It turns out Spawn creator and president of Image Comics Todd McFarlane's variant cover for Image's current limited series Crossover isn't actually just one variant, but eight different variants of the same image, each with one unique difference.
The initial, previously revealed variant cover, seen here, features Crossover lead character Ellie reading Crossover #1 (a bit of meta fun in keeping with Crossover's themes) with Spawn peering over her shoulder.
Crossover brings in multiple Image Comics characters for, as the title implies, a crossover, based in a world where comic books and other fictional media have become a disastrous but integral part of daily life for most people.
Though apparently not officially announced by Image, the covers have been revealed by retailer Stadium Comics, who are billing the covers as 'secret variants' that won't ship out to their customers till January 13 – a week after Crossover #3 officially releases on January 6. It's unclear what timetable if any other retailers are setting out for the unique variants.
Photographs of each unique version are on Stadium's pre-order page (opens in new tab).
The eight comics Ellie reads across the variant covers seen in photographs provided by Stadium Comics include the officially revealed Crossover #1 and then Image Comics landmark issues Cyber Force #1, Savage Dragon #1, Shadowhawk #1, Walking Dead #1, Nowhere Men #1, and Spawn #1, and then Crossover #3 itself for some more meta fun.
"Due to the holidays we've received our shipment for books on sale next week early," reads Stadium's announcement. "Imagine our surprise when we discovered secret variants spread through the McFarlane covers for Crossover #3!"
"These are being offered as a pre-order we won't ship until after the issue is released," explains Stadium's announcement. "In fact, it is most likely, due to our shipping schedule that these will not start shipping to customers until January 13th."
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