Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Cave Carson Has an Interstellar Eye by Jon Rivera, Michael Avon Oeming, and Nick Filardi

When you have a superhero adventure comics character whose big thing is that he's a geologist and cave explorer, what do you think is the natural next step after you bring him back in the big phantasmagorical maxiseries and reset him to appeal to those hip millennials?

It's clearly sending him off into space chasing his previously-never-mentioned best friend and professional collaborator the rock star, right? Chasing through a succession of mostly ships and habitats, landing on actual planets only rarely and tunneling beneath them never? Living inside his mysterious alien eye much of the time since he doesn't actually have a, whadayacallit, spaceship handy?

If you answered "Hell Yes," congratulations! You are qualified to run circa-2018 DC Comics. You could have greenlighted Cave Carson Has an Interstellar Eye, written this time by Jon Rivera alone (Gerard Way was apparently sufficiently distracted not to demand equal credit) but with an intact art team of Michael Avon Oeming (lines) and Nick Filardi (colors).

The first series was silly, absolutely - see my post on it, which I will link again - but it was silly in hey-here's-an-old-DC-character, his-thing-is-caves, let's-do-some-crazy-cave-shit way. This one is silly in, less definable way. It reads as if Rivera had a file of random story ideas, couldn't decide on any of them, ignored the people that pointed out that most of them aren't really Cave Carson ideas to begin with, and then just did them all in quick succession and high speed.

You can tell even DC had no idea how to handle this when their blurb prominently features the phrase "spelunking in a black hole," because, one, that totally sounds like an Urban Dictionary entry you do not want to look up, and B, it's not a black hole and he doesn't do any spelunking (then or at any other time in this story). There is a certain whiff of desperation that may have emerged when they realized they had Cave Carson in a deranged Space Cabbie story.

So, anyway, Cave and his teenage daughter Chloe and his rescued friend Marc Bartow (dead from suicide in Cave's world, plucked from an alternate world where he was not) are off to see their old friend Star Adam, who is basically if Bootsy Collins were Prince and also actually from space. But, alas! Adam is growing, Baldanders-style, and is already room-sized. For some poorly explicated reason, his growth will soon make him implode, which will kill everyone around him. So our heroes agree to truck him away from the civilized habitat where he lives off to the space equivalent of an empty field to let him die and wreck the local surroundings in relative peace.

As you do.

Due to poor planning, the implosion happens faster than expected, with unpleasant results for Cave and team. They do survive, as mentioned above, by fleeing into a pocket dimension manifested by Cave's (these days detachable) cybernetic eye, where they hole up in their normal vehicle, the tunneling Mighty Mole, which apparently is space-flight capable enough to get them to Adam's place and away just fine but now might not be up to interstellar flight?

Anyway, the eye eventually crash-lands on a planet, where two groups are having a conflict. Cave and friends solve this conflict, and go on their way to several other conflicts, which turn out to be (very, very loosely) linked and somewhat connected to the scattered remnants of Adam, who also turns out to be not quite as dead as "scattered remnants of" would have you believe.

Again, this is silly and bizarre and fast-moving and full of goofy details, as if Rivera was narrating it on some really good designer stimulants directly to us. It does not make a hell of a lot of sense, but it is flashy and exciting and a lot fewer people die than in the first series (well, except for the first planet, but those are mostly the villains sudden-and-inevitably-betraying each other, and played for laughs). I still do not recommend the Cave Carson books. I possibly recommend this one even less than the first story, which at least was a clearly hipster take on a cave dude doing cave-dude things.

But Oeming's art is lovely and lush, well-supported by Filardi's colors. And the story is...well, there's a lot of it, he said brightly! And some of it nearly makes sense! It will definitely not bore you, is what I'm saying.

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