Does Netflix’s new super hero team-up save the day, or does Kid Cosmic get tangled in his cape?
I was pretty psyched to see that the creator of the Powerpuff Girls, Craig McCracken, was putting out a new TV show for Netflix. Kid Cosmic is quite a departure from our chemical X infused trio of superheroes, but it does have a few touchstones in common. While it may not be as instantly addictive as Powerpuff Girls, it does manage to create its own brand of appeal.
Kid Cosmic (2021)
A boy’s superhero dreams come true when he finds five powerful cosmic stones. But saving the day is harder than he imagined — and he can’t do it alone.
Episode 1: Kid Cosmic and the Rings of Power!
Living in a sleepy dessert town with his grandfather, Kid dreams of adventure like he reads in his comic books. He gets his chance to live his dream when an alien ship crashes nearby, jettisoning five odd stones. Kid unlocks the power of the green ring, flight, but winds up being no match for the evil alien warlord looking to recapture the rest of the rings. Luckily, his friend Jo unlocks the teleporting power of the purple ring and helps Kid out of a jam.
The first episode kind of encapsulates most of what I felt about the whole show. The setting is interesting. The characters are a little uneven, with Kid being a bit too annoying, and most other characters being one note. Luckily Jo is fantastic, and Stuck Chuck the alien antagonist is Mojo Jojo levels of fun. The whole 1950’s comic book/radio serial aesthetic is one that I like. There’s potential in the series, but it’s not fleshed out enough yet.
Episode 2: Kid Cosmic y la Niña Gigantica.
Kid’s neighbor, the five year old Rosa, steals the blue power ring and grows into a 50 foot tall toddler. Thinking it’s all a game, she rampages through the town, requiring Kid and Jo to recruit Grandpa G to help them shrink her back to size and stop Chuck from grabbing the rings in the mayhem.
Episode two plays similar to the first episode. Kid is increasingly unbearable, but Jo is still cool. Rosa is hot and cold: when her character hits, she’s hilarious. When she’s off, she’s kind of another pain in the butt like Kid. Grandpa G really needs some fleshing out, cause he’s just sort of a punchline. We get to see a bit more of the community thanks to Jo and Rosa, which is nice because the setting feels like it could really be the glue that binds these very different characters together.
Episode 3: Kid Cosmic and the Precognitive Cat.
Kid gives the last ring to the town cat, Tuna Sandwich, hiding it in his collar to keep it safe from Chuck. This accidentally gives the feline the power to see the future. The first vision is of Kid exploring the crashed spaceship and getting caught in an explosion. Despite being an old, fat cat, Tuna Sandwich bravely heads into the dessert to rescue Kid and the others.
This is the strongest of the first three episodes. Everybody gets to use their powers in ways that feel right for each character. Rosa is hilarious as she constantly humiliates Chuck, not understanding he’s dangerous. Chuck finally gets to flex his muscles a bit. And finally, the series makes up some ground in making Kid likable: it was he who saved Tuna Sandwich as a lost kitten, and who has been caring for her ever since. Their bond really helps humanize Kid. And Craig McCracken understands that cat butts are funny, not surprising given his own name.
Binge or Purge?: Kid Cosmic.
Kid Cosmic certainly has some problems. So far, we’ve pretty much just been in introduction mode, and yet I don’t feel like we get a lot of character development for anyone but Jo. There’s hints of deeper story-lines for everyone, but so far we’ve just had a meet-and-greet. Same goes for the wider setting- what kind of world is this that nobody seems to notice aliens or super powers?
There’s a lot that needs work…but there’s a good bit that feels right. Every so often the dynamics between team members just works. There’s already one strong villain, and looking at the rest of the episode descriptions, we’re about to get a new alien looking for the rings each episode. That “villain of the week” format was McCracken’s wheelhouse when it came to the Powerpuff Girls, so I don’t doubt it will be equally good here. Hopefully, the first three episodes are the vegetables you have to eat before you get the steak.