Marvel Goes Digital And Mobile

Late last night, Marvel quietly fired their first salvo in the upcoming Digital Comic Wars (I should probably trademark that).  You can now buy Marvel Comics for your iPhone through various different companies.  It looks like they didn’t want to pick just one, and instead decided to spread the love around, and see what sticks.

You can now download the following comics from iVerse (who sponsor iFanboy, hint, hint), Comixology, and Panelfly, as well as Scrollmotion.

We know the following comics are available:


Amazing Spider-Man #519–524
Astonishing X-Men #1–12
Captain America #1–7
Invincible Iron Man #1–6
X-23 #1–6
X-Men: Age of Apocalypse #1–6


Amazing Spider-Man #1-25
Amazing Spider-Man #519-523
Astonishing X-Men #1-24
Invincible Iron Man #1-16
X-23 #1-6
X-Men: Age Of Apocalypse #1-6


Astonishing X-Men #1–24
Captain America #1–30
Marvel Zombies #1–5
X-23 #1–6
X-Men: Age of Apocalypse #1–6

The majority of the comics are $1.99, with some issues on Panelfly for $0.99 to start. 

So, it’s clear that Marvel isn’t averse to doing this, but it’s also interesting that these still aren’t current issues, as they’re probably hedging their bets to see how it works out.  Between their Digital Content online, the Motion Comics, and this move, the giant is clearly testing the waters.

With the looming release of Longbox sometime in the near future, as well as the rumored Apple tablet, one wonders what shape the game will take in the near future.  One blogger, our good friend Augie de Blieck from Comic Book Resources, made a guess on Twitter, saying, “What today’s news tells me: Longbox will launch with Marvel content. You can buy or you can subscribe. iTunes vs Zune Pass.”

Last week, Chicago Sun Times writer and comic book reader, Andy Ihnatko made some guesses on what might occur next.

It’s anyone’s guess what happens next, but it’s definitely a time of change, and it’s starting now.


  1. I’ve really enjoyed these iPhone apps, but I have a hard time imagining myself paying 1.99 for these issues. Especially since I bought Invincible Iron Man Issues today in a 50 cent bin. The convenience isn’t worth that much for non current issues.

  2. soooooo excited! although it’s really disappointing to see that they are posting at different price points. Personally i don’t think a digital comic is worth more than an mp3. 99 cents is the ideal price point and i truly hope they will stick with that. there’s no way i’d pay 1.99 for a digital comic to read on my tiny iPhone

  3. No current issues, no deal. Would anyone use iTunes if it only offered music 6 months after retail stores sold it?

  4. Sadly only available in the States. 


    Which may well be a good thing. Comixology and iVerse don’t have a great range but that hasn’t stopped me sinking too much money into both. Hopefully a itablet will come along and Longbox will revolutionise everything though. I want to pick up the comics I want, not the pick of the few I’m offered. 

  5. Good to see them giving a try, especially if it helps something like Longbox out.  It’s disappointing to see the price point of $1.99 though.  I was hoping the sweet spot would be $.99, at least to start out with.  We’ll see how this goes though.  It’s definitely an interesting time.

  6. What do these comics smell like? 

  7. It would be cool if I had an iPhone.

  8. @JumpingJupiter: Savings! And more space!

  9. Nothing gets butts in the seats like X-23 and Age of Apocalypse. Perfect elevator-pitch, gateway comics. X-23. And Age of Apocalypse.

    Day-and-date comics: 85% market share by tomorrow afternoon.

  10. Glad to see Marvel enter the arena. Even though I think $1.99 is still too high for older material.

    But seeing those huge runs now available made me think of something for the first time – Are these apps somewhat doomed for long-term digital comic purchases? I have the Comixology one and from what I can tell, the comics are just tied to the app. At some point, I’ll be forced to delete stuff when I run out of space on my iPhone, right? If that’s correct, then the long-term procedure should be download to my hard drive (which has ever increasing space) and upload select comics I want to read to my mobile device so I’m not taking up space on the mobile device. (Sounds like this is the path Longbox is taking). I just started thinking of that in the scenario that someone decided to buy all of those Marvel runs.

