Note: The following are the winners and runners up of our Aquaman: Sea Change contest! Thanks so much to everyone who participated, and to our pals at Whitechapel, Superhero Cocoa, and Superhero of the Month, who all joined on on the Aquaman fun. Today is Project: Rooftop’s fifth anniversary, and Aquaman is just the hero for this OUTRAGEOUS celebration! Joining us are noted Aquaman experts Tom vs. Aquaman podcaster Tom Katers, NPR comics blogger Glen Weldon, Aquaman Shrine caretaker Rob Kelly, and DC Comics writer Chris Roberson! Congrats to the winners and runners up, and be sure to check back later in the week for the incredible honorable mentions post! – Dean Trippe
First Place Winner: Daniel Mikah Govar!
Daniel Mikah Govar
Total Score: 97.5 (Out of a possible 110 points)
Dean: 10. Yeah, that’s perfect. The familiar belt emblem’s been moved to join the collar, which is wide, similar to several previous depictions of the character. As a combined accessory, the collar piece now evokes sea life structures as well as evoking a crown shape. The orange armor is upgraded to full three-dimensionally, and the pants are now simply divided into black and green sections, in a simple wave pattern, recalling Arthur’s blue ocean camouflage look from the 80s. I like the bare hands and surprisingly intimidating clawed & webbed boots. This is exactly what Aquaman should look like, in my opinion. This is a huge win.
Vito: 10. When Daniel said he was entering a piece in the contest, I pretty much expected him to earn a 10 from me. He didn’t disappoint. The first thing I like is that he didn’t shy away from what came before; it’s sometimes a subtle fix that changes everything. The “A” logo is moved up to the neck and funny enough, Daniel and Alex Mitchell have a weird almost briny construct creating it. The fish scale shirt (if it’s actually fish scales; I’m just referring to it as such because that’s what it calls to mind) is almost exaggerated, making it stand out. But the pants…Dean said it reminds him of the blue water camo, and that’s exactly what I see. In the Aquaman stories I’ve written (in my head), he’s the Flash of the sea (he’s the Superman of the sea, too), and as such, his costume should give some kind of blur effect in the art. Accomplished here. I think the one thing about this costume to note is that, in all honesty, there’s nothing wrong with it.
Tim: 9.5. Daniel has come in with a relatively traditional, yet powerhouse redesign. I’m with Dean and Vito on almost everything here. The only thing that keeps this from being a perfect 10 for me is the monstrous webbed feet. I think they go a little too far, and this costume might benefit from more humanoid feet. But the rest of this costume captures the essence of Aquaman—regal, dangerous, aquatic, ready for battle—without going so far away from his classic look as to be unrecognizable. Good stuff.
Jon: 5. The scalloped feet—which unfortunately give Aquaman the appearance of having scary duck boots on—and the golden “A” collar—which looks like bling—turn me off, I’m afraid. I’m not sure how I feel about the “waves” on the legs, but I do know I wish that the shirt and the pants had some greater sense of unity, instead of bisecting him at the waist.
Rachel: Can we agree that “Scary duck boots” is the phrase of the contest? I mean! Scary duck boots!
Rob!: 8. The scalloped feet make total sense, yet they still kinda bother me—makes Aquaman seem less than human to me, almost kinda scary. The rest of the suit is top notch and I love making the tunic more like chain-mail armor.
Glen: 9. I get what Jon’s saying about placing the “A” on the collar—it does look like a pendant—but I’m okay with that, because that collar is so cool. I mean, if freakin’ AQUAMAN can’t rock a boat-neck collar, who of us can? I like going full-on with the classic scaled tunic—it’d be hell to draw, panel after panel, but it’s certainly striking, and kingly. Don’t mind the scalloped feet—always thought the guy should have webbed fingers and toes, if only to provide a peg for Aquaman/“Man from Atlantis” slashfic.
Chris A: 9.5. Bravo. Govar really takes what’s come before with the Aquaman design and escalated it to a natural but progress permutation. Haircuts don’t normally classify as design, but I have to say the curls are really befitting of Aquaman and play well with the golden tunic. Other artists have drawn that golden tunic before, but Govar gives it a very unnatural reflective quality that is very striking. Imagine seeing Aquaman swimming in a deep undersea trench where its dark and then a luminescent sea creature gives light to glint off that. That would be a great visual.
Tom: 9. I love the shiny scales on top and the freakazoid feet. The shimmering look of the scales scream ocean and water to me. I dug on the webbed feet as they give the whole look some balance. I see this guy coming out of the water and I am going to want to get a look at that orange top, and then I am going to jump back when I see those feet. The outcast king has to buy his shoes at a specialty store.
Chris R: 10. Yes. Just, YES. My favorite interpretation of Aquaman’s traditional costume has always been Alan Davis’s, and one of the signatures of Alan’s design was a wide, WIDE collar, and treating the orange shirt as scale-mail and not just a skin-tight shirt with scallops drawn on. What Daniel has done here is to take those basic elements and turn the knob up to 11. And the collar and “A” combining as a kind of crown? Brilliant. I love, love, LOVE everything about this design.
Jessi: 7.5. Loving the top-half of the costume, from the “A” in the center of his boat-neat collar, to the razor sharp fish-scale plates. Top half screams a totally regal, sea do-gooder, but the bottom half loses me. Its flat and lacks cohesion with the top.
Rachel: 10. This is good. This is REALLY good. This is super-pissed-off-underwater-elf-prince-superhero fusion so sharp that if it ever showed up in an official comic, Namor would invade from the Marvel Universe out of sheer jealousy. The wrought collar with the logo worked in, turning the texture of the top into full-blown scale mail, and the subtle waves on the legs—which could easily have clashed with the scale pattern if they’d been even a touch less subtle—work together beautifully. And I LIKE the slightly monstrous feet; again, I don’t know the character well, but they set him off from the run-of-the-mill spandex set in really interesting and evocative ways.
Second Place Winner: Jordan Gibson!
Total Score: 92.5
Dean: 8. I love this one from Jordan. The colors just rock. I dig the dark teal bodysuit, reddish-orange armor (pushing the orange in the opposite direction of most Aquaman depictions, which tend to lean yellow), and the BRILLIANT green logo and wrist/ankle-bands. The belt logo is badass as hell, leaving this design looking cleaner and more “Silver Age Revisited” than any of our other entries.
Vito: 7. I just get a sense of royalty looking at this, which is a good feeling to get when you look at a costume for the king of the seas. I love the Brightest Day collar (Nehru?) and I lean toward those designs that utilize it because it is so doggone eye-catching, in light of the conclusion of Blackest Night, that I can’t tear myself away from my love for it. The belt seems a little busy, but not terribly.
Jon: 9. Boss. Great integration, love the dynamic Aqualad-sympathetic color-scheme, love the bands on the bare feet and hands, the all-around texturing, one of my favorites.
Vito: Oh, good call on the Aqualadish color scheme, Jon!
Tim: 9. If you had described this costume to me, I would have said that it’s the wrong way to go for the character, but Jordan completely pulls it all off by keeping it simple in just the right places, yet adding that intricate belt design and high color to give it the right touch of ancient regality. This redesign says “Gold Key Aquaman” to me, but I think that’s a great approach to the character, bringing back a sense of exploration and wonder (and the idea that anything’s possible under the sea) that popped up in Silver Age Aquaman tales, but also echoing some of the stranger reverberations of other publishers of that era. In other words, this costume? Yes.
Rob!: 8. I like going with a different color scheme, and the suit is very simple and classic.
Glen. 10. Clean, simple, iconic. As noted, it’s reminiscent of a wetsuit—but doesn’t that make perfect sense? I mean, he’s looked like a sailor, a pirate and a lighthouse keeper over the years—why not a surfer? Love the colors, and the simplicity of the rest of the costume permits—practically cries out for—the slightly elaborate design elements of the belt-insignia.
Chris A: 7. This is one of the best examples of an awesome and iconic belt design for Aquaman, and I like the echoes in the bracelets, anklets and necklace. But the color scheme otherwise reminds me too much of Aqualad, not Aquaman.
Tom: 7.5. Simple design that really brings out the uniform side of the costume. Functional without a lot of flair. It does feel like something a general would wear as opposed to a king. Since I haven’t met a general or king my opinion that is purely speculation. I would tweak the color scheme a little bit as I feel it might be a bit too uniform in that regard.
