They look to be variations on the four variant covers that the magazine ran earlier this week in support of the show's third season return, as they feature the same key figures: There's a heroic Rick (Andrew Lincoln), a bad-ass Michonne (Danai Gurira), a menacing Governor (David Morrissey) and...well, a shot of Merle that seems just so self-evidently B-movie that it's easy to see why it didn't make the cover of a major publication.
According to the captions:
''Rick has stepped up,'' says Lincoln of his my-way-or-the-highway leader. Adds showrunner Glen Mazzara, ''Rick's leadership is what's keeping [the survivors] alive.''
That's good, because while the comic book readers have been pretty invested in Rick from the beginning, fome of my friends whose first experience with Kirkman's world is watching it on television haven't been so charitable toward or patient with his waffling and self-doubt.
"He assumes a position of power, which is almost religious in a way," says Morrissey of The Governor, but ''I don't think he gets to the position he's in without having a ruthless nature.''
The most interesting bit there is that the article seems to imply Rick may not lose his hand, as he did in the comics. Protecting a spoiler, or making one of those little changes Kirkman talked about?