  11. $1.99 for a comic that I can only read on my iPhone is absurd, I barely want to pay $0.99 because once again I can only read it on my iPhone (so I only download the free comics). Once Long box launches them maybe I’ll consider it, but I will only pay $0.99 for digital comics.

  12. The next step is clearly getting things on desktops (or that elusive tablet) and getting recent releases.  Clearly Marvel isn’t being serious about digital.  Which is funny because I’ve been hearing rumors for some time now that they want to go this route.

  13. … where’s Longbox!

  14. From what I gather, Rantz is busting with news he’s not able to share about Longbox.  And if it makes you feel any better, it’s probably killing him that this isn’t in your hands yet.

  15. @kwoktalk – excellent point about the space issue. I have some early iPhone comics where I actually just downloaded the issue itself (Atomic Robo, for example). That one sits in my iTunes, so I don’t worry about space. But I’m using and enjoying ComiXology now, and wondering… just how many of these can I download? Do I still own them if I delete the app from my phone? I suppose I should log into Comixology online and see if I have some sort of account. Hadn’t gotten that far yet…

     As for comics on the phone: I am enjoying some iPhone comics these days. Most notable is "Box 13" from ComiXology, which is a pretty simple story, but it seems well designed for the phone. Some panels push down or down or right to progress, but they’re largely a series of horizontal rectangles, so I’m not doing a lot of rotating the phone. ON a phone, this is ideal. I don’t think I’ll spend a lot of time reading old Marvel comics that have been sliced up to fit the phone as best they can (this is the new version of pan-and-scan, I’ve just realized).

    I also agree that $1.99 is too high. for the phone definitely. Maybe not for an Apple tablet reader. I’ll have to wait and see on that.

  16. As a subscriber to Marvel’s Digital Comics Unlimited service, I’m disappointed that Marvel is pushing forward with this initiative while still not supporting portable devices for Digital Unlimited subscribers. I guess "unlimited" means unlimited as long as you don’t consider being tied to your desktop as a limit. 

    That being said, I think this is a positive step, and I’m eagerly waiting to see what Longbox and/or Apple have in the pipeline. 

  17. @rofo

    Their Unlimited service is a joke anyway. For example, why are their scans so low quality? I can do better scans easily. If you compare a pirated Invincible Iron Man #1 and the Unlimited one, the Unlimited one looks like shit got smeared over it. 

  18. Actually how is the quality on these new services. It’s hard to tell on the iPhone screen but are they as blurry and crappy as the Unlimited service or are they actually good? Interested since this means Marvel is probably going to be on Longbox (yay!).

  19. Most iPhone comics are taken from the digital files directly, so they start at a very high quality, but are shrunk down to smaller sizes obviously.  But they look good.  If you’ve got an iPhone, there are plenty of free books you can look at the.  The Marvel books are similar in quality.

  20. As long as it doesn’t look like this shit (what Marvel has as their digital quality in their previews and Unlimited service):


  21. Marvel is smokin some wacky drugs to pull this shit.




  22. Nice….now if only I had an iphone.

    Also, and I am not going into another argument about this, but I fail to see why Marvel will sign on with Longbox. But I’m probably missing something on that.

  23. I wonder if online comics will have a dampening affect on the people who scan comics and put them onlinefor free download…naw they will proabably find a way to do it anyway.

  24. When is DC going to stop making excuses and get their act together and come out with digital comics. Marvel’s had their site running for 2 years now. DC needs to hire some interns and get them to start scanning! Any time someone asks DiDio about this at a con he makes lame excuses about licensing issues and sidesteps the issue.  

  25. I’m excited for digital comics.  Paying $1.99 for them, not so much.

  26. I do love the idea of digital comics. They’re convenient, they don’t clog up my already crammed room. But two things bother me with this offering:

    1. $1.99? Really, Marvel?

    2. only in the US?! That’s downright ridiculous. There’s just no reason to restrict the access like that.

