Yesterday, Stanford was just the janitor’s son. Today, he’s piloting a giant robot and enrolled in Sky Corps Academy to protect the planet from aliens. This happened because he was in the right place at the right time and the visiting robot bonded with him instead of the Academy’s star pupil (and General’s daughter), Park. Stanford is thrown into a boot camp of sorts, learning how to pilot his new friend while dealing with bullies that look down on him. Fortunately, he’s a pretty great kid.
It’s impossible not to love Stanford in Mech Cadet Yu from BOOM! Studios. He’s full of wide-eyed optimism and he’s a genuinely good person. You want to see him succeed and show the other snooty cadets that he’s earned his spot. The pilots are chosen and he was picked for a reason.
Stanford is unlike any of the other cadets. He’s willing to get his hands dirty. I mean, he was working to clean up this place yesterday, so what’s a little dirt and grease? The maintenance crew is used to dealing with the other pilots who probably don’t give them the time of day. Here comes Stanford who wants to talk to them about everything and help fix his robot. He earns their respect.
Artist Takeshi Miyazawa’s design for Stanford’s robot, affectionately named Buddy, is fitting for the character and the story. Buddy is smaller than the others and a little worse for wear. Although they’re fast friends, Stanford and Buddy have a hard time with the initial training. They’re slower and clumsier than the others, but they have more than enough heart to make up for it.
This is a stark contrast to Park’s man-made robot, Hero Force One. That’s all sharp edges and pointed angles. It looks soulless and it’s treated as such. The difference between Hero and Buddy is like night and day. Granted, if you’re looking for something to defend the planet against alien invaders, you’ll probably want Hero over Buddy at first glance.
Triona Farrell’s colors offer a vibrant palette that works well with the overall look and feel of Mech Cadet Yu. Everything is very bright and colorful. It matches with Stanford’s enthusiasm. Even when he’s a little discouraged, there’s not a dark or gritty cloud hanging over him. He gets up and tries again.
This can-do attitude is infectious. It makes Stanford such a great, relatable, and most importantly, inspirational character. He has a once in a lifetime opportunity that so few people get and it hasn’t changed him. He’s still an earnest kid who wants to do right by the people he cares about. That now includes a giant robot.
Mech Cadet Yu captures a sense of adventure that can only be found through the eyes of a child. This comic can instantly transport you back in time to an age where your biggest worry was how long you could stay outside playing before having to come in for dinner. It’s the kind of story you’d dream of happening to you as a kid. You can live vicariously through Stanford and his exploits. This is something really special.