Today DC Entertainment announced that as of January 21, 2021 DC Universe will “evolve” into DC Universe Infinite, a comics only service. It’s a shame, because DC Universe has lowkey been one of the best streaming services you could drop cash on every month — if you’re a giant nerd like myself.
The combination of old superhero TV shows, endless reams of comics, and solid original monthly programming like Doom Patrol and Harley Quinn made it a good deal, and I’ll happily confess to using it multiple times a week. But AT&T bought WarnerMedia in 2018, and launched HBO Max this year — and with Doom Patrol and Harley Quinn quickly becoming marquee content for HBO Max it was only a matter of time before DC Universe died.
This move isn’t exactly a surprise if you’ve been paying attention. Remember Stargirl? It was originally intended as a DC Universe exclusive, but made the move to the CW, and was even renewed for a second season on the channel. Swamp Thing, which was cancelled all too soon, also saw its first season shunted onto the TV network.
Meanwhile, Doom Patrol and Harley Quinn both made big splashy launches on HBO Max. Now, the other DC Universe original content like Young Justice, Titans, and season one of Stargirl, will join them on HBO Max. Notably, none of this content will be available in 4K and HDR as it is on DC Universe. HBO Max still doesn’t support anything better than standard 1080p HD, and the default SDR.
DC Universe Infinite won’t “launch” as much as DC Universe will get the newer and dorkier sounding branding. Current subscribers won’t need to touch anything on their accounts, they’ll simply see the name of the service change January 21, 2021, and find all the video content missing. But if you really, really love comics it won’t be the worst thing in the world. For $US8 ($11) a month, or $US75 ($103) a year, you’ll get access to nearly all of DC Comic’s back catalogue, and new issues six months after they hit store shelves. And, unlike DC Universe as it stands right now, the comics-subscription service will begin rolling out internationally in 2021.
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If there are old comics that lack trades, or you just don’t want a ton of trades clogging up your shelves or Comixology account, this isn’t the worst deal. Marvel Unlimited, the competing service from Marvel and Disney, costs around $15 a month for over 27,000 comics (and offers a similar deal of new issues hitting the service six months after launch). DC Universe Infinite isn’t only cheaper than Marvel Unlimited, it’ll also have exclusive comics created for the platform…that are hopefully better than those ones DC made for HBO Max’s launch.
To help sweeten the deal, DC is also offering HBO Max for a $7 a month add-on if you already subscribed to DC Universe (for U.S. users only). That is the absolute cheapest you can get HBO Max currently, and as someone who already subscribed to both, this means I’ll end up saving $15 a month.
Even with all that, DC Universe Infinite still kind of feels like a mixed bag to me. Sure I’m saving $US10 ($14) a month, but you’re losing out on 4K HDR content. Perhaps worse will be the loss of all the weird old DC TV shows and newer animated movies that DC Universe has streamed. HBO Max has a pisspoor selection of superhero entertainment by comparison, and there’s no official word on when shows like Lois and Clark or Superboy will make their ways to HBO Max. Given Max’s currently weird relationship to DC content, there’s no saying with certainty what content will steadily be available on the service either, rotating in and out of accessibility every month.
On the bright side, at least, the incredible Harley Quinn was finally renewed for a third season exclusively on HBO Max recently. So even if the service as we know it is ending, at least some of its excellent legacy lives on.