Here are some practical, technical tips I’ve come up with based on my experiences exploring Marvel Unlimited so far:
Stay Far Far Away From Marvel.com
Oh my word! How do you build a collection of comics this massive with an index this terrible! If your only option for enjoying MU was to rely on the site and the in-browser reader, it would honestly not be worth the price. The reader is nothing special and the index stinks on ice.
I’ve only made a few posts on this blog and so far the most painful part of the process – by a wide margin – is digging out marvel.com links for the issues I’m talking about.
In my last post, I even discovered that Marvel Comics (1939) # 1 – surely a book of at least some historical note – can’t actually be read through marvel.com. It’s available on MU, but Marvel’s own website won’t let you read it.
Use the MU App Regardless of your Hardware
Thankfully, the mobile app for MU is halfway decent. It’s good on a phone, great on a tablet, and it does a better job than marvel.com on a desktop.
I use a free Android emulator – BlueStacks – to run the MU app on my creaky old Windows 7 desktop. This is just one potential solution; there are plenty of others. Pick your poison!
Even if you’re not writing acres of text like I am, it can be handy to jot down some basic notes about what you have and haven’t read. When using the MU app, you get basically two options for flagging comics: mark as read/unread and add/remove from your library. If you plan on reading more than a few dozen comics (and why would you subscribe to a service like this if not to read hundreds and hundreds of comics), these two blanket categories are not going to be enough.
Do Not Trust Read Offline
MU offers you the theoretically useful ability to download up to 12 books to your device so that you can read at your leisure even outside of the protective blanket of wifi coverage. In practice, I’ve seen countless posts from frustrated subscribers who cannot get this feature to behave as advertised for love or money.
For a start, “offline” doesn’t really mean “offline.” The app is going to need to talk to the Marvel servers if for no other reason than to confirm you have a valid MU account. So you’ll have to have some kind of internet connection. Beyond that, the app seems to have a devilish propensity for dumping everything you’ve downloaded and pulling fresh files at the drop of a hat.
Mind Your Data
One major weakness of the MU app is that there are no internal controls for how it uses your internet connection. Hooked to blazing-fast wifi? Stuck on your carrier’s mobile data network? MU don’t give a F#)@. It will happily download hundreds of megabytes of comics even if you’re communicating through a Soviet-era cellular network in the depths of Kazakhstan. (This is just a joke; in all seriousness I bet there are places that get much worse cellular service than Kazakhstan. Much of the United States, for example.)
Your device o’ choice should have settings that allow you to control data access on a per-application level. I strongly advise using them with the MU app.