When you start getting into comic books, it can be extremely intimidating. Between Marvel and DC Comics, there’s enough to keep you entertained and busy for at least two lifetimes. Let’s be honest, we are decades upon decades into a lot of superhero stories. With all these films and television shows popping up, it doesn’t hurt to get familiar with some of your favorite characters. There’s nothing like the feeling of understanding little Easter eggs and references they make and knowing the scope of a character’s story builds a lot of excitement for future projects.
It’s normal to feel as if the most logical place to start is the very beginning. However, if you do start from the character’s very first issue, you’ll find that your wallet will empty itself out almost immediately. Comic book collecting can be a very expensive hobby, and while having a physical copy brings a lot of people comfort and joy, starting off your journey into the comic book world might be a little less painful (and possibly regrettable) if you start with an online subscription.
The good news is that there aren’t that many on the market right now, so you don’t have to worry about decision fatigue (like you would with streaming platform fatigue). We’ll give you a rundown of 3 of the best subscription services with quick highlights that you should know about before you commit.
If you are strictly a Marvel fan, then buckle up because this one is for you. With the massive influx of Marvel Studios content hitting Disney+ and the big screen, Marvel Unlimited’s compendium of comic books is your best friend. It’s no surprise to many of the current Marvel aficionados, but the MCU doesn’t exactly follow the step-by-step journeys of their characters. The MCU takes heavy inspiration, and a lot of details from the source material, but use those 2 important resources to slightly rework it to suit a different media platform. Here’s some details:
- More than 27,000 issues
- Character debut issues are offered
- You can download up to 12 comics at any given time
- Star Wars universe issues are included
- New issues in ongoing arcs (like The Amazing Spider-Man or The Eternals) get uploaded 3 months after they first come out
DC Universe Infinite
Just like Marvel, if you’re strictly into the DC Universe, then there’s an option for you too. The DC Universe Infinite, exactly like Marvel Unlimited, provides you with every DC series all in one place. DC and Warner Bros. aren’t churning out as much content as Marvel Studios, and prior to The Batman, it’d been a while since we’ve seen a DC movie that’s respected source material (yes, that’s Zack Snyder slander).
So, you’ll definitely feel less rushed and given more freedom in terms of wandering through the issues and finding series runs that you feel most interested in versus what you feel like you need read in order to catch up with characters.
- More than 24,000 issues
- Backlog catalog titles from Vertigo, Black Label, and Milestone comics imprints are available
- Exclusive DC comic titles that live only on the DC Universe Infinite app
- New releases are not available right away and are on the app 6 months after being released
This is for the people who don’t want to tie themselves down to one comic book company and just want to read for the pure love of illustration and a good story. This is honestly the best option for someone who just wants to test the waters and see where their interests take them. Comixology Unlimited offers the best of mainstream comic books from a variety of publishers like Vertigo, Image, Marvel, and DC.
- More than 25,000 issues
- Available as an add-on to your Amazon account
- Less ideal for already dedicated fans
- Mostly provides mainstream, popular issues (you have to purchase some issues)
Ultimately, it’s up to you where you want to start your journey. If you want to dedicate the first few months testing the waters, I recommend Comixology Unlimited. From there, you can decide which path to take. As for me, I’ve found myself stuck between supporting my local comic book store and subscribing to both Marvel Unlimited and DC Universe Infinite. Best of luck to us both.
If you want to work in comic books in the future, here’s how to become a comic book illustrator.
Photos via Marvel, DC, and Amazon