A Variant Cover is a term used to describe issues of comic book series that are distributed with one or more alternate cover arts to the standard wide-release cover art. These different covers are special in that they are, usually, only ever distributed specifically through certain comic book retailers or through other specific means, being completely unavailable to those who receive issues via mail-order subscription. For the casual comic book reader, this provides the novelty of being able to choose the cover that appeals to them, whereas hardcore collectors tend to buy multiple copies of the issue specifically for the variant covers.
Variant covers had become a common practice for high profile comic publishers during the 2000's, but Archie Comics wouldn't follow suit until 2010 where they began to release variants periodically for certain issues of their popular titles. The Archie Sonic the Hedgehog series first began following this trend in 2011 with Sonic #225, from which they had since began releasing occasional variant covers for certain issues of the main series, as well as the spin-off Sonic Universe series. Beginning from SU#51 and StH#248 respectively, variant covers are now released for every single issue.
Mostly, issues are given at least one alternate cover, but on some occasions two or more are released: to date, the Archie Sonic-related publication with the most variants is Sonic Universe #75, which had a total of 8 variants. While the recommended retail price of variant editions are no different from the standard counterparts, they do have potential to gain value as time passes, being sold for a considerable amount on online market sites.
Comic Shop Variant Gallery
These covers are sold exclusively through comic book stores.
Sonic the Hedgehog
Worlds Unite: Battles
Convention Exclusive Variant GalleryThese covers where distributed exclusively through comic book conventions. These variants are considerably more difficult to obtain due to being produced in much more limited numbers and their limited availability.
Variants Obtained Through Other Means
These variant covers were obtainable through other methods than the ones above:
- Sonic the Hedgehog: Worlds Unite Battles: Arcade Block Variant - This variant cover could only be acquired through Nerblock.com's monthly "Video Game Mystery Box".
"After the Credits" Month
In March and April 2014, for one month only, the Archie Action titles debuted a new feature in their comics in which an "extra" ending would be printed on the final page of the comic long after the end of the actual story, as well as after the usual letters, fanart and next issue preview pages: an homage to the occasional practice in theatrical feature films in which an extra scene would he shown after the ending credits. In this instance however, the extra ending would change depending on which cover the issue had (an ending for the standard cover, and an alternate one for the variat cover). The comics that utilised this feature where Sonic Universe #62 and Sonic the Hedgehog #259, as well as #36 of Archie's Mega Man series.