Review: Comics by comiXology iPhone app

picture-13Short Version: Comic lovers looking for a quick fix while on-the-go will want to check out ComiXology’s recently released Comics app for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Comics range from $0.99 to $1.99 and free comics are released on a weekly basis to satiate the cheapskates. Despite the lack of content from major publishers, like DC and Marvel, you can still get the best superhero comic available, Invincible.

Extended Version

As the first real Comic book reader for the iPhone OS, ComiXology’s app does a good enough job, but it’s hard to look past the lack of content from major publishers. Even with support from Robert Kirkman and Image Comics, Comics falls a bit flat on the content side.
From a functional standpoint, it works beautifully. Navigating through the app is surprisingly simple. You can search for comics by title, creator, publisher, genre or rating. Searching via the “Featured” tab cuts down on time spent sifting through the “Free” or “Top 25” tabs since there aren’t a whole lot of comics available via the app. ComiXology has stated that hundreds of titles are awaiting Apple’s approval, so that offers some sense of relief for early adopters.

An instructional comic offers readers a complete breakdown of how to view comics via the app and is a must for anyone. Unlike standalone comics readily available through the App Store, Comics doesn’t work so well when swiping from one panel to another. It actually causes the app to jump ahead two pages when swiping. You’re supposed to tap the lower right corner to advance or the lower left corner to read the previous panel. To jump from one page to another requires a tap in the middle as depicted in the instructional comic, which also brings up settings and allows you to exit the comic.

Actually viewing comics is different than other readers like Android’s Droid Comic Viewer, which shows you each page as if you were reading the actual comic. Comics breaks down each panel per page and anything that spans across the entire page gets broken into two separate panels. I haven’t come across a two-page spread in any of the comics that I’ve downloaded so I’m not sure how the app breaks down those panels.

A couple of noteworthy extras reside in the apps “Extras” section (imagine that!) that I feel compelled to address: Local Comic Shop locater and Disk Space Usage. The first is pretty straightforward. Depending on where you live, the first few shops listed will be ComiXology partner stores with the rest listed based on distance. Perfect for when you’re traveling and away from your local shop on a Wednesday. Google Maps integration is an added bonus. The latter of the two features allows you to allocate a specific amount of memory for comics that you download through the app. Your entire collection is listed in this section so you can see how big they are and delete the ones you no longer want.

Overall, I’m giddy over the Comics app from ComiXology and highly recommend it to any nerd with an iPhone or iPod Touch. Let’s just hope that Apple gets off their ass and approves the hundreds of comics that ComiXology has submitted. It wouldn’t hurt to have Marvel and DC (along with all of their subsidiaries) jump on board, too.

Grab it now from the App Store for $0.99.