Boom! Studios’ New ‘Mech Cadets’ Collection Will Entertain, Engage Science-Fiction Fans Of All Ages

Courtesy: Boom! Studios
Cover Art by: Brandon J. Carr

Boom! Studios’ comic book series, Mech Cadet Yu is getting a lot of renewed attention this year.  Early this month, the company announced the series was being adapted into a serial series for Netflix.  Having originally debuted in print in 2017 through Boom! Studios, the property is expected to debut on Netflix Aug. 10 in a 10-episode limited run.  The original comic book series is also available in three separate paperback volumes through Boom! Studios.   Today, Boom! Studios has resurrected the original comic book series, so to speak, with the release of the original series’ first 12 issues in the form of the 322-page anthology, Mech Cadets: Book One.  Retailing for $24.99, the collection is a wonderful presentation for a wide range of audiences who might have been otherwise unfamiliar with the title.  The appeal of this collection comes in large part through its featured story, which will be discussed shortly.  The artwork featured in this story also plays into the collection’s appeal and will be examined a little later.  The bonus content that accompanies the collection rounds out its most important elements and will also be addressed later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the story.  All things considered they make the collection among the best of this year’s graphic novel releases.

Courtesy: Boom! Studios

Mech Cadets: Book One, the “new” collection of stories from Boom! Studios’ Mech Cadet Yu series, is a presentation that will appeal widely to anyone who is otherwise unfamiliar with the series.  This is due in no small part to its featured story.  The story featured across this 300-plus page volume is relatively simple.  It is an underdog story that finds its main character, Stanford Yu – a young janitor at the Sky Corps Academy – becoming the unlikely pilot of a mech robo and joining the battle against threats and attacks from otherworldly beings.  The story features Stanford becoming quick friends with some of the other robo pilots quickly, though his connection with one pilot, Olivia Park, does not start out so smoothly.  That is because Olivia is the daughter of the academy’s head general.  He has hammered some very clearly biased views into her, which come into play right from the story’s outset.  She treats Stanford (who is Chinese American) like he is less than her and the other cadets in the opening scene, going so far as to throw a drink at his feet, saying his place is to be a janitor and clean up others’ messes.  Series’ writer Greg Pak is to be commended here, for the incorporation of this sharp moment, which echoes the racist views of so many people against minorities throughout history.  Even in the not-too-distant future, this shows that sadly, such biases are still as prevalent as ever.  The comment comes back to haunt her however as the story progresses, which will put a smile on many readers’ faces.  What happens to her will be left for readers to discover for themselves, but it plays greatly into Olivia’s personal development, which Pak handles quite well throughout the story.  As a matter of fact, Pak handles the development of each of the characters equally well, and it is just one more aspect of the story that he handles so well throughout each of the volume’s 12 chapters.  The manner in which Pak combines the influences of so many science fiction influences – Asian and American – is just as worthy of applause.

Throughout the course of the overall story’s presentation, readers will easily note the use of young heroes in giant robots fighting monsters from another world to so many science fiction movies and television series.  The first franchise that comes to mind is Japan’s long-running Super Sentai series, which itself led to the birth of one of America’s most famous and long-running action properties in the Power Rangers.  At the same time, audiences can just as easily make comparison to the Pacific Rim movies, what with the design of the interstellar kaiju that the young heroes battle.  Considering that Mech Cadet Yu debuted in 2017, four years after Warner Brothers’ action flick Pacific Rim made its theatrical debut, one can’t help but imagine Pak took some influence from that movie, too. Additionally, audiences familiar with their literary and cinematic history will also catch a clear similarity to author Ted Hughes’ 1968 book, The Iron Giant and its 1999 cinematic adaptation (ironically, also from Warner Brothers).  In researching Boom! Studios’ new release, the comparison is not accidental, as research shows Pak did in fact take influence from said book and movie, so that would account for the connection between Stanford and Buddy (his robot) and even the very look of Buddy.  This matter will be discussed shortly. Getting back on the topic at hand, that Pak was able to take so many obvious influences and combine them into one whole here, without letting the story get away with itself (for lack of better wording) makes the story all the more engaging and entertaining.  The messages of friendship, trust, loyalty, and family all presented here ring soundly thanks to Pak’s ability to so seamlessly combine all of those influences.  The result is a story that will not only engage and entertain readers of so many ages, but also endear the story to all of those readers.

