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DC Comics Digital: Not What It Used to Be

Batman in Blue

| Exploring the first DC Universe app and what remains |

We’ve come a long way from the glory days of 2018 when we essentially had a DC Comics TV channel through DC Universe. It was a hybrid platform that offered live streaming, original content, and delayed access to current comics. Available on TV, mobile apps, and the web, DC Universe featured weekly debuts of live-action shows like “Titans,” “Doom Patrol,” “Swamp Thing,” and “Stargirl.” Additionally, animated series such as “Young Justice,” “Harley Quinn,” and the DC news show “DC Daily” were part of the lineup. The streaming service also included some of DC’s older shows and movies. While there was a subscription fee, I don’t recall the exact price, but it provided excellent access to a wealth of content.

Fast forward to today, and we find a mishmash of various offerings spread across different locations and disparate apps and services. Unfortunately, DC seems fixated on asinine NFTs (non-fungible tokens), which hold no appeal for me. I’m not interested in paying for digital JPEGs, but that is another story.

However, in this modern digital age, surely there must be something positive in the DC pantheon of offerings. Let’s take a closer look:

  1. Streaming/Original Content: Most of the back catalog is now available on Max (or other platforms, depending on the date). However, there appears to be a dearth of original content. Aside from the Batman animated series on Amazon, the James Gunn DC Universe doesn’t seem to have any other exciting projects. Even the upcoming “Superman: Legacy” film seems like a hodgepodge of various DC characters that I don’t particularly care about. As a longtime fan, it’s disappointing when your favorite character (like Tim Drake) gets sidelined.

  2. DC Comic Books: I never signed up for the DC Universe Infinite app, which is a pale comparison to the old DC Universe app. It now focuses solely on comics. From what I gather, the newest comics are around a month old, and you need the highest-tier subscription to access them. Otherwise, you’re limited to comics that are about six months old. The cost for the Ultra or top tier is $120/year. The standard level is $75/year.

Outside of the DC app, you can still pick up individual issues from Amazon and possibly other digital outlets. However, navigating these platforms can be challenging. One, they cost the same as a printed version. But the second issue is a seemingly insurmountable design challenge. None of them provide the same experience as walking into a physical comic book store and browsing the shelves. If someone can transform that tactile, in-person experience into a seamless digital one, they’ll undoubtedly be a winner. For now, I’ll continue to get my comics in the traditional way.

I decided to write this article because I don’t understand why comics publishers—DC is far from alone, have essentially given up on digital experiences. I always felt that DC Universe, the app, was on the right track. It had content that I couldn’t get anywhere else. It had Titans, it had comics, it had animation—and it could have had more. The current DC app and, from what I can tell Marvel Unlimited, as well, have a wealth of back catalog comics, but very little to no exclusive content that would convince me to pay yet another subscription fee.


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