The Dork Den Blog

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Sun Bakery #1

Sun Bakery #1

This is an interesting comic to say the least. When I grabbed this guy, I had absolutely no idea what it was, what it was was about, or anything about the creative team. However, the cover was awesome and it immediately gave off Scott Pilgrim vibes, which is one of my personal favorite comics of all time. Upon my first read, I was extremely confused, the story seemed to be jumping around, characters were undeveloped and world building was too quick and unexpected. I was, honestly, extremely disappointed by the comic simply because I was so thrown off by its contents. However, I really wanted to give this comic a revisit and thus a second opinion.

What I first learned by simply looking at the cover a little more, was that Sun Baker is a comic book anthology magazine. Essentially what this means is that they usually use different artists and different writers to make short, very quick stories within one issue. This explained the inconsistencies I found my first time through, and almost completely eradicated my confusion. This allowed me to take in each story (there’s only 2 / 3 in this one) as its own entity and appreciate them on an individual level. I also just spent more time with this comic in general the second time around, giving it an actual thoughtful read, and honestly, after the second time through, I liked this comic so much more. In fact, I loved this comic the second time. It’s extremely quirky and fun, in many similar ways that Scott Pilgrim was. The stories they introduce are simple, but insanely fun and if they revisit those worlds I’m all in. There’s no real character development here, but it’s not really needed to fit into the ‘anthology feel’.

I don’t have a whole lot to say about this comic. If you liked the vibes of Scott Pilgrim, or if you just like that indie vibe at all, sit down and read Sun Bakery, it has the workings of something really special for that kind of audience. If you’re not so sure, or you don’t like that Scott Pilgrim-esque, silly and over the top indie feel, then Sun Bakery might not be for you. It’s definitely a unique comic with awesome and funny art, some great dialogue, and the workings of some really cool action adventure stories with a couple sweet female protagonists. At the very least, give Sun Bakery a shot, you may just find a new favorite out of this one.

 

(4 / 5)

X-Men Black: Magneto

X-Men Black: Magneto

As far as I’m aware the X-Men comic franchise as of late has been doing alright for itself. It’s separation of its vast array of mutant characters into color-coded teams and styles has been pretty interesting, and for now, a fresh take on the X-Men and its many villains as a whole. With a giant mix up of the timelines the personalities and tendencies of every well known X-Men character has been kind of up in the air. I suppose the benefits of having a really convoluted and overblown history that Marvel is constantly expected to keep intact while doing new things is that anything goes, and if it doesn’t work, you just try something different. Magneto has been all over the place in terms of story for the past many years. Before the apparent disappearance of X-Men from the Marvel comic lineups Magneto had a very decisive solo comic book series, but since then he’s been M.I.A.. Now with X-Men Black, Magneto makes a welcomed return to the comic book world, though sadly, only in a single issue for now. As a character that succeeds most in a very anti-hero setting, I’m curious and hopeful that they bring this character back in the best way possible. But with the range of quality that the X-Men comics have been across their many new stories, I’m ever skeptical.

In the light of the political turmoil of today’s world, X-Men is a welcomed take and spin on the issues of immigration and nationalism. The idea of Mutants as unwelcomed foreign entities has been an in-world political issue for as long as X-Men has been around and works just as well today as it did when it first appeared. Magneto is a champion of the Mutants, a believer in not only their right to belong but often a believer in their superiority over non-mutants. These sometimes radical beliefs has put him at odds with the X-Men over the years, always advocates for peace between the Mutants and Non-Mutants. Fuel has only added to the fire however, as the constant struggle for the X-Men’s peace is met with a non-mutant hate for all mutant kind. With a bunch of mutant children being kept prisoners by the government, Magneto sees no reason not to utilize his unstoppable power to destroy the prison and break the mutants out. He quickly realizes however, upon easily defeating the guards and destroying the prison’s thick walls that perhaps the kids don’t want what Magneto has to offer them. Violence beyond reason isn’t what these young Mutants want. As they explain to the X-Men villain, maybe there’s more to earning respect than fear.

This comic does an admirable job of modernizing the Mutant-Problem that Magneto’s character is so often built around. X-Men’s issues with acceptance has always been a political statement, as comics often are. There are obvious under and overtones of the current political climate in here, and I think despite the comic book world’s liberal leanings, it does a good job of showing every side of the issue. X-Men does a great job of blurring lines. Magneto believes in the freedom for all Mutants, but at any cost. He’ll gladly kill any non-mutant that gets in his way for the betterment of his race. Meanwhile the X-Men want to live peacefully among the non-mutants, but they fear those with powers, and suppress them for it. It’s a never ending battle, and I think this Magneto comic book does well capturing that endless cycle. Magneto is an awesome character, and they seem to be writing him as fans of his classic style. I’m on board with anything for the future of this character.       

(4.5 / 5)

Dr Eureka

Dr Eureka

Dr. Eureka is a manual dexterity game designed to keep kids entertained, if the box art wasn’t enough of a clue. The BGG community is wise in this case; the game is listed as being for ages eight and up, but the community vote is for age five and up, and they’re probably right. If you like watching small children fumble objects all over the floor so you can feel more accomplished in life, they’re definitely right.

