Project: Rooftop, the superhero design site, posted the winners and runners-up of their "Aquaman: Sea Change" contest a few weeks ago, and I wrote a bit about them in relation to a long post on Aquaman, Plastic Man, why I like the characters so much and all of the great images of the pair that had popped up on the Internet in the course of a last few weeks.
One aspect of the P:R project that I found incredibly interesting was the way it acted as a sort of naturally occurring survey of how a bunch of smart, talented folks thought Aquaman "should" look, a question Aquaman's corporate masters at DC Comics have been wrestling with since the early '90s, when they changed up his classic, 50-year-old look pretty drastically. Since 1998 or so, they've been changing aspects of the costume fairly regularly, sometimes lurching in opposite directions.
The fluidity of Aquaman's design over the the last few decades is probably most evident in his cartoon appearances during that period, as starting with Superman: The Animated Series in 1996 straight through the just-debuted Young Justice, each version of Aquaman looked pretty different, as various animation producers tried to find the right Aquaman for their audience.
In that last post on the subject, I counted up the number of artists who used particular elements in their designs. Now Project: Rooftop has posted their honorable mentions, so I thought it worth doing again, and adding up the results.
There were 36 Aquamen in this post.
Of those, 23 were trident-bearing Aquamen (A couple of others had some kind of whip, including a few swords and one of them actually had a whip made out of water). Eleven of these Aquamen had some sort of beards. Only three of them were missing a hand; two of them had the magic water hand and only one had a hook, which was here an actual, literal hook, unlike the harpoon-style hooks comic book Aquaman sported. Again, the scuba suit seemed to be a popular source of inspiration for the shape and cut of these Aquamen's costumes; I counted 14 that seemed to be be derived from some kind of scuba or surf suit to me.
Only one person decided to stick Aquaman in a gold fish suit......Mr. Joel Carroll (Who also draws one hell of a cute Grimlock).
If we factor in the Aquamen from P:R's winners post, then there are 56 total Aquamen. (Unless I counted wrong. Which is entirely possible.) Of those...
—34 had some form of trident (60%)
—18 had some form of beard or facial hair (32%)
—5 had some sort of prosthetic hand, either a hook, robot hand or water hand (8.9%)
That's probably my favorite of this round of designs at the top of the post, Lee Chen Fang's. It's not necessarily a design I could see the official DC comics Aquaman actually wearing in an Aquaman or Justice League comic book; that is, I can't imagine that look ever one being adopted by the "real" Aquaman, but it sure is a cool design (I like every little detail, from the pagan/Shakespearean crown to the sea shell-tipped boots, even the water hand, which isn't something I really like in general). And the artwork sure is fantastic.
My favorite little bit is the trident though. Lee Chen Fang's is one of several of the redesigns that included some sort of cool, transforming trident:Chen Fang's transforms from a spear to a trident, and the face on it grows angrier when it turns into a trident. Cool.
James Mosingo has a trident that telescopes from a hand held, sai-like weapon into a full trident: And Matt Grigsby designed a trident which also has a telescoping staff, for easy storage in a holster: Those are all pretty neat, and the "real" Aquaman could easily appropriate any of these for use in his adventures.
Finally, here are some super-cool Aquaman hair styles......from Fernando Rofe-Bouso, Giovanni Costa and Teemu Matinlauri, respectively.