Comic fans know that, like Doctor Manhattan’s clockwork, the DC universe periodically enters a crisis and emerge as a wholly new heroic version of itself. The same just happened to the DC Universe app. Previously a video streaming service, DC Universe lost its movies and TV shows to WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, just as we anticipated. What remains is the rebranded DC Universe Infinite, a dedicated digital comic books subscription service. The comic book catalog is better than ever, with more books pulled from across DC’s many imprints. The new focus will appeal to hardcore DC comic book fans, but it may disappoint mainstream audiences who want to see Batman punch Superman in either animated or live-action form.
What Happened to the Videos?
Previously, DC Universe offered subscribers not just tens of thousands of comic books, but also more than 2,000 movies and TV shows about DC characters. From Batman: The Animated Series to Teen Titans to comedic DC Nation shorts to DC’s recent series of interconnected direct-to-video animated films, this was probably the finest collection of cape cartoons anywhere. It was DC’s counterpart to Marvel’s Disney+ content, or a Western answer to anime streaming services like Crunchyroll and Funimation.
Now, you can’t watch any videos with a DC Universe Infinite subscription. Instead, you must subscribe to its sibling service, the $14.99-per-month HBO Max. The entire old DC Universe library hasn’t fully moved over yet, but it’s getting there. Wonder Woman 1984 debuted on HBO Max, as will The Suicide Squad. New seasons of DC Universe’s shockingly great original shows, such as the live-action Doom Patrol and Titans, along with the animated Harley Quinn and Young Justice, will also premiere on HBO Max.
HBO Max has plenty of non-DC shows, too, so it can better serve all of your streaming entertainment needs and better compete with Netflix, our Editors’ Choice pick for video streaming services. On the web, DC Universe Infinite prominently displays a link to DC’s HBO Max page, so you don’t miss out.
Price and Platforms
Despite the radical overhaul, DC Universe Infinite keeps its same price point: $7.99 per month, or $74.99 per year, with a seven-day free trial. A single subscription syncs across the web version, as well as to the Android and iOS apps, so you can pick up your reading from where you left off as you move from device to device.
DC Universe Infinite’s price falls in line with its competition’s. The all-you-eat Marvel Unlimited costs $9.99 per month. Our Editors’ Choice pick Comixology—which has comics from DC, Marvel, and other publishers—has a $5.99-per-month subscription service. Crunchyroll is primarily for watching anime, but for $7.99 per month you can also read manga, too.
As an all-you-can-read comic book subscription service, DC Universe Infinite now features cool upgrades to make it more worthwhile. It offers a couple thousand more comics than before, bringing the current total to around 25,000. These comics come from the main DC Comics archives, as well as other DC imprints, such as Milestone, Wildstorm, and the mature Black Label and Vertigo lines. Instead of waiting a year for new comics, you only wait six months, much closer to Marvel Unlimited’s three-month wait time. You can even read a rotating selection of free comics, as long as you register an account. Webtoon’s comics are all free, but the service implements annoying monetization systems.
DC Universe Infinite on the Web
DC Universe Infinite’s newfound focus on comics hits you right in the face the moment you launch the site. The main page fills the screen with promotions for what you may want to read, from the latest Superman releases to a Wonder Woman showcase to staff picks featuring Mister Miracle and Strange Adventures.
The powerful browsing options give you even more ways to search for great stories. You can just search for whatever specific title you’re looking for, but, like Comixology, the service also includes fascinating search filters. Browse by eras, such as the Golden Age and Silver Age. Look for your favorite characters. Search for shorter storylines that you can wrap your head around or longer ones that break DC’s continuity in half. Focus on certain genres like sci-fi or horror. Not only can you look for specific artists but also specific art styles, such as modern or experimental. For a service that has violent Joker graphic novels, historical debut issues from Black creators, and a satirical reworking of Hanna-Barbera’s The Flintstones, I really appreciate having the tools to find exactly what I’m looking for as a reader.
