Where do I begin? “Night Mission…Stealing Friends Back” is…epic. I don’t know that anyone but Nick Offerman could convincingly voice the brutal yet childlike Axe Cop, who rides to the rescue for Bat Warthog Man’s friends with an axe and a Dinosaur Horn, plus a host of helpers, including Army Chihuahua and Gray Diamond.
While the plot might seem complicated (with each visit to a different planet involving weapons, more sidekicks and a plot development), it’s really a simple story. Bat Warthog Man has lost his friends, and Axe Cop wants to help him. They search the galaxy, and at the end Axe Cop must defeat the King of All Bad Guys if there’s to be a happy ending for everyone concerned.
For those of you who might be unaware of the amazingness of Axe Cop, let me tell you a little secret. These stories are created by a kid. Malachai Nicolle was five years old when his much older brother Ethan figured out a fun way to spend time together. Malachai told him stories about a character named Axe Cop, who delighted in chopping off the heads of bad guys.
Between Malachai’s storytelling prowess and Ethan’s talent for capturing the images of the world of Axe Cop, a web comic was born. As it gained popularity, comic books began appearing, and not long ago, the story was put into production as a short cartoon for FOX’s ADHD block of programming. Keeping the visual integrity of Ethan’s style and Malachai’s penchant for absurd but heartwarming storylines, “Night Mission…Stealing Friends Back” is a fantastic introduction to the universe of Axe Cop and his friends.
What I really love about the Axe Cop stories is that the sky is not the limit. Axe Cop wants to defeat The King of All Bad Guys, who lives on another planet? Fine. He’s got to jump his police truck into space, visit a planet to rent a Dinosaur Horn (for an hour, or there’s late fees), and then use it to call the dinosaurs from the dinosaur planet to eat The King of All Bad Guys’ brain. When this plan goes awry, it’s up to Axe Cop’s pal Gray Diamond to come to the rescue.
This results in one of my favorite lines of the episode. Someone worries that because The King of All Bad Guys is losing part of his brain, he’ll become more evil. Not so, says Axe Cop. “His brain is made of bad cells,” he avers. Since there will be fewer bad brain cells, he reasons, “He’ll become a good guy. A really dumb, good guy.” I think we all have read of or seen (or met) characters like that.
Despite the fact that FOX bought these characters to compete with Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, I found that true to the original story, “Night Mission…Stealing Friends Back” is exceptionally clean for an ‘adult’ cartoon. It’s violent, and there’s hints that not all is squeaky clean, but it isn’t the overly done, innuendo-riddled adult humor we’ve been used to. It’s fresh, clean, exhilarating and laugh out loud hysterical. I can’t wait to see more.