To most people, variant covers represent the very worst of the comics industry. Perceived as total cash-ins, an attempt to rake in collectors' money on a given issue two, three, four times over, variants are the style over substance mentality defined during the crazy 90s comics boom. They're an easy target though. The go-to for snobby comics fans to make fun of Marvel and DC but read and love everything Drawn & Quarterly drops. No one has to buy a variant and fans willing to shell out some extra cash for a cool cover by a cool artist are getting what they want.
Additionally, and quite respectably, the variant cover is basically big corporate comics makers throwing your local comic store a couple extra bucks. Really cool comics stores just stick the variant in the pile of comics, but even the ones that order the variant, bag and board it upon arrival, and up the price to $9.99 or whatever are schlockmeisters, but there's worse way to make a couple extra bucks than upping the cost of something that fans have shown, time and time again, they'll pay for. It's the beauty of the ideals of capitalism in miniature, a big guy with a lot of money, sorta helps out a guy with a little less money, and they sell a product at a competitive rate for dummies like myself to choose to purchase or not purchase.
Also, it's a little easier to not be too cynical towards variants when one is as great and weird and playful as this Richard Corben drawn variant for the latest issue of Cable. Corben's one of the few artist who seems to get better and more interesting with age, switching up his style in subtle ways while avoiding egregious "reinvention" or trend-hopping that a lot of the older Gods can sometimes stumble into. Having come to Corben rather late, his early and most famous work--stuff like Den or Jeremy Brood--is totally amazing, but has a weird, air-brushed quality to it (Corben's cover on Olivetti's book should remind readers the debt Ariel Olivetti's work owes to early Corben), that his more recent work lacks. Corben's slowly taken all the smooth-ness out of his work and tossed in a ton of R. Crumb/Basil Wolverton lines and dots and specks making all the characters haggard and tired, like their skin's made of the gross stuff that grows on something you left in the fridge for too long.
And so, it's pretty much perfect that Marvel would give Corben an assignment connected to Marvel Zombies--I'd probably read the thing if Corben did all of the art--because he's an expert at illustrating decay and horror and smart enough to make it a little ironic, just like the Marvel Zombies series overall. The most playfully fucked-up aspect of the cover is the zombie baby, which doesn't even look alive (or dead-alive or whatever), but decayed and absent of insides, like a dead goldfish stuck to an aquarium filter for a couple days. Corben adds some particularly cartoony flies hovering around and while there's all kinds of great gnarly stuff going in the human arm (love those stringy, underside of the arm muscles sticking out), the way Corben draws the robotic arm as limp and dead in its own way, is really effective.