Monday, June 7, 2010

The Top 20 Aquaman Covers

Aquaman may have gone nearly a quarter-century without appearing on a single comic book cover, but he surely did make up for lost time with an extraordinary run of frontpieces in the 1960s. I adore Jim Aparo, so it pains me to have turned away so many of his illustrations. Aquaman continues to inspire gorgeous art, to the point where this has been my toughest list to make so far. I could/should have taken this thing as high as a top 50, but I figured five-plus hours of work was enough!

20) World's Finest Comics #203 (June, 1971)

A really nice cover, but it's hard to appreciate Aquaman while he's sleeping on the job.

19) Aquaman #22 (July, 1996)

One of the few covers from this period where the Sea King isn't scowling and waving his harpoon in somebody's face.

18) Aquaman #1 (June, 1989)

This is a badass art school project, but it seems a bit out of place applied to a guy commanding fishies. Careful that oar doesn't bean our hero!

17) Aquaman #1 (December, 1991)

Maguire drew a wonderful Aquaman, but he's choking Random Diver Dude, so no credit beyond that.

16) Aquaman #45 (June, 1998)

A bit stiff for an underwater shot, but that's one intense army of sea life bringing up the rear.

15) Brightest Day #3 (Early August, 2010)

A confident Aquaman with an adoring Mera standing at the forefront of a group shot of quality contemporaries? Arthur just had a wetter than average dream.

14) Aquaman #5 (April, 1992)

The Sea King is clearly upset about the loss of his entire lower body!

13) Aquaman #15 (April, 2004)

Alan Davis was supposed to draw an Aquaman mini-series a quarter-century ago. We're all still due, Davis included, as he needs that one "it" project to serve as the cornerstone of his career.

12) The Brave and The Bold #82 (March, 1968)

The Somnambulist Surfer! How can you resist?

11)Aquaman #18 (November,1964)

Everybody loves a wedding.

10) Aquaman #34 (February, 1968)

There's such concern on Arthur's face, and this is the first of many covers of Aquaman cradling Mera.

9) Aquaman #2 (September, 1994)

A really stupid story, but the cover is more than a tease of what lies beneath.

8) Aquaman #62 (June, 1978)

This is a powerful cover, but coming a year after Arthur's death, a bit too late to rate higher.

7) Aquaman #30 (November,1966)

Aquaman covers are kind of morbid, aren't they?

6) Aquaman #53 (September, 1970)

Aquaman is trying to save an entire state from drowning with his bare hands.

5) Aquaman #33 (October, 2005)

There aren't enough comic book covers these days simply showing two people in love.

4) Aquaman #45 (May, 1969)

So many of the great Aquaman covers involve our hero defeated or otherwise in the underdog position. Given his shaky reputation, I'm not so sure that's a good thing.

3) Adventure Comics #452  (July, 1977)

The Sea King in chains! Black Manta decrees he must die! Aqualad poised to strike a deathblow with his mentor's trident! An infant imperiled! A classic image that has haunted the series for decades.

2) Aquaman #42 (November, 1968)

If there was ever any doubt Black Manta was Aquaman's arch-foe, this should have removed it. Eisner-style lettering incorporated into a dramatic, moody whole.

1) Aquaman #1 (February, 1986)

It may be one of his shortest-lived looks/costumes, but this Aquaman cover composition is one of the best loved and memorable of all.

Honorable Mentions:
Adventure Comics #442
Adventure Comics #444
Adventure Comics #466
Adventure Comics #475
Adventure Comics #478
Aquaman #3 (1962)
Aquaman #11 (1963) (1st Mera)
Aquaman #13 (1964)
Aquaman #29 (1966) The first appearance of the Ocean Master.
Aquaman #4 (1986)
Aquaman #5 (1989)
Aquaman #2 (1989)
Aquaman #3 (1992)
Aquaman #6 (1992)
Aquaman #7 (1992)
Aquaman #0 (1994)
Aquaman #12 (1996)
Aquaman #16 (1996)
Aquaman #25 (1996)
Aquaman #36 (1997)
Aquaman #7 (2003)
Aquaman #63 (2000)
Aquaman #20 (2004)
Great sense of motion on this, but a lack of tension... and appropriate clothing, Dolphin-Lass
Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #40
Aquaman: Time & Tide #3
Showcase #30 (The first Aquaman solo cover, but mediocre all the same.)
The Brave and The Bold #51 (1st team-up cover)
DC Special Series #1 (1977)
The Flash #66 (1992)
Justice League of America #94
Justice League of America #242
The Legend of Aquaman #1 (1989
Superman #63 (1992)
Superman: The Man of Steel #48
Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #29

Showcase #79 (December, 1968)

This is Dolphin's debut, but I love the simplicity of this cover so much, I had to include it.

Check out more spotlight countdowns of great art from the past 75 years of DC Comics Covers at DC75: Top Character Covers of the Dodranscentennial


Colin Smith said...

Grand stuff. I always approach such posts with half-a-hope that I'll see something I'd not noticed before and half-a-hope that my own choices/prejudices will be reflected. You've done both. Grand to see World's Finest # 203 and - my all-time favourite - Aquaman # 45 in your list. And thanks for posting the beautifully-designed Dolphin cover, which I'd quite forgotten about. I'm glad I followed the link from the Aquaman Shrine over to here.

Diabolu Frank said...

I'm glad you liked it. I tried to be objective, but it's impossible to cast stuff you love aside to squeeze in something you think others would want to see. I should have just gone for a top fifty, but I'm trying not to lose my hair. :)

Wings1295 said...

Wonderful list! I agree with many of your choices. Your choice for #18 has always been a favorite of mine.

Dave said...

Wow, that Dolphin is gorgeous. Great list!