MECH CADET YU #1 by Grek Pak and Takeshi Miyazawa
MECH CADET YU #1 is a perfect introduction to the series' universe and main characters. With amazing art by Takeshi Miyazawa and heartfelt writing by Greg Pak, I recommend this comic to basically everyone.
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As an avid fan of kids going on adventures with giant robot companions, when I saw BOOM! Studios’ MECH CADET YU, I was hooked. Written by Greg Pak with art by Takeshi Miyazawa (MS. MARVEL), MECH CADET YU #1 follows a young boy’s dream of becoming a robot-piloting cadet. Unfortunately, Stanford Yu isn’t in the best place in life to follow his dreams. He and his mother are custodians at The Sky Corps Academy in Los Robos, Arizona. And they don’t get much respect in the first place. So his goal seems far away, but when a rogue robot chooses Stanford to be its pilot, flaws in the academy’s system begin to show.

An Ode to Mech

When it comes to the mech genre, there’s a lot of content to inspire new work. You’ve got TRANSFORMERS and THE IRON GIANT, fully sentient robots with no need for human pilots. And then there is the pilot robots sub-genre. MECH CADET YU falls into this category, which makes it a must-read for fans of PACIFIC RIM. However, as with any media in a genre so well-stocked, it has to be different somehow. MECH CADET YU #1 takes the pilot robot concept but gives the robots a mind of their own. The idea that robots choose their pilots stirs up some drama as well.

mech cadet yu #1
Image courtesy of BOOM! Studios

After training students to become cadets, the academy is shocked that their best and brightest weren’t chosen for the job. There’s clearly a hierarchy within the academy, and Stanford is pretty close to rock bottom. Of course, this brings up one of my favorite themes: what does it mean to be “worthy”? I’m excited to see how Stanford proves himself in the coming issues, but it won’t be easy. Since the first official cadet graduated, the Academy seems to have become more focused on cadets’ militarized skill than their sense of humanity.

However, Stanford is passionate for the right reasons. He doesn’t have an inflated ego like most of the other cadets, which is probably why his robot picked him. Like his small companion, the robot is also a bit of a punching bag for its peers. So when the two meet, it’s a heart-swelling moment. They understand each other instantly and that bond will surely make for amazing scenes to come.

READ: Check out another adventurous youngster with our analysis of SUPERBOY!

Fun Palettes and Illustrations

Miyazawa’s style, like in MS. MARVEL, is loose and expressive, which is perfect for the story. Instead of tight linework, the illustrations have a sketchy feeling that helps the flow and pacing as well. In mech-related media, it’s easy for the art to get stiff, but Miyazawa achieves a perfect balance.

The robots are easy to tell apart as well. Their appearances tell a lot about their personalities. The robot that chooses Stanford is a bit smaller than the others and less intimidating. Its soft blue color scheme and round edges are friendly and inviting. In comparison, the man-made robot revealed at the end is dark purple with sharp angles.

READ: Catch up with Kamala in MS. MARVEL #20!

Establishing shots give even more depth to the world itself. They show the immensity of the robots as well as the desert landscape. But with vibrant oranges and blues, even the arid environment looks enticing. Miyazawa captures the sprawling and isolated landscape so well that you can feel how exclusive the Academy is. The backgrounds are pretty simple, but Miyazawa is amazing at perspective so you definitely don’t need all the detail to appreciate the view.

Image courtesy of BOOM! Studios

Asian-American Representation

It’s no secret that American media loves to whitewash. We’ve seen in with GHOST IN THE SHELL, PRINCE OF PERSIA, DRAGONBALL: EVOLUTION, and countless other works. And when media does include Asian-Americans, it pushes actors into stereotypical roles. Because of this fear that movies without big name white actors will somehow fail, it’s rare to see an Asian-American lead.

But in MECH CADET YU #1, Pak and Miyazawa address this dilemma. Being Asian-American himself, Pak wanted to create a story without stereotypes. Stanford is a classic underdog, but he’s not shoved into an insensitive role because he’s Asian-American. You know those tropes: the Asian nerd, the kung-fu master, and the perpetual foreigner who always seem rude and ignorant. The comic critiques this trope a bit when a cadet criticizes Stanford speaking to his mother in Cantonese rather than English during an Academy assembly. However, the story is not completely didactic. It’s important for creators to be aware of what they’re representing, but it’s also great to just have a fun, unapologetic story.

READ: Your OTP Korrasami is back in LEGEND OF KORRA TURF WARS PART 1!

Image courtesy of BOOM! Studios

Final Thoughts on MECH CADET YU #1

I can’t wait to see what Pak and Miyazawa have in store for this series. Not only is the art original and exciting, the first issue introduces a lot of great opportunities. It’s easy to say that MECH CADET YU has great potential and will hopefully open more doors for diverse protagonists. And I’d be lying if I said this series hasn’t stoked my inner child (as if I’ve ever stopped loving giant robots).

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