Mech Cadet Yu Is My New Favorite Comic

by James Ferguson

Rumors of the deadly Sharg returning are running rampant around the world.  Fortunately, we’ve got a few giant robots and expertly trained pilots to help defend the planet.  This is treated seriously and as a major threat so Sky Corps Academy is preparing its students for battle. Young Stanford Yu is only in his first year so he’s kept far away from danger…for the most part.

Stanford is such a good kid. He’s caught up in this whole adventure because he was in the right place at the right time when a giant robot crash landed on our planet.  It bonded with him instead of the stuck up General’s daughter. Although he’s suddenly a big shot, he hasn’t changed as a person. He’s still the same good-natured sweetheart that he’s always been.

This is shown during the training exercises with his fellow new recruits, as well as his willingness to get his hands dirty and help the crew clean and repair the robots after a major battle. There’s a clear caste system at work within the academy, with the pilots sitting on the very top. Since Stanford is the janitor’s son, he’s used to being on the bottom of the totem pole. He has an appreciation for everyone that works at this place and all that they do, which is not a feeling shared by the other pilots. This makes him a much more endearing character.

These qualities make Stanford’s triumphs feel so much more special and subsequently, his failures hurt even more so. There’s a cute, yet embarrassing scene where his mother storms into the academy determined to keep her son safe from the Sharg threat.  Stanford’s face turns beet red and looks about ready to die from humiliation. This wasn’t done maliciously. His mother loves him and is scared of losing him to the same alien menace that also took her husband.

Artist Takeshi Miyazawa captures all of this in his stellar character designs. You learn so much about each person based on their facial expressions and stances. Stanford is smaller than the other students and slouches a bit, like he’s used to not being seen.  Meanwhile, the General’s daughter, Park is the complete opposite. She’s all confidence and strength.

This is also seen in the design of their robots. Stanford’s bot, Buddy is small, slender, and unassuming, whereas Park’s Hero Force One is all sharp angles and points.  One was made to help while the other was made to kill. It probably says something that Park’s robot is the first one made by man. There are scuff marks all over Buddy, like he was just rescued from the garbage. The other bots are squeaky clean.

Miyazawa adds a nice touch to the training sequences by including small circular panels showing the pilots’ faces while the robots are in action. I remember seeing this frequently in shows like Voltron or Gundam Wing and it’s a welcome addition here. It adds a layer of humanity to the battling mechs and serves as a reminder that the people inside them are essentially children.

I’m sure that Stanford will get the chance to shine and gain success with kindness instead of rushing in to smash stuff like some of his colleagues might. That sounds a little cheesy, but Mech Cadet Yu earns it.  You’re with Stanford every step of the way as he makes this journey. Writer Greg Pak and artist Takeshi Miyazawa have made my new favorite comic. This is a comic you can and should be sharing with others, especially with kids.

Mech Cadet Yu #3 is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.