Courtesy: Boom! Studios

There is no doubt that the story featured in Mech Cadets: Book One goes a long way toward making the newly re-issued collection so enjoyable.  It is just part of what readers will appreciate from this collection.  The artwork exhibited throughout the story makes for its own appeal.  As noted already, Park took clear influence from The Iron Giant and its cinematic adaptation for the story, at least to a point.  That extent is not limited just to the story.  The look of Buddy is a rather clear lifting from the alien robot at the center of that story.  When the design of the robot is put alongside that of Buddy it becomes especially clear.  From the shape of Buddy’s eyes to his head to his general body construction, the similarity in body design is intentional.  Staying on this topic for a moment, the bonus content that accompanies the new set shows that the design for Buddy in Mech Cadets is actually quite different from Buddy in Los Robos, the predecessor for Mech Cadet Yu.  His design (and those of the other robots) actually looks more akin to something from the Ultraman franchise than The Iron Giant.  The ridged helmet, the more detailed facial structure and general body structure is completely different.  On a related note, Stanford looks more like one of the younger characters from the original Transformers (and its root Japanese series) in Los Robos whereas in Mech Cadet Yu, he looks a lot more like Ash from the long-running Pokemon franchise, what with the facial deign, hat and hair.  One thing that stays largely the same between Los Robos and Mech Cadet Yu however, is the overall definition of everything.  The use of the coloring in the backgrounds and the rough look of the characters gives the overall property an organic look that is welcome in its own unique way.  Keeping all of this and so much more related to the artwork in mind, the overall artwork used in this series does plenty to make the artwork presented here just as important to the presentation as the story.

The bonus content that accompanies the collection in its new release is just as important to the graphic novel as its primary content.  In the case of this set, the bonus content comes in the form of the original Los Robos one-off and sketches that show the designs of each character.  It is through the presentation of Los Robos that readers can see the clear stylistic difference between that one-off story and that of Mech Cadet Yu.  Another difference that readers will note is that that the general’s child was initially a boy, not a girl, in Los Robos.  Pak does not explain in his introduction here, why the general’s son became a daughter in the process.  It would be interesting to learn that detail.  Either way, the comparison that readers can make in this bonus makes for plenty of engagement and entertainment in its own right.

Courtesy: Boom! Studios

Something Pak does note in his introduction to the Los Robos one-off is that it was always his dream and that of illustrator and series co-creator Takeshi Miyazawa to turn Mech Cadet Yu into an ongoing series.  It looks like now that wish is going to happen as the original limited series will have a brand-new chapter published Aug. 9. According to information released this week by Boom! Studios, the new chapter will pick up where this collection ends.  Olivia has to learn some very hard lessons about responsibility as the pilot of the new mech robo, Hero Force 2.  The Sharg invasion is over, but new revelations that stem from the events of the invasion lead to even more concerns for the Sky Corps and its young cadets.  Knowing that Mech Cadet Yu is getting a whole new life following this collection’s release is even more of a bonus for the series’ fans.  When this and the impact of the other bonus content is considered along with the engagement and entertainment generated through the collection’s story and art, the whole makes Mech Cadets: Book One a worthwhile read for any science fiction and anime fan regardless of their familiarity with this franchise.

Mech Cadets: Book One is a great new beginning for Boom! Studios’ Mech Cadet Yu comic book series and is especially promising for anyone who might be less familiar with the franchise.  That is due in part to its featured story.  The underdog story will resonate with readers of all ages while the lessons of friendship, family, trust, and teamwork will especially resonate with younger readers.  The artwork presented throughout the story adds it own touch to the whole, what with the coloring and character designs.  The bonus content that accompanies the book adds even more to the collection through its presentation of the series’ predecessor, Los Robos.  Reading through the 10-page feature creates even more engagement through the comparisons to its story and design to those featured in Mech Cadet Yu and Mech Cadets: Book One.  The comparison generates more appreciation for both titles.  Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the book.  All things considered they make Mech Cadets: Book One an enjoyable presentation for so many science-fiction and anime fans.