    3. no current issues? Yeah, that’s great, too. Because I couldn’t go out and buy the trade for the stuff that’s a year old…

    (Okay, that were actually three things, but who’s counting, right?) 

  27. I am only too excited about Marvel going digital as well as pushing content out to multiple providers (I’d love to not see a repeat of the Diamond monopoly). C’moooon Longbox.

  28. $2 on issue. Hahahaha, I say with sad frustration. I should have seen this coming.

    Everyone expected the  pricepoint to be $0.99. Why? Because that’s what everyone wanted.

    But we forgot that this is Marvel, and the company wants/needs to start charging $4 for regular-sized books.

    So of course they’re not going to sell digital issues for 75% off. Of course not.

    Yeah, same way people will pay $9.99 for a "digital book", a physical copy of which would cost $12-15. Oh jeesh, of course they’re going to be able to milk people who want legal digital copies of comics for $2 an issue. People will see the $4 pricepoint for a physical copy and be so repelled that they’ll resign themselves to paying TWICE as much as they expected to pay for a digital copy.

    Oh, jeesh, what a sad state of affairs. And don’t neglect to notify your brain of how that $2 for a digital copy will be almost pure profit for Marvel, whereas when you pay $4 for a physical copy that extra cost would go to fund the livelihoods of: comic shop owners, comic shop employees, Diamond distributors, papermills, printers, truckers. So, yeah, go ahead, guys. Get your digital comics, products that have no physical existence, for a little less money, and while you’re at it give Marvel a greater percentage of pure profit while driving a lot of comic shops out of business.

  29. I’m sorry, but after reading @flapjaxx post I just gotta pull myself back in….

    How we can expect Marvel do allow Longbox to sell their comics at a 0.99 price is mind boggling. I would love to see it, but with the prices shown for these apps; there is no way that is going to happen.

    Again I agree with flapjaxx; if it goes to $1.99 then there is no point to go to digital. But I’ll emphasis that the comic shop owners could use the profits more so. Sure the physical copies are going to be a dollar (or two) more…..But the shops will be able to make profit and continue to live on. That seems to be what everyone forgets when you convert to digital. Your making people lose jobs.

  30. Not my job to keep stores in business. That’s their job. As a consumer my priority is to find the product I want in the form I want it, at the cheapest price.

  31. Conversely, aren’t comic stores stealing business from these digital distribution companies?  Jerks.

  32. Stores that only act as a place to buy stuff and leave might not survive the conversion.  A good shop is a meeting place, can have signings, can have events, can help give you recommendations.  They won’t necessarily be able to compete on price anymore but they can compete on service and style.

    More options are ALWAYS a good thing, we’ve lost all sorts of professions in the last thousand years through progress, it’s not our job to make sure blacksmiths keep their jobs if we all want to move to cars instead or riding horses.

  33. @gobo: It’s why we need to have a blacksmith revival. I would love to see more around the community. 🙂

    Maybe it’s just me, I dont know. I just find that if it the majority of readers go to digital then we’re gonna see all of these stores disappear. Maybe no one on here has good ties with their owner, but I would be heartbroken to see my LCS leave. Also, I just don’t find the price different that big of a deal. If the price goes to $1.99 then what’s the point? The comics I read for Marvel are all $2.99 so a dollar difference really doesn’t mean anything to me.

    Again I’m sorry to be so stubborn with the topic. It’s just how I feel about it, and I don’t see it changing anytime soon.

  34. For me personally 1.99 is too expensive, I won’t be buying any (normal length) digital books at that price.  I know @conor would happily take the discount, even a dollar, to not have space in his house taken up with single issues that he’ll probably never read again.

    Different strokes for different folks.  

    I haven’t bought any 1.99 books on Comixology or iVerse because they’re not worth that price to me, I won’t be buying any on Longbox.  If that means not buying any Marvel books, that’s too bad for Marvel.   I’ve been gravitating away from them lately anyway though, this will just speed things up.

