Marvel has a digital comic service known as, "Marvel Unlimited," that you can subscribe to and read a ton of Marvel comics. Now, there is not anything that has come out in the last six months as Marvel doesn't want to cannibalize print sales or piss off comic shops too much. There have been occasional digital-only comics, but nothing like what Marvel just launched. Titled, "Infinity Comics," these are free if you have Marvel Unlimited. They are in continuity (whatever that means these days) and have some pretty well-known creators writing popular characters. This is intriguing for a few reasons.
Three Reasons Infinity Comics is Interesting
1. There is no extra fee for these digital-only comics and they will be plentiful. They are included with your Marvel Unlimited subscription and as I noted, feature some big creators (Jonathan Hickman, Declan Shalvey, Skottie Young, Dax Gordine, Alyssa Wong, Nathan Stockman, Kelly Thompson, Gerry Duggan, Lucas Werneck, and Jeffo, according to Marvel’s news release are kicking things off). There are already 27 comics as of today and plans for over 100 to exist before 2021 wraps. These things are not lame little bonus comics by creators you've never heard of about characters who are unknown. These have those names writing X-Men, Deadpool, Captain America, Shang-Chi, Black Widow, Venom, Carnage, and more. This has become a major selling point for Marvel Unlimited.
2. The comics are read in a vertical scroll form which is a lot more friendly to tablets and especially phones. Trying to take physical comics and make them, "Work," for a phone can be tricky when you've got a big double-page splash and are trying to put it all onto a phone's screen. By designing these explicitly for digital and having them be in a vertical scrolling format these comics are basically meant to be read on your phone with ease.
3. The elephant in the room here is Substack. A lot of comic creators are going to Substack as it is offering some appealing deals in the form of a ton of cash and creators maintaining control of their intellectual property. The thing is, Substack really wasn't created with comics in mind and has been a bit unwieldy to read comics within. It's just kind of comic pages awkwardly crammed into a newsletter. When these newsletters feature creators writing in-depth about their creative process it's cool (I subscribed to Jeff Lemire's Substack to test the whole thing out), but as soon as actual comics get posted it is a bit strange. Perhaps Marvel is trying to subtly show it can do online comics, "Right," with these Infinity Comics. Now, Marvel doesn't mention Substack at all in any of the promotional text about this, but its shadow looms large.
What Will the Future Hold?
This, "Infinity Comics," is going to be interesting to watch and see how much success Marvel has with it.