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‘Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye Vol 1: Going Underground’ is a psychedelic, adult subversion of the genre

Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye is a flawed but ultimately fun read.

Who is Cave Carson? And why does he have a cybernetic eye?

To answer that first question, he is an obscure character from DC’s history–at once the world’s greatest underground adventurer who originated from Jack Kirby’s Challengers of the Unknown and has had run-ins with the more popular DC figures, from the Justice Society of America to even the Man of Steel himself.

In regards to his otherworldly cybernetic eye, that is one of the central mysteries that dwell within Young Animal’s relaunch and reinvention of the character. This first volume shows our eponymous hero spending his current life as a family man, leaving behind his spelunking adventures. But when a mysterious illness consumes his wife Eileen, Cave and his daughter Chloe are pulled into a conspiracy that threatens to consume the surface and subterranean worlds alike.

Oh, and to quote co-writer Gerard Way: "Wild Dog is in it." That’s right, that hockey mask-wearing vigilante that recently appeared in TV’s Arrow. In regards to why Wild Dog is actually in this, other than to show off his guns–and his buttocks for that matter, in one splash page–his appearance is most likely based on his television popularity.

As for Cave Carson and his world, it obviously evokes those pulp adventures in the vein of Doc Savage and Indiana Jones, whilst at the same time pushing them into surreal sci-fi maturity. Hence Cave’s psychological conflict with his cybernetic eye, with all its high tech advantages like x-ray, and disadvantages like hallucinations from his dead wife.

Although it is not as mind-boggling as Way’s Doom Patrol, it does suffer from a tendency to throw perhaps too many ideas in this initial volume, such as a central father-daughter relationship, an evil corporation that is secretly a cult that creates fungus monsters and a subterranean world that gets its big moment in explaining its history. Although these elements are spread out over these six issues, you might find the initial read overbearing, but Jon Rivera and Gerard Way present a decent adventure romp.

Given its pulp-ish premise, Cave Carson does read like a Young Animal comic in presenting a punkish psychedelic spin on an existing superhero formula, and this is largely credited to Powers artist Michael Avon Oeming. Hands down, this is an artistically technical achievement in how Oeming experiments with panel layouts, in particular how he visualizes the numerous usages of the cybernetic eye, while the coloring by Nick Filardi makes it look like you’ve been drug-induced from what you’re seeing.

Although I understand this book is for mature readers–and it does deliver on splatter-tastic moments–there will be readers who’ll wish it wasn’t so gratuitous with the nudity, particularly an unnecessary swimming sequence featuring a full-frontal Chloe Carson.

The Verdict

Concluding this initial arc with a rather abrupt cliffhanger, Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye is a flawed but ultimately fun read, due to its subversion of the pulp adventure genre and the amazing art by Michael Avon Oeming.

Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye Vol. 1: Going Underground
Is it good?
Carson subverts DC norms in an entertaining way, featuring a fun story and psychedelic art.
A great title that blends a pulp adventurer with a strange sci-fi contraption.
A psychedelic combination of Oeming's action-filled art and Nick Filardi's splashy coloring.
Like other Young Animal books, it subverts certain aspects of DC's history...
...but also suffers from an overload of ideas that are there just for the sake of being adult.
Wild Dog seems like an odd choice to be among this cast.
This volume just abruptly stops at a crucial story moment about the cybernetic eye

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