"Marvel Unlimited" General Talkback (Spoilers)

Latest News

MDawg

Nerfariously planning
Aug 26, 2001
16,561
Ratings
807 4
83
37
Not of your damn business
www.zimed.net
#1
Newsarama has a story update about Marvel announcing an online comics service.

Here's the highlights for those too lazy to read
[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Called the comic book industry’s “first online archive of more than 2,500 back issues, including the first appearances of Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Incredible Hulk.”, Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited will offer the archive in a high-resolution format on computer screens for $59.88 a year, or at a monthly rate of $9.99, at Marvel’s website.

[/FONT][FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]According to the national daily, “Subscribers will be able to access the first hundred issues of key titles, turn pages with a click of the mouse or navigate a battle against Dr. Doom frame-by-frame with a ‘Smart Panel’ viewing feature. The user can zoom in on details of art by Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko from the 1960s or catch up with today's The Ultimates and New Avengers.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif] [/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]"We did not want to get caught flat-footed with kids these days who have the tech that allows them to read comics in a digital format," Marvel President Dan Buckley, told the publication. "Our fan base is already on the Internet. It seemed like a natural way to go." [/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]To help market the initiative, To Marvel will reportedly offer a free sampler of 250 titles, and to protect current sales of comic books, new issues won't be on the Marvel site until six months after they are published. [/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]


This service has a lot of potential and I'm glad one of the big two is finally stepping up to offer this. Marvel dotcomics was a nice freebie service, but this is really what they should have been doing all along. It will allow them to sell material that may have never made it to trade due to costs/age, but can easily be put online since there's virtually no production costs associated with it.

I also like the fact that it can basically be an all-you-can-read service for one low price. This is especially nice if you read a lot of books during the year and don't mind a 6 month delay if you want new stuff.

Hopefully they get the reader format down right. DC completely dropped the ball with that and their Zudacomics mess, so Marvel has a chance to show them how to do it right.
[/FONT]
 

Ed Liu

Frog of Thunder
Staff member
Moderator
Reporter
Sep 6, 2001
14,869
Ratings
316 1
63
Princeton Jct, NJ
www.edwick.com
#2
Color me incredibly unimpressed. The details of the service are that it's NOT a downloadable format. You can only view the comics in a web browser, which strongly suggests to me that Marvel is doing it via Flash, and thus doing exactly the same thing that seems to annoy so many people with DC's Zudacomics.

Marvel seems to have learned absolutely nothing from the dozens of subscription-based Internet music services or DIVX that have since tanked and died. If I understand the pricing right, you only have access to these comics as long as you pay the subscription fees. Once you stop paying, you stop getting access. Thanks, but no thanks. People want to own entertainment, not rent it, and that goes triply so for comic book fans. I'm sure as shootin' not going to pay $10 a month OR $60 a year to rent my comic books.

Then again, the fact that so many different media companies have tried exactly the same model and tried to justify it to consumers with exactly the same reasons and had exactly the same results leads me to think that every media company operates with the fundamental assumption that their content is somehow so much more special and more worthy that it people will THANK them for the right to rent their content. That seems to have been the attitude Marvel has taken towards its comics up to now, and considering the way the sales have gone, they may well be the one to be successful at it by draining ever more cash out of the rabid Marvel Zombies (the fans, that is, not the unending comic book tie-ins). But I still wouldn't bet the farm on this being a success.

Too many of the decisions here are for Marvel's benefit, not mine. So thanks but no thanks. I'll keep buying my comics the old-fashioned way.

-- Ed
 

MDawg

Nerfariously planning
Aug 26, 2001
16,561
Ratings
807 4
83
37
Not of your damn business
www.zimed.net
#3
Color me incredibly unimpressed. The details of the service are that it's NOT a downloadable format. You can only view the comics in a web browser, which strongly suggests to me that Marvel is doing it via Flash, and thus doing exactly the same thing that seems to annoy so many people with DC's Zudacomics.

