The upcoming release of Archie's Mega Man #1 was already a pretty badly-kept secret, despite the company's attempts to keep its fans in suspense as to what dynamic and exciting character would be making his debut in the month of April. Or will it be May, after all?
Those lucky ducks over at IGN managed to get their hands on an exclusive reveal for a variant cover for the first issue, which they say will be available on May 4th, 2011. One day earlier, and they could have sent it to me as a birthday gift; of course, given how comic shipping works, we can just assume they tried to get it as close as they possibly could. Well done!
Anyway, here is the variant cover for the first issue:
The special "sketch cover" you see above is rendered by Chad Thomas (more of his Mega Man work can be seen here), and will be available as one in every five issues of the comic-- that is, provided it meets Capcom's approval, it seems. To put it another way, there will be one of these for every four of the regular covers, there will be one of these.
As a reminder, here is the regular cover, as rendered by Sonic the Hedgehog fan-favorite artist Patrick Spaziante (whose has some Mega Man samples viewable here and in the last link):
This is a most interesting move for the company to take. While numerous comic book publishers have not been shy about offering variant covers for numerous titles going as far back as the mid-90s (and perhaps further), this is the first time in recent memory-- if ever-- that Archie has ever done such a thing. And that's including their Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic Universe lines of titles.
It is also a little bit of a curious move. Going purely on fan reaction, it seems that Spaziante is the more popular of the two artists; it would seem that those more likely to buy the Thomas cover (or both) are the hardcore collector types (of both comic book and Mega Man merchandise), while most of the general audience will probably want Spaziante's cover...
...ah, I see what they did there. Shrewd move, Archie. Shrewd move.