Top Alternative Publisher Comics of 2017 #1: Mech Cadet Yu #4 by Greg Pak and Takeshi Miyazawa
Mech Cadet Yu by Greg Pak and Takeshi Miyazawa is easily the most fun, charming, and upbeat new series of 2017. Since I only got around to reviewing two issues of it, Mech Cadet Yu #4 has come to represent the energy and glee this book gave me.
This is one of those books that sticks with you, even when it's been a while since you've read it. Stanford Yu is a high-energy and endlessly endearing protagonist. His teammates, Park, Sanchez, and Olivetti are all distinct and enjoyable characters.
The premise of the series is great too: it's a Pacific Rim-esque world where warfare is primarily performed by giant mechs piloted by soldiers trained from school to fly the machines. The machines arrive periodically and choose their pilots themselves. This is all to defend Earth against the Shargs, which are insectoid alien kaiju with a grudge against Earth.
That story opens itself up to a myriad of possibilites and angles to tell. While the Pacific Rim comparison is apt, the comic makes itself distinct with its tone, characters, and many of the other nuances it maintains.
Greg Pak was definitely taking a lot of inspiration from anime and manga for this comic, as there are similarities between Mech Cadet Yu and the shonen anime genre. Again, this comic does maintain its own identity with a lot of the little things it does,
What makes this issue in particular stand out from the series is the way it goes about dealing with Park's aggression and this being the first major fight between the Mech Cadets and a Sharg. The former gives the comic some emotional heft; the latter is just a lot of fun.
Takeshi Miyazawa and Triona Farrell make the experience bright and energetic through-and-through. Miyazawa's style is also quite reminiscent of manga, but it adds more depth, detail, and texturing than is common for that genre. Farrell's color work is brilliant and eye-catching, and it really adds a lot to the experience.
Mech Cadet Yu is a delightful and endearing series, and its #4 was the best alternative publisher comic I've had the pleasure of reading this year.