All work and no play makes Jack one sad rhino. When you get tired browsing through academic digital archives, check out the new Marvel Comic Vault, available at http://www.marvel.com/digitalcomics/ .
Make no bones — this is a pay site. You can pay either $4.99 a month for a year of access (that’s if you pay for a year at a time) or $9.99 a month, billed monthly. There is a sampler of 250 comics available for free, with over 2,500 comics available in the archive and about 20 titles being added every week. (The way the press release describes it, I do not get the impression that Marvel is going to try to make this an absolutely complete archive.
Oh dear, I haven’t read comics in a long time, and I don’t want to search for something obvious like Captain America. Oh, I know — how about Captain Marvel?
No, not THAT Captain Marvel. The female, African-American Captain Marvel who I think was a police officer named Monica? Wikipedia informs me that I am thinking of Monica Rambeau. I did a search for Monica Rambeau and got only four results, with what appears to be for other characters named Monica. There is a place where you can browse by character/artist names, but it appears to be available for subscribers only. A search for Jonah brought about 15 results, mostly (as you’d expect) for Spider-Man comics.
The viewer appears to be Flash-based, allowing you to page through the comics. Even if you’re not a subscriber, it looks like the first two or three pages are available. This is pretty comfortable except sometimes it takes a few minutes for the page to load (I guess the vault is rather busy at the moment.)
I’m sure I’m a bit too old — okay, dammit, way too old — for the demographic that’s being aimed for. Browsing the free samples did find some amusing offerings, like a Love Romances comic from 1960. (Who can resist the line, “Come here, you beautiful little ninny”?). If I were the demographic, however, I think I would agitate for an advanced search that allowed you to do more complex date/title/character searching and a faster load for the comics viewer…