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App of the Week: Comics by comiXology
PHOTO: Comics by comiXology

Iconology, Inc

App Name: Comics by comiXology

Price: Free

Available Platforms: iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire HD, Android, Windows 8

What does this app do?: Although some of the first known publications of comic books occurred far more than a century ago - " The Glasgow Looking Glass" was published in Glasgow in 1825 and "The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck" by Swiss artist Rudolph Topffer was published in the United States in 1842, for example - comic books seemed designed for the digital age. With panel after panel of rich and colorful illustrations combined with stories ranging from the everyday and mundane to the fantastical and otherworldly, comic books make readers want to peer closer, to pinch and zoom in order absorb every detail. They are a natural fit for a tablet.

It follows that an app, such as Comics by comiXology, would find a way to bring comic book lovers the ability to read well-loved and brand-new titles such as "The Amazing Spider-man," "The Adventures of Superman" and "The Walking Dead."

Digitally, of course.

The app, which boasts more than 30,000 titles from dozens of publishers, allows users to search by "featured," "new," "Marvel" and "DC." Users can also tap "popular" and browse comics by issues or series. Once you purchase a comic, select "downloads" to load the comic onto your device.

Navigating the app proves straightforward: Swipe and tap to move from scene to scene. Comics by comiXology employs a digital reading technology called "guided view," in which you can set transitions as you read zooming-in panels and then zoom out onto the whole page.

The app offers dozens of free comics to download, but many of the good ones are available through an in-app purchase.

Is it easy to install?: There isn't much to installing and running this app. Download it, create an account - which you will need to sign into to purchase and download comics - and start reading.

Should I try it?: Comics by comiXology has established itself as one of the go-to apps for reading comics on digital devices. The substantial library of titles combined with its guided view technology makes it easy for readers to enjoy a medium that lends itself well to a tablet (we found the app less enjoyable to maneuver on smaller screens, such as the iPhone). However, if you're looking for more customizable options for organizing your comics and you're willing to pay, then ComicZeal for $4.99 may be a better choice.

As for the diehard enthusiasts who don't want to see the paper comic book go away, a comic book app does not mean the end of the tactile medium. Instead, it's a practical way to virtually store some newer releases or rare finds in one place, eliminating the burden of having to find space for your collection.

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