Warning —Spoilers for “Kid Cosmic!”
I’ve gotten pretty tired of superhero media over the years. There’s just too much of it. It’s over-saturated and not a lot of it really breaks the mold, y’know? The last time I watched a Marvel movie was probably 2013…unless you count Into The SpiderVerse.
So originally, when I heard about Kid Cosmic, I wasn’t overly-enthused. But it was created by Craig McCracken, so obviously I had to give it a shot. I mean Wander of Yonder didn’t really hold my attention, but the least I could do was watch an episode of this show about a dorky kid and his friends trying to save the world with magic rocks.
Wow…that sounds kind of familiar. But it took a totally different direction than the other magic space rock show.
And I ended up watching the entire first season in a single afternoon. So…yeah, I liked it. I think it did a lot of creative story-telling, and it managed to make all of its characters intriguing and likable.
The series follows the Kid, if that’s his given name it’s unclear. He lives with his grandfather Papa G, in some desolate little desert town where nothing ever happens. Having lost his parents in a tragic car accident, Kid spends a lot of his time with his nose in a comic book.
Most of the town thinks he’s a weirdo – and dislike his hyperactivity and tendency to get into trouble.
When he finds five odd stones, he immediately declares them to be from space and turns them into rings. And he turns out to be right – each stone also gives the user a superpower: flight, the ability to multiple oneself, the ability to become a giant, portal making, and to see the future.
While Kid holds the stone that makes him fly – the other stones eventually find their way into the hands of Papa G, Jo – the local waitress; four-year-old Rosa and Tuna Sandwich the cat. Together they must stop the rings from falling into the wrong hands.
And learn how to use their powers.
And work as a team.
Being a superhero isn’t easy, and this goes out of its way to prove it.
The show does NOT follow the Monster of the Week formula in its episodes as I expected it to. Which is a nice change from the classic superhero shows. Most of the episodes focus on the characters – and in one episode, which is basically nothing but the team fighting random, different aliens who have showed are keen on exploring character and team dynamics.
Surprisingly, it’s Rosa the 4-year-old who has some of the best control of her powers -while Kid is the weakest, despite being the most knowledgeable in superhero tropes…His knowledge is definitely helpful, but he’s still a child. So – he has a lot to learn when it comes to things like teamwork and sharing.
The show is light-hearted and sometimes a bit too on-the-nose with its morals, but it’s still clever and has some dark and darkly funny moments. Like Rosa inadvertently murdering an entire army of aliens by flinging them into space – and then seeing the bodies later on in the episode.
And there’s cursing! I’m always down for some surprise cursing in shows aimed at kids. It takes risks and that is really what I want most out of my cartoons. Nor do I want it to talk down to its audience – even if its kids.
Kid’s trauma is brought up and never played lightly. It’s real, and it affects every area of his life And that just because he knows his tropes, real-life superheroes are different and complicated. In other words, being a hero, especially a kid hero -is not going to be easy.
The Kid Cosmic
I’m pretty tired of the hyper-active, positive weirdo kid hero trope. There are just so many of them. It’s more of a lack of diversity in personalities than the trope itself. But, the trope works here. Partially because it’s not played straight.
The Kid is an excellent example of turning this trope on its head.
He is clearly haunted by the death of his parents; little bits of his trauma are sprinkled throughout the season. He is extremely cautious when crossing streets and goes out of his way to move Rosa out of the street; he copes through his comic book and I think even his headphones might be a way of helping himself in some way.
And there’s a lot that isn’t explored. He was in the accident that killed his parents which left him with a huge scar. His grandpa indulges him – though doesn’t spoil him, and he struggles with not being a good leader.
Like he’s supposed to be one because that’s how its like in comics. They inform his entire worldview. And he gets frustrated when the real world doesn’t work like comics and movies. I hope this concept gets explored more in later seasons.
Kid feels like he should be the leader because he knows the most about comics. But Jo – ends up as the leader because she knows most about the real world.
What’s most interesting about Kid though – is that we don’t know his real name. I don’t think anyone names their child Kid and most of the time, people refer to him as a kid” or “the kid,” which makes me think it isn’t his real name.
He’s also a superhero fanatic, so there’s no way he’d use his real name in his superhero identity. I wonder what his name will be and whether it’s going to be significant.
I like how he is genuinely kind of an outcast – and isn’t looking for friends.
At first, he wants the powers all to himself and when the team finally gets together – he declares himself leader. But he has the least control over his abilities, and he struggles. But we understand where he’s coming from.