Chris R: 10. A big thumbs up for Jordan’s sleek, Silver Age-y approach. Just so clean and simple, but it REALLY works. Love the belt and the matching wrist bands and collar trim. I’m with Tim in thinking that, had you simply described this to me, I wouldn’t have thought it would work. But seeing it executed in Jordan’s VERY appealing style, I buy it hook, line, and sinker (if you’ll forgive the nautical pun).
Jessi: 9. I want his belt in my life. I don’t know what else I can add to this costume’s clever design that hasn’t been said. So very Silver-Age and such a fresh, sharp take on Aquaman.
Rachel: 9. Regal, sleek, iconic, and clean without being boring. I have no idea why the colors work, but they really, really do.
Third Place Winner: Nate Bellegarde!
Total Score: 89.5
Dean: 9.5. Holy flip, this is incredible. Nate’s bordering on reimagining the character here, with a whole new color scheme, detailed fin elements, and the BRILLIANT bioelectric depth mode. Fortunately, the new “A” logo keeps me thinking Aquaman. Check out the fin shapes all mirror Nate’s “A” emblem, btw. So cool. It’s so cohesive and beautiful. Every pose feels effortless, like the master swimmer Aquaman is. I’m floored by this one.
Vito: 9. I feel like Nate has brought this forward from some secret vault and said, “Oh guys, did you see this?” I immediately recognize this as Arthur Curry, Orin of Atlantis, Aquaman of the JLA. It’s possibly the most innovative design in the contest, but the antennae are throwing me off just slightly. Don’t dislike them, but I’m just thrown off a step. Still, if Julie Schwartz held this up and said, “Here’s your new Aquaman,” the only thing that would make me flinch is that Julie is somehow talking to me in real life.
Jon: 9.5. A bazillion points for the illuminated highlights, and subsequent gazillion more for the fish-tail “A” on the belt. I’m taking away a half-a-point for the antennae, which I don’t really get, I’m afraid, but totaled up he gets a Brazilian points from me.
Tim: 7. This is an amazing-looking costume, and if I had a bazillion points left to give out (sadly, I only have a measly billion-and-a-half) I would double up on Jon’s generosity. Electric eel mode, go! I would also give a kajillion for the bravery of this design, breaking free from Aquaman tradition like it does. But I don’t see Aquaman when I look at this image, and that’s where it falls apart for me. This might be a more interesting guy than Aquaman (though I doubt it, because Aquaman is the King Of The Frickin’ Seas) but he’s someone new. A new underwater guy. One who looks damn cool (though I’d still recommend losing the bell-bottom fins).
Rob!: 7. Very bold, very different. I could see this as an Aquaman 2099 kind of thing. Beautiful art. I like the antennae, makes me think Aquaman is starting to incorporate some of his finny friends’ physical abilities.
Glen: 8. Seriously, why has no one ever thought to design Aquaman’s “A” insignia like that? It’s so simple, so inevitable, so perfect. And that choice is no fluke (I’m SORRY, okay?)—the whole look is a feat of (re)imagination. I’m okay with the catfish barbels—I like how they subtly evoke a high, kingly, Ming-the-Merciless collar—but they do seem like they’d be awfully vulnerable in a fight. And when he’s out of the water, would they just…hang there? Not as sold on the cut of the top, which doesn’t seem so much feminine as…a bit background-dancery to me. But man, those poses are great, as fluid and kinetic as the element that surrounds him.
Chris A: 8. I’m flipping my sh*t here. It’s as if Nate redesigned Aquaman from the ground up with only text and no art to go by. The bioluminescence! The whisker/tentacle things! The finned logo! Nate’s got some real balls to do this, and he’s got the style and design sense to back this up.
Tom: 8.5. WOW. Evocative of the best elements of Abe Sapien’s design while keeping the Aquaman vibe. I love the hair, especially mixed with that color scheme. It has that high fashion alien style working. Is he cold and unfeeling? Is he stoic but with a heart of gold? There are some many awesome vibes coming off of this design. Again I have to voice my concern about male shoulders being exposed.
Chris R: 7.5. I am a HUGE fan of Nate’s art, and I think that he’s come up with some of the most interesting designs for new characters that I’ve seen in recent years. And that’s what this feels like to me: a new character. If you showed me this piece and said it was from a fantastic new comic called “Underwater Guy,” I would rush out and buy it in a HEARTBEAT. It just moves a BIT too far away from the concept of Aquaman for my tastes.
Jessi: 8.5. So great. I am loving the illuminating pieces; he is underwater most of the time, it just feels natural to have this as being a part of Aquaman costume. Nate’s Arthur belongs in the sea.
Rachel: 7.5. This strikes me more as a new character than as a costume redesign—and a cool enough one that it seems unfair to it to judge it as just a costume redesign. I love the stealth luminescence, and the aquatic alienness of the whole thing.
Total Score: 88.5
Dean: 7. This is just lovely, as expected from Mr. Maihack. The armor looks tough here, unlike the usual fish-scale tights. I also love how the golden accessories have an ancient vibe about them. The trident is rad, too.
Vito: 10. It’s everything I expected from all of the designs: regal, recognizable, and yet forward thinking. It’s got that new collar, which I love, and I can’t get over the integration of the chest armor and the shirt/collar beneath…they flow so well. Great job, Mike!
Jon: 8. Love Mike’s work, as always, particularly the insignia and belt and the armor-like vest. Bold and regal.
Tim: 9.5. Almost perfect in every way. Mike’s redesign alters every component of Aquaman’s costume without much changing how it would look from a distance. It’s so clearly Aquaman, yet it has a bold and bulky and iron-clad quality that suits the character well. I love the aqua-dynamic ridges along the chestplate and leggings, and I think the belt is just great. I’m not completely sold on the one-long-glove look, because the forearm bracers kind of hold the arms together on their own. But, man, this is a good one!
Vito: Ho-lee cuh-rap! I just noticed that Mike even took into consideration that one hand might have been chopped off and replaced with water! Anyone else notice that he’s wearing a glove on one hand? CLASSIC! Can I give Mike another 10 for that?
Rob!: 7. Very nice, very regal, nice art. Would make a great character design for an animated series.
Jessi: 7. Rob, I agree with you, I could totally seeing this as a design for an animated series! Beautiful artwork.
Glen: 8. I’m not normally given to armoring superheroes up, for that way lies madness, and 1997. But I’m on board for this, because the artist isn’t just slapping on pauldrons and spaulders, all higgledy-piggledy (too many artists in the 90s played pin-the-cowter-on-the-hero). No, he’s giving us a straightforward cuirass that picks up the belt insignia without complicating or overshadowing it. We all keep busting out that word “iconic,” but that’s what he’s captured here. Nice.
Chris A: 8. Mike really brought an Arthurian (as in King Arthur!) vibe to this, and I like it. Expanding the chain mail idea into full-on armor? Brilliant. It really makes him seem more than just a “trivial” superhero/adventure but a man responsible for an entire race of people. I’d love to see how other artists would draw Mike’s design.
Tom: 7. Here is your knight of the ocean. I like going with the look of almost just straight up armor on top. If there was just a bit more of an underwater vibe to it I would probably dig it a bit more.
Chris R: 8. I like a LOT about this design, and I LOVE Mike’s style. The only thing that bugs me are the bare arms, but other than that I think it works REALLY well. It reads as regal AND badass, and that’s a great combination.
Rachel: 9. Bare arms make sense on Aquaman; plate-mail, less so. That particular gripe aside, this is really gorgeous. I love the slightly muted palette and the subtle variations in texture.
Total Score: 88
Dean: 7. This is a strong, clean update of the classic Aquaman uniform. The finned gloves, lighter green sections, and very clean “A” emblem are just incredibly appealing. Like some of the other entries, I think it’s a tad too conservative, but I really love some of the thinking here. I’d absolutely approve of this update being brought into the comics.
Vito: 9.5. Dean’s right, the key word is “clean.” It’s incredibly strong and kind of beautiful. The yellowish green elements on the legs could go darker, or maybe just green (which I can understand if not since it wouldn’t look like much of a departure). I do love the way that they tie in to the inner glove, though. Sean’s design is, without the benefit of a cape or crown, really royal. It’s probably just the pose, but this guy commands the room.
Jon: 8. The collar alone is an impressive re-think, as is the belt. The piping on the legs is, unfortunately, a little distracting, the outfit could probably have done better without it. Outside of that, it’s almost a picture perfect streamlining.
