DC Universe offers a number of amazing features, but the streaming service's greatest asset may not be the original TV shows - but its online archive of comics. The very books responsible for inspiring most of the new subscription service's content and original series have been largely overlooked in everything DC Universe has to offer. This is a surprise given the value provided by the associated content, relative to the cost of a subscription.
The potential of DC Universe has inspired a lot of conversation among comic book fans in the past few months. Between the controversial trailer for the new Titans TV show live-action series, the long-awaited return of Young Justice and the release of the digitally remastered Batman: The Animated Series, there has been much to discuss. Yet surprisingly little has been said about DC Universe's collection of digital comics and the archive that allows subscribers to read thousands of classic comic books on their computers, phones, and other electronic devices.
All of these are accessed through a Netflix-style scrolling system, which lists several books based along common themes, such as Trending Comics, Batman Villains' First Appearances or First Issues for those readers looking for a place to start. There is also a search function, so a fan of The Flash television series could simply search for "The Flash" and immediately be taken to a number of popular books with links leading to pages for each individual series. It should also be noted that DC Universe does a fantastic job of cross-referencing its content, with related forum discussions and relevant videos accompanying each search.
While the archive at present is relatively small compared to the similar service offered by Marvel Unlimited, DC Universe subscribers still get tremendous value for their investment. At $7.99 per month, the average cost of a DC Universe subscription is equivalent to two brand new comic books. To offer one example as a point of comparison, a fan of Arrow searching for Green Arrow comics would be able to access all three issues of the Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters mini-series, all six issues of Green Arrow: Year One and the first year's worth of Mike Grell's legendary run on the monthly Green Arrow comic from the 1980s. The trade-paperback collections of these stories would normally cost $65, with digital editions costing around $40.
This becomes even more impressive when one considers the older comics, not collected in any print edition, which are accessible through DC Universe. Most of the 1960s Green Lantern series, for instance, is available through the streaming service. And while there aren't currently any complete collections of any long-running series, there are a number of classic mini-series, such as The Dark Knight Returns, which can be read in full. One can also find treasures such as the first year's worth of Alan Moore's run on Swamp Thing and the whole of Stars and STRIPE - the first professional work of Geoff Johns and the basis of the upcoming Stargirl series.
It must be admitted, however, that there are some rather glaring omissions from the archive. One would expect more Teen Titans comics, for instance, given the service's efforts to promote the upcoming show. Despite this, there is much to admire in DC Universe's archive of comic books and even more to be uncovered. So before you marathon the remastered Wonder Woman television series this weekend, consider taking a look at the many books that DC Universe offers you as well.
DC Universe is now available in the United States.