The Best Apps for Your Digital Comic Needs

By Tom Pritchard on at

You might have noticed that this isn't our normal weekly apps round up. We're suspending that this week, and will be instead looking at the best apps you can get for reading comics on your phone.

Ranging from the official stuff, like Marvel Unlimited, to the third-party apps that read all the popular digital comic formats, there's something for everyone.

Comic Blitz (iOS)

This is probably the closest thing the comics world has to services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. For $10/£7 a month, you get unlimited access to the app's catalogue with no restrictions. That also includes a 1GB allowance for offline reading.

The only downside to Comic Blitz is that it's still a bit small time. There were some publishers involved that I recognise, like Dynamite and Valiant, but the big-league publishers like Marvel, Dark Horse, DC, Image, and so on, are absent. For some that'll be a dealbreaker, but just because they're less well known doesn't mean they're bad comics. So if you're looking for something a little bit different, you can find them right here.

Marvel Unlimited (Android, iOS)

If Comic Blitz is the top 'Netflix' of comics, Marvel Unlimited comes pretty damn close. If you pay Marvel $69/£48 each year, you get unlimited access to a very large percentage of Marvel's back catalogue. Not all of it there, but pretty much all of the important stuff is ready for your reading pleasure.

There are some downsides sadly, including the fact that you have to wait six months between new comics hitting shop shelves and when they arrive in the Unlimited catalogue. You also don't get to access the catalogue offline, with Marvel only giving you a measly 12-issue offline allowance. Still, it's great value for money given a standard six-ish issue paperback collection will usually cost you between £7 and £15.

Marvel Unlimited also has a built in store, for buying individual issues that you get to keep and read whenever you like. The six-month delay still applies here, so you're probably best buying those from the official Marvel Store app (Android, iOS).

2000AD (Android, iOS, Windows)

If you want to get your hands on any one of 2000AD's strong back catalogue, you'll need to download the official app and grab them there. So if you want to grab yourself some Judge Dredd (the proper one, not the crappy IDW version), ABC Warriors, Strontium Dog, and so on.

There are back issues of the main mag, and the Judge Dredd Megazine dating back to 2003, the option to subscribe to both, and the chance to buy yourself a selection of graphic novel collections. They don't open up in the app itself, but everything you buy from 2000AD is 100% DRM free – meaning you can use whatever comic or PDF reader you like the best.

The big downside to the app is that there is a lot of the 2000AD back catalogue that isn't available. So if you want to get your hands on some of the lesser known 2000AD titles, you'll have to go to the official site in a web browser. Little bit annoying, right?

Kindle (Android, iOS, Windows)

The Kindle app is better known as a place to buy books, but there are also plenty of comics to buy. Little bit weird since Amazon owns Comixology, but hey ho. It's not fantastic, and searching can be a little bit tricky, but if you have the Kindle app already then it's well worth a look. Might as well save some extra space on your device, right?

Comics by Comixology (Android, iOS, Windows)

Comixology is the biggest name in the world of digital comics, so if you're looking to buy then this is one of the places you should be looking. It has stuff for every publisher under the sun, and not just the big ones like Marvel and DC. Scroll through the list of publishers and you'll no doubt see a bunch of companies that you've never heard of. So there's definitely plenty of variety to be had.

Comixology also isn't just in the business of flogging you individual issues at £3 each, since it also has a selection of collected editions that will cost less than buying them all separately. Plus, unlike some comics apps *cough*Marvel*cough* the prices are available in currencies other than US dollars.

Just don't expect to find anything from 2000AD. The only 2000AD book I could find was Batman vs Judge Dredd, which was co-published with DC.

Dark Horse (Android, iOS)

Dark Horse may not be as big as Marvel or DC, but it has plenty of fantastic comics for you to enjoy. No Star Wars (those belong to Marvel now), but you have the likes of Aliens, Halo, Buffy, Hellboy, and plenty of other stuff to enjoy.

It's fairly basic, and you're only here to buy and read your comics. That means there's no Marvel Unlimited type deal here. Sad times. But at least you have all the latest comics when they arrive.

DC Comics (Android, iOS)

If you want all things Batman, Superman, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, and all the other comics in the DC back catalogue, this is one for you. Sadly this is only a reskinned version of Comixology that only sells DC comics. So any of you hoping for a Marvel Unlimited-style deal are out of luck.

There's a bunch of stuff not in here (especially from the Vertigo imprint, most of which is curiously absent), but you can get a whole bunch of stuff from the many decades DC has been running.

Image Comics (iOS)

Image is well known as a publisher that gives all the power (and character rights) to the creator, so there's a hell of a lot of interesting stuff out there to read. The Walking Dead, Saga, Spawn, that's all image.

The app is primarily a store app, and once again is a version of the Comixology store. One that only sells comics from the on publisher. That fact also means you don't need to create a brand new account, just use your Amazon one. It's also easy to navigate, syncs across your devices, and has a feature that recommends new stuff based on what you've bought and read.

IDW Comics (Android, iOS)

If you're looking for comic adaptations and tie-ins to your favourite pop-culture franchises, IDW is the publisher for you. In its catalogue are comic versions of Star Trek, Transformers, teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Judge Dredd (not the original), Back to the Future, and (urgh) My Little Pony. There are also some original series in there as well.

It's primarily an online store where you can buy IDW comics, and then read them whenever it suits you. It's simple, easy to navigate, and not so bad on the eyes when it comes to reading.

Crunchyroll Manga (Android, iOS)

Most comic apps have a selection of manga for you to buy, but if you don't give a damn about western comics then you'll want something specific. Crunchyroll, a service best known for anime streaming, has a dedicated manga app, so you can get your fix. As soon as the latest manga hits the Japanese news stands, it'll be available in the app.

A lot of is seems to be free to access, but you can also pay $7/£5  month for a premium membership that gives you unlimited access to Crunchyroll's entire back catalogue. That is an offer no manga fan can refuse.

Comics Plus (Android, iOS)

If you're looking for a new digital comic app, and don't fancy using Comixology, here's another option for you to try. It's got pretty much every publisher you can think of (barring 2000AD, again), with a pretty decent catalogue of stuff to buy. The prices are in dollars, but that shouldn't be an issue.

The Android version has a few issues at the moment, mainly in terms of search speed, but those should be sorted soon enough.

ComicRack (Android, iOS, Windows)

Digital comics are awkward because they have awkward filetypes (.cbr and .cbz), and they need special software to open and read them. That's not such an issue because there are more comic readers than most people can count, so which one do you go for? ComicRack is a good choice for those of you who have a lot of devices.

While it doesn't store your comics in the cloud for you to sync to your devices whenever you use them, it does let you connect your mobile devices to your PC and transfer over all your comic files. Doing this also automatically optimises the files for your device, and transfers associated data like page positions, bookmarks, reading lists, and so on.

The Beano (Android, iOS)

Ah yes, the other British classic. Here to keep you on top of all the exploits of Dennis, Gnasher, and the other characters who nobody remembers the names of past the age of 11. The app is fairly basic, simply acting as a way for you to subscribe to the comic and access back issues going back about four years. Simple, yet effective.

Holy publishing bonanza, Batman! It's Comic Book Week here on Gizmodo UK and we're bringing you masses of great superhero-centric articles – don't miss out on all the action! Head over to our hub to see all the pieces in one jam-packed place. Kapow!