A while ago, Marvel teased a “Top Seekrit” cover artist on a secret variant for VENOM #`1, one of the new “Tough Guys” line of Marvel Now! 2016 periodicals. The comics world trembled in uncertainty wondering WHO would be the artist? While writer Mike Costa and artist Geraldo Sandoval were toiling away, the mystery continued to hang over all.

But now the TRUTH has been revealed! It’s Todd McFarlane, the artist on Venom’s very first appearance! Wow!

Or…IS it?

Well, leave it to Newsarama to uncover the even more shocking truth behind this mystery! It seems this cover was merely an old PANEL from Amazing Spider-Man #299, Venom’s first appearance.  Colorist Richard Isanove threw on a new coat of paint, and viola! new variant.

McFarlane actually was alerted about the cover and seemed chill with it. “Someone from Marvel sent me an email to give me a heads up a couple of days ago about it,” he told Newsarama. “Seems a bit odd to me as you would expect original artwork on a cover…especially with such an anticipated book.”

McFarlance hasn’t actually drawn anything for Marvel in quite a while – he quit in the early 90s to go co-found Image and hasn’t done much, if any,  Work For Hire since. But he sounds like he’d be up for a Venom cover if it wasn’t a conflict of interest:  “Though I have to tell you, I am a much better artist today than that version of Todd they are using. And I could draw one wicked Venom that would be way cooler than that (but as a direct competitor to Marvel it can’t happen).”

To be honest, creators overcome these kinds of conflicts all the time; a few years ago McFarlane even hinted he’d be up for drawing Spider-Man again if he got to work “With” Marvel and not “for” them. So yeah in theory an actual Todd McFarlane variant might be able to happen somehow. But I doubt Marvel would be much interested in working with  a competitor.

As for the Venom book, according to promo copy,

As the Venom symbiote returns to the Big Apple, it’s time for a new Venom. No more Flash Thompson, no more “Agent of the Cosmos”. But who’s the one wearing the costume this time? More importantly – who’s in control? One thing is certain – Venom is back, and it’s good to be bad….

VENOM #1 (SEP160951)


Written by MIKE COSTA

FOC – 10/31/16, On-Sale – 11/23/16


  1. It is SO cute that McFarlane thinks he’s a “direct competitor” to Marvel. And by “cute”, I mean nauseating.

    RE the variant: Lame. Honestly surprised Marvel hasn’t tried this before. I mean, I understand reworking a previous cover for a new trade release. That’s done a lot. But this seems like a cheap cash grab.

    Guess it could be worse. They could be taking sketches from deceased creators, having someone finish them, and selling those as variants.

  2. “Guess it could be worse. They could be taking sketches from deceased creators, having someone finish them, and selling those as variants.”

    I almost hate to bring up Aspen and their never-ending supply of Michael Turner (RIP) variants…

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