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Kid Cosmic

Entry updated 14 February 2022. Tagged: TV.

US animated online tv series (2020-current). Netflix Animation. Created by Craig McCracken. Directors include Craig McCracken, Justin Nichols, Rob Renzetti and Dave Thomas. Writers include Lauren Faust, Craig McCracken and Rob Renzetti. Voice cast includes Keith Ferguson, Jack Fisher, Tom Kenny, Amanda C Miller, Bobby Moynihan, Lily Rose Silver, Cree Summer, Fred Tatasciore and Kim Yarbrough. 24 16-23 minute episodes (and five shorts). Colour.

When a Spaceship crashes in the desert near his New Mexico home, Kid (Fisher) discovers five coloured rocks: fixated on SF Comic books, he is convinced – rightly as it turns out – they'll give the wearer Superpowers, so glues them to hex nuts to be worn as cosmic power rings. One makes him Telekinetic (initially mistaken for just the ability to fly); Jo (Miller), a waitress at the local roadside cafe, tries another and finds it opens portals; Rosa (Silver), a child, is turned into a giant (see Great and Small); Kid's grandfather, Papa G (Ferguson) is able to replicate himself. The fifth wearer is a stray cat, Tuna Sandwich (Tatasciore), who now has Precognitive powers (fortunately he is eventually fitted with a Universal Translator).

Kid wants to use the rings "to save everybody from evil Alien invaders": one such, Chuck (Kenny), points out there will be no shortage once it is known that the stones are on Earth. Kid's expectations are shaped by his reading – he is upset when Chuck shoots at him without declaiming beforehand: "He didn't do it right ... [picks up comic book] ... this guy here goes on for a page and a half: there are rules!" (see Clichés). Chuck is taken prisoner and sarcastically comments on proceedings, also critiquing a comic book: "Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong ...".

Other aliens duly arrive: one suffocates, unable to breath our atmosphere, the others are seen off, mainly by Rosa; though all but Kid have their moments: he begins to feel useless. Papa G fakes an alien attack for him to defeat, explaining, "He's been hurt too many times in his life." Unfortunately Chuck reveals the deception, mocking Kid and referencing his parents' death – "you're like that bat guy – only without the talent, strength, brains, money or success" (see Batman). However, when his boss proves to have feet of clay, Chuck changes sides.

Then the "Earth Force Enforcement Force" arrives, and – in scenes evoking shows like Super Sentai – takes the rings and sets them in Powered Armour for use by "five elite global super soldiers". They battle five different alien species: Kid notices each has the power of one of the stones and realizes they're only trying to recover what's theirs. The Force's leader is disinterested – with the stones, "Earth ... will be the no.1 superpower of the Galaxy." However, his plans are frustrated and the stones are returned. Kid declares, "Being a hero isn't about forming a fist, it's about extending a hand": he also accepts that Jo is best suited to be the team's leader. The stones are remnants of the aliens' home worlds, destroyed by Erodius, the Planet Killer. Six months later one of the aliens, Queen Xhan (Summer), returns injured; the other four are dead: Erodius is back and thirteen stones will be needed to defeat him. The season ends with the cafe and its environs teleported into space.

Kid Cosmic had a good, solid first season: a little schizophrenic – the first half includes a lot of Humour, the second is action-focused and more sober. The animation style is Comic book inspired, with interestingly detailed backgrounds, particularly Kid's trailer with its piles of old Superhero comics – we see several pages which are loving pastiches (see Parody) – and items that, like the feel of the show as a whole, date mainly from the 1960s and 1970s (though Jo takes a selfie).

The second season continued the good work of the first, but focused on Jo's learning to be a leader. She has to choose between the advice of her mother, Flo (Yarbrough), who asserts the importance of compassion and working as a team, and Queen Xhan's insistence that a leader is aggressive and dominates. Initially Flo takes the Queen's advice, with unfortunate results. We also see Erodius, a Living World using Gravity to destroy other planets; it even has its own fanboy, Fantos (Moynihan). At the end of the season the team destroys Erodius before it can wipe out the Earth, and the team members are appointed as our planet's Global Defenders.

Season three sees the Global Defenders defeating superpowered evil-doers and garnering public adoration. Jo, suspicious of how smoothly everything is going, discovers their adventures are straight out of Kid's old comics. As they were Papa G's comics originally, he too had noticed, but stayed silent as Kid was so happy – he rightly suspects a plot twist of Kid's parents revealed to be alive after all. Jo points out this is clearly a fantasy generated by Fantos (hinted at in the season 2 finale) (see Perception): when Kid accepts this, the fantasy dissipates.

Erodius was once a healing place, but was destroyed; it reformed by assimilating parts of other planets, seeking the missing shard that provided its healing powers. Papa G realizes the shard is his lucky stone – after all, he is remarkably hale for his 112 years – and so surrenders it, his true age now felt. The team's stones lose their powers, but Mo's Oasis reopens and attracts its clientele from its time in space. Though the Erodius plotline is a little unsatisfactorily wound up and some problems are too easily resolved, the third season brings this very good series to a satisfactory conclusion. [SP]

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