Marvel Launches Digital-Only Comics

Just got a press release about Marvel’s newest webcomic initiative:

Marvel Entertainment is launching more never-before-seen digital comic titles exclusively for Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited subscribers. The Marvel Digital Comics Exclusive titles launch with the first issue of Marvels Channel: MONSTERS, MYTHS and MARVELS: Galactus on Wednesday, October 22.

That’s quite a title. Written by Frank Tieri (he’s still around?) with art by Juan Santacruz.

This new digital comic initiative comes after the recent success of two exclusive digital comic tie-ins to the Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk movies. Digital-only exclusives will be published regularly on Wednesdays at the pace of three or more comics per month, adding to the ever growing collection of over 5,000 digital comics already online.

I hadn’t realized Marvel had done this before with movie tie-ins. I’m very curious to know how retailers react to Marvel reaching out and selling directly to readers, even if it’s not technically the same product. DC’s Zuda webcomic program, focuses on new products, not existing characters, in part to avoid that problem.

This is also the first time I’ve looked at their subscription fees. They’re not exactly user-friendly. $10/month, or a half-price yearly subscription of $60, paid up front and non-refundable. Plus, “All subscribers get the hassle-free advantage of the Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited Automatic Renewal Program.” That means that Marvel will keep billing you, at whatever rates are then in effect which they might change at any time (and non-refundably, remember) unless you remember to cancel.

I did find it interesting that Marvel is promising, in addition to “top Marvel characters and creative teams” and “fan-favorite holiday-themed specials”, some diversity in what they’re presenting, including “explorations into science fiction, martial arts and Western genres”. Titles mentioned so far are a Halloween Special by Dean Haspiel featuring Frankenstein and Werewolf by Night; an American Eagle story by Jason Aaron and Richard Isanove; five Fin Fang Four stories by Scott Gray and Roger Langridge; a four-part Kid Colt tale by Tom DeFalco (no artist listed); and yet more Amazing Spider-Man. This description, in its wishful thinking, made me giggle:

Peter Parker’s life is very involved and even with three issues a month, there’s just not enough time to touch on everything or everyone. So to help solve that, Spidey Brain Trustee Bob Gale brings you an ongoing collection of stories taking place within and around current Spidey continuity, exploring his supporting cast and missed adventures.

I’m moderately interested in some of this, the non-standard stuff mostly, but a digital subscription where you only rent the comics is of no interest. You have to be connected to the internet to read the comics and you can’t download the ones you want to reread. I suspect that if the material is any good, it’ll wind up in print eventually — and then I can read it for free at my library.

Note also that they’re promoting at least three new titles a month, and their subscription fee is $10/month, which means they’re roughly maintaining the $3/issue print price point. I suspect, with their traditional fanbase, they would get more interest if instead of putting out yet more Spider-Man, they created comics with truly fan-favorite characters and creators that have followings that aren’t quite big enough to support the costs of a print book.


7 Responses to “Marvel Launches Digital-Only Comics”

  1. Poll: Marvel Digital Comics » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] I now have polling capabilities! So let’s find out what you think about Marvel’s new digital comics initiative. […]

  2. odessa steps magazine Says:

    I liked the Fin Fang Foom 4 story they did a couple years ago during Marvel Monster Month, but probably not enough to sign up for Marvel’s program.

  3. Rob McMonigal Says:

    You know, if they did that for $5 instead of $10, I’d be all over it. The chance to get some good character exposure–the idea of a Daily Bugle ongoing, for instance–without the printing costs, would be nifty.

    $10 for something I can’t keep, however, is too much.

  4. Digital Strips: The Webcomics Podcast Says:

    […] new direction with some online-only titles based on their characters. Johanna Draper Carlson has some observations and a poll at Comics Worth […]

  5. Webcomics Weekly News Roundup October 22, 2008 » The Daily Cartoonist Says:

    […] Comics Worth Watching reports that Marvel Comics has launched “never-before-seen digital comic titles” for their Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited […]

  6. Meet the New World, Same as the Old: DC Webcomics as Exploitative as Their Superheroines » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] the big two American superhero publishers have tried going online, each with their own webcomic initiative. Some people are jaded about the efforts: Marvel doesn’t pay royalties for the material they […]

  7. How Much Will You Pay for Online Comics? » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] store. While Marvel has been experimenting with digital comics for a while now — their subscription service launched in late 2008, but didn’t give readers what they wanted, since the comics could only […]




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