Written by: Gerard Way and Jon Rivera
Art by: Michael Avon Oeming
Publisher: DC’s Young Animal
Since my initial disappointed review of Doom Patrol, my opinion on DC’s Young Animal has really turned around. I was very impressed by the debut of Shade the Changing Girl, and the second issue of Doom Patrol was a massive improvement over the first in my opinion. The launch of Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye has managed to raise the bar even further, being my favorite issue from the line so far. It’s sad, relatable and features a fitting dash of dry humor and weirdness. In short, it’s everything I expected from Gerard Way’s new line.
CCHACE (to use Way’s own acronym) features a different protagonist than we’ve seen so far. Rather than a youthful, alienated stranger, Cave Carson is a famous spelunker as well as a father and husband. Things fall apart after the death of his wife however, causing him to retreat underground and loose most of his connections to the outside world. When his cybernetic eye starts acting up however, it forces him to start getting more involved in the world above ground in order to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Out of all the books so far, this one felt both the most relatable and the hardest hitting emotionally. I was really able to feel Cave’s grief, with the opening pages giving a touchingly accurate portrayal of loss. Having such a mundane and grounded emotional core, such as trying to reconnect with your loved ones after a tragedy, gives this book a real emotional core that helps ground the weirdness and make the book enjoyably weird rather than random for the sake of it weird. The book’s characters feel so real I didn’t even really question things such as his cybernetic eye or him living underground until the book deliberately draws attention to it. This makes it feel far more balanced than the other books, and therefore much easier to get invested in.
Despite probably being the least recognizable character from the line-up so far, CCHACE actually feels like the most accessible to fans not in the loop with some of the more eccentric DC characters. There’s a cameo from the Metal Men and their creator, as well as a reference to the big blue, and also a last page reveal of a character who’s recently made their tv debut. While I personally am a little conflicted about these appearances, as I like these books remaining distinctly separate from the rest of the DCU, if having this sort of thing helps ease potential new fans into the weirder elements then I can’t really complain. The synergy between the last page reveal however did feel a little bit too on the nose to feel coincidental though, so I just hope it wasn’t editorially mandated, as otherwise this issue is a near perfect start.
Micheal Avon Oeming is a true comics master, so I shouldn’t need to big up his art, but I’ll attempt anyway. While his art isn’t instantly as bizarre or weird as the other books, it’s incredibly atmospheric and subtly manipulates your eye to really pull you into the story. The atmospheric, at times grey style means that whenever the weirdness of Cave’s life starts interjecting, it truly feels out of place and hits you as hard as it does Cave. It constantly makes you question what you’re seeing, and really gets across the disorientating feeling that comes with grief. It’s a slightly subtler style than the other books, but in my opinion is far more impactful at setting the tone and getting across the story.
Like Shade, this issue also features a back up story which is…. honestly indescribable. Truly, read it and please try and explain it to me (now there’s some buying incentive), unlike the simple joke then punchline set up as seen in Shade, this feels more like one of those art films you enjoy but don’t really get. There’s something about then wonder twins for two pages, then another about batgirl I think? I don’t know, but as the comic promises it will continue in future issues, I can’t really judge it now. All I can say is while it feels as out of place as the other back-up, it at least feels so weird and bizarre I can’t help but be fascinated in where it goes.
Overall, Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye exceeded my expectations for both this installment, as well as the Young Animal line. It’s the book that’s sold me on the system and one that I’m definitely going to look forward to every month. While this issue ends a bit too soon on an abrupt note, it’s got so many emotions and dry humour that it’s impossible not to recommend. If you only buy one Young Animal book, make it this one. It has all the qualities the line should strive for.