I've read a lot of Aquaman comics in my life, more than almost any other set of characters short of Daredevil and The Legion of Super-Heroes, and there's a fair point to be made about how often he returns to the mean (short hair, orange shirt, beardless, Mera, boring ass Vulko, dead son) in the Post-Crisis era. The sticking point: that's what his fans, who are a notoriously conservative bunch (where this character is concerned), buying comics off a notoriously conservative company, want out of their Aquaman adventures.
But that's not to say that a number of very creative people haven't tried:
But again, it wasn't long after the Larsen run ended that DC, in their infinite wisdom, put Arthur back in the orange and green.
I think the 2003 series is interesting because depending on the creator involved, the take on Aquaman becomes radically different:
It's worth nothing that this is also the run that DC is currently reprinting, with Pfeifer's issues as Volume 1, with nary a mention of the Veitch bit that came before it. It's a good jumping on point, and I get why they did it that way, but I'm sure there's some new fan who is wondering just what the heck happened to Issues 1 through 14. Or maybe not.
Bunn left the book due to what he termed as "brutal" negative fan reaction.
Now we have Dan Abnett basically doing a pale imitation of the Geoff Johns version. But this is what fans seem to want. Safe, predictable old Aquaman. Even the mixed reaction to Jason Momoa-as-Aquaman promo shots play to type, with cries of "That's Not Aquaman" filling comment sections across the blogosphere.
Again, it's not that a number of creators haven't tried to make the character work in new settings, with a new cast, just that nobody buys it when it happens. And those changes are met with either indifference, or outright hostility. There's a pretty good chance, once the movie hits - if the movie hits - this at times unwinnable battle between creator, publisher and fans will again rear its head. But perhaps the power of new fans coming in will allow the character just a little more growth, or maybe it'll just create a whole new set of problems. Time (and tide) will tell.