The incredible biodiversity of Aquaman’s variant cover: Part four of a six part trilogy.

aquapurged4Welcome to day four of our delightful tour through the weird, wonderful creatures on Michael Allred’s incredible Aquaman cover. It’s all fish today!

Since we’re at the halfway point, now seems like a good time to reflect on why this cover matters so much. I’ve been a fan of Aquaman for a long time, and for all the amazing visuals in the latest iteration of our Atlantean hero, the deep sea remains noticeably underrepresented. Comic books mirror life and it is rare to see deep-sea creatures feature in art, let alone popular art. To have so many deep-sea organisms featured prominently on a piece of genre-crossing pop art is a rare and welcome opportunity to share my love for fangtooths, vampire squid, vent worms, monkfish, fringeheads, and isopods with a new and diverse audience.

Downward with the bestiary of barotollerant glory!

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Real Monsters – Viperfish

The deep-sea, by virtue of no light, cold temperatures, and high pressures, leaves an environment ripe for evolving some pretty strange critters. One of my personal favorites, mostly because of the crazy teeth it boasts, is the viperfish.

To me, the viperfish looks like a dessicated version of some sort of alien. In reality, it’s a fast swimmer, moving at 2 body lengths per second, but a small fish at 1-2 feet. They spend their days in the deepest waters (about 9000 feet) but emerge at night, rising from the ocean floor to begin their hunt. Since food is not predictable, they can store large amounts of food from a successful hunt to make use of in leaner times.

Not on the scary note, the fish also has a photophore, or a biolumenescent appendage that it uses to attract prey. It basically travels with bait attached to its forehead. Awesome.

~Bluegrass Blue Crab

sources: The Sea and Sky and Wikipedia