Books for Babes provides info on the comics that kids will absolutely enjoy, and also end up being entertaining for adults. This week we recommend the first volume of ‘Mech Cadet Yu’, out now from BOOM! Studios.
By Stefania Rudd. Every four years, three giant space robots come to Earth and bond to human teenagers. Part of an elite militaristic program, they then become a unit, training and growing together in preparation for the worse. In this case it’s war against the Sharg—giant, creature-like bug alien thingies. They haven’t come to Earth in a long while, but that doesn’t mean they won’t.
Wait, what? Okay, let me back up here. In BOOM! Studios’ Mech Cadet Yu, from writer Greg Pak (The Incredible Hulk, Action Comics) and artist Takeshi Miyazawa (Ms. Marvel, Runaways), we enter a familiar world surrounded by ominous unknowns. It feels like it could be the future.
Stanford Yu is a tween janitor working alongside his mother at the exclusive Sky Corps Academy. (A place located in the fictional town of Los Robos, AZ.) At Sky Corps, the brightest and most talented youth are trained for a potential showdown with the Sharg, and to be ready should a space robot, or Robo Mech, choose one of them to be their person. (D’aw.) The leadership at the academy don’t exactly know what these Robo Mech are, but they do know robo-human bonding became a thing 60 years ago, when the first Mech arrived and bonded with a Boy Scout named Skip Tanaka. Skip, now in his advanced years, trains Robo Mechs and their humans.
The day the Robo Mechs are expected to arrive, the top three cadets are primed to meet their new robot partners. However, only two arrive at the landing pad. The third accidentally lands elsewhere and runs into Stanford… and it immediately bonds with him.
This would be fine and dandy, except Stanford is a janitor and not a cadet. However, the Robo Mech choose who they want, and once that decision is made, it’s final. Making matters more difficult for Stanford is Park, the third cadet that was supposed to receive their Robo Mech, and who is none to pleased at this turn of events. Her general father ultimately provides her a man-made Robo Mech (made surreptitiously by Central Air Command), so she gets to participate after all. And she is real salty about all of it. While Cadet Park takes out her frustrations on her fellow cadets, Stanford (now Cadet Yu), does his best to prove himself and his Robo Mech, Buddy, are worthy of being in the program.
I think any time you have a story that involves a giant robot and a boy, one with a lot of heart that gives you all the feels, thoughts of The Iron Giant inevitably come to mind. Mech Cadet Yu has these sorts of feels in abundance, and all of them come from Miyazawa’s beautiful illustrations, enhanced by colors from Triona Farrell. Each character has a distinct look and personality, even in uniform. Its variety of backgrounds and ethnicities adds a richness to the book, and gives the reader an opportunity to find themselves within the pages. The Robo Mechs are also distinctive in how they look, which ties into the mystery surrounding them.
This volume collects the first four issues in the series, establishing the characters and their mission, which leaves it open just enough to take the plot down some new and interesting paths. Pak makes an underdog out of Stanford, a character who fights like mad to prove his worth in a world that only thought him capable of one thing. I love these sorts of stories because they inspire hope. They encourage readers at a time when they may feel different, or are in the process of learning who they are. Stories like Mech Cadet Yu have the power to change people for the better. Let it change you, too.
Written by Greg Pak.
Illustrated by Takeshi Miyazawa.
Colors by Triona Farrell.
Letters by Simon Bowland.
This book contains bullying, multisyllabic and compound words, and a complex storyline.
Age range: 8-11 and up
That’s it for this week! Has Books For Babes helped you out at all? We want to know! Feel free to send feedback our way in the comments section below.