You know, man, a LOT of these directions were looking great at the point you abandoned them, in my opinion.
I don't know you well enough to say for sure, but seems like it's time for you to charge ahead with what you have rather than hunting for some unknown something you haven't come across yet. Both in terms of making a piece, and just good for you as an artist/creator.
Jeson, thanks for the advice and the ego boost! I'm charging ahead with the last concept I posted, at this point in the contest I can't really spend any more time tinkering anyway . Here's a work in progress shot in black and white. Gonna add a color overlay next, and then do another color pass to finish. Hopefully should be done in the next 2 days.
No offense, but some of the WIPs actually came out better than the final.