  35. I want new comics. Longbox needs to launch now and Apple needs a tablet. The iPod screen is too small, but a comic book sized iPod? Day 1 purchase.

  36. Seriously, this could not underwhelm me more.

  37. Without violating NDAs or ongoing contracts that are unannounced, I’ll say that we haven’t had any publisher balk at $0.99

    The thing to remember is, being on the iPhone, Apple has to get their cut too. And with the smaller installed user base on the platform, you can’t be as profitable (or even cover your expenses) with a small percentage of the installed user base.  1% of 14 Million (while large) is much smaller than 1% of almost a Billion.

  38. I don’t see digital comics replacing the comics I buy at 1.99, but I might download some that I was on the fence about and wouldn’t pay $3.99 for.  This would all be assuming I have the right platform for it, which I don’t at the moment (I don’t have an iphone and my laptop is so old I don’t download much of anything but podcasts at this point).  But this announcement does have me wondering if I should put off getting a Kindle and wait to see wha the Apple tablet is about.  interesting times.

  39. Great news, Rantz. Now hurry up with that paperwork and launch the damn thing!

  40. Private Beta starts (barring unforeseen issues) next week…

  41. @Rantz That’s for professionals, press and me right? 😉

  42. @gobo  I like your analogy, though on the other hand it sucks for the guy who WANTS to ride a horse but has to give it up because all the blacksmiths are out of business.  Not everybody has an iphone.

  43. @ohcaroline: The iPhone is just one delivery device of many.

  44. I get that, but the whole ‘mobile’ aspect is only exciting if you have something to be mobile on.

  45. The mobile aspect is the least interesting aspect of it for me.  I’m more excited about Longbox on my laptop.

    Plus as long as there is ANY demand for a blacksmith there will be some, even if it moves to online only blacksmithing like DBS. (Discount Blacksmithing Service)

  46. Internet Horse Care.  Brilliant!

    And don’t get me wrong, I’m pro-digital.  I just mean to say that because we’re all at different points with technology, digital isn’t going to be practical for everyone right away, and I think it’s fair for people who value their local stores more than the chance to use various technologies to be worried about their well-being.  That doesn’t mean that the people who are psyched for digital comics shouldn’t be psyched for them, just that it’s understandable for people to have different viewpoints.  

  47. @Rantz – I’m counting on you to blow these guys out of the water.  I’ve got my wallet right next to me and I’m itching to empty it on Longbox.

  48. @Rantz – Ditto-ing Stulach. I’m anticipating you guys getting the lion’s share of my comic budget,  effectively double/triple its’ purchasing power. Please launch soon.

  49. I’m certainly intrigued by this news, and hope it gets great comics in the hands of more people. I think for a lot of us who are already buying comics, the $1.99 price point is a deal breaker. But remember, this really isn’t about (most) of us. This is about getting comics to new people; younger people who are living their lives digitally. Just take a look at the success of Marvel’s motion comics on iTunes. They’re selling TONS of copies for a price that amounts to a movie rental. You’ve also got a generation of people willing to pay $0.99 to $1.99 for a friggin new ring tone.

    Personally, $1.99 just won’t cut it. But that’s because I don’t pay cover price for my issues as it is. A $3.99 comic costs me $2.39 and $2.99 comics cost me $1.79 typically, so $1.99 for a digital copy has no appeal. 

    So, for selfish reasons, i wish the price point was $0.99. But conceptually? I still like seeing this development for the greater good even if it doesn’t float my boat.


  50. I don’t think putting comics digitally means younger people will care more about it. There is no evidence to suggest otherwise.

