I was originally taken aback when I discovered that the Axe Cop cartoon has a warning that it’s for mature audiences only. Was I missing something? How could you say kids shouldn’t be watching this? It was written by one! It’s based on the rabid imagination of a then-5-year-old, interpreted into public consumption by his awesome, adult brother.
That’s when you remember that modern comics, where Axe Cop’s exploits seem at home, are far different from your average cartoon. When Axe Cop chops someone’s head off in the comics, it’s fine. We expect that kind of thing from that kind of medium. In animated form, it’s a different story. For example, take the latest episode of the Axe Cop cartoon. The very first scene is Axe Cop decapitating a woman in front of her boyfriend and playing it off because according to him, she’s really a bad person who punches people with poison. The boyfriend accepts this at face value and it really begins to hit you how utterly messed up Axe Cop and his world really are.
The fact is, children have really violent imaginations and our entertainment never really reflected that. G.I. Joes didn’t die or kill. Wolverine never got to use his claws on anyone. Samurai Jack only cut apart robots. Axe Cop, meanwhile, is reducing people’s necks to bloody stumps because of his say so. God bless him for it. This is exactly the kind of “adult” cartoon you let your younger relatives watch without their mom knowing, like a kid-friendly Adult Swim program.
In this week’s episode, “Babysitting Unibaby,” the gruff and child-minded hero Axe Cop (Nick Offerman) is asked by his straight man sidekick Flute Cop (Ken Marino) to babysit the all-powerful Unibaby. That sounds semi-normal on its own, but the real reasoning is that Flute Cop has reached his dream of saving $100 and wants to take his wife out to Hawaii with it. He pays Axe Cop $15 to watch the baby for a couple of days. The way Axe Cop takes care of Unibaby fits with a child’s logic with a straight face. Babies poop, so Axe Cop will simply only feed it one small meal a day and spend the rest of the time keeping Unibaby in a closet. Then, when Axe Cop and his best friend and superhero/Santa hybrid Sockarang (Patton Oswalt) go off to have a literally magical adventure, they keep Unibaby safe by sticking cyborg copies of themselves in that closet, programmed to punch the baby when it cries.
And yes, that baby cries. My God, this show is beautifully messed up.
Unlike the other episodes, this one wallows in its own wacked logic more than it should, while the action takes a bit too much of a backseat. There’s a disappointing lack of axe use in these 11 minutes. The flesh vs. circuits showdowns involving Axe Cop, Sockarang and their robot doubles don’t really have much going for them other than yet another disturbing mistreatment of the baby.
Still, there is a lot of fun to be had in Axe Cop and Sockarang’s antics. After all, if Flute Cop is the show’s straight man who anchors everything into some semblance of reality, then maybe when he’s on vacation, it’s time for our heroes to really cut loose on the strangeness.
Den of Geek rating: 4 out of 5 stars