Marvel Unlimited, formerly known as Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, is an online service by Marvel Comics that distributes past issues of their comics via the Internet. The service has thousands of issues in its archive and launched on November 13, 2007.
Marvel first began releasing comics over the internet in 1996 with Marvel CyberComics. This was later replaced by DotComics under the tenure of Bill Jemas. This would grow to a size of dozens of comics by 2002, but would later be limited to a mere 12 comics by 2004.
Marvel Digital Comics was first announced in 2005 as a replacement to its DotComics; however, it utilised the same Flash-based interface with only minor updates, while decreasing the comics available from 12 issues to 4 issues. At this time Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada speculated on the possibilities of adding animation to the comics, which would be realized in 2009 with the release of Spider-Woman as a motion comic.
Marvel's Digital Comics only grew modestly, reaching over 24 comics in April, 2006 until finally it relaunched in November, 2007 as Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited. Unlike earlier initiatives, Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited was a subscription service with over 2,500 comics available to subscribers, with new comics added on a weekly basis. A small portion of the library was made available for free in an attempt to entice viewers to subscribe to the service through either its monthly or yearly plans.
In response to fears from comic-sellers, Dan Buckley promised that there would be at least a 6-month delay from when a comic is published in print and when it is made available on Marvel's Digital Comics Unlimited. However Marvel Comics modified this policy 2008 with the release of Secret Invasion: Home Invasion. This was released online first as a tie-in with the Secret Invasion event. Digital comic exclusives would be broadened to include non-event comics. The initial release of exclusives included a Fin Fang Four story by Scott Gray and Roger Langridge, Marvels Channel: Monsters, Myths and Marvels by Frank Tieri and Juan Santacruz, American Eagle: Just a Little Old-Fashioned Justice by Jason Aaron and Kid Colt by Tom DeFalco.
On October 13, 2009 Marvel launched an upgraded version of the comic viewer, dubbed the Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited Reader 3.0. The new digital comics reader added a number of new features including full screen mode, thumbnails for all pages, and easier ways of finding books related to the one being read.
It then published a daily series of "lost" Captain America comic strips that were actually modern creations written by Karl Kesel. A three-part Galacta story was also published digitally following it winning the vote to see which was the most popular story in Marvel Assistant-Sized Spectacular.
Other Marvel digital comics outlets
In addition to its Marvel Unlimited app, Marvel began releasing digital comics for the iPhone and iPod Touch through a number of retailers including Panelfly, Comixology and iVerse. Unlike Marvel Unlimited, these comics are available for purchase as single issues. In addition it was announced in August 2009 that Marvel's comics would be released for the PlayStation Portable in December 2009.
- Marvel Comics Opens Vault with Digital Archive from Wired News
- Marvel launches digital archive from BBC News
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- Marvel Digital Comics Reader 3.0 Debuts Today from Marvel
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- Marvel Comics Coming to the PSP Archived 2011-06-08 at the Wayback Machine from InfoWorld, August 18, 2009
- Marvel Digital Comics Coming to Sony PSP from Marvel