Marvel seems to have learned absolutely nothing from the dozens of subscription-based Internet music services or DIVX that have since tanked and died. If I understand the pricing right, you only have access to these comics as long as you pay the subscription fees. Once you stop paying, you stop getting access. Thanks, but no thanks. People want to own entertainment, not rent it, and that goes triply so for comic book fans. I'm sure as shootin' not going to pay $10 a month OR $60 a year to rent my comic books.

Then again, the fact that so many different media companies have tried exactly the same model and tried to justify it to consumers with exactly the same reasons and had exactly the same results leads me to think that every media company operates with the fundamental assumption that their content is somehow so much more special and more worthy that it people will THANK them for the right to rent their content. That seems to have been the attitude Marvel has taken towards its comics up to now, and considering the way the sales have gone, they may well be the one to be successful at it by draining ever more cash out of the rabid Marvel Zombies (the fans, that is, not the unending comic book tie-ins). But I still wouldn't bet the farm on this being a success.

Too many of the decisions here are for Marvel's benefit, not mine. So thanks but no thanks. I'll keep buying my comics the old-fashioned way.

-- Ed
I'm gonna have to disagree. Unlike most comic book nerds, I'm really not in it for the collectibility of it. I'll read my book and be done with it in most cases, so something like this is great. I know at my shop, i'd love to thumb through things I may be on the fence about, so having this service around, and only having to pay $4.99 a month if you get the annual subscription isn't that bad. Space is at a premium for me lately, so having an online service isn't a bad thing for me at all. Think of it as Netflix for comics. You get what you want, and when you're done that's it. You have no further obligations to it and if you like it, just buy the TPB at the store.
 
#4
Cool. I would've got it if it wasn't 6 month delay. That and if the reader was good. I could do with a month delay but anything more then I'll just go to my library and read them within a week when they come out.
I would even pay 1.00 for new issues for digital download if they offered them. The main reason i don't get them now is that they are too expensive, too short, too many ads. I just wait for the TPBs and get them on sale for 12 or less.
 

wonderfly

Shaking things up a bit
Staff member
Administrator
Mar 22, 2002
18,524
Ratings
890 14
83
42
Springfield, MO
#5
There's a quote from a forum user over on Newsarama that reflected my initial thoughts upon hearing this story:

Nifty, but I buy comics, I don't rent them.
And it's true that I am a dedicated comic book collector. But on top of that, I also just plain enjoy reading them, (especially old Marvel back issues). And the more I read from press releases about this, the more I like.

Frankly, this will allow me to be able to afford and read classic 1960's stories that would be too pricey for me to track down and buy. Now, everyone here on the CBC forum could discuss a classic issue of Spider-Man, without having to track down the back issue and shell out big bucks! Plus, it doesn't take up space in my ever growing collection of comics!!

I also like that they're adding new comics, (comics that are older than 6 months anyway). Sometimes, I'm undecided about whether to purchase a new Marvel comic book...now, whatever I decide to leave on the shelf, (because of budget concerns) well, now I can just read it 6 months later!

I also like that they're starting out with 2500 issues, with more being added weekly, (kinda like how on the Nintendo Wii, Nintendo adds classic video games to it's online shop every week).

It's a hell of a lot better than the "Zuda" concept, in my opinion...

Ed Liu said:
The details of the service are that it's NOT a downloadable format.
I'd prefer it not to be downloadable...my hard drive is crammed full as it is!

Ed Liu said:
People want to own entertainment, not rent it, and that goes triply so for comic book fans. I'm sure as shootin' not going to pay $10 a month OR $60 a year to rent my comic books.
Really, I think there's a distinction here that needs to be addressed: If I want to pay for "ownership" of the material, I'm going to buy the comic, not a download that'll take up my hard drive!

sleepydumbdude said:
I would've got it if it wasn't 6 month delay.
If they released new comic books, they'd be killing their sales, (and running comic shops out of business).

sleepydumbdude said:
That and if the reader was good. I could do with a month delay but anything more then I'll just go to my library and read them within a week when they come out.
Bah. That's no better than my friend who goes to Barnes and Nobles each week and sits down in the corner and reads all the latest TPB's. At least in a comic book shop, you have an owner who's striving to make a living who'll tell you, "You gonna read that, or are you gonna BUY it?"
 