Tim: 9.5. Sean’s redesign is the one that probably looks least like a redesign to the average citizen. Most people would probably say, “doesn’t Aquaman already wear that costume?” But Sean takes the best features of the classic look (the color scheme and the textures) and refinishes them to make the outfit look like so much more than a tunic and tights. The collar is a brilliant touch, and the waves on the legs look perfect. My adoration for this design puts me firmly in the traditionalist camp when it comes to Aquaman, but I’m okay with that.
Rob!: 7.5. Not too far from what’s already used in the comics, I could see this one actually being used by DC and put into use.
Glen: 7. I like that the artist has distilled Aquaman’s classic look to its essence, and decided to devote his attention and imagination to changing up a few key elements (the beltline and the collar). That’s essentially what most Aquaman artists over the years have done. Ultimately, however, this didn’t push far enough, for me.
Chris A: 9. Starting from the top —the high neck of the costume gives him a real regal stature. The simple lines of the sleeve show someone who thinks about a costume design as clothing—which I love, and the elegant but powerful cut of the trident really sings. The lines on the pants really strike me as fluid to off-balance the metallic upper body.
Tom: 7.5. Really elegant and very pretty. I especially like the interplay between the two shades of green in the legs. It keeps the piece from looking too stiff. A little too close to the starting point to really wow me.
Chris R: 8.5. I’ll echo what others have said about the collar. It TOTALLY works. And as I said when commenting on Daniel’s redesign above, I’m normally a guy who prefers a wide, WIDE collar on Aquaman. It’s an approach that tweaks the regular Aquaman costume JUST enough to make it something cool and new. The only thing I’m not quite sold on is the lighter green bands down the legs (though I think the light green palms totally work).
Jessi: 7. This one has a very classic look to him, and as others have said before me, I can see this as a working costume. I’m left wanting a little more, though.
Rachel: 6.5. Not bad, but not much of a departure, and I’m not fond of the neon green on the leggings.
Total Score: 87
Dean: 9. This is just an astonishing level of craft from our pal Ron Salas. The lines and colors are mesmerizing. The details are so clever. Check the collar and cuffs on the sleeves, and the piping at the ankles. I don’t know about Arthur wearing this all day every day, but good grief this should be the official formal wear of Atlantis. It perfectly says Aquaman, but amps up both the ancient regal qualities as well as keeping the superheroic vibe. Great job. This is one of my favorite pieces in this contest.
Vito: 9. Just like Nate’s, I immediately recognize that this is Aquaman, but this one takes less convincing. The only thing that keeps this from a full 10, for me, is the busy-ness of the top. The blue area might not be necessary. But, as an Aquaman design, I dare anyone to put this into canon and tell me this isn’t Aquaman. Bare feet…such a smart move, Ron.
Jon: 7.5. Hypnotic, exceptionally regal. The sleeves and legs might be a bit long for an action costume, but there’s a lot to like in this very royal outfit.
Tim: 9. Huh. I’m not quite sure why this costume doesn’t absolutely wow me, because I like so many of the details here. I think it falls apart in the middle, where the A doesn’t stand out from the V at the top as clearly as it needs to, as if Ron wasn’t sure exactly what to do with all these design details meeting in the middle. But I do like the overall silhouette here and the leggings and feet are the best out of all the entries. Ron’s design might be a bit wayward in the middle, but it sure comes together in the end. Or the feet.
Rob!: 9. While I may not be totally on board with the costume, I am so taken by the illustration—its simply beautiful—that I’m swayed. Love the extra splash of color, too.
Glen: 7. Agreed; this is a gorgeous illustration, and the details at the ankles, wrists and collar really work. Color me a traditionalist, but I don’t think Aquaman needs aqua in his costume, and its presence here amid all the other business going on the torso confuses the eye, a bit. My eye, anyway. If this look were pared back slightly, I think it’d land harder.
Vito: I think that the aqua would work well with other blue tones, like the ocean camouflage costume, but as in my assessment above, and as you said, Glen, it just pulls me out of the orange/green classic, which is right there.
Chris A: 7. I really enjoy Ron’s attention to detail here. I wish I had one of those football commentator pens so I could draw on the screen and point out specifically the things other people might miss but Ron really put into it. I’d like to see the costume short-sleeved with maybe some alternate ideas for the midriff but Ron’s really bringing it.
Tom: 7. I love the drawing. It has a lean and strong look. The costume has a uniform feel but the ankle and wrist details give it enough uniqueness to befit a king. The one major problem is that there are just too many colors on top. Cut out the aqua and I think you have a stronger look.
Chris R: 8. I love, love, LOVE Ron’s art, and I think this is a FANTASTIC redesign. I think the bare feet AND hands is a good choice here. It just feels a bit too formal for everyday wear. I could TOTALLY see this as the Atlantean “dress uniform,” though, worn for ceremonial occasions. I dig it!
Jessi. 7.5. I’m getting the uniform feel of it too, which isn’t a bad thing, but I don’t see this as an adventuring outfit. The detail of the arm cuffs and the piping are fantastic. Its very regal overall.
Rachel: 7. I’ll echo everyone else’s “regal.” I love the details of the cuffs, but there’s something that strikes me as slightly off about the balance of the torso—I think I’d prefer it without the coif.
Note: Lots more Aquamans after the jump! – D.T.
Total Score: 86
Dean: 9. Totally the badassest of the entries, right? This guy makes Wolverine look like a wuss (which, you know, he kinda is). The toughness implied by the beard, hook, and uniform reminds me of the 90s Aquaman, but totally evoke the classic hero, with the green and gold color scheme. Also, dudes, that is just some seriously good mainstream comics art. Aquaman could be rocking this in DC’s Brightest Day series right now.
Vito: 8.5. I’m a big fan of Otoniel’s color scheme here. It’s definitely 90’s Aquaman, but it’s somehow more. It looks, appropriately, like a wetsuit, but Aquaman’s traditional orange scales are still here, so we have a classic element within a new design. If this guy led the Detroit-era JLA? He’d still be the leader.
Jon: 8. Glad someone hearkened back to the 90’s Aquaman. This is a great solution for uniting the up-til-then in-continuity Aquaman with his grim-and-gritty Image-era incarnation. Lots of nice details—the fingerless glove, the seams on the chestpiece. Good outfit to keep in the wardrobe, especially considering how often the guy loses his ding-dang mitt.
Tim: 9. Ontoniel’s redesign shows an Aquaman who OWNS that hook-hand. This isn’t a guy who just happens to have lost a hand in an unfortunate occurrence. No, this Aquaman is a badass and unafraid to show it, and yet he’s decked out in sparkly gold highlights. He’s fancy and tough, which I appreciate. I can picture Aquaman wearing this costume for special team-ups and missions that involve a slightly higher quality of formal superhero wear. Like when he’s fighting a guy with a top hat or ascot.
Rob!: 8. Beautiful art, bold and powerful. But I have to admit my bias here: I HATE the hook for a hand. Always have, always will. Everything else about is great, though.
Glen: 7. See, THIS sleeveless outfit doesn’t look feminine, and has got a straightforward visual power. (And if we can talk coiffure for a bit, I like that we’re taking 90s Aquaman and losing the profoundly unfortunate and wildly impractical Fabio hair.) For me, though, the three different colors/textures overcomplicate things a bit. On the one hand (snerk), having the gold scales of the tunic picked up on the gloves and boots helps tie the look together, but on the other, they come off a bit fussy and distracting. Like the belt a lot, though. It’s striking, but not overwrought.
Chris A: 8. I wish DC had Otoniel on staff when they cut off Aquaman’s hand the first time. This design is so close to perfection it kills me. The idea of taking the usually full-chested chain mail and making it an arrow like that is something, but I think the lines could be jimmied with some what to make it a more classical design. The way the lines are now in the wrong pose or wrong angle it would look awkward.
Tom: 6.5. This guy wants a hook for a hand! I actually like the design sketches more than the color pieces. The green feels a tad too dark and the beard looks more like generic scruff then a manly ocean
Chris R: 8. Dean is right, this Aquaman IS a badass. Just a fantastic drawing, too. And I LOVE the redesign of the “A” and the way it’s worked into the belt as two interweaving bits. The different textures don’t bother me, as Glen points out, but I think he’s right about the colors. Or rather, maybe not the number of colors but the color choice. There’s something about that dark blue that doesn’t quite work for me. But this TOTALLY reads as Aquaman, and it’s easy to imagine the story telling how our guy ends up in this outfit.