As you explore the service, you can appreciate the site’s other design aspects. DC Universe Infinite’s website features the blue aesthetic the publisher typically uses to separate itself from its bright red rival. Backgrounds are now a clean white instead of a cool dark. When you first create a profile, your default picture is a grumpy, little Batman. From your profile page, you can use parental controls to set rating limits (more on that in a bit), as well as check out your favorites and reading history under “My DC.”
My DC also serves as a hub for your interactions with DC Universe’s enthusiastic community, but those features are now more spread across other parts of DC’s website rather than centralized in DC Universe Infinite. DC publishes news stories, hosts message boards for general chats, and provides an encyclopedia to brush up on DC history before you get into nerd arguments. If you, like me, want to read a detailed biography of Aquaman nemesis Black Manta, you can. But now you must click separate links to get to these explanations. The fastest way to educate yourself using DC Universe Infinite itself is by reading its storyline summaries, but those pages rely on links to separate relevant encyclopedia entries.
The last major online section is the shop where you can buy the expected hoodies and Funko Pop toys. You’ll occasionally see promotions tied to a recent movie or show. For instance, it’s always a great time to stock up on Birds of Prey merchandise. I wished I could purchase Blu-rays of some of the movies that weren’t available to stream on HBO Max. Sadly, they aren’t available. The shop is also a separate site, unlike CBS All Access which builds its store directly into the service.
DC Universe Infinite on Mobile
I tested DC Universe’s mobile app on an iPhone 11. You can customize the icon image on your phone’s home screen. This app makes the most vital sections (Comics, Search, My DC settings) constantly accessible in a bottom menu bar. Other sections (Community and Shop) are just a tap way filed under “More.”
The comic reader really shines on a portable device with its different viewing options for scrolling through panels yourself or letting guided autoplay take the wheel. You can download comics for offline viewing, and adjust options for image quality and Wi-Fi downloading to save storage space and bandwidth. Whereas Comixology only lets you download 50 comics at a time, and Marvel Unlimited limits you to 12, I downloaded dozens of DC comics during testing and found no upper limit. Note that you’ll still need to use the separate DC Comics mobile app to directly purchase comics.
You’d think that parents wouldn’t need to worry about keeping their kids safe on a comic book app starring Superman, but anyone who has followed DC for the past few decades knows the publisher loves to push its beloved all-ages superheroes characters into violent, grim, and gritty territory. As a result, there’s a lot to read on DC Universe Infinite that’s not appropriate for kids.
In the settings section, you can set up alerts that notify you if someone on your profile reads content above a certain age rating. Unfortunately, the feature doesn’t work right away and doesn’t actually block the content. You’ll just have to yell at your kid after the fact, if you catch them ogling Poison Ivy or Nightwing. You also can’t set up different accounts with different settings.
Not an Injustice
In theory, splitting up the old DC Universe makes sense. DC Universe Infinite becomes a superior comic book subscription app, while HBO Max beefs up with new DC shows and Snyder Cut movies. It’s not unlike reading Marvel comics on Marvel Unlimited and watching Marvel shows on Disney+.
In practice, though, DC Universe Infinite feels more niche than ever, even for someone like me who loves superheroes and honestly prefers DC to Marvel. Super fans of Super Friends will dig it, but there are better options for anyone with broader tastes. VRV is our Editors’ Choice for anime streaming services, and that subscription includes Crunchyroll’s anime shows and manga comics among other channels. Comixology is our Editors’ Choice for digital comics, with a subscription that lets you enjoy the entire medium, not just the output of one publisher.
The Bottom Line
With DC movies and TV shows moving to HBO Max, DC Universe Infinite reboots itself into a pure comic book subscription service. Although hardcore comics readers may appreciate the sharper focus, general audiences may find the dedicated service a tough sell.
DC Universe Infinite Specs
|Starting Price||$7.99 per month|