Ed Liu

Frog of Thunder
Staff member
Moderator
Reporter
Sep 6, 2001
14,869
Ratings
316 1
63
Princeton Jct, NJ
www.edwick.com
#6
Think of it as Netflix for comics. You get what you want, and when you're done that's it. You have no further obligations to it and if you like it, just buy the TPB at the store.
You know, I actually hadn't thought of this under the Netflix business model. The question is whether people view comics like DVDs or home video, which has a past of being something they can rent, or if they view them like music, which doesn't.

I'm gonna have to chew on that a bit more. I've always been thinking that online comics were going to act more like music, but maybe it shouldn't.

I'm still not seeing much that attracts me to the service personally, but I'm also not a Netflix member. Anything I like I'll either buy (and dump on eBay if I'm wrong) or borrow from the library, which is also how I tend to treat comics. If I'm not sure, I usually just wait 'till the library gets it. It's not like I'm ever short of things to watch or read.

I'd prefer it not to be downloadable...my hard drive is crammed full as it is!
Aw, c'mon, that's a perfect excuse to upgrade your computer! ;)

-- Ed
 

MDawg

Nerfariously planning
Aug 26, 2001
16,561
Ratings
807 4
83
37
Not of your damn business
www.zimed.net
#7
One thing I'd love to see is a "Mega Crossover" section.

Basically, any event that spans a lot of books, even if it is just ancillary, could be presented as a group and given a proper order to be read in. This would be really nice for things like House of M or Civil War, or even older events that may be long out of print and people finally get a chance to read them who may have missed out on it originally.

I would love this for like Annihilation, since the vent was just a little to large for me to get considering I didn't really know any of the characters. The little glimpses of it I saw in the Nova ongoing got me interested, but the trade for it is kinda expensive, so this model would be great for something like that.

It can give other books a second chance they may have not had, especially if Marvel can have some sort of rating/review system associated with the books. They can easily see what is being read and get a good indicator about what people like from it.
 

wonderfly

Shaking things up a bit
Staff member
Administrator
Mar 22, 2002
18,524
Ratings
890 14
83
42
Springfield, MO
#8
I just noticed in the articles that Marvel is, (unless I'm misreading this) launching this thing TODAY! I figured they'd do like DC did with Zuda, where they announced it and it would start up a few weeks/months later...

In any event, I've been trying to get to the Marvel website all day, with no luck...their server must be overloaded.

EDIT: Yeah, the main Marvel website homepage is down. I've found it's better to directly try this link: http://www.marvel.com/digitalcomics/

...though now it looks like that section of the website is down as well...but I managed to get in earlier!!!

They have 250 comics already up, as part of a free trial run! It's freakin' sweet!!! I just finished reading Amazing Spider-Man #86. It's so cool, you can zoom in on a panel, or set it so that each panel is given a close up! The quality is great!
 

Reed Richards

Mr. Fantastic
May 30, 2002
2,446
36
37
Four Freedoms Plaza
Visit site
#9
Aw, c'mon, that's a perfect excuse to upgrade your computer! ;)

-- Ed

Ed I'm with you 100%-- a fee service should bestow digital ownership of those old comics. If Marvel was smart, they'd tool this into something that will work with the new Ipods/Iphones. Digital comics on the go. Now that would be something.

I hope like hell they keep the original ads from those comics in the digital format-- so many of them are so neat to look at. Its as much a part of the comic as the story itself sometimes. Hostess Fruit Pies....YUMMY!
 

