Here's a continuously updating list of the best iPad comics, graphic novel iPad apps, and iPad comic book readers available in the App Store right now.
Keep in mind, some of these are comic book readers and serve as platforms housing many different titles, such as the Marvel Comics iPad app or the IDW Comics app. Others are standalone graphic novel apps, such as The Carrier, or single issue apps, such as Luke McBain. Still others are simply just free, lite iPad graphic novel apps that give you a small taste of what's to come, such as the Twilight graphic novel iPad app. If you know of a good iPad comic book app but it's missing from this list, make sure to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Within a day of launching, the Marvel Comics iPad app became the #1 free comic app in the iPhone App store. It received an overwhelming amount of media coverage coinciding with the launch of the iPad, and was listed by Apple as a "Hot" iPad app. The hype does seem to be earned, in this case. The reader, developed by comiXology, is the best comic app reader available right now, and with it you get access to free Marvel titles to whet your appetite and a library of about 500 other issues to browse and buy at will. Until DC and some other publishers get into the iPad comic book game, the Marvel iPhone and iPad app is king.
The IDW Comics iPad comic book reader also launched an update to coincide with the release of the iPad. The good folks at IDW have compiled all of their digital offerings (except for Transformers and Star Trek; more on these titles below) into a single comic book reader platform, making this comic reader app second only to the Marvel Comics app in terms of depth and volume of titles to choose from. Currently, the IDW Comics iPad app touts over 300 titles availble for download. Among the notables are Astro Boy, Danger Girl, CSI and G.I. Joe.
The Carrier graphic novel iPad app from author Evan Young and publisher StopWatch Media claims a unique place among the best comic book apps available on the iPad. It is not a comic book reader, like many of the other successful iPad comic apps, but rather is a complete, standalone graphic novel from an independent publisher. For $5.99, readers can download the entire book, making it a considerable bargain compared to what you might pay for a full graphic novel in print. It remains to be seen whether more independent creators will try to release their own standalone titles such as this, and whether some of Apple's boundaries for "objectionable content" create additional barriers for the comic book iPad market. For now, though, The Carrier enjoys the position of being the a well-reviewed comic, and the only full graphic novel from a small indie publisher you can read on the iPad as a standalone app.
The free iVerse comic reader platform for the iPad is a the closest thing to a comic book shop you will find in the iTunes App Store. iVerse holds titles from dozens of publishers, including Marvel, Image, IDW, and Archie Comics and many smaller studios including Antarctic, Boom!, Red 5 and more. The app claims to have 40 free comic book titles to choose from and over 1,000 free titles available as in-app purchases. The presentation of the comics is not as slickly refined as the Marvel iPad app, but iVerse is still one of the best iPad comic book readers you can find in the market.
As noted above, IDW has developed a great comic reader platform for the iPad. But with so many licensed Transformers, Star Trek and GiJoe comics available under the IDW banner, the company thought it wise to release two additional branded platforms for people looking for either just Transformers comic books or Star Trek comic books. This is a smart move for them, and goes a long way toward helping fans of these titles connect more easily with the comic books they're looking for. The Transformers and Star Trek and iPad apps were available when the iPad launched and GiJoe iPad app came along shortly after as well, making them among the few iPad comic readers available from the start some of best comic apps around. Included in the Transformers apps are the movie prequel comics, as well as the Alliance, Defiance, and Revenge of the Fallen series, among others. In the Star Trek iPad app you'll find the very popular Countdown series, as well as 40 other books to choose from. The GiJoe Comics app includes the Rise of Cobra movie prequel and classic GiJoe comic books from the 80s.
Yen Press really struck gold with the license to create comic book and graphic novel adaptations of the mega-popular Twilight series of books by Stephenie Meyer. The Twilight graphic novel iPad app by Korean artist Young Kim is a free Lite preview, offering a handful of pages to read in advance of the full version. Of course, we have no idea when the full version will actually arrive.
Luke McBain, a comic book from 12 Gauge Comics by David Tischman and Kody Chamberlain, is a series of standalone comic book apps for the iPad. Available from the iPad's launch, each issue of the series (there are four total) runs for $2.99 each and "stars" country music singer Trace Adkins as the title character. 12 Gauge has also published a Boondock Saints iPad app and standlone comic.
Vervm, a comic book app from Joshua Emmons and Katie Cook, is a standalone comic that launched with the iPad. Unlike the other comic apps available, Vervm includes a look at the original pencil artwork, as well as inks, author commentary, and other bonus features. This makes Vervm a more unique comic book iPad app, and one of the ones that really takes advantage of the programming platform that the iPad provides.
For an old-fashioned title like Archie, the Archie Comics company had stayed ahead of the digital comic curve with their free iPad app. The Archie Comics iPad app has over 50 titles to choose from, include standby favorites Archie, Betty, Jughead and more. If you're a fan of Archie, this is the best comic app going.
The Carnival Comics lineup, including It's Murphy's Law, Carnival of Souls, Funhouse of Horrors, and Everyone Loves a Clown, has cornered the market on a flavor of darker, twisted comic books you can find on the iPad. These are certainly the best comic apps available if darker comics appeal to you.
Kaeru-Boy, a $.99-cent comic book iPad app, is book #1 in a 2-book series from Kid Kong Entertainment. This fun little iPad comic book is an all-ages, 50-page black-and-white comic about a dyslexic boy who can read the "secret language of superheroes." Tough to beat that for just a dollar.