Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited App is Still Terrible

Notification of a Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited App crashing.

MDCU App Crashes Again

The Android Phone App for accessing Marvel’s Digital Comics Unlimited service is still awful as of June 2014.  Marvel seems to come out with new updates all the time, and I just wanted to warn people who are considering the app.

For those who haven’t heard, Marvel Digital Comic Unlimited (MDCU), is a Netflix-like subscription service, but for comic books.  The company that brought us Spiderman, X-men, and 100s of other comics is offering their fans access to over 15,000 comic archive(and growing) for a low monthly price.  The cost is about the equivalent of 2 comics a month.  It’s a great idea, and for people like me who have never been into comics, it gives me a chance to try lots of comics or read the large history of Marvel Super-Hero history.

Like Netflix, Marvel is understandably concerned people will take their streaming content, save it, and spread it and destroy their business model.  So, they create custom, encrypted apps that alone can access the MDCU content.  The problem is that, the app on android is so fucking terrible.  On every android phone I’ve tried it, and every update of the app, the usability ranges from frustrating and completely unusable.

Until this last April, my MDCU subscription was a complete waste of money.  When I first got the service, the app slightly worked for me for a couple months, but then an update came by and made it unusable.  I couldn’t even view a comic.  I must have contacted support 4 or 5 times trying to get help.  The only response I got was “we know, we’re working on it”.  I got no response when I asked for more details or asked for my account to be temporarily suspended\escrowed until they got their act together.

I was excited  when I found a new app update as I was hoping to actually make it work.  Fortunately, the app is now usable, but still damned frustrating.  When I start it up, half the time my login credentials are lost, but then suddenly show up when I change screens.  When downloading comics to view later, the whole app freezes up.  And When I close the app and come back, I’ll get a message that it crashed  and for about 5 minutes, really weird stuff happens.  Also, when displaying my comics that I place in my library, half the information isn’t displayed unless I do a “refresh”, but as soon as I leave the screen it all disappears again.

I am not the only person to complain.  Marvel forums and other blogs\forums around the internet are full of people complaining about it as well.

I will say that the Website interface has worked pretty well.  However, I enjoy reading on my smart phone or tablet.  They are easier to hold than a laptop.  Also my phone is more portable and I always have it with me if I’m suddenly in a “waiting” situation like at a Doctor’s office or DMV line.  Chances are you won’t have your laptop with you, but will have a phone.  That’s why I think the phone\table App is important to work and is the real value to the service

All that being said, I still think the service is a pretty good deal.  I’m currently trying(with all the frustrations) to work my way through Marvel’s vast super hero history starting with old comics starting in 1961.  However, I just wanted to warn future potential customers that are planning on purchasing MDCU:  Be prepared for the Android Phone App to be a frustrating experience and maybe even unusable.

Batman and Superman Together on the Big Screen?

HDR Batman Vs. Superman

If, over the weekend, you heard a gigantic scream coming from every which direction, don’t be alarmed.  What you heard was a collective Nerdgasm from millions of fans upon hearing that there is going to be a Big screen, live action movie coming out that will feature both batman and superman.  In the coyest, yet typically dramatic hollywood way, The director of Man of Steal, Zack Snyder, made the announcement at Comic-Con.

He read a key line from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns:

I want you to remember, Clark. In all the years to come. In all your most private moments. I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you.

That line is, of course, spoken by Batman — and that “Clark” he’s referencing is, of course, Superman. (The quote comes after a lengthy battle between the two heroes.) As Lennix finished speaking, a giant Superman logo appeared on the Hall H screen … and it was superimposed on the Batman logo. So there you go: There is another Superman movie coming, and it will co-star Batman.

There is no guarantee that he is going to follow some or even all of Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” storyline.  More likely, this is just to get us nerds all psyched up about seeing an epic batman vs. superman battle on the big screen.  There is no way to tell if the battle between them will be in the beginning, middle, or climax of the movie.  You might think  that it doesn’t make a difference when the battle occurs, but it can give us a good indication of why they’re fighting.  I’ll give some off-the-top-of-the-head examples.

If the battle is in the first act, it could just mean 2 heroes initially misunderstanding each other’s motivations and spraying  testosterone all over each other.  Think the beginning of Avengers where Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America have a fight – much to the joy of fans everwhere.

If the battle is in the second act, then it might mean that one of them(likely superman) is either being duped or controlled by a real bad guy.  The other hero must battle them to escape their mind control or to see how they’re being duped.

If the battle is in the third act of the movie and is the climax?  Look out.  Because it has the potential to be awesome, and who knows.  Might actually be following a lot of the Frank Miller storyline – i.e. awesome!

Now, there are probably a million ways Hollywood can screw this up.  The fight could just a lot of flash and not a lot of story or characterization.  For example, think the final battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin in Revenge of the Sith.  A 10 minute fight scene where the only interesting thing is the last 10 seconds(where Obi-Wan pleads with Anakin to give up).  The fight could be ultimately meaningless.  There just because it needs more action.   Think almost every kung fu movie… ever.  Hopefully, the director won’t fall into one of the many pitfalls.

One thing working in Zack Snyder’s favor is that, while this might be the first live-action film with batman and superman, it has been done as animated films.  You can browse this wiki page to see a few.  There is more than 1 example of batman and superman being at odds, both morally and physically.  And those are recent movies too.  Not cheesy 70s cartoons.

Of course, this probably also means ANOTHER batman reboot.  I am surprisingly ok with that.  I’ve just become numb to hollywood reboots(even when they’re called “re-imaginings”).

I wish the director good luck with the movie.  Please don’t screw it up!

Why eBooks should cost MORE than paper books

E-reader on top of books.

E-reader on top of books.

You will be hard pressed to find a title in the amazon store or barnes&noble that is cheaper to buy in paperback than as an ebook.  But why?  Well, presumably it is a lot cheaper to produce and upload copies of an ebook than it is to print and ship a paperback.  But, in my not-so-humble-opinion, ebooks should cost more than buying a print book.  Here’s why I say that.

First of all, ebook will last for ever and never wear out.  Paperbacks start getting worn out after just the first read through.  If it’s a good book that you reread or loan out it’s gonna look pretty ragged.  Same thing never happens to ebooks.  They are always as good as they were on day 1.  In theory, my children’s children could inherit all my ebooks and they will work just as well for them as they do for me.

Second, it’s hard to lose an ebook.  Since most ebooks sellers allow you to redownload an ebook an unlimited amount of times, There is no such thing as misplacing an ebook.  You can’t leave it at the beach, or on the bus.  Sure you could leave your DEVICE, but you can always re-download it.  Even if they don’t let you redownload a purchase, it is easy enough to make several backups of a file.

Finally, ebooks are upgradable.  If you’re used to reading brand new first edition books, you can come to expect a few typos or small grammar errors.  If the publisher releases a second edition, most ebook services will let you update those books to the latest version.  Print books you would have to buy the new edition.

I think that ebooks objectively provide more to readers than a print edition ever could.  I understand many people still prefer physical books.  But to me, eBooks provide so much more, that you would think people would be willing to pay more for them.  Fortunately, since ebooks are cheaper to produce they are cheaper to buy despite their advantages.  To me, ebooks are a real steal.