Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye: Volume 1
Written by: Gerard Way & Jon Rivera
Illustrated by: Michael Avon Oeming
Reviewed by: Joe Bones
In 2016, DC Comics launched a new “pop-up” imprint called Young Animal. It was curated by Gerard Way of the band My Chemical Romance. He is also the author of Umbrella Academy for those of you who enjoyed the Netflix series based on those comic books. Young Animal’s focus was to explore characters from the DC Universe through an experimental approach. This line was targeted for mature readers and overseen by Vertigo group editor Jamie S. Rich. Young Animal launched with four titles, one of which was Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye.
For those who don’t know who Cave Carson is, and that included myself before this comic was announced, allow me to fill you in. Cave was created in 1957 by Jack “The King” Kirby as a side character in Challengers of the Unknown. In the 1960s Cave was featured in several spin-off stories that were printed in Brave and the Bold. Cave Carson is an explorer and geologist who specializes in cave diving and spelunking. He leads of team of fellow explorers on adventures through subterranean worlds. In this modernized take on the character, Cave has a cybernetic eye of unknown origin. He has retired from exploring to raise his daughter Chloe.
Throughout this volume Cave’s cybernetic eye shows him strange visions that he struggles to understand. Are they memories, premonitions, or secret messages? With the help of his daughter and the mercenary Wild Dog, Cave attempts to learn the secrets behind the mysterious eye. Along the way he’s sidetracked when he’s given a new mission from his old employer E. Borsten and Sons, which in the years since his retirement has renamed themselves EBX. Returning to the underground kingdom of Muldroog, Cave and the team uncover an ancient conspiracy. A conspiracy with a close connection to Cave himself. The trio races against the clock to stop a subterranean monster from rising from the depths to destroy the surface population of Earth.
Aside from the modern twist on what boils down to a science fiction B-movie plot, this comic also explores the effects of grief on an otherwise fearless adventurer. At the beginning of the story, Cave has just lost his wife. The big moments of this story’s adventure are paralleled by the smaller, more human moments that come from Cave and Chloe each working through the loss in their own way. This gives the story real depth. Way and Rivera seamlessly weave together touching moments with high-octane action to make a thoroughly entertaining story.
The best thing about Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye is the artwork. Oeming fills page after page with psychedelic imagery and creatively laid-out panels. His color palette is always very bright but still manages to capture the mood or setting of each scene. Cool blues and purples of the cave scenes in one panel give way to flashy greens and reds in the panels that depict the action scenes and surprise moments. My only complaint about the art is that I had a hard time telling some of the EBX employees apart from one another. Yet the action scenes are so expertly drawn that this minor complaint can be easily overlooked.
Even people who are generally not fans of comic books can find something to like about Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye. The story is fun, well paced, and full of enduring sci-fi themes. It features classic characters in a way that new readers don’t need to know a lot of history to jump into the story while giving older fans a fresh take. Even if the story itself doesn’t grab your attention, this book is worth checking out for the art alone.