Beyond Comixology: 6 amazing apps for comic book lovers

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There's a reason Comixology has emerged as one of the most famous comic book apps around - it's fast, has a huge collection, and is incredibly easy to use. But if you don't like the changes that recently took place or you don't like its overall model, there are plenty of good alternatives.

We looked at a mix of apps that let you buy content and others that just let you read the content you already have, and these were our favourites:

DC Comics
The home of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, DC Comics has a pretty good app that's free (pictured on top) on both the App Store and Google Play, through which you can buy all the issues you want - singles cost Rs. 60, while collected issues cost more.

You can also buy entire series, such as The Dark Knight Returns or The Killing Joke, instead of buying the individual issues. What's great is that you can buy the latest comics without spending too much, but if you're reading a lot of comics, then the costs will pile up pretty quickly.

Marvel Unlimited

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A buffet style serving of Marvel's past catalogue, Marvel Unlimited (free on the App Store and Google Play) isn't the app to get if you want to read the latest comics as soon as they come out.

But if you're a new comic book fan, who wants to find out who Ultron is before they release the second Avengers movie, then paying $9.99 per month (or $69 annually) is a pretty good choice. You'll need to create an account on Marvel.com, but after you sign in with your credentials, you can read as many comics as you want, saving up to 12 issues at a time for offline reading. The navigation through pages is good, moving in and out of individual panels depending on the size.

There's a six month gap between the latest issues being released and appearing in the app, but with thousands of issues available right away, that doesn't feel like a big issue. And you don't have to be a Marvel Unlimited member to try out the app, and read from a small selection of free comics, so you check out the app without spending money either.

Comics+

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If you're not looking for just the big names from DC and Marvel then Comics+ is a great alternative to check out, on both the App Store and Google Play. It's got titles like Tarot, Adventure Time and Hexed and most comics are priced at Rs. 60. It's all handled inside the app, so you're simply browsing through the comics, and with a few taps, you could have bought and downloaded something new to read.

With the support of publishers like IDW, Image, BOOM! Studios, Campfire comics, Marvel, PVP Online, Top Cow and a lot more, there is a pretty good catalogue available to choose from as well.

Comic Zeal

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In case you're just looking for a great way to read comics, and not shop for comics, then Comic Zeal is the way to go. This Rs. 300 iOS app works on both the iPhone and the iPad, and loads comics instantly. It can open PDF files, and also the popular CBZ and CBR formats, so if you've already got a collection of digital comics, then Comic Zeal is a great choice.

The app automatically zooms in and out of panels, letting you read easily, and lets you transfer comics directly via USB, or over WiFi, or Dropbox. It's also got some amazing file management, and automatically sorts your comics into series using metadata from Comic Rack and remembers where you were in each one. These library features are the biggest selling point of this app, and make it well worth the money.

ComicBookLover

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ComicBookLover is a free iOS app which works a lot like Comic Zeal. In fact, in terms of features, it's almost exactly the same - but it doesn't have the same kind of library management which makes Comic Zeal such a great option.

Otherwise, this app is able to do all the same things - it's fast, syncs with cloud storage to read your comics, can transfer files directly via USB or WiFi, and it loads comics with a guided view so you can move from panel to panel and page to page.

And while Comics Zeal does a better job with the library management, ComicBookLover is free, and loads huge CBR files in the blink of an eye, which is definitely a good thing.

Manga Rock

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This is a great app if you're a fan of "scanlations", fan translations, of popular manga series such as Death Note, Naruto, Bleach and more. The official Viz media Manga app is actually pretty great, but it's not on the Indian app store as of now, so fan powered stores are the best option for now. Manga Rock is available on both the App Store and Google Play

One thing you need to be aware of when reaing a scanlation is that it's done by people in their free time, and can include some really ridiculous translations.

Still, the app itself is pretty great as you can track your favourite series and get a notification every time a new issue comes out; the app also remembers which issue in a particular series you were reading, so if you've been switching between books and return to a title after some time, you don't need to search for the right volume to open. The free version is pretty good, and it's definitely worth the Rs. 300 in-app purchase to remove ads that come with the free version.

Extra reading: For BlackBerry and Windows Phone
As a BlackBerry user on his primary device, this reporter has decided that visiting Marvel.comon the browser is a better experience than most native apps. The Android apps are stable though, and can definitely be tried.

For Windows Phone, we don't have much first hand news to report, but we've heard really good things about Comic Book Reader which uses Skydrive to store your CBR files, and another app that has gotten a lot of good reviews is Comic Time, which has support for right to left reading for manga, and USB file transfer support.

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