More information on Mech Cadets: Book One and other titles from Boom! Studios is available at:




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Anchor Bay Reveals Release Date, Specs For TURN The Complete First Season

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment/AMC

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment/AMC

Anchor Bay Entertainment announced recently that it will release the first season of its hit AMC series TURN: Washington’s Spies this spring.

TURN: Washington’s SpiesThe Complete First Season will be released Tuesday, March 17th. That is just in time for audiences to catch up with the hit historically-based series before its second season debuts this spring. It will be released both on DVD and Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack. The ten-episode season will be spread across three discs on both sets. It will also include a handful of extras, which are noted below.

Bonus Features:

  • From Art To Image
  • Deleted Scenes

Based on author Alexander Rose’s book Washington’s Spies, Turn: Washington’s Spies centers on patriot Abe Woodhull. Woodhull is a farmer living in British-occupied Long Island. He joins with a group of his childhood friends to form what would become known as the Culper Ring in an effort to help then General Washington and his forces defeat the Red Coats in the Revolutionary War. What resulted would go on to be considered the birth of espionage. The series stars Jamie Bell (The Adventures of Tin Tin, Billy Elliot, Flags of Our Fathers), Seth Numrich (Gravity, Private Romeo)m Daniel Henshall (Out of the Blue, These Final Hours, The Babadook), Heather Lind (Boardwalk Empire, Sleepy Hollow, Blue Bloods), Kevin R. McNally (Downton Abbey, Pirates of the Caribbean 1 – 4, Supernatural ), Meegan Warner (Portend, The Veil, A Place To Call Home), Burn Gorman (Torchwood, Pacific Rim, The Dark Knight Rises), Angus McFayden (Californication, Chuck, The Pinkertons), JJ Field (The Musketeers, Captain America: The First Avenger, To The Ends of the Earth), and Samuel Roukin (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I, Bright Star, Happy-Go-Lucky).

TURN: Washington’s SpiesThe Complete First Season will retail for MSRP of $49.98 on DVD and $59.99 on Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack. More information on TURN: Washington’s Spies is available online at:



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Danny Phantom Complete Series Set Is Loads Of Ghostly Fun For All

Courtesy:  Nickelodeon/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Nickelodeon/Shout! Factory

Nickelodeon’s programming today is comprised largely of live action sitcoms aimed at teen viewers.  However, from the early 1990s up until the mid-2000s, the network was known more for its vast array of cartoons.  It’s “Nicktoons” were its heart and soul.  While Nickelodeon does have some cartoons today, the network’s sole remaining real Nicktoon is Butch Hartman’s hugely successful series Fairly OddparentsFairly Oddparents is a standout series, too.  Interestingly enough, it isn’t his first series to have the honor of being added to Nickelodeon’s list of beloved Nicktoons.  His first notable “Nicktoon” was the short-lived supernatural series Danny Phantom.  Now thanks to Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon, fans of Danny Phantom will be able to own the complete series in one box later this month.  Danny Phantom only ran for three seasons.  In its defense, it could be argued that this was because it was ahead of its time.  That aside, series creator Butch Hartman and his writers crafted a number of enjoyable episodes throughout the show’s short run.  Just as worth noting about this new upcoming box set is that is alleviates some minor problems raised in the box sets containing the series’ second season.  Lastly, those that know their Nicktoons history will appreciate the voice talent that made up the series’ cast.  That who’s who of voice actors combined with the enjoyable stories, and the fact that they are all available together for the first time collectively make this upcoming set well worth picking up for any Danny Phantom fan.

Fans of Danny Phantom: The Complete Series  will appreciate this new complete series set first and foremost because it presents the series’ entire three-season run in one complete box set.  Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory have already released three complete series sets from Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Rocko’s Modern Life, and The Angry Beavers.  Those sets proved to actually take up far less space on DVD racks than the stand-alone season sets that had originally been released.  This set is no different.  All nine discs that make up all three seasons are included in this box.  Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon have sweetened the deal even more for fans in that they have maintained the established wise packaging that was used in the aforementioned complete series sets.  The discs are placed inside the box on either side of their own “insert” with the ninth and final disc being placed in its own spot inside the back of the case.  As with the previously noted box sets, this protects the discs and allows the episodes contained within each one to be enjoyed much longer.  It is the starting point of what audiences will appreciate about Danny Phantom: The Complete Series.

