There are a lot of comics out there, but some just stand out head and shoulders above the pack. With “Don’t Miss This” we want to spotlight those series we think need to be on your pull list. This week, we take a look at the teen mech pilots of “Mech Cadet Yu” from BOOM! Studios.
“Mech Cadet Yu” is written by Greg Pak, best known for his work on various Hulk series (“Incredible Hulk,” “World War Hulk,” “Totally Awesome Hulk”) at Marvel. The series is illustrated by Takeshi Miyazawa, who has worked on series like “Ms. Marvel” and “Runaways.” They are joined with colors from Jessica Kholine and letters from Simon Bowland, both of whom also worked worked with Pak and Miyazawa on “Code Monkey Save World,” and on many other projects.
What’s This All About?
Once a year, Robots descend from space and choose once child to bond with. Since the first mechs appeared and happened upon a child by accident, the government has started training children as Mech Cadets, to have soldiers ready to take on massive alien bugs called the Sharg, who are threatening the planet. These cadets train for years in the academy, waiting for their chance for the three mechs to pick which of the kids will become pilots, and bond with these mechs for life.
Yu was not one of these cadets.
Yu was a janitor that worked in the academy with his mother, definitely not on track to become one of the Mech Cadets. But, when one of the mechs didn’t arrive at the regular meeting point, Yu came across it, and bonded with the mech that he named Buddy. He was quickly inducted into the academy and had a lot to learn about being a mech pilot, becoming a part of a team with his fellow cadets, and stopping the world from being destroyed by the Sharg.
What Makes It So Great?
“Mech Cadet Yu” started off as a four issue series, but was extended to twelve issues soon after its debut issues. The series keeps a pretty tight focus on Yu and his team of three other Mech Cadets, each of which have their own personalities, and all of who bounce off each other in fun ways.
The interactions between characters are one of the main draws to the series. It feels like a bit of empty praise saying that a series has a lot of heart, because really, what does that mean? But, “Mech Cadet Yu,” does have heart, in spades. It’s the kind of series that leaves you feeling good after you’ve read it. The way that Yu connects with the other mech pilots, from the kids in his squad to the old, grizzled mentor Skip, to the people with mechs that washed out of basic training and end up working clean up. Yu makes meaningful relationships with each and every one of these characters, and even though he started as, and still feels a lot like an outsider.
“Mech Cadet Yu” spent it’s first four issues with Yu trying to find his place with the other cadets, and then once he had, the series has spent the rest of the time on him dealing with handling the responsibility that this place has given him. “Mech Cadet Yu” is a great coming of age story, one that is perfect for both adults, and any younger kids that you think might enjoy the story of a young mech pilot.
And I haven’t even mentioned the art on the series yet. Miyazawa is probably best known for his work on all ages books for Marvel, like “Runaways,” “Ms. Marvel,” or the “Mary Jane” series. But in this he has stepped his game up in a major way. His style is clearly manga influenced, especially in the faces of his characters. But, this opens up the room for him to go very big with expressions, which Miyazawa does a great job. For as much as “Mech Cadet Yu” is a series about people coming together, Miyazawa’s art is why these characters and their interactions feel so real.
He also draws really fantastic robots. Just, unbelievably good. I have a hard time putting my finger on what it is exactly, but I could just stare at Miyazawa’s mechs. There is something that is just so aesthetically pleasing to me about the designs. The mechs are all drawn with clean lines and shapes, but still have a worn quality to them. Somehow, the static faces of the mechs, along with their body language, are able to express so much personality, even without words.Continued below
With issue #9, “Mech Cadet Yu” is on its final stretch of issues. Yu has faced the challenge of becoming accepted by his teammates, they worked together to fight off one of the individual Sharg, but now there is a mothership of Sharg heading toward Earth, and sinister plots being carried out by the Earth government as well. There are only a few issues left in the series, and it’s a perfect time to get caught up on all of the action.
How Can You Read It?
A great jumping on point is “Mech Cadet Yu” volume #1 can be bought physically or digitally and collects the first four issues of the series. Issue #9 comes out this Wednesday, and as the book is getting into its final few issues, it’s a great time to get caught up on the series. You can find them in your local comic book shop, or digitally on comixology.