Many of my friends with vision impairment enjoy watching Marvel movies and reading Marvel comics. At first, I was confused on how they were able to read the comics until I found the Marvel Comics app a year ago. While I don’t consider myself a comics expert in any way, I was excited to see that I was able to read the different issues with my iPad. In honor of Stan Lee, today I will be sharing my review of the Marvel Comics app for vision impairment accessibility.
What is the Marvel Comics app?
The Marvel Comics app is the official comic reading app for Marvel. It features the stories of many classic superheroes including Iron Man, Spider Man, Black Panther, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, and many more, with dozens of issues available for each series. The app itself is free though requires users to create a Marvel account. Download the Marvel Comics app for iOS on the App Store here and for Android on Google Play here.
Once the user has downloaded the app and created a Marvel account, they can buy issues of comic books directly from the app. Individual issues are usually $1.99-3.99 and special collections are $10.99 and up, which is about the same price as a normal physical copy of a comic book. The difference is that these are high quality images that can easily be enlarged without losing any quality, making them easier to read compared to just using a video magnifier with a comic book. Comics can be purchased with iTunes or Google Play store credit by tapping on the “buy” button and are stored on your account.
The Marvel Comics app has several different sections that can be found on the bottom of the screen. I dislike that these buttons are gray against a black background and would prefer for them to be high contrast, but once I memorized the order of the screens it was no longer an issue.
The home screen features the newest releases, special collections, bestsellers, and a selection of free comics. I was able to navigate fairly easily and click on individual issues to see their summary and prices.
View collections by character, series, specially curated collections, and exclusive digital content.
Remember that great movie you saw in theaters? Read the comic book issues that inspired the movies, as well as several other story arcs in this section.
All of the issues available on the app divided by character and alphabetized. For example, I can see all of the Daredevil comics that are available by year.
See the people who work behind the scenes that create your favorite comics and see what stories they worked on.
Search for a specific title, character, or creator
See your library of downloaded materials organized by character, theme, interest, issue number, and more. A great organization tool that helps alleviate endless scrolling to look for a book.
All the titles that have been purchased and/or downloaded, organized by series.
I used the triple-tap zoom gesture to magnify the app as needed and found that it was very easy to use, especially in the small window mode. I preferred to use guided view when reading comics though- more on that in a bit.
The smart inversion tool in accessibility settings has no effect on the colors in the comics since it is considered to be a type of media, and media doesn’t get inverted. To get around this, enable Zoom and, when asked to choose a filter, choose the inverted colors section. If needed, you can zoom out all the way on magnification if it isn’t needed and just use the inverted colors.
Unfortunately, the Marvel comics in the app are not VoiceOver or TalkBack accessible, so I can’t recommend the app for users that solely use VoiceOver or Talkback.
How to read a comic
To read a comic book:
1. Purchase or download the issue you want to read. Once you download it, it is on your account forever.
2. Open the issue by tapping the “read” button
3. The book will open on whatever page the reader left off on
4. Once on the page, zoom in or out on the page with the standard pinch/drag gesture, or use guided view (more on that next)
5. Turn pages by swiping right or left
6. To switch to a new issue or return to the home screen, tap the top left button that says “my books”
Using guided view
I read comics using guided view, which shows panels one at a time and allows users to zoom in and read text, as well as see the fine details in images. The panels take up almost the entire screen while keeping their original shape- horizontal, vertical, etc. At maximum zoom level, the text may seem slightly blurry, but this did not bother me.
Some of the features that I hope that will be added into the app include:
- VoiceOver support that includes alt text and image descriptions
- High contrast buttons
- Support for dynamic text in the main app navigation
While this app can definitely improve by adding additional accessibility features, the Marvel Comics app is great for vision impaired fans looking to find an easy way to enjoy their favorite comic books. Excelsior!