The packaging for Danny Phantom: The Complete Series is a good starting point in discussing everything that makes this box set well worth its price.  The episodes contained across the set’s nine total discs make the presentation as a whole even more enjoyable.  It would be easy to say that because its main characters were high school students, Danny Phantom was just another program aimed at audiences of the same age. To a point, it could be seen how teen audiences would take an interest in the series.  Case in point, one of the series’ story arcs involved a potential inter-racial romance between Danny and black classmate named Valerie Gray (voiced by Cree Summer—The Cosby Show, Clifford The Big Red Dog, Codename: Kids Next Door, etc.).  It really is a sign of the times that the show’s writers would include this without making a big fuss over it, either.  It is a subtle, but nice addition to the series.  There are also the constant struggles to balance trying to be a regular teen with being a superhero. But the jokes that are tossed in each episode aren’t above some younger viewers, either.  So while teens might have been the primary audience, younger viewers would have obviously enjoyed the show, too.  The same applies to today’s teens and pre-teens, too.

The packaging and writing that make up Danny Phantom’s episodes are collectively a big part of what makes the series so enjoyable even for today’s younger audiences.  There is at least one more aspect of the series’ new set that audiences will appreciate in examining the presentation as a whole.  That aspect is the series’ voice cast.  The series’ primary cast reads like a who’s who of voice acting.  It has already been noted that veteran voice actress Cree Summer is part of the primary cast (even though she doesn’t come into play until the second season).  Along with Ms. Summer, Grey DeLisle (The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Clifford The Big Red Dog, Clifford: The Puppy Years, Fosters Home For Imaginary Friends, etc.) Kath Soucie (Futurama, Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Beauty and the Beast, etc.), Rob Paulsen (Animaniacs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, etc.) and a whole slate of others each play roles in the series.  Fans will also recognize the voices of Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy, Pacific Rim, Hellboy & Hellboy II), Martin Mull (Roseanne), and the man who is perhaps the busiest male voice actor in the business, one Frank Welker (Curious George, The Real Ghostbusters, Scooby-Doo Where Are You, etc.)  Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men), Taylor Lautner (the Twilight saga), and the late David Carradine even make appearances throughout the series among so many other big names.  If the massive list of A-listers that play roles in Danny Phantom isn’t reason enough to check out the new Danny Phantom: The Complete Series box set, then one need only set that alongside the enjoyable writing and the equally wise packaging to see just how worthwhile this set is for kids and kids at heart.  It will be available in stores and online Tuesday, January 28th.  It can be pre-ordered online now from the Shout! Factory store at  More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online at and  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at

Pacific Rim Is Fun But Forgettable


Courtesy: Warner Brothers Studios/Legendary Pictures

Thirty-seven.  According to most news agencies, that is how many sequels will have been churned out in theaters by the time 2013 has winded down.  Those reports go on to say that this is a new record for movie studios.  Those same movie studios have most recently been lambasted by the likes of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas for that glut of franchise flicks.  The pair most recently stated that if Hollywood’s major studios continue on their current track, the movie industry’s implosion won’t be far behind.  Keeping this in mind, what is a movie-goer to do in looking for something that is not a sequel or even prequel in 2013?  The answer would seem simple.  Although in reality it isn’t.  Case in point, the mega-blockbuster, Pacific Rim.

While it isn’t a sequel, or even a prequel or reboot, the latest blockbuster from Warner Brothers Studios and Legendary Pictures is still anything but original.  The Japanese influenced action flick is formulaic and trite.  The whole robots versus giant monsters bit has been done to death.  If one were to take Power Rangers, Godzilla, Independence Day, Top Gun, (Yes there’s even a hint of Top Gun in here believe it or not) and the equally terrible 1989 movie, Robot Jox, and toss them into a pot, they would get this fast paced and underperforming movie that’s more fit for a person with ADD than a more discerning viewer.   Making things worse, writer Travis Beacham has taken elements of each of the aforementioned movies and TV shows, and tossed them in all over the place for a movie that ultimately adds up to nothing.  From its standard stereotypical character types to its equally seemingly ADD influenced writing to the attempts to cover all of this with special effects in hopes of making it look like something substantial, it all adds up to a movie that is more forgettable than fun.

