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Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye Vol. 1: Going Underground (Young Animal) Paperback – July 4, 2017
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“Not only possesses the best title of any comic in recent memory—the third launch of Gerard Way’s Young Animal imprint is one of the wildest and most inventive comics in years.” —PASTE MAGAZINE
“ Another strong debut for the Young Animal imprint.” —NEWSARAMA
"it’s a compelling character study of a man grieving the loss of his wife and trying to maintain his connection to his daughter while dealing with a dramatic increase in strange shit surrounding him. Gerard Way and Jon Rivera’s story is rooted in the pulp adventurer past of their title character, but it’s moving in a much more high-concept direction that blends a number of genres into something unique and engaging."--A.V. CLUB/THE ONION
About the Author
Gerard Way is the Eisner Award-winning writer of The Umbrella Academy and the comics miniseries The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. He is the creative mind behind the new grassroots imprint, DC's Young Animal, whose retro-inspired lineup bridges the gap between the DC Universe and Vertigo. Way is also widely known for his former role as the lead vocalist and co-founder of the alternative rock band My Chemical Romance.
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Rendering Way's unique vision of the subterranean world of DC's second stringer spelunker is artist Michael Avon Oeming, who has a magnificent comic style which lies somewhere between Japanese Manga and Saturday morning cartoons which is perfectly suited for this tale. I have included a sample page so you can judge for yourself.
Included in this volume: an afterwards by Way, character designs, bios reminiscent of the DC's old WHO'S WHO series and an 18 page comic, WONDER TWINS, a cartoony tribute to Jayna and Zan from SUPER POWERS.
All eyes, cybernetic or otherwise, should be on this trade paperback. Give it a look, you will not regret it.
The big difference between the Young Animal’s titles and some of the other experimental titles is that YA uses, almost exclusively, existing characters. Besides the titular Cave Carson there are also appearances by Doc Magnus and the very obscure Wild Dog. I can’t recall ever reading a Cave Carson story except some brief appearances in some of the huge crossover events. What Gerard Way says in the back of the book is 100% correct and that is that when a writer uses a little known character they have far more freedom to do as they please. I’m really a fan of artistic freedom but when you’re writing a character like Batman, Superman or one of the core DC characters you are constrained. That’s not to say I don’t love me some Batman but I like to also support creative expression.
When you look at the art you might mistakenly think this book is appropriate for small children but it isn’t. There is bloody violence and profanity. Despite the contrast between the art and the writing I enjoy it immensely. Michael Avon Oeming does a very nice of drawing underground scenes and there are a lot. He uses a lot of darks but not so that it becomes difficult to see the images. There are also a lot of reds showing the emergency lights of the Mole II. I read Doom Patrol by Gerard Way and now this book which was co-written by way and I would describe his plotting as complicated. I’m still on the fence as to whether it dips over into the area of messy. I would say that Way’s writing is better than average but it may need a little tightening up. It’s a bit loose. At the very least his writing is interesting and I read both books twice through which is not something I generally do.
DC has been doing since before I was born and I think this is an imprint worth supporting. I’m not sure if the sales are considered a success, a failure or somewhere in between but from an artistic standpoint I do think it’s a success. Check it out. If you don’t like it you’re not out much money.
Wild Dog, Doc Magnus
DC Comics introduced Cave Carson in 1957, alongside other adventure-oriented titles, featuring heroes without superpowers, like Challengers of the Unknown and the Sea Devils. But Carson never got sufficient traction to become his own franchise; he fought alongside Superman, but always as a sidekick. Lead writer Gerard Way admits he needed to consult a concordance of obscure classic characters to find someone worthy of reboot for his Young Animal imprint.
Newly widowed at the start of this story, Cave Carson struggles to maintain connections with his college-age daughter. He goes through the motions of workplace diligence, but they mostly keep him around for nostalgia: he taught his followers everything they know about underground adventuring, before they eventually outgrew him. Now Carson has the kind of slow, melancholy conversations we recognize from action movies, right before everything hits the fan.
And fan-hitting does occur. One night, tired, frustrated, and alone in his formerly full house, Carson hears a knock. A loincloth-wearing emissary appears at his door. Seems the Muldroog, a lost civilization of mole people, are under attack, and only Carson’s late wife, with her panoply of ancient secrets, can save the underground. But with her gone, apparently a blood quantum is sufficient, because they’ll accept Carson’s daughter instead.
It’s difficult to read this graphic novel without recognizing the debts it owes older stories. Besides reviving an almost forgotten character from the Eisenhower era, and connecting him to characters borrowed from Edgar Rice Burroughs, the art suggests a combination of Peter Max and Astro-Boy. The story has hints of old EC horror comics, a tendency emphasized by sudden jarring images of amorphous fungus people savaging the peaceful natives.
Yet this obsessive borrowing doesn’t undercut the story. Like many serial science fiction franchises that don’t bother concealing their roots, like Star Wars and Doctor Who, this story’s connection to older pulp traditions gives it a sense of continuity. We aren’t just reading something generated last weekend like the transient comics of the 1990s that are largely unreadable today. This story connects science fiction’s past to his evolving present.
The emissary at Carson’s doorstep warns him that his employers, EBX, committed the attack on his subterranean nation. So Carson doesn’t even bother bringing his bosses into the discussion. He calls his oldest ally, Wild Dog, an Uzi-wielding maniac who plainly copied his image from the first Quiet Riot album, and goes rogue. Getting off the grid proves easy for a scientist accustomed to caves. Bringing his daughter along proves harder.
Deep underground, the Muldroog have buried a secret for generations. Why else would a nation, apparently blessed by technology but attuned to natural rhythms, continue living in caves? Seems the Muldroog civilization is based upon a lie its people tell outsiders, a curse that keeps giving, provided nobody ever finds out. But what the Muldroog have spent centuries keeping locked up, EBX wants to make into a profit engine.
For all the sci-fi-adventure trappings, this story essentially isn’t about that. Cave Carson’s cybernetic eye, which sometimes goes unmentioned for several chapters, isn’t a driving force behind the story, it’s a metaphor for a man who’s seen things he cannot forget. Carson and his wife told their daughter lies to protect her from hostile reality. Now Eileen’s gone, Cave must bear punishment for those lies alone when truth rushes forth.
This book carries a “Suggested For Mature Readers” label. Please take this seriously. Besides violence, language, and very brief nudity, the themes of long-simmering family tensions shouldn’t be taken lightly. This story introduces themes that most grown-ups will recognize from their own families. Though we perhaps won’t discover our connection to forgotten mole-people civilizations, we all struggle to accept and understand our roots.
Cave Carson is only one among several classic DC characters getting reboot treatments from Gerard Way’s Young Animal imprint. Formerly lead singer of My Chemical Romance, Way’s recent reinvention as a genre writer has made visible several themes always implicit in his music. He admits his comics deal preponderantly with strained parent-child relationships. Well, this story ends in motion; it’ll be interesting to see where he takes these themes next.
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Writers: Jon Rivera, Gerard Way
Artists: Michael Avon Oeming (pencils, inks), Nick...Read more