Xurk

Active Member
Oct 3, 2004
3,118
36
34
The Netherlands
www.xurk.net
#11
Well, the Marvel website is finally running again, albeit painfully slow. I managed to check out Amazing Spider-Man #86 and Avengers #1, two comics which I had never read before; too bad they are only five-page previews, but that makes sense :)

I think this could have real potential, not only because of the ease of having thousands of comics - classic and modern - just a few clicks away for far less than purchasing them via back-issue and the space it saves, but also because it's great for comic readers living outside of the US! Not only are comics very pricey due to them being imported from the US to [in my case] Europe, but comic stores are more rare over here [in exception of the UK] than they are in America, so finding titles / issues you want can be a real task.
Maybe they should also consider putting up new issues without a six-month delay, but only have those accessible for people who pay for a sort of "online subscription" to a title [obviously more expensive than the account you can currently acquire online]. That way, no matter where you live in the world, you can easily read your favourite comics. The only downside to this, is if you're a real collector and want the comics in tangible form to store.
 
Feb 1, 2006
16,950
36
N/A
#13
Huh. I was just using the free service before I saw this (trying to anyway). Except I didn't read anything because the Marvel site is ungodly slow right now. :shrug:

*Remembers when the Ultimate comics were the big thing online*

I think I would like this service simply because I have thousands of comics already in the house, and they really do take up alot of room after time. Its one of the reasons I don't read them much anymore, but I can't see myself selling the ones I have.
 

wonderfly

Shaking things up a bit
Staff member
Administrator
Mar 22, 2002
18,524
Ratings
890 14
83
42
Springfield, MO
#14
Well, the Marvel website is finally running again, albeit painfully slow. I managed to check out Amazing Spider-Man #86 and Avengers #1, two comics which I had never read before; too bad they are only five-page previews, but that makes sense
Hey, I read the same issue of Amazing Spider-Man yesterday! You gotta love John Romita Sr.'s artwork...

And it's only a 5 page preview if you don't register and sign in with Marvel. I registered yesterday, and was able to read the whole comic book. And these are still the free ones, I haven't even signed up for the ones you have to pay for yet...

Antiyonder said:
So does that mean they're doing away with printing Trade Paperbacks?
Of course not, it's just another way of reaching customers. To take away TPB's, or to even take away the weekly "pamplets", would be a strike against a segment of the fanbase.

Newsarama has an article interviewing a few writers/artists about their thoughts on the online project.

Mike Carey sums it up well:

Let's be blunt: it's not going to replace either pamphlets or trades. I don't know any long-term comic fan – anyone with an actual comic habit – who'd choose to get their fix using a monitor rather than reading an actual page. When you read an actual comic, the senses of smell and touch come into play as well as sight: it's just a fuller and more rewarding experience. But this is perfect for catching up on a whole run you missed, checking a particular backstory, trying out a title that's getting some buzz, or accessing classics that you can't get hold of any other way.

The article also ties in the current Writer's Guild of America strike happening out in Hollywood, as it raises the question: should comic book creators get a piece of the pie for having their work appear in a digital format on Marvel's website?
 

Xurk

Active Member
Oct 3, 2004
3,118
36
34
The Netherlands
www.xurk.net
#15
So does that mean they're doing away with printing Trade Paperbacks?
Sorry, I think you misread me :)

What I meant was that some people are real comic book collectors, as in they want some comics pure for the fact of owning them and being able to show them when necessary. In my hypothetical online subscription scenario, comic fans outside of the US would be able to read a lot more and frequently, but they wouldn't be able to have the comics themselves in their hands.

At the moment, I think TPBs count for a considerable amount of the comic book companies' turnover, so doing away with them would be a huge mistake - at least, at this point in time. Who knows what the future looks like now that they're tiptoeing towards digital publishing :)
 

Xurk

Active Member
Oct 3, 2004
3,118
36
34
The Netherlands
www.xurk.net
#16
You gotta love John Romita Sr.'s artwork...
The man is a legend!

