The boy-and-his-robot series enters its second arc.
After a brief break, Mech Cadet Yu is back this month with issue #5. In the last arc, Stanford and his peers disobeyed orders, so now they must face the consequences…as well as the reality that another war with the Sharg has begun. I gave all of the series’ first arc high scores, but does this latest issue reach the same high bar? Is it good?
I’m happy to report that Mech Cadet Yu hasn’t gotten any worse after its brief break. If anything, it’s only gotten better. This issue gets off to a great start by utilizing the Chekhov’s Gun trope, and introducing readers to Sharg eggs. Part of the issue is devoted to our heroes searching for and destroying said eggs, but from the moment you first see those slimy red sacks, you know they’re gonna miss one. Miss one they do — and the timing of its reveal, and that of the newly hatched Sharg, is perfect. The rest of the issue’s pacing is fantastic as well; the creative team really knows how to time each plot event to achieve its maximum effect, as well as how to weave those events together seamlessly.
Another major plus here is the issue’s art. Penciler Takeshi Miyazawa and colorist Triona Farrell have been delivering strong work since the series began, and this may be their strongest issue yet. There’s not a single panel here where a character’s face looks distractingly simple in comparison to the rest, or like any other detail was otherwise rushed. Miyazawa contributes a lot to the storytelling’s success, with emotive faces, fantastic viewpoint choices, and cool new mechs. Farrell then makes the visuals even stronger with beautifully colored smoke, lighting, night skies, and more. There’s really nothing to fault here visually.
The issue’s plot and writing are nothing to shake a stick at either. In addition to the handling of the Sharg eggs, we get a number of other new additions to the series’ lore. One particularly unexpected reveal is the existence of Engineering and Janitorial Corps. Giant robot stories always focus on mechs as offensive tools, but seldom dive into their other possible functions. Here, designated mechs helps clean up the mess made by offensive robots’ battles. It’s a neat idea that helps to make the world as a whole feel more thought out. Writer Greg Pak also deserves props for his dialogue here; the characters’ interactions continue to be a joy to read. This is especially the case in the team’s first secret training session, which may be the issue’s strongest scene. There are also some hints here for plot twists yet to come, which helps build momentum for the coming issues.
Overall, Mech Cadet Yu #5 is great. The only thing keeping this issue from a perfect rating is simply that it doesn’t quite hit the highs necessary for me to give a work a 10. With that said, it still comes close. The art team delivers some of their strongest work thus far, the dialogue is strong, and multiple new additions to the world lore are incorporated very well. If for some reason you’re not reading Mech Cadet Yu already, this issue is a great place to start.