His backstory is not secret. You understand where he’s coming from and why he wants to be a hero so badly and why he stays in his fantasy world.
I may not have lost my parents (thank goodness) – but I relate to being the weird kid who got into fiction because I was convinced I was just like the protagonists. Whether I would have thought some magic stones would have actually given me powers is beyond me – but I’d certainly chosen to become a superhero as well.
I mean, wouldn’t you?
The Kid is a fascinating character study and I can’t wait to see more of him. The same goes for the rest of the team.
Every hero needs a team – and sometimes that team involves a cat, a grandpa, a teenage waitress, and a toddler. What I like about this team is that everything is really well-balanced out.
And I like that Kid isn’t the leader nor do people expect a child to guide them. That idea is absolutely ridiculous. In fact, Poppa G goes out of his way to protect him and give the Kid more confidence in his abilities. He’s the weakest member of the team and constantly struggles.
Kid’s the heart of the team – this is even mentioned in in-universe – and Jo has taken on the role as a leader since she’s the most responsible one. I mean, Poppa G is responsible, to an extent – but he’s also a pacifist. That’s not exactly helpful when some of the people you are fighting do want to kill you.
And Jo takes care of everyone. She reigns Kid in and helps to keep an eye on Rosa. She comes up with strategies and doesn’t easily trust everyone (unlike Kid who falls for some tricks, despite being genre-savvy.)
Everyone balances each other out. And the whole show or season is dedicated to them learning to work together and become closer.
Rosa is a nice deconstruction of the “dumb muscle,” since she’s not dumb at all. She’s just young. And she’s by far the team’s strongest member and the one who can deal the most damage. She’s adorable and precocious without being cutesy and annoying. I can’t wait to see what the show does with her.
I like the diversity within the group as well – Jo is African American and Rosa is Hispanic. She also speaks Spanish, which though feels a little gratuitous at times, mainly works.
And Tuna Sandwich, despite being a cat – is a very interesting member of the team, who cares a lot about the other members, especially the kid. I like what they did with his character and gave him an actual personality.
Everyone brings their own strengths and weaknesses. And there’s an interesting dynamic.
Also, Tuna Sandwich gets to say the phrase “hot damn” twice and I didn’t know we could use that phrase on a children’s show.
Ah, “Stuck Chuck,” is the kind of enemy I miss in cartoons. For the most part, he’s an asshole. A capable asshole and a funny one at times, but he is very well and truly just a terrible being. And I love it.
He spends his time tormenting a freaking ten-year-old who still manages to get the better of him. It’s hilarious. I have to know whether he knew Kid is an actual child because he doesn’t seem to have a good concept of how humans work.
He just spends his time trapped in Kid’s trailer reading comic books and just being a dick to everyone. Except Rosa. Kind of.
I love their dynamic. She pretends he’s a princess and wheels him around in a wagon – and he seems to genuinely enjoy it. Even if it’s just because it annoys Kid. It’s cute and if he did just because it pisses off Kid, that’s even better.
His character gets his own little arc, and I’m interested in seeing where it goes in the future.
He also isn’t the main enemy.
The real enemy is a man just called the Biker in Black who runs some kind of secret government agency who wants the stones for themselves. Yep. Humans are the bad guys! I doubt we’ll see him again seeing how the season ended, but we’ll just have to see.
He wants the stones and to destroy all aliens, because he wants to prove Earth isn’t to be trifled with.
So that…checks out.
Obviously, Craig is no stranger to commentary or liberal ideas, but this blatant criticism of xenophobia still came as a bit of a surprise. And it was nice just having a villain who is an irredeemable douchebag have the spotlight for a bit.
I guess I’m not over the Steven Universe hug it out thing and how poorly it’s aged considering everything that’s going on in the world.
I don’t mind redemption arcs or that people who hurt others are hurting – I just don’t think that’s always the best message.
Kid Cosmic’s take isn’t a radical one in the least bit. But I think it’s necessary to say – Hurt people hurt people – but add on – that sometimes the people who hurt others aren’t hurt at all.
But from all angles and perspectives, Kid Cosmic is an EXCELLENT show and I can’t wait to see where it goes.
And that’s the scoop.
Grade: A –
Creator: Craig McCracken
Executive Producers: Craig McCracken, Rob Renzetti, Melissa Cobb
Producer: Dave Thomas
Developers: Craig McCracken, Francisco Angones, Lauren Faust
Directors: Craig McCracken, Rob Renzetti, Benjamin Balisteri, Dave Thomas
If you liked this review check out: “One Punch Man” is a superhero anime unlike any other
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