A handful of rookie pilots and their giant robots are all that stand between the dreaded Sharg and total destruction. They have not had their full training, but they have more than enough drive to push them in this battle. If you ever wanted to see what makes a hero, look no further.
Writer Greg Pak and artist Takeshi Miyazawa have been laying the groundwork for this epic showdown since the first issue of Mech Cadet Yu. This is a huge fight reminiscent of classic giant robot / kaiju shows like Neon Genesis Evangelion or Gundam. It feels more personal than some of those because of the character development put in, particularly with Stanford. You want to see him succeed because he’s earned it. This is his chance to show everyone that he’s more than just a janitor’s son. He deserves to be a cadet just as much as the others.
Sanchez and Olivetti, two other cadets are definitely back-up players. They help out and they’re there in a pinch, but they’re minor characters. They show the human side of the academy. Park makes things interesting in her man-made mech. She has always put on this gruff demeanor, looking down her nose at Stanford because he “stole” her spot. Over time, Stanford has shown her that he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body and he didn’t do any of this on purpose, but he’s trying to make the best of it. That optimism is contagious and you can see it slowly infect Park, however she’s trying to resist it. Everything she’s known up until this point has been called into question.
From the design of the Sharg, you can see why the Academy has been preparing for their possible return for years. They’re like a cross between crabs and bugs, but at a massive scale. They’re covered in spikes and teeth. There doesn’t appear to be a soft spot anywhere on them. Just one look at them would be enough to send any normal person running for the hills. That’s what makes these kids special as they’re running in the opposite direction.
The framing of the fight is very well handled as it shows just how large the Sharg are compared to the robots. There’s one shot where the cadets are surrounded and the way it’s shown, it looks like they’re tiny compared to these huge beasts. It’s interesting that there are four Sharg that match up perfectly to the four robots, even with a similar color scheme. They also seem to adapt to their opponents, taking to the air to follow the cadets as they try to flee. I’m curious as to what this means and how this may effect the rest of the series.
The action and adventure in Mech Cadet Yu is second to none. Stanford does not hesitate when he sees a way to help or save one of his friends. He literally jumps out of his robot and into another in the heat of battle so he can fix something. Miyazawa keeps the excitement up with some dynamite artwork. It’s amplified by the wide-eyed enthusiasm shown on Stanford’s face. He’s in a life-and-death battle with the fate of the world on the line and he is completely in his element. He doesn’t show an ounce of fear. Someone get this kid a Green Lantern ring.
Mech Cadet Yu started as a mini-series and I am so glad it’s been turned into an ongoing. The creative team has set up an incredible world with engaging characters, one that is full of possibilities. It reminds me of classic childhood adventure movies like The Goonies and The Last Starfighter where a kid is thrown into an out-of-this-world scenario. It’s the total package and that’s what has made it one of the best new comics of 2017.