For years, Marvel Unlimited boasted nearly the entire Marvel Comics digital library available through a simple subscription fee. Being two sides of the same coin, it only seemed natural that DC would follow suit. After all, there’s a Green Arrow for every Hawkeye; an Aquaman for every Namor, so why not a “DC Unlimited”? DC Universe launched on September 15th, 2018, and it became clear that it was more of a video streaming service than a “DC Unlimited.” It promised original programming with a backlog of beloved films, television, and a curated list of comics. However, when the service promised an expanded comics library, I jumped the gun and bought a yearly subscription. Below are my thoughts on the service and whether or not it’s worth your streaming dollars.
DC Universe’s Netflix-esque interface is a slick and easy layout. The homepage updates users on happenings around the site and the comics section are easy to navigate, which is great for new readers. Users can quickly dig into classic story arcs or read articles filled with hyperlinks to individual issues without searching for it. Speaking of which, the search function is probably the most difficult thing to utilize on the site. I’ve followed comics long enough to understand how to navigate their confusing crossovers and events. That said, the search functionality definitely brought back newbie memories of buying the wrong Green Lantern book. New readers are better off using the site’s collected story arcs and events. The video and comics reader ran with few problems but would benefit from having more language options.
As a service, DC Universe puts a lot of emphasis on their original programming. So far, there’s Doom Patrol, Swamp Thing, Harley Quinn, all three seasons of Young Justice, two seasons of Titans, and Stargirl coming out in May. All the original programming has been good to excellent, each offering something a little different. Doom Patrol is a surprise hit, and I will sing its praises to the high heavens. Episodes air weekly, which makes it unfortunate for those who like to binge-watch. However, many of these series have already premiered and are binge-ready if that’s your thing. There are also host-led series like DC Daily and DC Universe All-Star Games that give the service a bit of life.
Movies & TV
The movies and television library is a bit head-scratching if not outright disappointing. Firstly, one thing you should understand before jumping on a subscription is that their film library is curated. This wasn’t transparent before I subscribed, and I learned the hard way when I was unable to watch All-Star Superman (2011) after it was taken off months ago. Also notably missing are the Nolan Trilogy, Arrowverse shows, and the DCEU. This is most likely due to some corporate mumbo jumbo, but it’s disappointing nonetheless. Films that leave the service do eventually come back, but the time frame is unclear. Paying attention to their list of what’s leaving or joining on the community forum is a must if you’ve got a list of things to watch.
DC has a rich history of quality animation, and it seems the developers understand this as well. The animated movies are sadly included in the film rotation, but popular animated series don’t seem to be going anywhere. There’s everything from Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995), Static Shock (2004), and even the Max Fleischer cartoons. Many of the older shows are also remastered for top-quality viewing. It’s a shame, however, that movies connected to certain series are rotated out, such as Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000). Despite rotating films, the library of animated series remains strong, with growth coming from Harley Quinn and Young Justice.
The comic book selection has greatly improved since its launch. Originally, it was a carefully curated list of story arcs, and, as you might imagine, it wasn’t a popular idea. The developers quickly announced they were going to permanently and continuously add a huge swath of comics, with newly released issues being added after a one-year interval. With a library of 22,000+ comics, I’ve not only minimized my backlog of comics but have also found myself exploring new characters that I wouldn’t otherwise spend money on. But it still doesn’t include everything. Imprints like Vertigo, Wildstorm, and Black Label are missing, save for a few exceptions, and some series are missing issues. The website states that random gaps are simply because issues haven’t been digitized yet and to report it on their community forum. In any case, 22,000+ comics is probably enough to keep most users occupied.
So is DC Universe worth your streaming dollars? At $74.99/year, or $7.99/month, this is an offer DC Comics fans can’t refuse. It’s a bit of a unique platform because it offers movies, television, and comics while integrating both in a slick user experience. This makes it great for new fans looking to dive deep into the DC Universe while still having a lifeguard nearby. The search functionality may be intimidating to new readers, but the option to choose carefully collected story arcs and crossovers makes it much easier to navigate.
There are some notable television shows and movies missing that may upset new subscribers, and the rotating selection of movies will turn off a lot of potential subscribers. The original programming is top-notch, and each offers something different. The backlog of animated series includes many fan favorites that aren’t on rotation and continues to grow with original content. If you’re a DC Comics super fan or an intrepid newcomer, then the DC Universe could be your second home.
DC Universe Subscription
Comic Book Selection9.0/10
- Comfortable and integrated user experience.
- Fantastic and varied original content.
- Doom Patrol is amazing.
- Extensive comics library.
- A backlog of popular, remastered animated series.
- Rotating selection of movies.
- Missing notable films and shows.
- Confusing search functionality.