Marvel and DC have gained a lot of new fans with their increased cinematic presence, meaning a boost to the comic book industry as a whole.
Unfortunately, visiting your local comic book store can prove expensive. Single issues typically cost $3.99, with milestone issues and variants costing even more.
Thankfully, you can save some money by using these sites to read comics online for free. No matter what kind of comics you’re into, you should find them on one of these sites.
Let’s start by going straight to one of the big publishers.
If you’re looking to read comics online you probably know Marvel Unlimited as a paid-for service, and this is largely true. With a monthly or annual subscription, you get access to over 25,000 comics.
However, Unlimited offers a taster of series, also giving you the chance to try out its smart panel interface. There’s a good mix of big-name characters and lesser-known heroes so you can explore the Marvel Universe. Of course, you’ll see a lot of Issues 1s, but keep checking because it further features entire miniseries for you to enjoy.
2. DC Kids
DC is sometimes criticized for lacking the humor and accessibility Marvel is known for. You’ll certainly get this impression if you watch Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy or Tim Burton’s early 1990s Batman films.
However, the company’s animations are much loved and heralded. DC Kids is an extension of that, giving youngsters a good entry-point into comics.
There’s not a vast array of issues on offer, but it includes episodic releases like Shadow of Sin Tzu and premiere issues of Tiny Titans, Super Friends, and Batman: The Brave and the Bold. If you’re trying to introduce the next generation to the medium, this is a perfect place to start reading comics online.
If you want to read comics online, ComiXology is tough to beat. It’s primarily an online comic shop (and one of the best apps for digital comics), so most issues cost money. But there’s a large, frequently updated collection of free issues available as well.
In addition to Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, and other industry giants, you’ll find manga, independent releases, and issues from smaller publishers. If you find a series you like, you’ll probably have to pay for the rest of it. But the mobile app provides a great reading experience, so it may be worth the money.
You won’t find the big two here: Marvel and DC are absent from the list of publishers on DriveThru.
However, there’s a large collection of books with a variety of comics that span genres and styles. And you will find Marvel and DC’s bigger competitors, like Valiant Comics, Top Cow, and Aspen Comics.
Most first issues are free, and if you like the series, you can buy subsequent issues from the store. Many of those that aren’t free are available on a pay-what-you-want basis.
The filters in the search menu on DriveThru can be used to browse genres, formats, publishers, and prices. Use them to narrow down the selection of comics and start exploring. It’s hard to know what you’ll find here, but DriveThru is always a good place to read free comics online.
You might not think of Amazon as a good bet for finding free comic books. But there’s a surprising amount of free content available if you know where to look. A good place to start is the Comics and Graphic Novels Best Sellers list. Click Top 100 Free to see the most popular free titles available for download.
You can also filter the list by genre on the left of the screen, helping you find the comics you’re interested in. The list is updated hourly, so check back regularly for new titles.
If you’d like to see the genesis of the comic book medium, check out the Digital Comic Museum. You can spend days reading free comic books from the Golden Age (1930s-1950s). The titles and characters may not be familiar—though Captain Marvel (now more widely known as Shazam) does show up—but you can see how the Golden Age books had a strong influence on today’s works.
If you’re looking for modern comic books, you won’t find any here. Nonetheless, it’s fun to browse through some of the classic titles from 60 years ago and see how the artwork and storytelling have changed. Today’s publishers stand on the shoulders of giants.
Established in 2006, Comic Book Plus takes a similar stance to the Digital Comic Museum, showcasing Golden and Silver Age comics that are in the public domain.
Except this site goes above and beyond the call of duty. It’s an archive celebrating the whole genre, meaning it includes a number of features you won’t find elsewhere. There are sections devoted to fanzines, pulp fiction, non-English comics, newspapers and magazines, adverts, booklets, public information posters, and even coloring books.
Comic Book Plus is a great resource for comic book fans, graphic designers, and historians. Once you start exploring, it’s incredibly difficult to stop.
Not all comics feature superheroes. Comics are a part of everyday life—such is evident from the number of humor strips you can find in newspapers. GoComics is your #1 resource for syndicated strips.
There are two subscription options: free and paid-for. Fortunately, the former is all you really need (although, of course, we encourage readers to support the service). GoComics offers a massive catalog including lesser-known cartoons and popular names like Peanuts, Dilbert, and Calvin and Hobbes.
There’s even three categories for our favorite Monday-hating cat: Garfield, Garfield Classics, and Garfield Without Garfield.
Elfquest is an award-winning independent comic that has been running since the late 1970s. Every issue released before 2014 is available for free on its website. If you like sprawling fantasy worlds, this is for you. There are several series available that detail the adventures of different characters and story arcs.
The series has now concluded with the Final Quest story arc, which can be purchased from Dark Horse. The publisher has also released the complete ElfQuest series in collected editions. But you can get a good head-start on the series by reading the rest of the comics online for free.
The Internet Archive has thousands of free graphic novels and comics listed. There aren’t many mainstream issues here, but you can find some gems, especially if you enjoy manga. Unfortunately, this repository can be very difficult to navigate.
Due to the huge amount of material and inconsistent labelling, searching for the name of a specific comic or character is your best bet.
Nonetheless, if you’re just getting into comic books and you want to see what’s available outside the mainstream, scrolling through the The Internet Archive and clicking on a few random comics is a good tactic.
Start Reading Comics Online for Free Now!
The sites listed above all let you read comics online for free. And they will allow you to revisit your favorites, explore the works of different publishers and creative teams, and get a glimpse into the past to see what the Golden Age of comics was like. All for free.
If you’re deciding between Marvel Unlimited and ComiXology Unlimited, check out our comparison of which is best.
Comics are enjoying a resurgence, and you can take full advantage of this if you know the best comic book websites to visit.
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