Thursday, January 29, 2015

My Year With Marvel

Free and discounted trials are my favourite. I sign up, use the hell out of the service for a month (or however long they give me), and unsubscribe before my credit card is charged.

That’s not to say I stay away from these for ever after. I’ve reactivated my Audible membership a couple of times so I could acquire new releases I knew I’d want to own, and I fully intend to get Netflix back as soon as I have enough free time that I can get my money's worth out of it. But I never, ever just keep a trial membership.

At least, I didn’t until I tried Marvel Unlimited.

Marvel Unlimited came to my attention during last year's San Diego Comic Con. Marvel offered one-month memberships at 90% off to mark the occasion--a stellar deal for anyone with a love of comics and an abiding interest in Marvel superheroes.

That's me to a tee, so I paid up and dove in.

It was intense, y’all. Most days, I devoured at least one trade collection (hereafter, comic1). My ancient e-reader couldn’t handle the Marvel Unlimited app, so I read solely through my browser at first, and the annoyance seemed trivial next to the bounty spread before me. I started with the characters I already knew I enjoyed, like some of the individual X-Men, then branched out to books I’d seen favourably reviewed, like RUNAWAYS and HAWKEYE. I investigated NOVA because it was featured in the Popular This Month section on the site's splash page, learned it came after a universe-shaking event, and set out to experience everything Marvel Cosmic had to offer.

Next thing I knew, I was on a quest to read everything about this group, which got me interested in that character, who led me to even more teams and characters and storylines and--

Well, you get the picture.

I didn’t even consider cancelling my subscription once the discounted period was up. I had so much left to read.

That second month-long subscription soon turned into a year-long membership. Marvel Unlimited had its hooks in me but good, and I’m not the kind of girl who pays monthly when she can save some dough by prepaying for a whole year.

Marvel Unlimited fits into my lifestyle in a way most other subscription services don’t. I needn’t set aside a definite block of time for it, as I do with Netflix, and I don't have to ignore la TBR while I read from it, as is the case with Scribd or Oyster. I can read comics at my own pace (usually around 7-10 minutes per issue), and I can easily squeeze them in without ignoring prose novels.

I often keep my Kobo close at hand throughout the day so I can motivate myself with the promise of another issue or two whenever I finish a task. I do something productive, I get some comics. It's an effective system.

Marvel Unlimited also good value for money when you read as many comics as I do. Even if I only make it through six or seven per month, I’ve got my $5.75USD worth2.

Most importantly, Marvel Unlimited is packed with stuff I genuinely want to read and might not be able to get my hands on any other way, what with my limited entertainment budget. My library has a good comics collection, but they don’t have everything and they’re often slow to process new titles. On top of that, some of Marvel's series have never been collected, and I lack the resources to buy every individual issue that catches my eye. Hell, half the time I don’t even know which storylines I most want to follow, or which characters I’m liable to fall in love with, until I catch a peek of them via one of Marvel’s many crossovers and team-ups.

And if Marvel Unlimited doesn’t have everything... well, that’s all right. The stuff they do have is more than enough to keep me going for the next year.

Which brings us to my point: having invested in a yearly membership, and having made extensive use of said membership in the four months since I took the plunge, I’m going to spend the next year writing about my ongoing relationship with Marvel comics. Maybe I’ll dip into their film and television properties, too, should I feel a strong desire to do so, but we’re going to keep comics always and forever in the spotlight ‘round here. Because comics are pretty great.

Right now, I'm aiming for a post every week or two, but that could change depending on my schedule and the number of things I find myself eager to talk about. The posts will run the gamut from review-like things to essays to recs lists to round-ups provided without much comment (like the massive list of POC creators with work on Marvel Unlimited, which I really need to update).

I’ve had a lot of fun planning this--and doing the necessary reading for it, of course. I hope y’all will follow along.

  1. When I say "I read a lot of comics," I mean "I read a lot of trade collections." I've become increasingly grumpy about the term "graphic novel" over the last few years, since I feel like it's trying to make the medium sound all posh and shit. Like comics are something to be ashamed of and legitimized with fancy terminology.

    Plus, lots of comics are nonfiction. (Not Marvel comics. Other comics.) "Novel" doesn't fit in those cases.

  2. Between the library, Marvel Unlimited, and the things I revisit, I usually read more like twenty to thirty comics per month. Which I know is a frickin' lot. The numbers, they rise quickly when you've got a gazillion titles at your fingertips.


  1. Yeah... I really want to join! I started the sign-up process a few months ago but then I told myself I should wait because I all ready do Audible and Netflix. And I think I would miss Audible if I put it on hold (and I am not the only one who uses Netflix...). So, not sure what I will end up doing....

    1. You should keep an eye out for another promo opportunity. They ran another discounted subscription promo for Marvel's 75th anniversary, so I assume they do these things about twice a year.

  2. Exciting! Maybe I will try to read some of what you recommend -- I believe my brother-in-law has a Marvel Unlimited subscription, and he is a kind man who sometimes lends me his device to read comics on. :)

    (Aw man, if there were an Image Comics Unlimited, I would subscribe to that so hard.)

    1. I know you've already read some of what I'm gonna be gushing about (HAWKEYE! Btw, the deaf issue finally went live last week, and I read it, and now I need more), and I'm sure there'll be some other stuff to your tastes. Like, you should try NOVA! I plan to give you lots and lots of reasons why in a week or four.

      Kind brothers-in-law are a good thing to have. I've offered to lend my mother my Kobo so she can read some of Marjorie Liu's comics, but she has thus far declined. Sadness. I think she'd really enjoy them. She's a big fan of Liu's novels.

      Dude, I wish alllll comics publishers had this sort of subscription service. Like, reading so many Marvel comics has made me keenly aware that I know fuck-all about DC, but alas! DC doesn't have anything similar. If I want to do a Year With DC at some point, I'll be totally dependent on what my library has.

  3. Yes! I'm definitely going to be following along. I bought myself the year's subscription as a birthday gift after you and I chatted about it on Twitter, and I'm so glad I did. Right now I'm reading Ms Marvel but I can always use recommendations!

    1. I am chock full of recommendations, my friend. :)