Marvel Unlimited


I’ve been using the Marvel Unlimited service for a few months, and now that I’ve cooled down from the initial excitement (“OMG there are so many comics to read here!”) I feel like I can talk about it with a degree of impartiality. (So you can subscribe too! Get it, it’s great!)

The Basics
Marvel Unlimited is a service that gives subscribers unlimited access to a catalog of digital Marvel comics both old and new. By “new” here I mean issues as recent as six months ago, so if you want to read titles the day (or week, or month) they come out, Unlimited will not help you with that. (Do you want them to put comic shops out of business? Don’t be a monster!)

Current pricing is $9.99 per month or $69.00 per year (US). (There’s also a $99/year tier that includes special incentives for more hard-core fans, such as invitations to Marvel events, a Rocket Raccoon figure, and extra discounts on purchases.) The subscription has worked to my financial benefit, because until now I was buying more than that amount in graphic novels. I still buy some, but not as many as I had been.

I’m using the service on an iPad Air, but it’s also available using a web browser or mobile app. In my opinion, a tablet like the iPad is the best way to read digital comics. When reading on an app, you can download up to 12 total issues and keep them available when you’re offline. That’s super handy, and has been a workable number for me.

The App
The Marvel Unlimited app for iPad works pretty well, though not as smoothly as the comiXology apps. (I’m using version 2.1 as of this writing.) You can browse for comics by series, character, creator, date, or event (such as World War Hulk). The search function is a good one, and it will find your search term wherever it appears in a title—so that searching for “spider” will result in hits including “Amazing Spider-Man,” “Giant Size Spider-Woman” (she sounds like trouble), and “Ultimate Civil War: Spider-Ham.”


After reading an issue, the app presents links to buy the issue, read the next issue, or jump to a related series. I’ve found most of these options to be handy. (Bet you can guess which one I haven’t used. Hey, I’m already paying for the subscription!)


One feature I haven’t used is the Reading Club, though I probably will when I’m looking for something new to read. This is a collection of titles recommended on the most recent “This Week in Marvel” podcast.

Marvel recently added a “Discover” section that looks promising. It’s a collection of featured curated groupings of titles, such as recent event collections, key issues for a popular character (in the screen shot below Ultron is one, due to his appearance in the upcoming Avengers sequel), and artist and writer spotlights.


I’ve encountered a lot of glitches in the app, some of which have tested my zen-like demeanor. It crashes at times. Sometimes only the first few pages of an issue will download, until I restart the app and try again. For about a week the app would try to exit out of reading an issue if the tablet was rotated to change orientation (though this bug was fixed). A small number of issues are missing text from their speech bubbles, and some have invalid publication dates (showing up as year “0002”). Once or twice both my Library and my downloaded issues completely vanished, only to be restored a few days later. Every Sunday the app’s “new this week” section will go blank, until the new issues appear the next day. Finally, I can only download 11 issues for offline reading, instead of the promised 12. Marvel Unlimited tech support confirmed that this is a known bug that they’re working on (when they answered my complaint, a few months after I sent it).

Let me clarify now, though, that these bugs are just occasional annoyances that don’t hurt my overall enjoyment of the app. I feel like I’m getting plenty of value out of my subscription.

The Comics
My absolute favorite thing about Marvel Unlimited is how well it facilitates reading an entire Marvel event storyline. Unlike reading graphic novel collections, you can be sure that you’re reading all the tie-in issues in the correct order, because they are ordered by publication date. (And you’re not saddled with buying those few issues of Heroes For Hire just so you can follow the storyline of Civil War.)


Hey, here’s an example of a great update to the app, and an indication of ongoing support: while taking screen shots for this post, I noticed that some events are now displaying the issues in a “suggested reading order”, as below. Nice.


Marvel says there are over 13,000 comics in Unlimited now, and they add more every week. My understanding is that in addition to adding “recent” issues (the ones turning 6 months old), they also add more titles to the back catalog.

Personally, my reading has been about ¾ classic titles and ¼ recent ones. I think this is mainly because I have so much old Marvel to catch up on. (“What If” is in here! And “1602,” and “Secret Wars,” and “Tomb of Dracula,” and “Marvel Zombies”!)

