Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye Vol. 1: Going Underground
Writers: Gerard Way and Jon Rivera
Artists: Tom Scioli and Michael Avon Oeming
Publisher: DC’s Young Animal
Review by Anelise Farris
Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye Vol. 1: Going Underground collects the first six issues of one of the fantastically weird, alternative series created by My Chemical Romance’s frontrunner, Gerard Way. Having enthusiastically reviewed Shade the Changing Girl for the last year, I was eager to jump into another Young Animal series—one that looked like it promised just as much psychedelic fun. As Young Animal is an imprint of DC, the comics issued through this publisher often crossover into the DC world with which we are all familiar. This series is no exception, as Cave Carson is not a new character—just newly reinvented.
Cave Carson first appeared in DC comics in the mid-twentieth century, a Silver Age comic-book hero through and through, who managed to always be a helping hand more than a figure who took center change—that is, until now. Meet the new Cave Carson: no longer is he just the adventurous spelunker with a robotic implant (a cybernetic eye). He and his wife Eileen had traded in their days of exploring below the surface for a comfortable mundane life (think Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak in the fourth season of CW’s Arrow). Unfortunately, a quiet, simple life was not in the cards for these two, and when Eileen passes away, a newly-widowed Cave is pulled back into the world that he thought he left behind.
The first issue of the arc is careful, perhaps overly so, concerning which details about Cave’s life will be revealed from the start, and the wild, fun-house style art definitely increases the “untethered” vibe. While this might be off-putting to some, it was exactly the brand of innovation that I was expecting from Young Animal. And, fortunately, by issue 2, we learn a whole lot more about Cave: how he got the cybernetic eye and how he met his wife (she’s not just Eileen, but Princess Mazra of the lost underground city of Muldroog). There is also a whole lot of fast-paced action in this issue, and, when Cave’s daughter Chloe becomes threatened, we witness more of his emotional human nature.
The middle of the first arc sends Cave, Chloe, and his friend Jack on a spelunking trip to Muldroog—a city that turns out to be, of course, anything but what they expected. Cave’s cybernetic eye continues to haunt him with visions that leave him wondering if they are merely tricks of the mind, hallucinations, or something more. The last two issues of the first volume have all the hits and misses that one might expect from a bizarre, hero pulp that sometimes feels like a good old-fashioned B-movie—and I mean that in the best way. Cave agrees to help the King of Muldroog go up against a villain known as the Whisperer, and, luckily for everyone, Cave has a pretty solid networking system with some of the big players in the hero realm. Although the conclusion of the first arc does feel a little exposition heavy as loose ends are being wrapped up, the action-packed confrontation is, though fairly predictable, fully satisfying.
Because I cannot resist any longer, it must be said now that the art in Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye is what really left an impression on me. The art has a vintage pulpy feel to it, while also managing to be totally original. Every page, with its use of bold colors, and layer upon layer of different textures and tones, delivers, and it feels like a fun house—a bit disorienting but worth exploring every nook and cranny. Overall, the art more than made up for any faults in plot development and Cave’s sometimes underwhelming presence. This comic also packs a great philosophical depth: raising affection questions about love and loss, as well as reality and perception. Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye proves that with the right creative team those undervalued characters, like Cave, can come back with a punch.
Buy it! The birth of DC’s Young Animal was one of my favorite moments of 2016. Having been a long-time fan of Gerard Way, I knew that any comics he had a hand in creating would be inventive, bizarre, and a total visual indulgence. I’m happy to say that I was not wrong. If you are looking for a comic that combines everything you love about vintage pulp comics with the right amount of innovation and fun-house mania then Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye should definitely be on your bookshelf.