Jessi: 7. The “A” belt is tough and clean, as with the rest of this costume. I’m not entirely sold on so dark of a color scheme just as I am not sold on Arthur only having one hand.
Rachel: 7. I love this costume from the waist down: the belt is perfect, and the wave pattern and narrow orange highlights work beautifully. From the waist up, I’m less fond of it: the top is balanced oddly, and it seems kind of cluttered.
Total Score: 85
Dean: 8.5. For my money, this is the best of the aquatic-friends-armor looks we received. (Anyone else love that Chris signs his name “CKing”? Totally suits this contest, anyway.) This illustration is gorgeous, and is just more and more appealing as I look closely at the details. The color choices are especially appealing, as is the bold and simplified belt emblem. This one reminds me of an Aquaman over Gotham idea I had for a story a while back, where Aquaman puts together a utility belt of sea-friends. The Joker doesn’t have a comeback ready for a sea star to the face!
Vito: 9. One of the first pieces I ever reviewed for Project: Rooftop was a Paul Maybury Sub-Mariner. I could easily copy and paste what I said about Paul’s and put it on Chris’ here. The difference between them is that this suit is alive! As cool as this is, and it’s very cool, what strikes me as so, uh, striking in this costume is the darker colors. For some reason, this Aquaman doesn’t look as angry as, say, Peter David’s version with the hook hand in spite of the fact that his colors are darker. Chris’ seems regal, which is the way you need to see Aquaman.
Tim: 7.5. Boy, I love this drawing, and I can see this as a suit Aquaman puts on before some big battle, but it’s not an everyday costume. It has too many noodly details, too much flair. I am completely in love with the eel-armband look, though. And you can’t knock the unity of this design. It believes in what it is, and it goes for it.
Jon: 8. Love the undersea arsenal and the new color scheme, particularly love the duding up on the left arm. The only thing that seems out of place is his belt and insignia—if those were under the armor or better integrated, it’d greatly help the cohesiveness. Best part of this is how fun it is to imagine the other kinds of undersea weapons he’d employ…
Rob!: 6. Very well drawn and designed, but it just doesn’t look or feel like Aquaman to me. I do love the scary fish pal!
Glen: 8. See now, I’ve bored friends for years with my pet theory that Aquaman should be seen not as a king, but as a sheriff, and that the classic Aquaman stories were really just Westerns, only, you know…really, really damp. So I love me that starfish badge. Also love bringing the character’s physical environment into his costume, and I have to applaud the artist for going someplace surprising. For me, though, the costume’s many little fiddly bits keep it from capturing the clean, iconic look Aquaman needs.
Chris A: 8.5. Chris King, where have you been? This piece really harkens to the intent of Project: Rooftop in IMHO. A thorough understanding of the character with a lot of thought applied to the design. The shells-as-shoulder-armor, the eel on the arm, and the needlefish looking thing. The only things that throw it off is the blue-colored shirt and the belt buckle. I would have considered something different for the belt, and maybe a differently colored shirt—and perhaps more bulky and rigid.
Tom: 7. Out of left field but I dig it. It has a Brainiac 5 vibe to it which will always resonate with me. I think of the ocean and I think of all the flotsam and jetsam that washes ashore. This Aquaman is wearing it. I like that he wearing an eel instead of making rafts out of them. It does have a touch of randomness to it, especially in comparison to some of the more elegant designs.
Chris R: 7.5. The thing that intrigues me most about this approach is the thought that the armor might be infinitely variable. Aquaman could simply armor up as the situation demanded, by summoning sea creatures to come and grab on or wrap themselves around him. Could make for some VERY interesting storytelling possibilities.
Jessi: 9. This design has got me going crazy with ideas and questions of what this tough Aquaman has gone through. The art is beautiful and the color selection is so spot on that I wonder why he isn’t in this color scheme already. This guy just makes sense, instead of communicating with his sea friends, he should have them be his armor and weapons. That eel hanging out on his arm gives Aquaman a dangerous, don’t-mess-with-me vibe. Love this.
Rachel: 7. I don’t have much to add: the folks who described this as awesome special-occasion battle armor pretty well nailed what I’d have said (sometimes it pays to be the last judge to weigh in!). I will throw in, though, that I never expected to see armor made out of sea creatures that I would immediately describe as “cool,” “badass,” and not “silly.” Nice work, Chris King!
Total Score: 82.5
Dean: 6.5. I just love how understated this one is. As usual, Yasmin brings a delightfully believable fashion sense to her design. I’d wear that jacket and rock that beard (if I could grow one that kingly). The super-subtle shell shape in the “A” is capital “A” AWESOME.
Jon: 5. It’s a really good start—love the expression and the floofy beard, by the way—but there’s not a lot of unity between the pants and jacket, or a lot of visual interest in either one. I like the bracers a great deal, would have liked to see their design re-implied elsewhere in the costume.
Vito: 5. It’s certainly Aquaman, but I’d love to see more. Jon has it right; it’s a really good start. Open up the jacket? Maybe there’s a scaly undershirt? It just needs more.
Tim: 8. Casual but effective. And the moustache pops in such a commandeering way! I really like this look a lot, and it becomes more charming the more I look back at it, but it’s too much of a sporty look for the King of the Seas in the end. He would totally wear this gear, but not as his everyday superhero costume.
Rob!: 9. I love this one—simple simple simple! I can totally see an older Aquaman wearing this suit as he eases into semi-retirmement, maybe taking up residence in some quiet sea-side town. I really dig this one, and the scraggly beard.
Glen: 7. Yeah, this is casual, day-to-night Aquaman. Banana Republic Aquaman. Comfortable clothes to putz around the castle in before running some sea-errands. And yes, Dean, that seashell element in the belt is awesome. Funny: I never thought that “jacket as superhero costume” thing they try to pull off on “Smallville” works, but here, it very much does.
Chris A: 8. Fandral the Dashing! I like the artist’s bold choice to dispense with the chain-mail in favor of simple cloth, but I think a little more attention needs to be paid to the details of the suit. Also, I like what’s seen of the trident—but wish I could’ve seen more.
Vito: Sonuva…Arrant, you nailed it with that Fandral comment! How did I not see that before?
Rachel: Yeah. That is…yeah. And now I really want to see an Volstagg Aquaman!
Tom: 9. I am in heaven. I love the more down to earth feel of the clothing and that beard is heavenly. Here is the king who doesn’t want people to treat him like a king. The sort of look a day to day oceangoer would probably wear. The beard is great because I can’t get a handle on how old I think he is. Hipster or Vintage?
Chris R: 8. I think this is a fantastic approach, and could serve as the basis of a GREAT redesign. The clean lines and simple colors really work for me (and I LOVE the beard and mustache). I think I’m with Vito in thinking that it could use just a little bit more, and something as simple as unzipping that jacket a bit to see a scaly green undershirt beneath would be enough to push it over the top for me.
Vito: I can just tell that there’s more to it, Chris, and just like you, I want to see it. Show, don’t tell.
Jessi: 9. This is so Sixties Sea Exploration Arthur and I am loving it. Aquaman’s ambassador of the ocean look to the land-locked. Yet another belt I would totally wear. Such an excellent design.
Rachel: 9. This is sharp as-is, but when I imagine it drawn by Jemma Salume, I have to stop and wipe the drool off my keyboard.
Total Score: 76.5
Dean: 7. A very elegant solution from our pal Daniel Heard. The familiar armor texture, expanded to the entire suit (with hood), and the “A” emblem blown up over the entire torso. I dig it.
Vito: 9.5. It just looks so…REAL! It’s such a crazy departure, yet, I can’t see why no one else did this before. That hood is a great addition and the “A” logo is a great identifier, even under the dark sea. Solid piece by Daniel “The Rock” Heard!
Tim: 6. My guess why no one did this before is that Daniel’s look takes one of the most iconic images of killing and eating fish (Gorton’s Fisherman) and applies it to a character known for protecting sea creatures. Kind of a mixed message, and while the ironic contrast might make for an exciting and dangerous take on the character, it seems misguided. Then again, lose the hoodie and the chin beard (or go full moustache and beard) and this costume could be a winner. I might give it an 8 or a 9 without the headgear and yellow whiskers.
