Lee Roberts's picture
By Lee Roberts

How variant covers are hurting the comic collecting world.

Are variant covers killing collecting comic books or helping? That’s a question I keep asking myself and I can only speak for myself, but I have a few responses about this question. Most of the answers I have are not in the positive column and it’s only getting worse. Why are there so many variants now? It seems like the publishers are only creating comics to put out variants and “events” for the year so they can raise the price of the comics, force retailers to buy multiple copies to get the variants, and then force the collector to spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on the variants.
It’s really is ridiculous the number of variants that is getting published these days. For the average collector, they can’t get the variants because it’s too expensive. I would love to have one of the Steve Ditko covers for Amazing Spider-Man #800 but I don’t have the $500 to $1,500 that one might cost. And that’s just 1 cover. I love Todd McFarlane and would love to get the Venom #1 cover of his, but again, can’t afford the few hundred dollars that it will cost tomorrow. 
So, with the number of variants that get published and the cost of them, is this hurting the collector? 
I really think it is. I know it has me. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to make the choice, do I want to buy 1 variant cover and not buy any of that weeks and possible the next 2 weeks to a month, of the other titles, or do I not buy the variant so I can buy all the other titles that are coming out? To make matters worse is that you don’t know what cover will hold its value, gain, or even lose it. It really sucks and hurts to discover that a variant that I spent $50 to $100 on is now worth maybe a third or even less then what I paid. Seeing a book that cost me $100 being sold for $15 to $30 makes me sick to stomach and want to not buy variants anymore. Sure, there’s those rare ones that you can get for cover price to $20 that end up being worth hundreds to thousands of dollars, but that’s rare, at least for me it is. 
To me, it seems like both Marvel and DC are doing what they do just so they can get money from the collectors. I’m fed up with the constant reboots, the changing of numbers, getting a new start and run that gives new #1 issues that seem to be happening every 6 months. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more variant covers printed in the last 2 years of Amazing Spider-Man then there are of a total issue run of the character. If this was a movie about high school, Marvel and DC would be the pretty cheerleader that does a little flirting with the awkward, shy boy to get him to do her homework for him making him think that he might have a chance of getting a date with her when in reality he will not because she is just using him. 
Now I said most of my answers were negative for if variant covers where hurting the collector. That means there’s at least one positive answer and there is only one that I can think of. That positive is that you might get to see or have one of your favorite artist do a cover of a character you like that they normally never draw. Beyond that, there’s not much good that these variants are doing. It makes me upset that I can’t get what I would want, if I do get one I have a better chance of getting one not worth the price I paid, and it drives up the prices in the shops and online because it’s an “exclusive”.  
Just to give you an idea of the number of variants being published here’s only 4 titles that have a total of 85 covers between the 4 of them. Yep, 85 covers for 4 comics, and these are the ones I know about. I wouldn’t be shocked to learn that it’s really over 100 for all of them.
Coming out tomorrow (Mary 9,2018) is another Venom #1 and as of right now these are the variants that I can find that it will have.
1. Ryan Stegman
2. Ryan Stegman Virgin 
3. Paolo Rivera
4. J. Scott Campbell
5. Todd McFarlane Remastered 
6. Todd McFarlane Black & White Remastered 
7. Aaron Kuder Young Guns 
8. Blank 
9. Midtown Exclusive Francesco Mattina & Will Sliney Connecting Variant Cover (Left Side, The Right Side is Amazing Spider-Man #800)
10. Adi Granov Virgin
11. Joe Quinones Virgin Cover A
12. Joe Quinones Virgin Cover B
13. Mattina Comicxposure
14. Mattina Megacon 2 Pack Comicxposure
15. Inhyuk Lee Comicxposure Connecting Cover (one side is Amazing Spider-Man #801)
 
Amazing Spider-Man has been getting so many variants lately that I can’t keep up with it. There’s the end of Dan Slott’s run on the title coming up with #800 and in going out, Dan Slott created a new character, the Red Goblin. So, of course with a new character, the numbers getting to 800, and it being Amazing Spider-Man, Marvel gives each issue a variant and reprints. Multiple reprints at that. I would guess around at least 40 variants and reprints have been given to the last 5 issues of Amazing Spider-Man, not counting the upcoming #800, #801, and the new issue of #1. But here’s a list of some of the #800 variants.
1. Gabrielle Dell’Otto 1:25 (Cover Art Will Include Trade Dress)
2. Gabrielle Dell’Otto 1:200 Virgin 
3. Alex Ross 1:500 Virgin 
4. Steve Ditko Remastered 1:500 (be prepared to shell out a few hundred for this one)
5. Steve Ditko Remastered 1:1000 Black & White Sketch  (this one will probably be between $700-$1500)
6. Humberto Ramos Connecting Cover 
7. Blank Cover
8. Inhyuk Lee Cover A
9. Inhyuk Lee Cover B Virgin
10. Midtown Comics Connecting Cover (Right Side, Left Side is Venom #1)
11. John Romita Sr
12. Mark Bagley
13. Terry Dodson
14. Ron Frenz
15. Greg Land
16. Moebius
17. John Cassaday
18. Frank Cho
19. Nick Bradshaw
20. Paolo Rivera
 
