It’s an all-out brawl against the Sharg.
Originally intended to be the series’ final issue before it was extended into an ongoing, Mech Cadet Yu #4 features Yu and his teammates’ first battle against the Sharg, as well as an ending twist with major implications for the characters’ lives moving forward. Is it good?
Most of this issue takes place either mid-battle or in the combat’s immediate aftermath. As a result, there’s giant robots, colossal alien crab monsters, and clouds of smoke aplenty. With artist Takeshi Miyazawa at the helm, all that action is fantastic. Most of his work here has a real sense of weight to it, and he does a great job keeping the various giant beings consistent in terms of their scale. The Sharg dwarf even the Sky Corps cadets’ mechs in size, and there’s an actual sense of danger present. Colorist Triona Farrell matches the plot’s gravity well with the series’ darkest color palette thus far. Of particular note is the way she tells time believably through backgrounds. The skylines change color gradually, going from a setting sun at the issue’s begining to dead night at its end.
Writing-wise, Greg Pak continues to do a solid job with all the characters’ voices. Yu and his teammates’ interactions throughout the battle are one of the issue’s highlights. Perhaps one of the issue’s most significant events, in terms of anticipating future developments, is that Yu exits his mech mid-battle to repair his teammates’ mechs, turning the tide in the cadets’ favor. Hanging off extension cables and wiedling mechanical equipment, Yu is truly badass in that moment. Not only does it work as a suspenseful moment in the action, it also works as a symbol of the series’ themes of lower class people (and specifically janitors, mechanics, etc.) being every bit as worthy of respect of everyone else.
Unfortunately, the coolness of the mid-battle repair is dampened a bit by the scene’s pacing. Judging by the page-time allotted, we’re supposed to believe that critical technology failures in the mechs can be fixed almost instantly. The amount of supposed damage just doesn’t line up with the apparently minimal amount of fixing needed. There are also a couple of instances where the visual storytelling could have been a little tighter. Some of the panels don’t convey changes in movement or the causes of said changes as effectively as they could. This very rarely happens so it’s quite a minor complaint. That’s how good this issue is — there’s not all that much to criticize.
Mech Cadet Yu #4 is a great issue. The artwork is nearly flawless, both in terms of lines and coloration. The writing is also strong, and the battle depicted actually feels significant and exciting, not just like a predictable, no-real-stakes punch-out. If this had stayed a mini-series, it would have been a strong note to end on. Thankfully, though, there’s still more yet to come.