As of this morning, Marvel Comics has posted Taskmaster #1 on its all-you-can-eat digital comics streaming service Marvel Unlimited, ahead of its planned publication date, November 11th. What's going on?
Well, it's a twist in the continuing saga of "what is Marvel Unlimited going to do in the absence of new comics from six months ago?" spotted by BC reader Dan Cassino.
Marvel Unlimited normally releases Marvel Comics titles six months (apart from Conan) after they were published in print and digitally, as part of their all-you-can-eat streaming service. It's a pretty good deal and one that DC Comics is doing it best to catch up and copy. Butwe're moving into the period where, six months ago, there weren't any new comics being released from Marvel at all.
They put out the whole of the Iron Man 2020 crossover, including issues that only came out just a few weeks ago, in print – but also releasing an issue of the Atlantis Attacks mini-series that hasn't yet been released in print, and won't be for some time, as well as a placeholder for Conan comic books – a license that hadn't been published on Marvel Unlimited at that point. These were both was rapidly pulled down after Bleeding Cool pointed it out.
This week, on the first day that there were no new Marvel titles released to retailers in North America six months, they posted just about all of the comics that came out during the period of reduced shipping, including a number that had been moved to digital exclusive, and a bunch that just came out in print. A total of 40 new comics, including Doctor Doom #7, published two weeks ago, and Taskmaster #1.
Most of these titles are still available at full price on your local comic book store racks, something I can't imagine retailers will be happy about. It's one thing to have an a la carte service offering six-month-old comics, and quite another to offer month-old comics on an official platform, let alone comics that haven't been published in print yet.
This also makes the strategy going forward even more unclear- if they're giving us everything that came out during the break in one week, what in the world are they going to do for the next three months? Subscribers are used to getting new comics every week, and they seem determined to do something. Posting Conan comics, as part of the celebration of his 50th Anniversary at Marvel this month, seems like a good bet, but it's not clear what else they'll do to fill the content gap.