This stuff is just about all I read in my first two months as a subscriber. I’ve since emerged from my cave and started reading other things again, but I still read enough Unlimited titles to make it well worth the price.

My Suggestions
I have a few ideas for features I wish Marvel would implement for Unlimited. (Don’t worry, I already submitted these to the proper authorities.)

  • The app provides an easy way to read the next issue of a title after finishing an issue, but it would be nice to also have a quick link to the previous issue. (Such as when you go to read an issue and realize you picked the wrong number, or didn’t finish all of the last one, or maybe it’s just me that does this, leave me alone!)
  • I’d like to be able to lock the screen orientation, so it doesn’t switch from portrait to landscape whenever I accidentally tilt the device.
  • I’d like to be able to add a group of issues at once to my Library. So, for instance, when viewing an event that contained 20 issues, I could easily put them all in my Library.
  • The ability to subscribe to titles would be great. So, for instance, any time a new issue of “Fantastic Four” is added to Unlimited, it could go to my Library automatically.

Now will someone please talk DC into doing something similar for their digital catalog? I was primarily a DC fan until I found Marvel Unlimited!

Stan Lee Cameo Ideas for Upcoming Marvel Movies


Stan Lee’s cameo appearances in Marvel Movies are always fan-pleasing events. From his first appearance as a bystander in X-Men, to his latest in Amazing Spider-Man 2 (which I won’t spoil since it’s still in theaters), Smilin’ Stan has shown a lot of range.

So what’s next? There are still countless parts, small and large, that Stan could play. Here are a few suggestions of how Marvel might work Stan into the upcoming Marvel masterpieces.

Fantastic Four (March 2015)

Stan could appear as the Impossible Man, long-time quirky foil of the team, who shows up at the beginning of the movie to explain that the first two Fantastic Four movies were merely a bit of whimsical prankery on his part.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 2015)

Picture Stan borrowing Jack Colvin’s role as reporter Jack McGee from the Incredible Hulk TV series. McGee is trying to spy on the Avengers in order to get the scoop on Banner and produce an exposé on the Hulk. Hawkeye puts a stop to it in no time, with a little thing called an arrow to the camera lens.

Ant-Man (July 2015)

The tiny hero’s first big challenge is Stan the Exterminator (working for Excelsior Extermination, of course). Stan is just trying to do his job and cleanse the place of pests, but all he gets for his trouble is a big-time “one that got away” story.

Captain America 3 (May 2016)

Cap could meet Stan in the role of Colonel Canada, a retired superhero being honored at some big military shendig. Unless Stan wants to try an accent, and play Major Mexico. (Do you realize Stan was Cap’s age during World War II? If Cap were real, they would have been contemporaries, and Stan didn’t have the luxury of sleeping through most of the years between then and now!)

X-Men: Apocalypse (May 2016)

Stan might appear as one of Mystique’s disguise forms. Or Professor X’s father (Professor W?). Or a wheelchair repairman.

The Amazing Spider-Man 3 (June 2016)

We don’t know the villain(s) of the next Spider-Man movie yet, but we do know this: Stan’s librarian character should return ASAP. Instead of showing the school library get destroyed again, maybe this time Stan can give Peter a book that helps him save the day. (Perhaps a book about illusions or hypnosis to help him beat Mysterio? Please? I miss Mysterio!)

Batman vs. Superman (May 2016)

Yeah, I know this isn’t a Marvel movie, but that hasn’t stopped Stan the Man himself from dreaming about a cameo in Batman vs. Superman. How about Stan as Alfred the butler? Hey, go big or go home!

What if “The Flash” Was Written by Runners?


There’s a new Flash TV series coming this year! I’m pretty excited about that, ‘cause I’m a major Flash fan.

Having said that, I think there’s one thing that the writers of Flash comics and TV appearances have always ignored about him.

He’s a runner!

The Flash can run across the country in seconds. He’s fast enough to defy gravity by running straight up walls and across water. He and Superman raced for a charity…if that’s not a modern-day runner I don’t know what is!

But–aside from the running–Flash doesn’t really behave like a runner. I happen to be a runner myself. (A slow one. Probably slower than Barry was pre-lightning bolt.) So I have a few ideas for how the Flash’s writers could fix that.

