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Mystery Marvel comic with John Romita Jr. coming (but there's a catch)

John Romita Jr.
(Image credit: John Romita Jr./JP Mayer (Marvel Comics))

The first thing Marvel is sending out to comic book shop retailers through its new Direct Market distributor Penguin Random House Publisher Services will be a mystery comic with a cover by the returning John Romita Jr.

"You might have seen the exciting news that a certain legendary artist has returned to Marvel this week," reads the statement from Marvel and Penguin Random House to retailers. "Well, we're thrilled to announce that every comic shop that opens an account with Penguin Random House by May 7th will receive an amazing variant featuring exclusive art from that incredible artist, John Romita Jr.!"

The cover will be this previously-released image heralding Romita's return, inked by JP Mayer and colored by Marte Gracia.

(Image credit: John Romita Jr./JP Mayer/Marte Gracia (Marvel Comics))

Marvel is holding back on saying if the comic book this variant cover is attached to is a previously-released, upcoming, or unannounced comic,... but hey, we like surprises too (even on April Fool's Day). Maybe it'll be a teaser of that comic Marvel editor-in-chief C.B. Cebulski thought would sell a million copies a couple of years ago (Hey, you thought we forgot about that?)

The mystery comic will come in two varieties: one with an inked version of that John Romita Jr. spread, and the other with the colored version.

Only one per store, however.

John Romita Jr.

(Image credit: John Romita Jr./JP Mayer (Marvel Comics))

Interested comic shop owners have until May 7 to sign up for an account with Penguin Random House and get this exclusive variant. It's not clear if Diamond would be offering this to its customers as a sub-distributor.

This announcement was made by Penguin Random House Publisher Services' US Direct Market sales team, a new employee group created specifically for this entry into the comic store market.

Although comic book store distribution has changed much in the past year, for digital readers it's been smooth sailing. Check out our list of the best digital comics readers for Android and iOS devices.

Newsarama Senior Editor Chris Arrant has covered comic book news for Newsarama since 2003, and has also written for USA Today, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Publisher's Weekly, Marvel Entertainment, TOKYOPOP, AdHouse Books, Cartoon Brew, Bleeding Cool, Comic Shop News, and CBR. He is the author of the book Modern: Masters Cliff Chiang, co-authored Art of Spider-Man Classic, and contributed to Dark Horse/Bedside Press' anthology Pros and (Comic) Cons. He has acted as a judge for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the Harvey Awards, and the Stan Lee Awards. Chris is a member of the American Library Association's Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table.