Comic book king Marvel has attempted to broaden its audience by making 2,500 of its back issues available for online viewing.

One tenth of the digital archive will be available to read free of charge for a limited time.

And the rest of the archive - including titles such as The Amazing Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, X-Men and The Fantastic Four - will be available for online viewing for $59.58 (£28.60) annually, or a monthly fee of $9.99 (£4.79), at

"It's a different entertainment experience, online versus reading a book," said Marvel Publishing president Dan Buckley.

"Our fan base is already on the internet," he added. "It seemed like a natural way to go."

However fans face a wait to enjoy the latest exploits of the webslinger, as new issues will not go online until at least six months after their print debut.

And the company has guarded against piracy by preventing the download of the comics, which will only be available for viewing in a web browser window.

"Marvel Digital Comics are optimised for viewing on your computer screen and are not intended to be printed," a Marvel statement added.

Marvel's latest cinematic adaptation Iron Man, starring Robert Downey Jr and Gwyneth Paltrow, hits UK screens on May 2nd, 2008.

14/11/2007 11:02:19