Greg Pak, Writer
Takeshi Miyazawa, Illustrator
Triona Farrell, Colors
Simon Bowland, Letters
Created by Greg Pak & Takeshi Miyazawa
Reviewed by, Tom Zimm
This issue begins at Central Command Air Base. The opening panels show cadets as they pursue the “Sharg”, the large crab-like enemies of the cadets. The Sharg laid eggs that the cadets are searching for and destroying to stop their spreading. Meanwhile General Park confronts General Felix confronts General Park on the use of the “Hero Force Prototype” robot General Park gave to his daughter, Olivia. General Felix’s inquisition flushes out the larger questions. Is there a concern about the Mech or the human pilot? And, why was the Mech able to disobey orders?
General Felix enters informing the group that they’re all grounded and that they’ll be working under the command of Sergeant Dolly Yu of the Janitor Corps. Dolly Yu commands the group to get their robots and meet her at the West entrance. She puts the group to work cleaning the remnants of the last military campaign. The young cadets comment on the large mess they made when they fought the Shargs. Sergeant Dolly tells the group that on the ground every job is important. Soon after the Cadets begin cleaning up. They find Sharg eggs that were missed by a previous team. Sergeant Dolly burns the eggs and then commands the Mech cadets to find every egg.
The story continues later that night when the cadets meet Captain Tanaka who gathered them to continue their training. Tanaka tells the team to work together in defeating him. Olivia uses Stanford, a team member, as a human shield to defeat Tanaka. Tanaka congratulates her and reinforces that the enemy won’t follow the rules, either. However, Stanford accuses Olivia of breaking the rules. The group argues about Olivia’s behavior while they move to the next exercise. Olivia schools Stanford on his misunderstanding of military history.
The diversity of interaction among the members of the Mech-Cadet is refreshing and age-appropriate. For example, Stanford’s objections to Olivia’s methods and Olivia’s competitiveness are developmentally appropriate. In addition, Olivia’s knowledge of military history and awareness of effective strategies to defeat an enemy show her connection to her father, who is a general in the military.
Again, when the Mech Cadets are demoted to janitor duty, they learn a lesson about cleaning up after their bad decisions. While that is an important lesson, the larger lesson learned occurs after they locate the eggs of a Sharg: no task is menial when you’re part of a larger team. The team members appear to embrace Sargeant Dolly’s values evidenced by their increased zeal in burning the eggs upon her command. Overall, this is an entertaining book with wonderful exchanges between characters while highlighting important values without being on the nose or contrived. The art is gorgeous and the presentation is spot-on for an all-ages audience.