Kid Cosmic Got So Much Better With Each Season
Almost two years ago to the day, I reviewed Kid Cosmic. I said I wasn’t planning on continuing the show. Well, apparently, I lied. While eating dinner one day, I pulled it up and basically binged.
I’ve now finished the series. As far as I can tell, it’s not continuing past the third season—and frankly, with such a clean ending, I wouldn’t want it to. Given how the plot unfolds, I’m tempted to say they knew at least some of the story right from the beginning. Either that or the sheer writing talent present allowed the story to naturally expand as it went.
And that steady improvement made me want to re-review Kid Cosmic. Because, with only the first few episodes, you would be forgiven for thinking that it will be episodic and formulaic. Or that it was going to mostly be about learning how to use the Cosmic Stones better and better. But, no, the show is not only very serialized, with an almost Hollywood standard three-act structure underpinning it, but also quickly goes into a universe-spanning plot with massive stakes. The number of powers increases a lot, gets more and more interesting with how they can be used apart and in tandem, and covers topics like grief, loss, and community and takes an empathetic look at being a hero.
This Series Is Actually Quite Emotionally Complex
And, while the Marvel comparisons were obvious before, it goes wild with it as the show continues. It has its version of Thanos, of Galactus, and is eager and willing to skewer toxic nerd culture with biting satire. The primary way it does this is with its villain: Fantos The Amasser. He’s a perfect counterpoint to the unbridled enthusiasm of Kid Cosmic (the character) regarding comics and superheroes. He’s a standout in every scene he’s in, coming off as menacing, dangerous, cruel, and comedic simultaneously. He kills a character on-screen in a kid’s cartoon and then goes into more monologuing. That’s just not something I’ve seen much.
You also don’t see on-screen genocide that often on television—and you still sort of don’t here—but it’s implied that billions of people die during the series (including a few dozen to one of the good guys) and that even some businesses in the galaxy have capitalized on the destruction. The lore is just that dense; the Cosmic Stones have a rich backstory tied to a genuinely disturbing eldritch horror. As the plot continues, violence, danger, and consequences increase so much that it feels like it’s banking on its audience’s ability to handle it.
Kid Cosmic Is Much Darker Than You Would Think
And what elevates this visually is the seemingly simplistic animation will occasionally kick into hyperdrive. In one reviewer’s opinion, the soundtrack for these sorts of scenes overuse the main theme, but there are several moments where they simply know how to make an impactful, creative, and brutal fight/action moment. In hindsight, I suppose that shouldn’t be a surprise—it’s made by the creator of The Powerpuff Girls—but it was still great to see. I even audibly gasped at one point.
But the characters rightfully get the most attention in Kid Cosmic. I’m especially impressed with how they wrote Jo, Papa G, and Kid Cosmic. Jo gets an extended plotline going over the nature of kindness and making allies versus enforcing one’s will. I can’t say I’ve seen many stories tackle leadership in this manner, and though sometimes it felt a little overdone, it cutting back to how the mom, Flo, was taking it was just clever, nuanced writing. And they let this happen over several episodes, too, giving it time to affect the narrative.
Then, when the third season rolls around, it mostly switches to Papa G and Kid Cosmic. And it will make you cry. A lot of superhero characters are orphans, but rarely does a show highlight and wrap so much of the plot around the grief and trauma of that. The story doesn’t forget this is a child who lost his parents in a car wreck—that he was also in—and that it would leave a lasting effect. And neither does it forget that Papa G lost his child in that same crash and now has to be a caregiver again. It’s remarkably human, top to bottom, no matter how outlandish the superhero stuff gets.
The Show Has So Much Heart Underneath Its Story
But the series isn’t perfect; it has many flaws. The big one is pacing. I have no idea what was happening behind the scenes, but the plot jumps around erratically. Certain scenes last much longer than you would expect them to, and others speed-run big problems. I won’t spoil much, but the plot needs these characters to not die and to get back the stones whenever they’re lost, and it will pull serious shenanigans to make sure that happens. I recently talked about this same issue in Strange World, but it feels even more egregious here. The plot gets characters into massive trouble for narrative tension and then solves it for them.
The same issue even affects arcs. Characters are redeemed, forgiven, or come to some conclusion at different speeds, and you never get a sense of any standard progression. Defeats can happen out of nowhere, as can turnarounds. Chuck, an alien villain, goes from zero to friendly fast. The big finale ending even has shades of this, but I won’t discuss that for fear of spoilers.
Otherwise Cool Storylines Sometimes Feel Rushed
There’s also the classic issue that comes with any story involving powers on this scale. It’s not always consistent with how they work, how effective they are, or even what limits they have. The scaling of it is fine and fun when it’s consistently gradual, allowing bigger and more flashy options, but you’ll question why someone isn’t using a power a certain way—besides narrative tension. When teleportation and super-speed are on the table, many obstacles seem relatively easy to overcome. Chuck can stun people with his saliva, so why isn’t he trying to use it constantly? Tuna can see the future, so he should use that power every chance he gets, right? I did like the logical extension to powers, like pain absorption handling physical pain or emotional pain—or basically everything that comes up regarding creative uses for telekinesis, but that’s more an exception than a rule. To be a little fairer, Kid Cosmic is ultimately about having fun with superpowers and letting its audience feel powerful vicariously, and it achieves that with much more thought than some shows would.
The takeaway, I suppose, is that I’m glad I revisited Kid Cosmic. It was a fun distraction and had enough skill behind it to keep me engaged and looking forward to each new episode. Even when I knew spoilers for reveals or dramatic scenes, it still worked emotionally, and the animation felt like it was improving with every new episode. If you’re looking for a different take on a superhero story that still loves what the subgenre offers, Kid Cosmic is a breezy, action-packed story with a lot of heart. No matter your age, I think you’ll get something out of it.
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