 

You start with three test tubes, each holding three balls of a single color—red, purple, or green. A card is flipped over with a way of sorting the balls in the test tubes. There may be any number of balls in a given tube (up to the five they can hold); some cards have an empty tube on them. Your job is to figure out the most effective way to move the balls from tube to tube until they match the pattern on the card. The catch is that you have to tip one tube into another to move the balls. You can’t move them with your hands. And if you drop a ball, you’re out of the round. First person to complete the pattern wins the round, takes the card, and the first to five cards wins.

 

That’s the whole game. Is it fun? Yeah. It’s not going to amuse adults for more than a couple playthroughs against each other. Kids might get a kick out of it if they’re at a level of coordination where this is a challenge, but a doable challenge. (Actually, by that standard, a lot of adults might like it too.) It’s something you want to find for cheap and stick on a shelf if you know you have to deal with kids that like to constantly do things with their hands.

 

(3.3 / 5)

Chew

Chew

Chew: Making Cannibalism Fun!

 

Chew is a long-running comic series, with its first issue released in 2009 and its final trade volume coming out earlier this year. It centers on Tony Chu, an agent for the FDA, which has become the most powerful agency in the U.S. government following an avian flu epidemic that created a death toll in the tens of millions and led to a complete ban on chicken. Tony is a cibopath, meaning he learns the history of anything he eats, a power that can be troublesome eating normal food–so, of course, his job involves taking bites out of murder victims. At the very beginning of the story, his partner, John Colby, takes a meat cleaver to the head that was aimed at Tony; Colby doesn’t just live, he comes back with half a face turned cybernetic.

 

It only gets weirder.

 

Chew is a prime example of where indie comics excel. It has a storyline with a designed ending point, and characters that aren’t going to be reborn in a whole new universe because the writers at Image can’t come up with any new ideas (although crossovers are still a thing). They can take chances on weirdness because if they overstep somewhere, no one’s hovering over their shoulders screaming, “YOU BORKED SUPERMAN!!!” Blended with a heavy dose of rock-solid comedic timing, Chew ends up being tremendously entertaining.

 

There are a couple of things that may end up bothering some people. One is that the most noteworthy deaths are of women. The female characters are pretty much all great when they’re alive, which balances this out somewhat, but there’s a bit of a ‘women in refrigerators’ aspect when they die in the same world that takes men with fatal injuries and Bionic Man’s them instead of letting them go too.

 

In addition, some people are going to be aggravated by Miso Honey, Tony’s sibling. ‘Miso Honey’ is introduced as the stage name of Tony’s brother Harold. Alright, so Harold is a drag queen? Sure, that works. Except Harold’s gender is brought into question with descriptions like ‘Tony’s brother/sister’, and the character is basically treated as a sideshow piece. Even that might be ok if all this was put to use in a storyline, e.g. something revolves around Harold, and Tony enters a part of the world he doesn’t understand and is deeply uncomfortable with. That never happens, though. Harold merely exists for chuckles, and the chuckles are based on belonging to a group that routinely gets crapped on anyway. No matter your opinion on writing or joking about marginalized groups in general, in this instance it feels like you’re being drawn in to help bully somebody, and it doesn’t feel too good.

 

And that’s unfortunate, because otherwise Chew is fantastic. If you can ignore a few instances of poor taste, the rest of it is definitely worth your time.

 

(4.3 / 5)

The Mind

The Mind

Can you read your friends’ minds?!

 

No. Stop trying. And if you do want to try, find another way.

 

This is what you do in The Mind: Everyone has a hand of cards equal to the level of the game. One person plays a card. Then another. Do that until everyone’s hands are empty. The goal is to play the cards, numbered 1 through 99, in numerical order while hardcore pokerfacing everybody at the table. You cannot speak, you cannot make expressions that potentially give away any information about your hand, nothing. (Of course, that’s necessary, since clues would make this game idiotically simple.)

 

Your group starts with a certain number of lives and throwing stars. As you pass through the levels, more of these become available. Lives are lost if someone plays a card and another player has a lower card in hand; throwing stars are used to allow everyone to discard one card from their hands. Run out of lives, you lose. Get to the end with any lives left, you win.

 

If you’re familiar with The Game, this is extremely similar, just with slight tweaks to make it more engaging. Its main advantage over The Game is this: The Game requires you to go through the whole deck, which means a bad shuffle can make it extremely difficult to finish. The Mind never has you deal out more than about one-third of the deck, so while you certainly can end up with a bunch of cards with similar values spread among the players, it’s less of a problem.

 

Problem is, they’re just tweaks, and it’s not much more engaging. The instructions have a bit that say “Don’t read until you’ve finished a game”, at which point they say this is a game about timing—the longer you wait to play a card, the farther away from the current card you probably are, so the players need to get a sense for how long each other will wait before playing a card X number away from the current one. They’re not lying; that’s what this game is, to the point that’s basically all this game is.

 

This is the kind of game that might have value with kids who need to learn teamwork, especially if you need them to shut up for five minutes. And there will always be people who enjoy this specific brand of mental cooperation. But as a game, it’s just.. not much of one.

 

(3 / 5)

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