Spider-man, Herc: Spider-Island, Agents of Atlas (only the first volume – the second is missing issues), Avengers: The Initiative (still one of my favorite series), Avengers Academy and Thunderbolts (All Hail Shalvey and Parker).

One of the good/bad aspects of the Marvel Unlimited system is the guided view when zooms in on blocks of text that are then readable while also showing relevant scenes. Most of the time this is fine, though some overzealous markers – for lack of a better term – feel obligated to zoom in on every work sometimes losing the images – but this usually happens when the pages themselves were poorly laid out and there are no better options.

Guided view is easy to use requiring only on click and that makes it great for nonstop reading (though as I went through Thunderbolts/Dark Avengers last night, a majority of the Parker issues had information issues and no way to report them.

What are those marks for if they don’t do anything?

The other qualm is the inability to resize the comics and the finicky nature of moving a guided scene to look in on detail. Like – there is a – and a + zoom bar for magnification but it does not work. You either see the entire page or you get a guided view – and when you want to look at details it can be incredibly frustrating – especially on covers which are always zoomed out.

The one other qualm is the digitally inserted text. I have no idea if they use the original text but there are pages where everything is messed up.


Magneto has manifested talking farts!
Oh god this is not better! This is not better!

Here you see a speech bubble from a page of House of M just floating there – meaning that the original lettering that was done has been cut out and replaced which allows for accidental compression. If you fix the page by zooming out and in, you can see where it fits, though it never happens where you want it to…

Though Parker did float around the unedited version of this image and it belongs to the internet now

And finally something the lettering just looks horrible when you prepare it for digital.

Or maybe Magneto just really hated Charles in this universe

If magnification actually worked and if you had original lettering, I’d say the Marvel Guided view was the way to go since you can still see the rest of page, unlike Comixology’s guided view and when the archive system is working you can just read endlessly – or till you hit a painful missing comic patch and then break down into a crying jag. Good times! Good times!

Luke Herr

Luke is a writer and an aspiring professional comic writer who is also the editor in chief of Nerdcenaries. He currently is working on a graphic novel called Prison Spaceship.