Iron Man #1 2018 with 20 announced variants. Though the odds on only 20 are low. Most likely there will be a lot more that are coming from online sites, direct from artists, and who knows where else.
1. EXTREMIS ARMOR VARIANT COVER
2. BLACK AND GOLD ARMOR VARIANT COVER
3. CLASSIC RED AND GOLD ARMOR VARIANT COVER
4. BLEEDING EDGE ARMOR VARIANT COVER
5. MODERN DEEP SPACE ARMOR VARIANT COVER
6. PROMETHEUM ARMOR VARIANT COVER
7. MODERN RED AND GOLD ARMOR VARIANT COVER
8. HULKBUSTER ARMOR VARIANT COVER
9. IRON MAN 2020 ARMOR VARIANT COVER
10. MODEL-PRIME ARMOR VARIANT COVER
11. MODULAR ARMOR VARIANT COVER
12. CLASSIC RED AND GOLD ARMOR VARIANT (NOSE) COVER
13. PROTOTYPE ARMOR VARIANT COVER
14. SILVER CENTURION ARMOR VARIANT COVER
15. CLASSIC SPACE ARMOR VARIANT COVER
16. STEALTH ARMOR VARIANT COVER
17. ENDO-SYM ARMOR VARIANT COVER
18. THORBUSTER ARMOR VARIANT COVER
19. UNDERSEA ARMOR VARIANT COVER
20. PROTOTYPE WAR MACHINE ARMOR VARIANT COVER
 
I’m not even going to attempt to find all the variants that DC did for Action Comics #1000. I get it, #1000 is a moment that does need a variant cover done for it but come on, really, this many. I just went to Midtown Comics site to get a partial list of the ones they have/had for sale and look at the cost of them also.
1. Midtown Exclusive Olivier Coipel Color Variant Cover $15.00
2. Midtown Exclusive Olivier Coipel Color Variant Cover Signed By Peter J Tomasi (Limit 1 Per Customer) $15.00
3. Midtown Exclusive Olivier Coipel Virgin Black & White With Spot Color Variant Cover $20.00
4. Midtown Exclusive Olivier Coipel Virgin Black & White With Spot Color Variant Cover Signed By Peter J Tomasi (Limit 1 Per C $20.00
5. Cover A Regular Jim Lee & Scott Williams Cover $6.79
6. Cover B Variant Steve Rude 1930s Cover $6.79
7. Cover C Variant Michael Cho 1940s Cover $6.79
8. Cover D Variant Dave Gibbons 1950s Cover $6.79
9. Cover E Variant Michael Allred 1960s Cover $6.79
10. Cover F Variant Jim Steranko 1970s Cover $6.79
11. Cover G Variant Joshua Middleton 1980s Cover $6.79
12. Cover H Variant Dan Jurgens 1990s Cover $6.79
13. Cover I Variant Lee Bermejo 2000s Cover $6.79
14. Cover J Variant Blank Cover $6.79
15. Cover K Variant Jim Lee Tour Cover (Limit 1 Per Customer) $60.00
16. Cover L DF Signed By Brian Michael Bendis $32.30
17. Cover M DF Gold Signature Series Signed By Brian Michael Bendis $76.49
18. Cover N DF Gold Signature Series Signed By Jim Lee $254.99
19. Cover O DF Remarked By Ken Haeser $68.00
20. Cover P DF Signed By Dan Jurgens $32.30
21. Cover Q DF Signed By Dan Jurgens & Remarked By Ken Haeser $76.50
22. Cover R DF Exclusive Dan Jurgens Wraparound Color Variant Cover $19.38
23. Cover S DF Exclusive Dan Jurgens Wraparound Black & White Variant Cover $38.00
24. Cover T DF Exclusive Curt Swan Variant Cover $19.38
25. Cover U DF Exclusive Dan Jurgens Wraparound Color Variant Cover Signed By Dan Jurgens $59.49
26. Cover V DF Exclusive Dan Jurgens Wraparound Color Variant Cover Gold Signature Series Signed By Dan Jurgens $80.00
27. Cover W DF Exclusive Dan Jurgens Wraparound Black & White Variant Cover Signed By Dan Jurgens $38.00
28. Cover X DF Exclusive Dan Jurgens Wraparound Black & White Variant Cover Gold Signature Series Signed By Dan Jurgens $80.00
29. Cover Y DF Exclusive Curt Swan Variant Cover Signed By Dan Jurgens $38.00
30. Cover Z DF Exclusive Curt Swan Variant Cover Silver Age Silver Signature Series Signed By Brian Michael Bendis   $38.00