[Updated with comments from Todd McFarlane]
Marvel Comics has revealed the artist and the art behind the "1 for 1,000 Venom #1 Top Secret Artist Variant" first announced last week: Todd McFarlane...
... but with a catch.
This isn't a new piece of art by McFarlane, but rather a recolored panel from 1988's Amazing Spider-Man #299 from the first appearance of Eddie Brock-as-Venom. Richard Isanove recolored McFarlane's 28 year-old panel and illustrated the background for usage as a cover to November's issue.
Although a rarity, Marvel, DC, and other publishers have re-used artwork in this manner for other projects - including covers. Walt Simonson's cover to 2011's The Mighty Thor #1 was a recolored pin-up the artist had done for Marvel decades prior, as was George Perez's recent variant for Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat!.
Reached by text Tuesday morning and asked if he had any comment on Marvel using his artwork to create a new Venom #1 variant cover, McFarlane texted back:
“Someone from Marvel sent me an email to give me a heads up a couple of days ago about it. Seems a bit odd to me as you would expect original artwork on a cover...especially with such an anticipated book.
“But they get to make whatever decisions they deem fit.
“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).
“I’m also flattered they still want me to work for them 20 years later.”
Venom #1, including McFarlane and Isanove's variant cover, is scheduled to be released November 23.