With comic book stores across the world shutting their doors due to the novel coronavirus, the entire comics industry has effectively come to a halt and it’s unclear if and when things are ever truly going to be able to return to “normal.” Many new comics are being put on hold, major conventions are being cancelled, and the only thing people can really do right now is stay home (if possible) and try to ride things out.
With all of this in mind, Marvel’s taken a small measure to try and help people through these difficult times by temporarily making its Marvel Unlimited service a bit more accessible with some free titles. For the next month, a selection of arcs from different Marvel comics like Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Black Panther and Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel will be free to read without having sign up for any sort of subscription trial period. All one needs to do to access them is navigate into the “free comics” section in the iOS or Android app and browse at their leisure.
Compared to the whole of Marvel Unlimited’s catalogue, the free selection is relatively limited, but there’s still plenty to go through, and again, the publisher isn’t trying to charge anyone—or loop you into a trial you may forget to cancel—to read them. Moves like this are one of the ways that comics houses can maintain connections to their customers at a time when people might not exactly be prioritising their pull lists. Going forward, though, Marvel and the other publishers are going to have to seriously consider whether they’re going to have to put more effort into getting people onto their digital platforms if going to stores continues to be potentially dangerous.