And it's only a 5 page preview if you don't register and sign in with Marvel. I registered yesterday, and was able to read the whole comic book. And these are still the free ones, I haven't even signed up for the ones you have to pay for yet...
Wow, I guess I wasn't looking closely enough! Later on this evening, I'm definitely going back to finish at least those two issues - if the Marvel website can keep up that is ;) Thanks for the tip!

he article also ties in the current Writer's Guild of America strike happening out in Hollywood, as it raises the question: should comic book creators get a piece of the pie for having their work appear in a digital format on Marvel's website?
Sharp parallel spotted there :)
I'm sure the news of Marvel launching this service added to the coverage in the media of the WGA strike has put similar thoughts into many creators' heads! I do believe they should receive some financial recognition [if they're not already receiving it], but I think it would be difficult to accomplish, as in this case, you're paying $10 a month to read a large amount of comic books, even though you'll not read more of them than you do read. So how should they divide the money between the creators in a fair way? They could split it evenly regardless to how many people choose to read which title, but you can guess a title like Ultimate Spider-Man is going to be read a lot more online than, say, The Irredeemable Ant-Man...
 

wonderfly

Shaking things up a bit
Staff member
Administrator
Mar 22, 2002
18,524
Ratings
890 14
83
42
Springfield, MO
#17
They've added even more comics to the website. Is this still the "free" section? There's definently more than "250" up now...they have them grouped into alphabetical sections now...

It's pretty impressive overall...I'm not sure at what point I'll need to subscribe, so far I've been able to read a lot in the "free" section...
 

MDawg

Nerfariously planning
Aug 26, 2001
16,561
Ratings
807 4
83
37
Not of your damn business
www.zimed.net
#18
Site still doesn't seem as quick as it could be, but it is loading in a timely manner now at least, and it doesn't have the horrible layout issues it did in Firefox that I think was more of a result of being overloaded than anything. I'll have to read some stuff later.
 

Xurk

Active Member
Oct 3, 2004
3,118
36
34
The Netherlands
www.xurk.net
#19
To add to my WGA comparison post from yesterday, in a Newsarama article some of the creators are asked about their feelings on the subject of receiving royalties for the comics becoming digitally available:

With the current WGA strike concentrating on internet revenue, are you aware of any plans by Marvel to include creators in revenue this generates? If so, can you share anything about that, and are you pleased with what's being offered?

Ed Brubaker: I'm sure it's too early to discuss those kinds of details. But I would hope that since Marvel has such a good relationship with most of their top creators, and since they were one of the first companies to recognize the value of talent and start giving them decent royalties back in the day, that they have plans to compensate creators for these online comics, as well.

Mike Norton: This was the first thing I thought of when I read the news. But honestly, I haven't heard anything in regards of how it will affect me or other creators yet. I would think (and hope) that with the all the eyes directed at what's happening now with the WGA strike that they'd be extra careful to make it a fair deal.

Peter David: If there's revenue being generated for the creators of the books, it's news to me. Since most of the various royalties programs that Marvel has offered in the past are tailored to already existing venues of publishing, how would you classify it? It's not initial sales. It's not reprints. I'm not sure what you'd call it, except that it's something that generates money.

Skottie Young: I don't know of anything at the moment, but I'm sure it will really all depend on if this flies or not and how the system is set up.

Mike Carey: I have no idea what's being planned.

[...]

Mark Waid (Potter's Field, The Brave and the Bold, The Flash): The irony of this being announced in the heat of the writers' strike is not lost on me. I would be stunned and disappointed if Marvel didn't find some way to factor in some revenue for creators, regardless of how miniscule, simply on principle – but I haven't heard of anything forthcoming.

[...]

Newsarama Note: These interviews were conducted via e-mail with the creators yesterday. This morning, in an interview about Marvel’s DCU with MySpace, Douglas Wolk asked about royalties being paid to creators: Is Marvel paying royalties to creators when people read comics online with Digital Comics Unlimited? To which Vice President of Online Operations and Marketing John Dokes replied, “That's part of our plan.” No further details were given.
 
Jun 11, 2002
14,332
36
Washington DC
#20
Assuming the site works smoothly and has tons of content, it seems like a good idea. The only question would be the pricing, but I guess $60 a year for all you can read is pretty reasonable.

I don't really collect comics anymore, and most comics I don't read more than once so it seems like a good format for me.

As someone mentioned, they should definitely make this compatible with cell phones and iPods. I believe that's become a big revenue source in Japan for books and manga.