  51. Interesting. Marvel’s being a bit silly here. They’re trying to keep their profit on the comic the same (That is, Marvel makes ~$2 on a $3.99 book) while reducing the permanence of the object. (How long will it be until you have to delete it?) It’s a curious thing. As for "younger" people preferring digital, this is a bit nebulous. While it’s true that 18-30 year olds are the most digitized consumers with disposable income, there is a very strong sense of materialism underlying it. Personally, I like to have a copy of what I’ve read on my book shelf, like a trophy. As for a truly younger audience, 10-18, let’s say, they’re the most overlooked market of the digital age… because they’re not digital consumers. Children remain a predominately cash market. Heck, I didn’t have a credit card until I was 22! It’s hard to navigate e-commerce without one. Indeed, teenagers tend to be more inclined to media piracy because of being a but of an "economic minority." (see the youth culture works of Dr. John Broughton)

    Still, it’s nice to see more digital comic fans asking questions about the delivery methods, data storage, price point and more. I think there was a bit of blind acceptance before and this seeming belief in an instantaneous conversion to the digital music model (which e-books, a much larger business, have not even been able to accomplish despite popular tech) isn’t helping people who are more skeptical. I’m certainly not opposed to the technology and think it will be interesting to see how it plays out. I could potentially end up using it to check out new series, or the odd issue here or there.

  52. As long as I can keep the file I will gladly and gleefully pay $1.99 for a digital single issue.

  53. to be prefectly honest, this is outside of my frame of interest.

    I have no desire to download, purchase or read comics in a digital format. 

    Just not my thing

  54. I think the ability to read the digital comic on the computer will be the thing which pushes more people into digital comics. I know that the idea is outstanding, and would be a huge selling point.

    I also have to agree with Conner that a business is there to make the customer happy, and if they would simply go out of business from something like this then I find them to be not very good at the administrative aspect of the hobby. Like others have mentioned, there are a number of other ways to draw customers and make money. Here in Orlando there is a place call "A Comic Shop" and they constantly have events, signings and other amazing concepts for bringing in people. Innovative businesses deserve to survive, while others should fail.

     Overall, I believe this effort by Marvel will not revolutionize anything, but it could be a stepping stone for something that might.

  55. @Prax: That’s a good point.

    How are some of the more younger audience will be able to pay for this? They dont have a credit card or anything to pay for it. I didnt get a credit card or even a debit card until I was 18! So again, the idea of little kids getting into the digital crowd seems a bit dubious.

    Which also, I think, will hurt the advancement of getting the next generation of comic readers.

  56. I know this seems silly to ask but Longbox has a option to rotate all of your comics like CDisplay right? Because I pretty much need that.

  57. I feel like $.99 per issue is appropriate.  Unless your reading them on your laptop or live in the future and have Apple’s ITablet, you’re viewing these comics on a very tiny screen.  Also, are they broken up into chunks like Proof was?  Overall, I think it’s the right direction.  I firmly believe this and motion comics will bear fruit, although I wouldn’t bet on it being from either of the Big Two. 

  58. Re: the comment about kids without credit cards — I imagine this is one reason you can buy itunes giftcards literally everywhere.  Do a majority of kids download illegally without bothering?  Most likely but you know, if those kids are going to download comics illegally they are *already* downloading comics illegally.  

  59. @Prax & @TNC I believe on Longbox you can buy "points" (or something similar) so parents can buy a bunch of points as like a "comic allowance" and let their kids buy what they want with them

  60. I have the apps on my ipod and checked out some of the freebies.  It’s neat and all, but I’m waiting for a solid supported app on my PC.  I don’t mind looking at comic art on my big ol’ LCD, and I’m open to dropping some money on a nice large sized color tablet.

    I guess I’m no longer a ‘collector’, I just want to be a reader.  I switch to trades and drop a lot of titles basically because I don’t want any more boxes in my house.  Most of my weekly floppies get sold by the pound at my yearly yard sale, or given away to whomever wants them, it’s disposable media to me now.

    $1.99 would be pushing it for me.  I would have to see how that goes, but I think at $.99 I would be onboard for my weeklies and probably up my title count.  Much like the current $.99 #1’s recently, I’ll try out a lot of stuff.

  61. 1.99 aint so bad for us International guys. In Australia comics cost around 7-8$ and a 2$ US price would equal around 2.50$ or so which is a massive price drop.

    Of course its not available for us non-US guys so…y’know..whatever.