Pacific Rim is a fun movie.  But it is also largely forgettable.  The most blatant of reasons for this is its very concept.  The concept behind this movie is anything but original as already noted.  Robots fighting monsters has been done for roughly two decades or more with the various Japanese shows and movies that influenced America’s hit pop culture phenomenon that is the Power Rangers franchise.  And that franchise itself caused any number of imitators such as the Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad and VR Troopers just to name a couple of so many that have been churned out here stateside since the early 1990s.  This is just the tip of the iceberg in where this movie goes wrong.  Along with those Japanese TV shows and movies from which this movie blatantly lifts, viewers will also see just as much pulled from the likes of Top Gun and Independence Day.  One scene in particular halfway through the movie’s roughly two hour run time sees Raleigh and his co-pilot Mako (Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi respectively) come back victorious from having taken down a pair of kaiju by themselves.  It looks just like a certain scene from Top Gun (and so many other action movies and TV shows).  Heck, for that matter, one could even argue that this harkens all the way back to a scene from the original Star Wars franchise that occurred after the Death Star was destroyed.  It was a near mirror image.  Again, here we have prime examples of just how unoriginal this movie is.  Instead of trying to do anything original, it just pulls scenes from other movies for this story.  It’s not the end of the movie’s faults, either.

Audiences that are familiar with their sci-fi history will take notice of the scenes throughout this movie lifted from so many other movies and TV shows.  The script’s writing hurts the viewing experience just as much as the lifted scenes, if not more so.  We’ll start with the example of Stacker Pentecost’s over-the-top motivational speech to his forces as he triumphantly joins the fight once more having been sidelined for years from fighting the war against the Kaiju, too.  This exact same over-the-top motivational speech style was used in Independence Day and so many other action movies both before and after it.  It makes the whole work come across as that much lazier and anything but serious.  Rather it makes the movie come across as cheesy.  This kind of interpretation by audiences can greatly hurt the movie in the long run. It’s just one of so many other moments much like it.  These moments coarse through the movie right to its final mega-battle scene, taking even more away from its ability to be taken seriously.  Of course, this isn’t the bottom of the barrel.  Things get worse for Pacific Rim in considering the story’s character styles.

In the case of Pacific Rim, audiences are presented with even more standard action movie fare with the characters of Pentecost and Raleigh.  Raleigh is the standard heroic leader character with a mysterious past about which he won’t talk. It makes him even more mysterious to those around him.  But it hardly creates an appeal among audiences for him as he’s hardly the first character of his sort to grace the big screen.  Having covered one of the movie’s main characters, let’s examine another main character in Raleigh.  Raleigh is the standard plays-by-his-own-rules character style seen in all the way back to Han Solo, Wolverine, Maverick, and so many other anti-hero and semi-anti-hero types.  Just as with so much else in this movie, it’s one more factor that has been done to death.  And because of this, the picture becomes even clearer as to why Pacific Rim will ultimately be one more forgotten action movie that will end up in the five-dollar bin at Wal-Mart not long after it debuts on DVD and Blu-ray.

Pacific Rim suffers from so many negatives.  It’s no wonder why it has fallen so short in terms of ticket sales versus its production costs.  However, for all of its negatives, there is at least one positive to Pacific Rim.  That positive is the movie’s special effects.  The special effects in this movie are above par for Summer blockbusters.  Watching the Jaeger (pronounced yager) pilots working together to bring their robots to life to battle the Kaiju (pronounced KI-joo) is something to behold.  The combination of live action and CG effects sets the bar extremely high for other special effects laden movies to come.  So to that extent, those behind the cameras and computer screens deserve their due credit for this.

At the same time that the movie’s special effects are a good thing, they are also a bad thing.  The reason for this is that it is honestly the only positive to the movie.  Had this movie had more laurels on which it could rest, the special effects would not have been a burden.  But sadly, it doesn’t have those other laurels.  And because of this, it will lead many viewers to feel that director Guillermo del Toro is just trying to fool audiences and make them think this is something with substance.  In reality, it has none.  Sure, the graphics and special effects are great.  But audiences should not let this become a smokescreen.  They need to see that being that this is all it has going for it, Pacific Rim is sadly anything but one of the best new theatrical releases of 2013.  It isn’t the year’s worst.  But it is hardly the year’s best, either.  In the long run, it will prove to be little more than a vague memory in the vast expanse that is the world of the action movie.

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