Jon: 7. I really love all the elements, shapes and colors of this one—until I get to the hood. With it, he seems like he’s protecting himself against the water, rather than seeming at home in it. I have to give major props to the exceptionally well-stylized “A” insignia on his chest, that’s inspired!
Rob!: 8. I love the King Arthur-ish feel to this, and while it may not be practical as something you’d wear underwater, I could totally see this as a “special mission” suit Aquaman would wear, or maybe for fancy Atlantean state dinners! Also overall a great illustration.
Glen: 7. See, I LIKE the hood. It reads very New England sailor/lighthouse keeper, which fits the character. (I mean, sure, you could argue that Aquaman would never want to keep water OFF of him, as it’s the source of his strength and all, but if you followed that argument to its logical conclusion, he’d traipse around in a Speedo. And obviously no ruler of Atlantis would do THAT.) The giant stylized A, while ingenious and well-executed, doesn’t quite work for me; it’s a scosh on-the-nose.
Chris A: 6. I always look forward to Daniel’s entries in the P:R competitions, and in this one you really see how he tries to work in the symbolic nature—in this case the A—into the design. The hood is a very unconventional idea for Aquaman, but works quite well in this case. I think this would be a good design but needs a couple more passes to really sing for me.
Tom: 7.5. Someone has finally captured “Angry” Aquaman. It looks like he just fed someone to that octopus. I like the simplicity of the costume with the touch of texture. I love it when I can catch a vibe off just a single image. This Aquaman doesn’t like your music and he certainly doesn’t like how many people you have on that party boat.
Chris R: 7.5. I’m with Rob, in seeing this as a GREAT “alternate costume” for special missions. Heading to the freezing waters of the Arctic, for example, searching for a long-lost outpost of the Atlantean empire. I’d love to see this hanging on the rack in the Aquacave!
Vito: Roberson, if you hadn’t just hooked me with Superman/Batman #80 and Superman #708, you would’ve with “Aquacave.”
Jessi: 7. This Aquaman has the face of a rugby player. He’s probably been kicked off the Super Friends a couple of times for not being as friendly as he should. The “A” detail is slick, as with the rest of his attire although I’m not getting sense he’d be very protected from any sharp blows. Although, I don’t know who would want to mess with this guy, f’real.
Rachel: 6. I feel like sort of a jerk, because this costume really doesn’t do much for me. The lines of the body are good, but the lines of the hood makes it look like he just pulled the back of his shirt up over his head. I love the mariner beard, though. There should be more superheroes with beards.
Total Score: 75
Dean: 6. Good grief, this is gorgeous, right? Chad’s expressive brushwork and controlled, retro forms really suit Aquaman. This redesign is delightful, though a bit conservative. I dig the economical shapes, and I’d be perfectly happy to see this uniform appearing in the DCU, but I think it suffers a bit against the wilder designs we received for Sea Change.
Vito: 7. Points for a smiling Aquaman! While I agree with Dean that this is possibly too traditional, I still think it’s a good entry for updating Aquaman. Sometimes, it’s subtle changes that make the most impact. Longer hair, a collar…these things have come to define Aquaman today, and I think Chad makes good use of other subtle elements; the toe tips, the sleeves with the blue gem (which is odd, when you think that this is one of three finalists that used that motif).
Tim: 7. Too traditional, sure, but the scalloped look at the waist, instead of a belt buckle, creates an elegant effect, and I certainly buy this one as a look the current DC King of the Seas could pull off, once he gets out of his Blackest Night/Brightest Day funk. I love pretty much everything about the top half of the costume, but I’m not sure about the blue crystal things on the back of the hands. Has Doctor Spectrum traveled across dimensions and given Aquaman the blue fragment of his power gem? Does it make him punch stuff harder? Is it purely decorative? These are questions that exist. Also, the orange toes detail looks like Aquaman has started to sport hooves, and that perplexes me as well.
Jessi: 6. Tim has taken the words right from out of my mouth! I am also curious to know what the blue crystal glass is for.
Jon: 7. Really nice to see the old-school elements united into a single design, very sleek—the highlight on the toes comes out of nowhere, but otherwise this is an elegant straightforward re-thinking of the traditional costume, which is fun to see.
Rob!: 9. I really love this one—it looks like a superhero costume, and is something you could see panel after panel and not get tired of looking at it. I also love the idea of the green bodysuit with the orange tunic over it—a nice variant of the classic suit.
Glen: 7. Streamlining the classic costume’s disparate elements into a sleek bodysuit works well, because the artist has picked a few key elements to concentrate on, and play with. The belt-line, for example, has a clever but understated quality. The gloves and toes keep the look from cohering as well as it might, but I like the clean aesthetic at work here.
Chris A: 7. A real classic design, but it’s hindered by being a bit too simplistic. I think some kind of accoutrements like the logo’d belt would help the design. Really fantastic illustration.
Tom: 6. Chad draws a hell of an Aquaman. He captures the sort of motion that sea based character should have. Always floating, always darting around. The costume is sleek and simple, but with just a few touches here and there to set it apart. Maybe a little too close to the original to really hit home.
Chris R: 8. I like this a LOT. The few simple tweaks on the traditional costume manage to make the design seem modern and fresh while remaining at the same time recognizably “Aquaman.” I’m intrigued by the blue ovals on the backs of the gloves. A hint of Mera-like water-bending powers?
Rachel: 6. This is really nice, straightforward—and, critically, a costume that a lot of different artists with different styles would be able to draw consistently. It’s not super interesting, and I don’t dig the yellow toes, but in general, it’s very sharp. A brief aside: I realize they’re a standby, but I’m not fond of the wee dorsal fins on his calves. They’re very silly and not very functional.
Total Score: 73
Dean: 7.5. Very nice. This has all the familiar Aquaman elements, just cranked up to 11. The gloves and leg-fins look super boss with the additional detailing, and the combined “A” and trident logo is wicked, if not as instantly readable. The orange on the chest, of course, makes an attempt at an “A” as well. This is a very cohesive, very cool redesign.
Vito: 8.5. Very sleek, very traditional and yet very, pardon me for saying, fashion forward. It might work better for Garth, but as an Arthur design, it’s no slouch. It pulls it all together in a very modern way. I like it a lot! And I love the ridges on the boots and gloves. This is a great design with maybe one needed fix.
Jon: 5. Aqua-Glam-Rock! I’m afraid I’m not really loving this one—I have questions about why someone with bare arms would cover his hands with rubbery gloves, for instance. The belt insignia is a little much, and looks a little like the logo for Aquaman’s hair metal band. I agree with Dean that this is turned up to 11, but maybe it needs to be dialed back to 8 or so.
Tim: 6. Yeah, maybe it’s the belt design, but this one is too much, too slick. As patterns of colors, seen in the top left image, I can see the appeal of the design. It reads well, and it’s identifiably Aquaman, yet fresh enough to seem like a redesign. But the fully-rendered image makes it all seem too glossy, and emphasizes the waist details at the expense of the overall look. I could see this costume appearing on a Justice League: Year One cartoon show, along with a Batman with more visible seams and pouches and a Flash with spandex shorts and track shoes, and, yeah, that is not for me.
Glen: 7. I agree with Tim—you can see this design’s strong, iconic appeal in the top left illustration, but much of that boldness gets lost under layers of detail in the full image. Yeah, the belt insignia might be a bit overcomplicated, and losing the gloves would help. I do like this, though I confess I’m not generally partial to sleeveless designs. They’re certainly everywhere, though—witness the new Aqualad. I dunno; something about the cut of the top strikes me as a bit feminine. Mera would rock the house in it.
Chris A: 7. I’m in love with the cut of the sleeves. Very unusual and alien…and I think Aquaman would like it that way. I like the gloves as well—but it seems like the idea he has there should be pushed further along somehow. And Giorgio has the right idea about mixing the A emblem with the trident, but I think that could take some revisions.
Rachel: 8. The arms are great, as is the balance of colors. I like the idea of combining the trident and A emblem, but the result is a little cluttery. The gloves are great, and I really like the detail of the red piping on the collar.
Tom: 5. I might have an aversion to men’s shoulders. I like the look of the gloves but overall it feels a little too shiny and not enough sea salty. I agree that I actually prefer the look in the top left without the more detailed color rendering.
