What are they?

Most of the time, "variant" edition comics refers to those comic books with different unique covers by various artists.(*Other more rare variants are those with some printing error or those with different prices-- as in UK prices rather than US.*) The standard release of the comic book will feature one cover, but there may be 1 in 10 or 1 in 50 or even 1 in 100 that will feature a special cover by a different (and often better) artist. This is typically done for a special event issue--for example, 2014`s Daredevil #1. The original cover (left) by Chris Samnee and variant cover (right) by Alex Ross:

Daredevil #1 Chris SamneeDaredevil #1 Alex Ross Variant

Why are they made?

1) These variant comics are also referred to as "incentive-copies" because they are used as incentives to the comic book shops (and collectors) to buy more of that particular book. Why? Well the comic shops don`t make much of a profit off of the regular comics sales, but these "incentive" books they can charge anywhere from 5 to 10 times more as a "collector`s item"! These are real money-making items for the comic book stores.

In fact, very often these variants are sold exclusively to certain shops or distributors (ie: "Wizard" or "Dynamic Forces") and also to the Comic Conventions-- so they would be even more rare as they would be only available from those venues.

Here are few 2014 Comic Con exclusive variant covers--Batman #32 from San Diego`s Con (SDCC) and Guardians of the Galaxy #17 from Chicago`s:

Batman #32 SDCC exclusiveGOTG #17 Chicago Comic Con exclusive

2) The comic book publishers also use these variants to promote a particular "event" or the release of some other new book or series (or game). Case in point, here are some 3D Lenticular covers (featuring villains instead of heroes) for DC`s Forever Evil event:

Joker 3D variant cover
Desaad 3D variant cover

Recently, both Marvel and DC have licensed their characters out to the gaming world and have made variant covers to help promote the games. In Marvel`s case it was "LEGO Marvel Super Heroes" and in DC`s case it was "Scribblenauts: Unmasked":

Are they worth anything?

Absolutely. For any collection, something that is less available or common is almost automatically more valuable. Add to this the fact that most variant covers are created by more "in-demand" artists (often more in demand than the artist who did the interior work on the comic!) and that adds another layer of value to the variant.

Here are a few examples: The Gabrielle Dell`Otto variant of Amazing Spider-Man #667 (1:100) currently sells for about $600, while the Oclair Albert sketch variant of Blackest Night #1 (1:250) sells for about $175.The most recent HOT covers are the Alex Ross 75th Anniversary sketch variants of Daredevil #1 and Amazing Spider-Man #1 (1:300) both of whom are selling for anywhere from$200 to $300+.

Daredevil #1- Alex Ross Sketch VariantAmazing Spider-Man #1

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