Superheroes are nothing if not known for their colorful, distinctive outfits. From Batman’s cape and cowl, to Spider-Man’s red-and-blue bodysuit, each superhero has a costume that is unique to their person and abilities. Some short-lived costume designs make their reappearance every so often, and this month in celebration of Pride Month, DC Comics has revived and updated the short-lived tactical suit for their very own sub-mariner, Aquaman.
In the pages of Aquaman: Deep Dive #6, the King of Atlantis is leading a task force to explore the lair of the villain Scorpio. Although the lair is mostly abandoned, they inadvertently activate a super-weapon: the hulking, gigantic and nigh-unstoppable Torpedoman. Once activated, the behemoth machine makes its way to the nearest Atlantean facility, a science outpost, and threatens to obliterate it unless Aquaman and his team can figure out a way to penetrate its indestructible armor. Despite Aquaman’s myriad powers, the team proves ineffective against the giant. After several unsuccessful attempts, some unconventional thinking reveals the Torpedoman’s weakness, and Aquaman and his team are able to stop the destructive machine.
For most of his mission, Aquaman forgoes his usual orange-and-green outfit for a blue-hued camouflage outfit. Sleek and form-fitting, this suit allows him to blend into the water with much better ease. Scorpio’s lair, hidden deep under the Arctic Ocean, would have been harder to infiltrate had Aquaman stayed with his usual outfit, as it would have made him a for more visible target. Although this suit is eventually gradually torn away in the thick of battle, it is not the first time it has made an appearance in Aquaman lore, and hopefully will be seen more often during the more clandestine missions that are undertaken in future stories.
This suit was popularized by Neal Pozner, who had taken over the creative duties of the Aquaman miniseries in 1986. Having worked his way up in DC Comics starting in 1977 (where he designed a tabloid-sized tie-in for Superman: The Movie), he had grown into the role of the first production designer for the company. The blue camouflage suit was one of Pozner’s leading contributions to DC Comics, on top of his keen eye at picking out new talent. Phil Jimenez, Stuart Immonen, and Gene Ha are just a few of the artists Pozner was responsible for hiring, and through the use of DC characters in in-house ads, Pozner raised awareness of the AIDS epidemic during his tenure.
Pozner’s influence went a bit further than merely hiring talent and designing an alternative suit for Aquaman. Writer Christopher Priest, the creator of the character Triumph, based the character directly on Pozner, and remembers him fondly as he details on his own website:
“Neal was, likely, the sharpest tool in the shed. He dressed better and had better hair than anybody on the floor, veeps included. He was aggressive, passionate about his convictions, willing to stick his neck out for his ideals and for the people he was charged with defending. Neal swung a (political) bat at the major-major Powers That Be at DC on my behalf once, a political move I didn’t expect Neal to survive. I marveled at his courage and his dignity, even as some braced against him for being very direct and headstrong and for always being right. Neal, write this down someplace, was always right. He was. At the end of the day, Neal would be proven right. That fact, more than anything else, annoyed many staffers beyond reason. Not that Neal would rub your nose in it — you’d rub your own nose. That’s how right he was.”
Although he passed away in 1994 from the very disease for which he’d advocated, DC Comics is paying a bit of tribute, appropriately for Pride Month, by bringing back one of Aquaman’s coolest designed costumes–and an old memory for the late Neal Pozner.
Next: The First Aquaman Was Completely Human, NOT Atlantean
Source: Wayback Machine