Chris R: 7.5. A very strong design, and very recognizably “Aquaman.” I think I share Glen’s concerns about the bare shoulders and arms. If the green of the tunic continued all the way down to the gloves I’d probably like it a lot more.
Jessi: 5.5. I can’t see the sheen of the costume staying with all the sea grit Aquaman would be encountering. This works more as a Garth rather than Author design like Vito said.
Rob!: 6. The design is great, but it feels more like what Aquaman Jr. would wear. Maybe the shininess is throwing me off a bit, because I think the one in b/w looks much cooler.
Total Score: 72
Dean: 7. A very nice example of one of the things we got a lot of in this contest: SLEEVELESS AQUAMANS. I love how all the gold accessories are curvy and aquatic. He looks a bit Klingony here (apologies for the blatant spacism), but I love the inclusion of the water-bearer aqua-hand.
Vito: 6.5. I like it for it’s simplicity, but when put up against some of the other entrants, it might be too simple. The sash is a saving grace, though, because I could see a king wearing that.
Jon: 6. I want to love the tar out of this one, if just because the illustration is so charming, but I keep seeing Star Trek elements in it (uh, Dean, clearly that man is Romulan, cough cough, *adjusts glasses*) and it’s super-hard to judge it on its merits. Seriously love the illustration style and the colors, though.
Rachel: 6. He’s either an original-series Romulan or a next-generation Klingon; they traded much of their cultural and fashion markers. The sash is cluttery, though, and, again, I object to underwater heroes in plate armor.
Dean: I (uncharacteristically) bow to your superior geekdom, Jon, but Rachel, fictional super-materials can do whatever you want them to!
Tim: 5.5. As much of a traditionalist as I have turned out to be, and as close as Zoe sticks to the tried-and-true, I just can’t fall in love with this look because the new features don’t add much to the overall design. The sash doesn’t seem to match up with the shoulder pad. The two wrist bracers have competing designs. The little “A” zipper (or whatever it is at the top) seems a little too fiddly. It’s a fun look, but unnecessarily ornate in all the wrong places.
Rob!: 8. Very cute, I dig it. Aquaman looks happy here, maybe that’s just due to the warm, friendly art style. I like the tunic and the sash, nice details.
Glen: 6. Yep, a charming illustration—I would totally watch this cartoon—but the sash is being asked to do a lot of work to set the look apart from the traditional, and it’s not quite up to the task.
Chris A: 7. Zoe seems to have a real sense for clothing. I normally don’t enjoy shoulder pads, but by making it actually functioning with the strap going under the opposite arm it seems realistic—and believable. I’d like to see what she’d do with this costume in full turnaround—like a character animation sheet. The big—and only big—negative for me here is that the stylized “A” looks too much like the Star Trek insignia from TNG.
Tom: 6.5. Well, isn’t this Aquaman pleased with himself. The sash is a cool idea but I don’t like how it looks against the tunic. The art has an amazing amount of charm to it, but I keep staring at the sash. Now I feel like Michael Kors.
Chris R: 7. This reads to me as the Aquaman from the Mirror Universe OF a Mirror Universe. (I’m an old school Trekkie, so bear with me here.) You start with our Aquaman, right? Then you do a dark and evil twist (complete with goatee and sash), and that’s your Mirror Universe. And then you do a reversal of THAT design as a second-order Mirror Universe alternate. And if you start with Evil Aquaman with goatee and sash and such, and then twist him into a GOOD Aquaman with those same elements in place but subverted, this charming illustration is what you’d get. The Aquaman of the Mirrored Mirror Universe, where everyone is pretty nice and happy.
Jessi: 7.5. The art is so cute! What a happy guy, Aquaman is. I’d love the shoulder piece more if another was added to the opposite side. Also the sash should as it has potential to be dangerous, getting Aquaman yanked around in battle. I like the aesthetics of his gauntlets and his water-hand is okay with me! There’s nothing really to say about his bottom half, but I like it.
Total Score: 70.5
Dean: 6. Super cool design from Erica. I really like the preponderance of green, the classic-Spidey-style arm-wings, and the crown. I think pants might’ve worked better with such an elaborate top, and I’d have made the gloves the same green as the chest armor, but overall a very nice redesign.
Vito: 6.5. I’m firmly in the camp that thinks that shorts belong on sidekicks. And I’m not going to slam Erica’s design because of this; I’m just setting the mood. I love the use of fins or fin-like appendages in the designs that use them. Those that do lean very close to “almost too realistic to not be a dead fish,” but if we take into consideration that Aquaman isn’t going to really hurt his friends, we can get over that thinking. Sidebar: I think Aquaman has respect for all aquatic life, but the most important is his respect for fish and sea creatures. The humans and Atlanteans have both rejected him more than any dolphin. Back to Erica and her design, I think if those were pants, I’d be higher on it. It’s charming, and I love the crown, but I just can’t get with the shorts.
Jon: 8. This is super-charming, love the bare legs (although we open the “does he have fins or not” can of worms which has plagued the character in different series). I also like that he looks a little offended at the indignity of wearing short-pants.
Tim: 7. Another case of great-design-not-quite-Aquaman-itis. A bit too Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy with an indy edge, this costume looks like it would belong in a comic I would thoroughly enjoy reading, but doesn’t fit in with what Aquaman needs to be as an iconic superhero. Erica’s undersea dude is charming—or charmingly disgruntled, which is even better—but he doesn’t look heroic enough for Aquaman.
Rob!: 8. Man, do I love the art style here! If DC ever did a super kid-friendly Aquaman comic, I’d love to see Ms. Henderson take a shot. The costume isn’t all that superhero-y to me, but it really works as a total piece.
Glen: 6. I like the style, but the look seems like it’s at war with itself. Given the unpretentious, indie vibe of the the shorts and modified baseball tee, which I rather like, it’s tough for me to figure out how the crown fits in. (Don’t get me wrong—it beats the hell out of the seashell-headband thing Aquaman sported, there for a while.) The muted color scheme has grown on me, but still seem more suited to, like, Estuaryman.
Chris A: 5. This is a real working man’s Aquaman. I like the head-crest and its hinting at a royal heritage for Aquaman, but the individual elements don’t really add up to be the Aquaman.
Tom: 8. This screams angry civil servant to me and hence I love it. Dude puts on his shorts every morning, throws on the crown, and makes runways out of whales. The pay is crap, you sleep in a cave, but the ladies love the yellow gloves. It feels a little mismatched in places color wise but I see this Aquaman and I immediately want to find out what he is up to.
Rachel: 5. This is the Aquaman who grabs kids by the ear and makes them clean up the litter they just dropped on the beach. It’s a cool costume, but not really superheroic. I like the belt a lot, though.
Chris R: 6. I love the art, and I ADORE the style, but I’m afraid this doesn’t read a lot like “Aquaman” to me. Would be a great design for a member of the supporting cast, or a hardworking citizen of Atlantis, though.
Jessi: 5.5. Agreeing with Rob’s take on this being a great kid-friendly Aquaman. This could be a great battle training uniform for a young Atlantean.
Total Score: 70.5
Dean: 6. I love this piece from our frequent contributor Meghan Murphy. The tunic opening being belted into an “A” shape is genius. This look feels very water sorcerer to me. As with some of the other looks, I wish it was a bit more superheroey, but I totally dig the piece.
Vito: 7. Definitely getting a regal Atlantean vibe from this. Aquaman as UN delegate? I’d like to see a few more risks taken with this in that direction, but it’s certainly a good start.
Jon: 6. Aquaman in formal wear, very nice. Very regal, though I‘m not sure how well-suited it is towards out-and-out-action. It’d gain a lot by losing the gloves, I think.
Tim: 5. The distinctiveness of the art may impair my ability to think about how this design would look on an Aquaman-in-action, but I do like many of the pieces of this costume. The all-black pants work well against the textured top, and I think squeezing the orange out of the look, and injecting it into the emblem is a smart way to go. Unfortunately, the whole thing doesn’t quite come together—the emblem is too big, and the tunic flares out too much, and it doesn’t seem like the appropriate type of superhero garb for Aquaman. His grand vizier, maybe. But not the king of Atlantis himself.
Rob!: 7. Feels like what an Aquaman by Rankin-Bass would look like, which I mean as a compliment. I could totally see Aquaman wear this at royal functions. Love the art style.
