When I heard another member of the Retro Network was writing a book about 80s cartoons, I admit I felt a little bummed. I thought I had figured out an awesome little niche that no one had discovered yet. Even Ready Player One, with its ridiculous multitude of references, barely scratched the surface of the Transformers and GI Joe. But then I saw how the others in the Retro Network talked about it being our kids’ Masters of the Universe I just had to find out what they were talking about.
Tommy and the Order of Cosmic Champions starts off as everyone’s childhood. Tommy Graves loves the titular cartoon as much as any kid I knew loved He-Man, but his best friend Evan isn’t as interested in the cartoon or in Tommy as he used to be. On Tommy’s birthday, adorned with all the Cosmic Champions flair as it could be, Evan and his new pal show up and mock Tommy for his childish interest. It’s the start of the road that eventually leads Tommy into despair, with divorcing parents and several bullies piling on.
When Matty, the local comic shop owner, tells Tommy of a contest to create a brand-new Cosmic Champion, his spirits are lifted with hope. Instead of a hero, Tommy’s darkening life, along with some whispers from Skullagar, the evil warlord from his show, convinces him to come up with the awesome villain, Mechani-Ghoul. The last straw breaks when he learns he lost the contest to a hero called Fierce Phantom, and he’s set on a dangerous course to meet his creator.
Along the way, he meets various bad guys from the Order of the Cosmic Champions, and it really demonstrates what a perfect stand in the fictional cartoon is for He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. While Masculon, the hero of Evernitia, doesn’t show up, his battle against Skullagar is well known to us 80s kids. Heroes and villains like Flip Grip, EyeSpy, and Creecharr are instantly imaginable with similar powers and designs to the MotU characters.
Tony Grate came up with a brilliant idea where Tommy’s love of the cartoon bleeds into his real life, and Tony Rapino brought some exceptional writing skills to pen the story. So many parts of Tommy’s life perfectly mirrored my own. The pain of his parent’s imminent divorce felt like revisiting my own parents splitting up when I was younger, and the torment of losing friends happened to all of us growing up. Luckily for me, Skeletor didn’t find his way into my mind, or I would have made some questionable choices as well.
I enjoyed this book immensely. It felt like revisiting my childhood in the perfect sense, seeing the good and bad things I went through in my youth through a new lens. The Order of the Cosmic Champions sounds like a cartoon I would have eaten up as a kid, and it’s so cool that Tony Grate has had figures made up of the main Cosmic champions characters. If you loved cartoons as a kid like I did, you owe it to yourself to pick up this book. And if you hated cartoons as a kid, what are you even doing here on my blog?