Back in March at the Emerald City Comicon DC announced a new imprint called DC’s Young Animal. Much like TV series these days have a “showrunner” who’s job it is to ensure the series has a cohesive vision DC has appointed Gerard Way as the curator of this new imprint. Way is better known as one of the founders and vocalist of the alternative rock band My Chemical Romance and as the multiple award winning writer of The Umbrella Academy comics. The flagship title for Young Animal is Doom Patrol, written by Gerard Way and sets the tone for the other titles in the series. Way describes his theme for Young Animal as “comics for dangerous humans.”
This week saw the release of Young Animal’s second series, Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye.
For DC Comics historians, Cave Carson first appeared in The Brave and the Bold #31 in 1960. In keeping with other similar titles at the time like Challengers of the Unknown, Rip Hunter and The Sea Devils, Cave Carson featured the science fiction-like adventures of a non-super powered hero and in Carson’s case, spelunking and exploring the underground mysteries of Earth. Unlike the other titles mentioned, Cave Carson never managed to get enough steam to move onto a solo title. The stories ran in Brave and the Bold for a few issues then continued in Showcase for a few issues. Later on in the 80’s Cave Carson was revived as a member of the Forgotten Heroes which was basically a group of unused characters that DC cobbled together and featured in titles like Action Comics and Crisis on Infinite Earths. I’m sure this was a case of DC renewing copyrights on some of these long “forgotten” characters. Cave has pooped up once in a while since, but again, never in his own book.
Enter DC’s Young Animal and Gerard Way. Gerard Way and co-writer John Rivera reintroduce the character as a recently widowed, former adventurer for a company called EBX. Along with Cave’s college-aged daughter, Chloe, Cave has to cope with the recent loss of his wife and return to work. But something at EBX is going on since his absence and there in lies the first subplot mystery. Did I mention his cybernetic eye yet? No? In the story we don’t get to hear the details of how the eye came to be but it starts misbehaving a bit and Cave suffers from visions or visitations from the past. To get to the bottom of these two mysteries Cave makes a visit to Dr Will Magnus, creator of the Metal Men which show up in a quick cameo. There is another surprise character appearance at the end of the book but I don’t want to spoil ALL the twists in the first issue.
Writing by Gerard Way and Jon Rivera is pretty tight and provides enough plot questions in this first issue to continue momentum into issue #2. One minor quibble is the first few pages seem to feature a rapid progression of time without sufficient little “Later” boxes to help readers like myself follow along. Either that or there is an art issue. As an example we see Cave with a bit of scruff on his face at one point and the last panel of that page continues onto the next with the box “Even worse I have to talk to my boss”. On that page we see a fully bearded Cave walking into his place of work. Either the beard grew overnight or this is happening weeks later not next day as the text and flow of the pages implies. Again, not a huge issue at all but I did find myself wondering if this is the same character and rereading a bit. Without the benefit of a superhero suit I am just not familiar enough with a new character and a new art interpretation of a character in a first issue to easily identify Cave without beard, with scruff and then full beard in the first six or so pages.
Art by Michael Avon Oeming is fantastic and leans more to the cartoonist side as opposed to hyper realistic renderings. But that is exactly what a line like Young Animal is about. Stylistic art and quirky characters to really distinguish the comics from regular superhero fare. Nick Filardi takes this idea into his colouring of the comic with a lot of texture and interesting digital techniques. The book stands out .. which I am sure is exactly the point.
I put this comic on my pull list months ago along with Doom Patrol as my Silver Age DC nostalgia strings were pulled quite effectively by the advanced solicitations. If these two books are any indication of where this line is going I suspect Young Animal might just steal quite a bit of Vertigo’s thunder as DC’s place for readers to look for something different. Great first issue and I’m hooked.
Issue: Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye #1 | Publisher: DC Comics
Writers: Gerard Way & Jon Rivera | Artists: Michael Avon Oeming and Nick Filardi