Cave Carson Has An Interstellar Eye #6 // Review
Cave Carson Has An Interstellar Eye #6, by Jon Rivera, Michael Avon Oeming, Nick Filardi, and Clem Robins, ends the interstellar adventure of Cave and friends. Issues four and five found the emotional core of the story, transcending what came before, and this one keeps that up, expertly blending sci-fi with themes of friendship and family.
Cave and company, captured by his believed-dead friend, Bully, are brought before Prince Elium and his father, the King. They learn why the Prince is ailing, and formulate a plan to save him. What follows is an operation both absurd and deadly, as Cave and his friends work together to save not only the Prince, but the entire world that has coalesced around him and themselves.
Since the first series, Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye, Cave has been on a journey of discovery and redemption, and this issue brings all of that to the fore. The relationship between Cave and everyone in his life was irreparably damaged by his guilt over what “losing” Bully. He withdrew inwards, only allowing his wife in. When she died, he drew even more inward, until there was little to no relationship at all with his daughter Chloe. The first series was where the two of them repaired that relationship and this one is where Cave finally comes to terms with the inciting event to all of it, the “loss” of Bully. Even then, Cave is caught up in formulating a plan to save the Prince, and Bully is so bitter that Cave wasn’t able to save him that the relationship would never be mended except for the actions of Chloe. Guilt is the engine that drives Cave. His guilt over Bully and distancing himself from the people he cared about have him drawn inward, and then made him seek out and repair his relationship with Chloe during the first series. Here, it keeps him from engaging Bully on anything but a professional level, asking him for his help in trying to solve Elium’s problem. Bully’s own anger over what has happened to him, the sundering of his life, is directed at Cave, and he can’t bring himself to bridge the gap between the two of them. Just like Chloe helped her father come to terms with the pain his guilt has caused himself and others, she helps Bully through his in her no-nonsense fashion, cutting through the layers of bitterness to reach the core of the problem. Her adventures with her father through the multiverse and space have allowed her to tap into her own potential as a leader, and the best leaders are the ones who can see through both sides of a problem and work to bring them together.
It’s this kind of character building and grasp of emotion that have made this series get better as it progressed. When it started, it just seemed like more trippy fun from Rivera and Oeming. The visuals would be mind-blowing, the humor would be clever, and the situations would be exciting, but it would be all flash and no substance. Since the fourth issue, Rivera has turned that on its head, giving readers a heady, emotional ride. The comic was still trippy, but like the best hallucinogenic trips, it became invested in emotion, and used that emotion to foster growth. By the end of the book, Cave, Chloe, and Bully have all changed, becoming more fully rounded and letting go of their traumas. Instead of being an empty sci-fi trip, the book became a therapy session on LSD, leading the characters on a journey of self discovery together, each of them realizing that self discovery is great, but without people to love, to strive and change for, it’s all kind of meaningless.
Oeming and the art team turn it to eleven with this one. The page layouts alternate between the traditional grid and more exotic panel structures, all highlighted by color dots in the margins which sometimes bleed into the scenes. Oeming does his best character work of the series so far, mostly abandoning the overly cartoonish character rendering of earlier issues, helping to get across the emotion that makes the story so powerful. Filardi’s coloring set the mood for the whole book, alternating between glossy and powerful to subtle, understated hues that inform the mood. A meandering, double-page spread towards the end of the book is a highlight, as Cave and Prince Elium walk through Cave’s memories, and the page that follows it is a masterpiece of composition. These three pages show script and art blending perfectly, combining words, images, and color to convey a scene brilliantly.
When it started, Cave Carson Has An Interstellar Eye started out with a lot of potential that the next two issues seemingly squandered, delivering a safe sci-fi story with trippy visuals, but very little heart. The last three issues embraced the unrealized possibilities of the book, though, using those visuals and clever reimaginings of sci-fi tropes to tell a story about redemption and reaching one’s potential. Rivera and company have stuck the landing on this one to such an extent that it’s sad that this is the last time that readers will spend with these characters for the foreseeable future. Cave Carson Has An Interstellar Eye #6 is a pitch-perfect send off for them. It transcends the already lofty heights the book has risen to.