If you like reading comics on your iPhone or iPad (and why wouldn't you?), there are a number of great comic apps to meet your needs. Overall, we were very impressed with the current crop of iPhone comic apps -- some have a few minor glitches, but all six of the apps we tested deserve a recommendation. Since these free comics apps won't cost you anything until you start downloading, it can't hurt to try out a few and see how you like them. If you have to pick one, we recommend the iVerse Comics app due to its excellent reading experience and variety of publishers.
The iVerse Comics app (Free) takes everything we like about the IDW app -- the two apps are nearly identical -- but it makes some key improvements. It contains nearly 1,000 comics from publishers like IDW, Marvel, Red 5, and Image. You'll also get 40 free comics. The download process is quick, and we love the reading experience -- the comics have been optimized for the app, so you can scroll between frames with just the swipe of a finger. Simply put, we love this app for reading comics on the go. Unless you have an affinity for a publisher not included (you can find Arcana, Evil Twin, Zenescope, and others not included here in the Comics by ComiXology app), the iVerse app is a no-brainer. Overall rating: 5 stars out of 5.
If you're a fan of Dark Horse comics, you couldn't get many titles for your iOS device until now. Dark Horse's well respected and diverse library wasn't available in the other apps, but now it's here in a dedicated app. Single issues are priced at the now-industry standard $1.99, and collections or longer works are around $5.99. Dark Horse also offers sales on bundles of comics and lets you sync comics bought on one device to another with one touch. A terrific app for a library of terrific comics. Overall rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.
The IDW Comics app (Free) is a great choice for reading comics on your iPhone or iPad. Even though it only includes comics from IDW Publishing, there are 400 individual titles to choose from, including G.I. Joe, Transformers, and CSI. Comics download quickly over a 3G connection, and the reading experience is very good. You can choose how the pages transition -- by sliding, curling, or fading -- and there is no delay when moving between pages or frames. We encountered a small glitch when downloading paid comics, but that was one of the only downsides to this otherwise excellent app. Overall rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The DC Comics app (Free) is built on the same platform as the Comics by ComiXology app, so it has the same excellent reading experience. The app utilizes ComiXology's "Guided View" optimization, so it's easy to move from panel to panel by swiping your finger (a full-page view is also available). Even though they share the same framework, the DC Comics app is noticeably faster than Comics by ComiXology. Downloads were faster than any other comic app we tested, with most comics downloading in less than a minute over 3G. You won't get the same variety as you will in the iVerse or ComiXology apps, but fans of DC Comics will find a lot to like here. Overall rating: 4 stars out of 5.
If you like a lot of variety, the Comics by ComiXology app (Free) is one of your best bets. This app includes more than 2,000 titles from Marvel, Image, Red 5, Asylum Press, and -- as of June 2010 -- it now includes DC Comics as well. More than 150 free comics are included with the app, which is very generous compared to other comic apps. Unfortunately, the ComiXology app is let down by its sluggish performance. We frequently encountered "loading" icons when moving between pages or frames, which slows down the reading experience. On a positive note, the comics do look great and you get a large selection. Overall rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Panelfly Comics app (Free) has one of the best interfaces of any of the comic apps we tested -- it's sleek, stylish, and intuitive. The app features comics from a variety of publishers, including Marvel, Dark Horse, Icon, and Bluewater Productions. Comic downloads are a little bit slower than the other apps (about three to four minutes over 3G), but the comics are presented in a whole-page view, so it closely replicates reading an actual comic. Unfortunately, we encountered a few crashes when navigating back to the home screen. Panelfly, please fix the crashing issue because otherwise we love this app! Overall rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Marvel Comics app (Free) also includes comics from just one publisher, but you'll get some very popular series, including X-Men, Wolverine, and Amazing Spider-Man. The app has roughly 500 comics available for download, but not many new comics are included. In fact, at the time of our review, we could find very few comics published after 2008. The Marvel Comics app also has fewer free comics than other apps -- only four at the time of this writing. Those complaints aside, the Marvel app has a flawless reading experience that makes it easy to become engrossed in your favorite comic. Overall rating: 3 stars out of 5.