Would you like Wolverine with that soy vanilla misto?

Ubiquitous coffee chain Starbucks is expandingthe offerings in its Starbucks Digital Network, which allows latte-lovers to read free digital content in its stores. New offerings will include ESPN, The Economist, The New York Times, and Marvel Digital Comics.:

On the Entertainment Channel, watch for the upcoming arrival of the Marvel Universe as Super Heroes, mutants, aliens, armor-clad super-geniuses and thunder gods join forces with the Starbucks Digital Network on Apr. 23, 2011. Known for engrossing stories and a library of more than 8,000 characters, Marvel Comics gives Starbucks customers unlimited, free access to its full library of Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited. Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, Wolverine and others await to captivate as customers explore the comic realm and imagine fighting villains with a cup of coffee in hand.

While it’s not entirely obvious from the release, it looks like these comics are offered as a “reading library” sort of thing, not downloads you own. Which makes sense.

This seems like a pretty smart move for Marvel — it’s a way to get comics in front of potentially millions of new readers while leaving room for them to purchase them at a local comics shop.


  1. Making the comics available to curious people is a fine idea, in principle, but how many people without preexisting interest in comics will read them? The reason that boxes filled with random issues of superhero comics are considered practically worthless is that a single issue isn’t entertaining. The reader has to have the complete story.


  2. I HAD THIS IDEA YEARS AGO! Only with Vertigo trades, not Marvel issues (and not digital, obviously)

    Seriously though, why can I buy indie-ish music but not alternative comics at Starbucks?

  3. “The reader has to have the complete story.”

    It sounds like Marvel is offering the full library so the complete story is available.

    Smart idea.

    Except for finding the vacant seat occupied by comic squatters, the same ones who camp right in front of the B&N comic racks…. now with coffee to keep them going.

  4. We did this ten years ago with YO!Sushi, here in the UK, with limited edition, restaurant-branded versions of our printed books. It worked ok, except people kept stealing the books!

  5. I use Marvel DCU. I imagine they are just giving folks access to that, and it’s pretty sweet to read comics on there. The functionality of the site itself isn’t swell, but I’ve read a lot of comics that way. It’s nice.

  6. Glad to see that my conversations with Starbucks over the past few years led to something substantial – though this isn’t the outcome we had in mind.

    More power to my friends at Marvel for acting to claim the space!

  7. Finally, a smart way of using digital comics! Now, if they can only make it so people can access this stuff with their iDevices.

    As far as selling digital wares, though…I don’t think Marvel or DC have realized yet how useless single issues are. While they keep the DM alive, I think the average person is more interested in access to trades or collections or whatever. Like, who wants to read just one chapter of a story?

  8. So does this mean fangirls can no longer complain about comic companies failing to market comics to women in places other than those evil, frightening, sexist comic shops? I guess when DC also gets on board with this the sales for WW and Birds of Prey will skyrocket.

  9. I think this makes a lot of sense in creating awareness and easy access to comics. And the cost to Starbucks is low.
    At most, at retail level, I can subscribe to the same thing for $5 a month unlimited reading. Much better deal than DC is offering.

    The site looks very good. Fun to navigate.

  10. Introducing Marvel Comics to young employees where I work, Generation Y(?).

    “Omigawd, like dat Tony Stark is such a little wussy whiner”