The Flash Wears Boots

Really? Who wears running boots? The Fastest Man Alive is in desperate need of some foot support! Does he over-pronate? Does he need a stability shoe? The man needs to get his stride analyzed by some super-physical-trainer and start wearing footwear that will better protect those superhuman feet.

He probably also needs to replace them every day, considering the mileage he must put in. Might be a good idea for Barry to get an endorsement deal.

Stretching: Not Just For the Elongated Man

We see the Flash running fast. We see him run on clouds and dodge bullets. We even see him vibrate his molecules through solid matter. But do we see any panels showing him performing a set of stretches after a strenuous run? No we do not.

Look, Barry, I get it. You just finished tag-teaming Hector Hammond in Coast City with your pal Green Lantern, and now you have to hoof it across the states back to Central City so Iris doesn’t bitch at you for being late to a dinner date. But if you don’t take the time to care for your muscles and tendons and all that other gooey stuff we stretch, who will save Iris from Mirror Master when achilles tendinitis rears its ugly head? Hmm? Who??? Nobody, that’s who. (Except maybe Kid Flash, he’s like right around the corner.)

Captain Boomerang Says: Sweep the Leg!

Let’s see, what would be a great way to eliminate the Flash? Freeze him with a cold gun? Trap him in a mirror dimension? Tie him to a giant boomerang and shoot him into the heavens?

Nope. Just whack him in the legs. Flash needs to protect those drumsticks like Dr. Fate protects his pretty, pretty face. I mean, if the Martian Manhunter’s vulnerability is to fire, then the Flash’s should be crippling knee pain.

Best Time For a Crime Spree: Taper Week

Just because a guy can run faster than the speed of sound (or light, in some storylines) doesn’t mean all those miles of feet hitting pavement wouldn’t take its toll. If the Flash wants to be ready for the next world-smashing disaster, he needs to be smart and take some time off from running now and then, just like experienced runners do before a marathon when they taper off before a big event.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what ol’ Lightning Boots’s Rogues Gallery wants to happen. What perfect fodder for storytelling…maybe the Rogues feel Flash out by committing a test crime and then seeing if he breaks off pursuit after only a fraction of his normal mileage. Or perhaps the Flash works with Oracle to calculate a training plan that’s harder for villains to predict than how long the comic has to go before its next reboot.

Maybe he’d simply work up a crime coverage plan with the other speedsters, so at least one of them is resting while the others are fighting supersonic crime. After all, between the Flash, Kid Flash, Golden Age Flash, Impulse, Johnny Quick, and Max Mercury, I’m sure they’ve got enough participants for a relay team.

Advice From Rocket Red: Don’t Forget Fuel

In the boring ol’ real world, runners need to take in water frequently and more substantial nutrition as running length increases beyond a few miles. (We don’t wear those bandoliers of water bottles and gel packs just to look sexy.)

The Flash could at least give a nod to this idea by having areas of his costume accommodate the storage of water and gooey fuel. In some comics and the first Flash TV series, the Flash often wolfed down tons of food to illustrate that he had a high metabolism. This is crazy, and a first class recipe for giving Barry a case of the Super Runner’s Trots. Barry, just take your nasty gel like the rest of us do.

Fallen Arch Enemies

The Flash has a colorful collection of enemies, his Rogues Gallery. There’s the guy who throws boomerangs, the guy who blows a flute, the evil mirror specialist, the magician from the future, the dude with the heat gun, the other dude with the cold gun, the guy who runs really fast (and is also from the future), and the super-smart ape. Now, what do they all have in common?


What the Flash needs is some adversaries who can take advantage of his particular weaknesses. I’m just spitballing here, but how about The I.T. Bandit, always scheming to bring the Flash’s legs out of balance? Or Captain Caltrops, who tries to stymie our fleet-footed friend with his collection of tiny spiky speed bumps. Flash’s existing enemy, Heat Wave, would be smart to team up with a new baddie such as The Humidity Hellion, because their double whammy would leave flash wishing he were on his cosmic treadmill in his basement rather than fighting crime in the great outdoors.