Be Careful What You Wish For In A Multiverse – Catching Up With Cave Carson

by Hannah Means Shannon

Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye, part of the Young Animal line from DC Comics, curated by Gerard Way, is written by Jon Rivera and drawn by Michael Avon Oeming, with colors by Nic Filardi and letters by Clem Robbins.

It has always been a visual sock in the jaw–psychedelic, interesting, and decidedly weird. It’s about an underground scientist and the mythology of subterranean dwellers, with a whole lot more thrown in. One of the thing that’s always made the comic “work” is the down to earthiness of Cave Carson himself, a stolid personality with old-school ethics sometimes at odds with his visionary, mysterious eye. That struggle of two complementary wills and traits makes for quite an adventure story.
The world that Cave lives in, though, has gotten weirder and weirder. As an alien, trans-dimensional being known as “The Whisperer” has awakened, and as Cave, his team, and a group of Whisperer allies chase each other through dimensions, The Whisperer leaves carnage in his wake and Cave attempts to save worlds, perhaps any worlds at this point, from devastation.

A theme became clear in issues #7 and #8 that in some ways The Whisperer is giving people what they’ve always wished for. People in its sway seem glowingly happy with that outcome, that union and the “silence” the being is heading for by removing wars and conflicts from lesser minds and worlds.
It’s what, in some ways, we all wish for at some time or another. In the face of atrocity, we wish for free will to be suspended for human beings. We want to take the weapons out of the hands of the world, still all conflicts even if unethical methods might be necessarily. The Whisperer just does what we only think about doing, and on a large scale.

Jon Rivera has written in the odd line of two that speaks to our political climate. In issue #9 there are Trumpian echoes from The Whisperer–just let it think for us all–just let it keep promising a better world, even while it leave destruction in its wake. “I can make everything better”, he comments ironically to himself. And its followers love to use the single-syllable insult “Sad” like the Tweet language we know too well by now.
So readers were prepared for this idea which is still relevant as universal as it’s been in storytelling for so long, of “Be careful what you wish for”, with the implied caveat, “What will you actually do if you get what you want?” Our desires also make us vulnerable, issues #9 and #10 of Cave Carson remind us, also. Especially the desires we don’t voice, but repress, and are less clearly aware of.

First we have Chloe, Cave’s college-aged daughter having witnessed the reality of other versions of ourselves in different timelines, seeking a replacement for her deceased mother. She doesn’t see any problem in hoping for that, while Cave counsels her against such urges. Why? Because what we’d get might not be what we expect. You could find a parent who hates you in a new timeline, even if they have survived cancer, as in this case with Chloe’s mom.
But Cave, for all his sage advice about looking for emotional attachment in the multiverse versions of loved ones, falls face down into his own unspoken desire to have a son in issue #10. Chloe then becomes the voice of reason and commentary, since SHE at least has always realized this repressed desire in Cave while he has probably lived telling himself that it’s not true that he would have preferred a son to a daughter. And that desire makes even the indomitable Cave weak and open to disaster.

We can be told to be careful what we wish for, and to watch out for “catches” when something in our lives seems to appear suddenly, almost too good to be true. But it’s more effective, actually, to read Rivera’s wild tale of Cave’s travels and battles, and see Oeming’s electrifying artwork, as emotive as it is fresh and sci-fi in tone, along with Filardi’s brash and continually shifting colors, than to hear those words of advice from a friend or family member.
Just like Cave, going through the illustrated example of the outcome of his own advice unheeded, if we go through this journey with him, we’re more likely to grasp the truth of it.
Chloe is part of that journey, too. In issue #11, our most recent installment, she faces a version of her dream come true when a robotic being who is a version of her mother becomes a possible savior of this version of the world. She’s bound to be in a process of discovering that what she thought she wanted isn’t what she actually wants. We’re on her journey to figure out what that means and how she can express it.

And the playful essence behind the Young Animal line, the driving energy that keeps the plot on all these books in fairly frenetic motion, makes us want to go on that journey, too.
Let’s see what Cave does next, having failed to heed his own sage counsel and reminding us and himself again that he’s only human, and what Chloe can possibly do having received what she most wanted at the expense of others.
Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye #11 is currently available in shops from DC Comics. Issue #12 arrives on September 20th and closes out this story arc.

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