Glen: 8. Here’s something that’s always bugged me: Aquaman’s often drawn so that the two “legs” of the metal A on his belt poke down past the top of his thighs. How does the poor guy sit? (Answer: Aquaman. Never. Sits.) Having the familiar “A” formed by the bottom edge of his tunic is a great solution—and looks appropriately regal. I agree this look is Atlantean black-tie, and more suited to state dinners and royal weddings than siccing sea bass on smugglers, but it is very, very cool.
Chris A: 6. Rob! calls it on the Rankin-Bass-esque of the illustration, but I’m trying to take it just on the design sensibilities—and most importantly—how other artists would draw it on-model like this.
Tom: 6.5. Meghan breaks out the Bat Lash version of Aquaman. A dandy with a trident. I like emphasizing the green over the orange. It definitely has a regal vibe to it. As with the first one I have a hard time seeing this guy throwing modern pirates into a whale’s mouth.
Chris R: 7. Rob totally stole my line, since the first time I saw this I thought “Rankin and Bass’s Aquaman!” If anyone ever does a stop motion movie of Aquaman, this MUST be the costume they use.
Jessi: 6.5. I can’t say I see this Aquaman doing much battling but I am loving the idea of him having wizardly abilities. Conjuring up ocean storms and calming the seven seas, he does. Loving the green-over-orange look and the “A.”
Rachel: 6. Another elf prince! Like other reviewers, I’m having trouble seeing past the art style to the design itself. I get what Meghan is doing with the split-tunic-and-belt “A,” but it still looks odd to me.
Total Score: 69
Dean: 6. The barnacles are equally cool and creepy. I like the collar and armor, as well as the simple black elements, though I’m a little confused about the fins. Are they decorative or functional? Living or dead? This is a good piece, maybe appropriate for an Aquaman-inspired guy with a couple of color changes, but it’s not regal enough for the King of Atlantis.
Vito: 8. I don’t know, I dig the fins and the barnacles! It’s very utilitarian and the colors are Aquaman-reminiscent, if not subtler versions of the originals. I think I get where you’re coming from with the fins though, Dean; would the King of Seas, the hero that talks to fish, use fish in his costume? Probably not. Still, the piece is too strong to score lower, in my opinion.
Tim: 6. This world-weary Aquaman says to me, “I’m too busy to even bother with fashion. I’ve been wearing this for decades, and I don’t even care that living organisms have started hitching a ride on me. Gotta problem with that?” I could see this look fitting into an Aquaman’s Last Stand kind of story, some futuristic fable, and I would read the heck out of such a story, to be honest. Can’t see this as an everyday costume for the present-day character, though.
Jon: 5. I’m having a tough time grading this one—the barnacles are the best touch, but I wonder how they got there. Do Atlanteans wear living creatures as jewelry, or are they somehow functional? The costume is otherwise pretty dynamic, so I have a hard time imagining this Aquaman floating at the waterline long enough to attract barnacles. Their relationship to the rest of the costume needs to be a little more explicit.
Dean: I wonder if barnacles are just terribly interesting? Maybe they’re like the Wikipedia of the ocean. Aquaman can now access the ancient oral histories of the barnacles at all time!
Jon: You rule, Dean.
Rob!: 7. I love the drawing here, I think its superb. Not terribly practical as a superhero costume, but man it would make a great action figure or statue. I’d love to see Mr./Ms. do an Aquaman cover or something.
Glen: 6. I’m torn, here. There’s a gritty, militaristic vibe to this look that’d work nicely when Aquaman’s in dynamic-undersea-commando mode. I like the placement of the fins on the legs—they’d stabilize him in the water—but the arm-fins look like they’d slow him down. And those barnacles, although a nice design element, can’t help but lend him an uncharacteristic air of lassitude, even indolence.
Chris A: 6.5. Very imaginative. Like the other judges said, the barnacles are a real stroke of genius and bestow a whole different vibe from what’s going on today with Aquaman.
Tom: 6.5 I really like barnacles. If there were zebra mussels involved I probably would have bumped it up a notch. I love that suit looks like it has been grown instead of sewn. It feels just a touch too muted to me but I like my costumes to pop.
Chris R: 5.5. I love a LOT about this design, especially the barnacles. And I think the color choices are, well, choice! It feels more like a costume for a live-action movie, though, or a design for an action figure or statue as Rob suggests. It would be difficult to maintain consistency with the design panel after panel, and perhaps even more problematic is that it would probably fail the “Ron Frenz Rule” of costume design. (A term coined, I believe, by Brian Cronin a few years ago. Worth hunting down on google if you haven’t seen it before.)
Jessi: 7. This is such a different, fanciful take from the Aquaman we know. He looks tough and doesn’t seem to know a lick about the world above him. He’s an aquatic sort that just hangs out in the deep blue, you know? Like everyone else, I love the barnacles, however the armor, even with the ridging, feels like it’d reduce his mobility, and the fins look like he’d be able to zip about in the water no problem so stiff armor would be a no-no. I’m keen on the “A” symbol. Seriously cool design.
Rachel: 6. I actually really dig the ridging on the armor, but its cut confuses me. It’s a breastplate that leaves every major organ exposed; I mean, there’s even a notch in the neck part for convenient throat stabbin’. The barnacles are cool, but on a superhero with human movement, especially one who alternated between land and sea, they’d be dead pretty fast, and there’s something awfully macabre about Aquaman, protector of sea life (Is he protector of sea life? I don’t actually know anything about Aquaman, so I may just be making this up.) sporting the skeletons of his dead subjects.
Total Score: 67.5
Dean: 6. Great action suit. I love the detailed, segmented wetsuit vibe going on here. I think it needs a classic “A” belt buckle, but otherwise, I’m totally in.
Vito: 6.5. It’s…I think we have to scrap all we know about Aquaman, and all we’ve experienced and read, and just look at this as a design for a character called “Aquaman” without the baggage. As such, it’s a great look, but I think for this contest, we’re talking about the guy with the baggage. As a result, this one falls a little short, but I would love to see Michael design the Sea Devils.
Jon: 8. Holy crap, this is bold. Love the lines, the bulk, the implied functionality (and the fins on the legs, thanks!). If he pulled back the elements that are flat-out reimaginings (the gills, the webbed hands and the pointed ears) then I could easily see this as an Aquaman costume.
Tim: 4. I like that this looks like a “What If Aquaman Debuted in ‘2000 AD’?” costume, but it doesn’t go beyond that for me. Even if Michael pulled back on some of the elements, it still looks more like a utility suit than a costume, and a good redesign for Aquaman needs to blend both aspects. It has to be functional and iconic, and this is far more of the former than the latter.
Rachel: 5. I agree with Tim: This is more of a character relaunch than a costume redesign. It is, however, a very cool-looking costume, which earns it a bonus point.
Rob!: 6. Very gutsy re-design, but this Aquaman scares me. Seems more like a villain than hero. I think my favorite part is the buzz-cut: I’ve always thought Aquaman would keep his hair short rather than the flowing locks he had for so long.
Glen: 6. Agree w/Vito—this reads Sea Devils to me in a big way. It’s got elements I like, such as the utilitarian wetsuit and the webbed digits, but once again the accretion of detail robs the whole look of some striking, iconic power. Dane Dorrance? Oh hell yes. Aquaman? Not quite.
Chris A: 6. To me this is Aquaman as a Navy SEAL. Aquaman is going to f you up.
Tom: 6. I am scared of this Aquaman. It is a bit too far on the military end of the spectrum for my tastes. More impressive to me then the design suit is the physicality of the drawing. Michael gives Aquaman a more brutish and brooding feel than any of the other designs we have seen. It doesn’t feel like the 6’2” superhero we are used to seeing.
Chris R: 6.5. I’m with Tom. I’m TERRIFIED of this Aquaman. I would not want to meet him in a darkened grotto. This seems like a fantastic Elseworlds approach to the character, but I don’t know that it fits in with the history of the “real” Aquaman.
Jessi: 6.5. I’m also reading this more as Sea Devils, like Vito and Glen have stated. It has a soldiery appeal to it and this guy doesn’t take any ifs, ands, or buts.
Victor M. Newman
Total Score: 65.5
Dean: 6.5. Some nice ideas from Victor here. The chestplate feels very regal, and I approve of the seahorse emblems 100%. I love the bright green shapes and the very subtle textures on the suit. I’d lose the gold pockets, but only because I don’t know what he’s keeping in there.
