I've been thinking about Stern Pinball's next cornerstone game a lot lately, which is a good thing. Having a hobby and something positive to obsess about is healthy IMHO. One thing that keeps popping into my head is...what if the next game isn't Venom like everyone expects? I've heard countless people say "rumor has it" or that "they've heard" that the next game is Venom, but I've never actually heard that specifically from anyone who I trust. Sure, the next Stern pin could be Venom. Heck, it probably is Venom...but WHAT IF?
What if the next game isn't Venom? We know for a fact that Todd McFarlane and Ozzy Osbourne will be appearing at Stern Pinball's Comic Con booth next week. And we know that Stern has done Marvel themes to death with its games. Stern's done Avengers: Infinity Quest, Deadpool, Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man, Spider-Man Comic aka Vault, Avengers The Pin, Avengers, X-Men, Iron Man...man that's A LOT of Marvel.
BUT Todd McFarlane is a prolific artist. He's done waaaaay more than just his work for Marvel. In fact, when doing research on the subject last night I came across an article containing this quote from McFarlane
"Here's the answer to a question I get asked a lot: 'NO!... I WILL NEVER DRAW for Marvel or DC Comics AGAIN!'" he wrote on Facebook. "But it's not why you might think...
"The reason I don't and won't draw for them is that one of the many titles I have, at my various business interests, is that of president of Image Comics. And I take that responsibility very seriously.
"Image Comics is the THIRD largest comic company in North America, and as such we are in direct competition with both Marvel and DC Comics.
"As president of Image, I personally think it would be a conflict of interest for me to do work for a direct competitor. And in fact in some states being the President/CEO of a company forbids you to work for a direct competitor (the president of Microsoft won't/can't do freelance work for Apple Inc). So, for me this isn't any different."
McFarlane said that he has not done any work for DC or Marvel since the founding of Image in 1992."
Todd McFarlane will not return to Marvel or DC
This article is old, 2015, and things change particularly when money is involved, so McFarlane obviously could reconcile with Marvel, which he left in 1992 after a dispute to form his own company, Image Comics, and do new Venom art. But is that the most obvious conclusion here? If everyone hadn't been talking about the Venom rumor for so long, objectively given what we know about Comic Con next week, my guess as to what the next Stern Pinball game will be would probably be Spawn. McFarlane's current company owns the rights to Spawn and he has been drawing the Spawn character for practically his entire life, he created it when he was 16 years-old.
After I put this post up, a site member named "Pinner Up" brought up the very distinct possibility that the Stern announcement at Comic Con isn't even the company's next cornerstone game. We are a little earlier than the next cornerstone's expected release date. What if, this event is to introduce a new Heavy Metal-esque boutique pin based upon McFarlane's newest comic and featuring Ozzy music? That's very possible as well.
There's been so much smoke about Venom being the next Stern game that it probably is, but in the back of my mind I can't help but wonder what if it isn't? What if we're getting a Spawn pin with Ozzy Osbourne music? Traditionally the pinball manufacturers leak rumors like a sieve so if the game wasn't Venom we probably would have heard that by now, but if Stern did catch everyone completely off guard with a different theme, that would be absolutely EPIC. It's been a while since we were surprised by a pinball release and surprises are fun.
Probably Venom, BUT...