Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye/Swamp Thing Special #1 Review: Testing the Limits of Self-Reference

Cave Carson, Chloe, and Wild Dog have become office workers! Cave Carson is a desk jokey, Chloe is the intern, and Wild Dog is the head of security. However, when Cave begins to feel sick, Swamp Things' way into this story begins to open! The team also begins to uncover the secrets of Retconn and how their plans are coming together.

Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye/Swamp Thing Special #1 cover by Rian Hughes
Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye/Swamp Thing Special #1 cover by Rian Hughes

Cave Carson/Swamp Thing is challenged only by Shade the Changing Girl/Wonder Woman in terms of outright bizarre for these DC/Wild Animals crossovers.

While I've not kept up with the Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye series, it's not difficult to pick up the opening joke of such an eccentric team to be shoved into an office space. It mostly works too. Cave is sitting there with an eyepatch and Jack has his hockey mask on, and, even when they're supposed to look average, these characters still stick out like a sore thumb.

Swamp Thing's entrance is pretty fantastic, and Jon Rivera gets why this character is so beloved. The mixture of intimidating, naturalistic spirituality, and gentleness make Swamp Thing more endearing than most.

Cave Carson/Swamp Thing dives further into the idea of marketability and its complex relationship with art and literature. It even dives into the concept of defining one's self by their brand through a thinly-veiled satire of the popular Funko Pops collectibles. They are touted to help people define themselves, and characters repeat their scripture, "Brand Maketh the Man."

Also, Rita Farr has the best reference in this story. She is their version of Jesus Christ, with an ad for "Rita Farr Superstar" being shown halfway through the comic. Chloe also screams "Rita H. Farr" in surprise at one point.

Another interesting idea this comic touches on is the idea of intellectual property rights. Retconn has a cache of "dreamers," which are the corpses of artists and writers from across time, and it's used as fuel for their flying office building.

What's bizarre about "Milk Wars" is that it challenges ideas that are so easily identifiable with DC. Hell, this comic has the Swamp thing Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson crediting, both men having passed away in just the past two years. There's nothing saying that creators within the DC machine can't challenge the practices of their publisher, but Steven Orlando is writing Justice League of America. Gerard Way is writing Doom Patrol. Satirizing a system, assigning its practices to the objective villain, but showing no interest in changing the system is the kind of thing that earns the label of "hypocrisy." I don't think Orlando and Way are hypocrites for doing this. I'm all for challenging systems from within. It's just odd.

It's worth mentioning that Cave Carson creators France Herron and Bruno Premiani aren't credited in this comic.

And it does feel different from, say, Green Arrow making broad and damning statements about capitalism, libertarianism, corporate consolidation, etc. While Green Arrow is published by DC Entertainment, a subsidiary of Warner Bros., which is itself a subsidiary of Time Warner, one of the riches damn companies on the planet, Benjamin Percy writing Green Arrow is far enough removed from the shadier practices of the corporation to "get away with it," for lack of a better phrase. Meanwhile, using the properties of deceased creators held by a massive entertainment corporation is literally what "Milk Wars" is doing.

I guess the point of this digression is that the finale to this story better come up with a truly creative and thoughtful ending to justify this prodding at their own game.

Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye/Swamp Thing Special #1 cover by Langdon Foss and Nick Filardi
Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye/Swamp Thing Special #1 cover by Langdon Foss and Nick Filardi

Langdon Foss' artwork is a cartoony style wherein the most emphasized qualities of a character are how they're best identified. The heads are larger, the bodies smaller, and the limbs lankier. It's all pretty fitting for the quirky and self-referential nature of the story. Swamp Thing has a different look for the comic too, and it's good.

The coloring of Nick Liardi adds some odd shading to the borders of the characters which took some getting used to for me. It made the comic look like a 3-D movie while not wearing the glasses. My eyes became accustomed to it after a time.

The back-up story takes a metanarrative turn of its own too.

Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye/Swamp Thing Special #1 is a comic that definitely leaves me thinking. It is ponderous about its own creation in a way few other comics are, but it's still unclear if "Milk Wars" can stick a good landing with this self-reference. That aside, this particular issue has enough charm and fun to carry itself as a standalone product. The art is solid too, and this comic earns a recommendation. Check it out.

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Joshua DavisonAbout Joshua Davison

Josh is a longtime super hero comic fan and an aspiring comic book and fiction writer himself. He also trades in videogames, Star Wars, and Magic: The Gathering, and he is also a budding film buff. He's always been a huge nerd, and he hopes to contribute something of worth to the wider geek culture conversation. He is also happy to announce that he is the new Reviews Editor for Bleeding Cool. Follow on Twitter @joshdavisonbolt.
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