Excelsior! If you’re looking for the best comic book apps, those services that take your much loved trade paperbacks and story arcs and present them in all their digitised finery, then you’ve come to the right place.
While there’s lots to be said for the purists’ traditional paperbacks, reading comics in the digital age makes them more accessible than ever. With full library back catalogues at your fingertips, curated reading lists and rare runs made easy to find, comic book apps offer everyone, whether a seasoned reader or comic newcomer, a great way to read some classic stories from across the decades.
From all-you-can-read subscription services to apps that let your organise your personal libraries, these are our top picks.
Devices for reading comics on
Anything with a screen and web connectivity these days can usually be found to have some sort of comic book reading app, but for the best experience, you’re going to want a handheld mobile device, be that a tablet or smartphone.
While the apps listed below will work on the majority of Android and iOS devices, these are our top tablet devices for both operating systems which we’d recommend for reading on if you’re after the best big-screen experience. And, if you want to take your comics in your pocket, we’ve listed our favorite smartphone below, too:
Best comic book apps:
Marvel Unlimited ($9.99 / £7.99 a month)
If you’re looking for the adventures of the Avengers, X-Men and many more of the most famous superheroes in comic books, look no further than Marvel Unlimited. For a monthly subscription cost, you get access to more than 13,000 Marvel comics, stretching right back to its earliest days and titles as new as 12 months old.
It’s a fantastic reading experience, letting you save as many as 12 issues for offline reading on each and any device you use it with, and you’ll bag a discount if you subscribe for a year, too. It’s perfect for gobbling up entire runs, and its curation is particularly well-considered, with often well-timed introductions to characters as they make their silver screen debuts or returns.
You’ll also enjoy the option of scrolling panel-by-panel through stories, great for reading on smaller smartphone screens, that helps to show just why these tales have translated to cinema so effortlessly.
Read our full Marvel Unlimited review
DC Universe ($7.99 a month)
Another all-you-can-eat service, but this one is for fans of the DC Universe – so that’s heroes like Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman and friends.
Slightly cheaper than Marvel Unlimited, it actually also provides a more diverse offering than just comics. Along with its reads, DC Universe also gives its subscribers access to a rotating selection of DC TV shows and movies. That’s for the good reason however – it’s comic collection pales in comparison to its Marvel competition. But as a reading experience, it’s just as good, with well-reproduced artwork and an easily navigable UI.
DC Universe is currently only available in the US.
ComiXology (Free, with subscription option)
The Amazon-owned ComiXology is a great choice if you want to read beyond the confines of the Marvel and DC universes, featuring manga, independent publishers and graphic novels from all sorts of creators.
Comics can be bought on a per-issue basis, or you can subscribe to individual titles. It also features a panel-by-panel viewing option that makes it easier to read on smaller screens, and has a good selection of free comics to try out too – they’ll get you hooked, and you’ll be paying for more in now time.
If you’d rather an all-you-can-read experience, ComiXology offers a subscription service to US readers too, priced at $5.99 a month. Sadly, that feature is not available globally.
Chunky Comic Reader (Free)
If you’ve got your own library of digital comics ready to go, own an iPad, and aren’t looking to subscribe or buy more, then you owe it to yourself to get Chunky Comic Reader.
An incredible free app, it supports CBR, CBZ and PDF formats, supports cloud imports from services like Dropbox and Google Drive, and even has smart AI features that can upscale poor scans, and adjust faded contrast and discoloured pages.
It feels like the work of a super-villain that this one is being offered up for free, so take advantage.
Astonishing Comic Reader (Free)
This one is the Android answer to Chunky and, unlike the iPad rival, can be found on Android smartphones as well as tablets.
Also free, it too automatically organises your CBR, CBZ and PDF files, and has built-in support to grab your libraries stored on cloud services like Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive. It’s perhaps the most customisable of all readers on this list thanks to Android’s open nature, letting you set hardware controls for page turns, as well as other welcome options for onscreen navigation.
The fact that it’s free only sweetens the deal.