One of the fundamental problems of picking up comics as a hobby is that comics are expensive. Individual issues run $3 to $4, sometimes as high as $8 depending on the page count and the publisher. Trade collections are a better bulk deal, but they’re still $15 to $20 a pop for a softcover. Even waiting for a discount on digital comics means you might be paying $2 an issue to get caught up on a book. So Comixology Unlimited, a new subscription service just announced for digital readers, has the virtue of being a good place to start.
For $6 a month, you get access to a surprisingly deep and growing library of comics from every publisher short of Marvel, which runs its own $15 a month subscription service, and DC, which has yet to offer such a service. So while you won’t find any Superman or Avengers, you will find pretty much everything else. Equally impressive is that the service isn’t limited to recent issues. You can find issues of critically acclaimed books like Love & Rockets or Dark Horse’s original run of Aliens comics that either are unlikely to be on library shelves due to content, or just not often in stock at comic book stores.
While the range of titles is deep, however, the amount you can read from each title is relatively thin. Many comics are limited to just the first volume. Anything beyond that, well, you can pick up the collections from Comixology. In light of Marvel’s service being a vast archive available for $15, it would have been nice to have a tiered option allowing more access to more comics. One is also forced to wonder how these publishers, and their creators, get paid in an industry where creator ownership and royalties are a perpetual source of controversy even decades after the fact.
Still, especially if you’re new to comics, or interested in the form but unsure of where to start reading, this is a surprisingly useful service, especially if your library is low on comics outside of DC and Marvel. If you’re curious, there’s a free trial running now; the full service will cost $6 when the trial runs out.