When it comes to its peculiar title, the initial two questions that come up about the comic is: Who is Cave Carson? And why does he have a cybernetic eye? As the eponymous adventurer was introduced during an obscure period in DC’s history, his cybernetic eye was one of the central mysteries established during the initial volume and in its cliffhanger of an ending, the eye forcefully removes itself from Cave, leaving him in much pain.
So, the question is now: Where did Cave Carson’s cybernetic eye go?
Before we get to that answer, this volume opens with a detour from the main narrative. While Carson remains unconscious, he dreams of a past memory where he teamed up with the Man of Steel himself against a subterranean threat below the city of Metropolis. Although the purpose of the Young Animal imprint is to tell stories that show an edgy and mature twist on the DC universe, it is oddly pleasant seeing the iconic superheroes doing guest-appearances in these strange tales.
It does read like a typical Cave Carson issue as the lead goes through the twisted labyrinth of his dream where he confronts his fears and regrets in the shape of a crystallized monster with Michael Avon Oeming showing off his psychedelic art. His pairing with Superman gives the whole issue a positive spin that is reminiscent of the Silver Age comics as Supes drops some wisdom towards the flawed Carson, reminding him "that power is earned after it is given, and its only true reward is humility."
However, when Carson wakes from his dream as he’s reunited with his diverse group of adventurers, including the out-of-place Wild Dog, all that positivity gets chucked out of the window. Along with the disappearance of the cybernetic eye, the Whisperer’s reign of terror spreads across the entire globe, which will then escalate into an extra-dimensional invasion that Carson and his allies must prevent.
As much as I criticized the previous volume for throwing in many ideas into the mix, that problem becomes even more apparent here as writer Jon Rivera is juggling too many characters who are jumping from one dimensional set-piece to the next that you can’t tell what is going on. Even when the comic stops and takes a breather, it’s hard to engage with anybody because none of the overly-extended cast gets to shine and by the time we reach Carson going through some family revelations, albeit in an outlandish sci-fi fashion, I was already feeling drained by Rivera’s extravagant but ultimately incoherent storytelling.
As always, the one saving grace would have to the surreal artwork by Powers artist Michael Avon Oeming who, along with colorist Nick Filardi, reveals a new aspect in every page, in terms of panel experimentation, character design and layout and crazily gargantuan monsters terrorizing below and above the surface, with a hint of the DC Universe that we all know. However, as another case of being "adult" for the sake of doing so, a lot of content, including swearing and physical disembodiment comes across as more irksome than fun.
While it started off as a fun story that was subverting the pulp adventure genre, Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye takes a step down in a volume that may answer those lingering questions, but gets bogged down by Jon Rivera’s incoherent baggage.
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