Vito. 6.5. Are those pockets or a belt? It’s a great design that brings to mind the Imperiex fight and the armor he wore during it. I could totally see him rocking this instead of that fully gold armor.
Jon: 5. I like the armor portions a lot, but I start to lose interest as I go down the figure. Some trim on the legs—around where the bootcuffs might be—would go a long way towards spreading out the visual zazz.
Tim: 5.5. I like the details on the shoulderpad/chestplate thing, and, in fact, I like the top ⅓ of this costume quite a bit. It’s in the abdomen where it loses me and turns into an undersea Tron uniform. It might work with a bit less of a neon glow and if the “A” triangle slid up a few inches off the groin area. Right now, it just seems like an interesting design that doesn’t quite come together.
Rob!: 7. Great piece, feels like another outfit Aquaman would wear for Atlantean royal business.
Glen: 6. I’m with Jon and Tim; in my view, if you’re going to armor up, you’ve got armor down, as well. Sure, his deltoids are safe from assailants, but what about the royal jewels? I like how the colors and texture say wetsuit, which in turn suggests he’d be out there on the front lines, defending Atlantis from waves of attacking Manta-Men, not holed up in the throne room with Vulko. And the seahorses are very cool.
Chris A: 7. King Neptune, I presume? I like the armor here as its worn over a simple skintight suit—but I think the armor should be even more bulky and the suit underneath even more streamlined.
Tom: 5.5. I have to agree with the comments above about the armor. If you are going to have such a nice detailed top then the bottom should play with those same details. A full on armored Aquaman would be an interesting angle to take. The top half does have some really interesting detail.
Chris R: 6. I’m with the commenters above about the armor on the upper body. If nothing else, being so top heavy underwater might be problematic. That said, Aquaman IS a very strong swimmer, so he could probably pull it off!
Jessi: 6. About agree with everyone’s comments towards the armor. I do love the seahorses but I’d like more consistency. I’m fond of the bright green details in the bottom half however it looks unfinished.
Rachel: 5. Atlantean guard, not Aquaman. And crotch arrows are really never a good idea, even when they point up.
Total Score: 62
Dean: 5. This is a really fun, simple look from Meaghan. I think it feels a little too dressed down for my idea of Aquaman, but would totally work for a young adventures series. The only thing that bugs me is the lack of an “A” emblem. It’s clearly intended to be evoked in the torso sections, but it’s just not strong enough to say “superhero” for me.
Vito: 5. Shorts again. Looking past, I can see the “A” worked into the costume, but yeah, Dean, no clear logo which means no clear identifier. This could be anyone with a trident.
Jon: 8. Cute, relaxed but regal, this strikes me as a good alternate costume for Aquaman. Nice balance of bare legs to bare arms, great lines, the palette is intriguing and overall the outfit has the appeal of a good classic pulp sci-fi outfit. I could see this one seamlessly integrated into the mainstream character’s look.
Tim: 4. The mop of hair and raggedy chin makes me think Cro-Magnon Aquaman, but the costume looks like something the Sea Devils would toss out to their new recruits. That kind of anachronistic look has its own kind of charm, but like so many other designs in this competition, it’s not the kind of thing that epitomizes Aquaman. A new, Jack Kirby meets Russ Heath character, sure. I’d love to see a series about that guy. But as a look for Aquaman, it doesn’t ring true.
Rob!: 7. I could see a young/”son of” Aquaman wearing this: it’s not something a king would wear, but I could totally picture the Smallville or Mercy reef Aquaman decked out in this.
Glen: 5. Stylin’. The colors and the cut say “resort wear Aquaman” to me. Which is just fun to think about, admit it. He saves the seven seas from, say, the Human Flying Fish, then heads to SoBe to guzzle mojitos by the pool at the Delano. You can see it, right?
Rachel: 5. He’s surfer Aquaman! This is what teen or early-twenties Aquaman wears when he goes to beach parties to pick up chicks.
Chris A: 6. Meaghan’s Aquaman is a real swimmer. I like the nontraditional cut of the trunks, but the suit itself doesn’t scream Aquaman to me. I dig the trident and how he carries it like a staff.
Tom: 5.5. The shorts and the sleeves seem just a bit too short, and the picture on the right has me believing that he knows it as well. It seems more Aqualad to me.
Chris R: 6. I’m with Rob in thinking that this would make a great costume for a younger Aquaman (and with the chin fuzz and the messy mop of hair, I’m thinking an angsty early 20s Aquaman). Heck, swap out the green and orange for red and blue and it would have made a GREAT costume for Garth.
Jessi: 5.5. I had to really look for the “A” in this design. Author, star athlete, is ready to participate in some sort of high seas sports game! I can see this as a Smallville-type Aquaman costume, like Rob said. I’m fancy his trident.
Total Score: 61.5
Dean: 8. Longtime P:R favorite Alex Mitchell has appropriately brought his A game to the Aquaman game. As usual, Alex manages to evoke complication and intricacy through his wonderfully simplified visual style. The collar and gauntlets have a coral or driftwood vibe, the cape is fishfin-perfect, the gold piping and lack of a shirt are reminiscent of the ‘00s shirtless Aquaman costume, and the blue ovals remind us of Arthur’s aquatic origins, possibly implying greater aqua-kinetic powers (which, honestly, why doesn’t Aquaman already have?). Great work.
Vito: 6. I feel like everyone in the contest starts with the original costume, looks at the costumes that followed (the blue camo, the hook hand, etc) and takes what they want, replaces, or adds them all in. It’s the beauty with a character like Aquaman; find the one you like and focus. Alex’s has a suitably Atlantean look, but for me, it doesn’t say Aquaman; it says Aquaman’s brother or fellow Atlantean. I do love the modified “A” logo in this piece.
Tim: 5.5. Alex certainly captures the undersea vibe, and the “lost civilization” vibe, but this design feels too much like a D&D Forgotten Realms aquatic prince character and not enough like someone who could pal around with the Justice League. Still, if Aquaman, Man of Oceanic Mystery is the concept you’re going to latch onto, this is a good version of that.
Jon: 5. I like the implication of natural undersea materials for the costume, but would have loved to see it taken further. This design is quite Tolkeinesque, which—as Tim says—makes it an awkward fit for the superhero side of Aquaman. I’m also getting caught up on the cape, which would make maneuvering underwater a (har har) drag. A really good start, though I’d love to see it developed further.
Rob!: 5. Its very nice to look at, but it doesn’t look like a superhero costume to me. This would be a great “Elseworlds” Aquaman.
Glen: 5. Wasn’t sure we were going to get a hat-tip to the shirtless, coral-panted, water-bearer era, so this was a pleasant surprise. That wasn’t my favorite Aquaman look, but if you ever see me coming out against shirtlessness, you’ll know I’ve been replaced by a replicant. Like Dean, I like how the natural elements are brought in here, but the cape seems like an afterthought and, as Jon says, impractical. It’s an intriguingly regal and otherworldly take, though.
Chris A: 5. I like the elfin nature of this; you could easily associate how elves are posited in fantasy genre with how Atlanteans are in comics. Fellow water-breather Namor takes that a step further with the pointed ears even. I like the golden ringlets that adorn this Aquaman’s body, and definitely the high point in this design for me. But in this case, I think it goes too far away from what Aquaman is. I’d love to see Alex just take this and make it his own character.
Tom: 5. Alex has a really nice mix of the otherworldly and a trip to the ocean. This Aquaman is definitely not from here, but he is just around the corner. My major problem is that I can’t see a guy dressed like this getting into a fist fight or knocking any smugglers around. He feels more like an Aquaman who would have a big posse and let them do all the fighting. A fun look but it doesn’t feel like Aquaman to me.
Chris R: 6. I have always LOVED Alex’s redesigns, especially his reimaginings of superheroes in various cultures and historical settings. And that’s really what this feels like to me, more an Aquaman from some different time and place. And in that kind of context, I think it would work GREAT. I’m not sure it would work as well as an outfit for OUR Aquaman, though, which is the only reason my score isn’t higher.
Jessi: 5.5. I agree with Rob’s comment: this would be a fantastic “Elseworlds” Aquaman. The collar and gauntlets have this airy but armored look to them—ideal for underwater battle. I’m in love with the headpiece design which is perfect for underwater royalty.
Rachel: 6. I agree with Chris and Tom—this is much more undersea-elf-prince than superhero. Definitely well-dressed undersea elf prince, though. The A logo is cool, but he’d better not slump.