Comic Publishers

August 16, 2017

BOOM! Reviews: Mech Cadet Yu #1

Mech Cadet Yu #1
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Takeshi Miyazawa
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Cover: Takeshi Miyazawa with Triona Farrell

Most folks like a good underdog adventure, and Greg Pak’s Mech Cadet Yu has all the hallmarks of a great one in the making. The story opens with some deft exposition, establishing a futuristic society where mankind has been gifted dramatic technological advancement in the form of bipedal Robo Mechs. The origin of the giant machines is uncertain, but benevolent aliens are believed to be sending the technology to Earth. Every four years a new contingent of robots descends upon the location of the initial contact, Los Robos, Arizona. The site, currently serving as the location of the Sky Corps academy, is a futuristic desert base bustling with hundreds of cadets and support staff.

Main protagonist Stanford Yu is employed as a young janitorial worker at the facility. He assists his mother with her cleaning responsibilities, but harbors aspirations of mech assisted flight and grand adventure. Cautioned by his mother against such impractical ambitions and derided by the one of the elite senior candidates, Stanford struggles with the limitations of his station in life. Unbeknownst to him, that yearning and dedication will earn him the possibility of achieving his greatest reward. Despite his mother’s repeated chiding and insistence that he resign himself to his current post, Stanford’s worthiness is recognized by an errant Robo Mech during the Sky Corps pilot selection ceremony.

The boy’s spirited desire to achieve more doesn’t diminish his compassion or sense of duty. He is initially hesitant to accept the honor and inherent responsibility of the Mech’s choice. It is a scene that well illustrates Stanford’s maturity in contrast to his better trained, but brackishly indignant and entitled rival, Candidate Park. As daughter of General Park, the Sky Corps Academy commander, she has been groomed for the honor of piloting her own Robo Mech, benefiting from every privilege of her pedigree and excelling by “every objective measure.” Their rivalry adds an element of class enmity and gives this burgeoning sci-fi opus the kind of social relevance the genre is known for.

For me, Miyazawa’s art represents such a fierce nostalgic kick that I was immediately transported. His work is bright and energetic, shouldering much of the narrative execution in quieter scenes and highlighting subtle, sympathetic glints of Stanford’s personality. Pak’s dialogue is sharply crafted. Even during expositional sections, the tone is light and the pacing is very efficient. His characters are distinguished with pointed vernacular, making the players easily recognizable and focusing the narrative just as well as Miyazawa’s compositions. I’d have to say that what I really like most about Mech Cadet Yu is that it seems to move so quickly with only a handful of speaking characters interacting in issue #1. To some this foundation may seem sparse, or even elementary, but those characters incorporated in the issue are well realized and relatable. I couldn’t ask for more from an opening salvo. Bring on the fireworks, Cadet Yu.

Christian Davenport

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