So this will be discussed by me on the upcoming episode of Accidental Survivors but between then and now I've actually gone ahead and signed up for Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.
Long story short, Marvel has had comics on their website for some time, basically as free promotionals you could read online.
This new venture is MUCH more ambitious and is the first major foray by a comic company into online distribution.
What do I mean by ambitious? How does X-men #1-66, Fantastic Four #1-100, Spider-Man #1-100 and Avengers #1-50 sound for a first week upload?
They are also adding new comics weekly, and have some special "theme" additions that run in a scrolling banner at the top of the site, such as "Chris Claremont classics" and "Frank Miller's milestones".
For those who just want to browse, you can call up the entire collection by character or series title, and can view a series by either issue title and number (for example "Avengers #1") or by issue title and number along with a cover thumbnail.
If you look at an issue and want more by the same creator, each creator is hyperlinked and clicking on the creator's name will bring up all issues by that creator. Want to read everything written by Ed Brubaker in the digital collection? Everything drawn by Jack Kirby? Everything lettered by Tom Orzechowski?
The site is also linked with other viral networking sites, with links to rave or rant about an issue on facebook, stumbleupon, furl, newsvine, digg, reddit, tailrank and yahooweb.
Week 1, there are thousands of issues, from the first appearance of Captain America in 1941 through comics released in 2007.
Everything on the site is available for a flat rate, either 9.99 paid monthly, or 59.99 for the entire year.
Comics aren't downloadable but are streamed, which goes fairly quickly and smoothly for me (I have DSL, so not the fastest or slowest connection out there).
In general, by the time I am done reading the first page, the site has streamed three to my computer and from there stays ahead to the point that I never have to wait for a page to actually load.
The reading experience is also good. The default zoom setting is just about perfect for me to avoid eyestrain, and given the amount of time I spend staring at computer screens, that was a very impressive feat.
While some might prefer an Itunes-like set-up where you pay for individual issues and own them forever, I find this to be a great set-up for reading from home. Also, since accounts are not computer-specific, you can browse from anything that can connect to the internet anywhere you are.
I've even tested the service running it on multiple computers in multiple locations at the same time, something a lot of online services, such as Napster, don't allow you to do, but MDC does.
As you have probably gathered, this is a very positive review. I give this service the highest rating and have been having a blast reading through some great comics I never would have checked out otherwise.
If you're a comics reader, I highly recommend this service. Even without the ability to download its an unbeatable value, costing as much for a year's worth of comics as you'd pay for a single Marvel Masterwork.