Daredevil Review

Daredevil is packed with gritty but acrobatic action

After a slew of tripe barfed up by cash-hungry networks, television has finally got the superhero show that it deserves.  Daredevil is a piece of storytelling that fully embraces the Netflix-binge format and ambition of  contemporary TV while still staying true to the conventions of the superhero genre.  Daredevil transcends the boundaries of hero-fiction and is the best example of it on the small screen, to compare it with the likes of Agents of Shield and Arrow would be unfair and insulting as its contemporaries are more in the vein of Sons of Anarchy, True Detective and, to a lesser degree, Breaking Bad.  Marvel, the world-eating sons of bitches, have done it again.
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Five Favourites of 2014

One can hope

I’m thoroughly ashamed of my lack of blog output in the final quarter of 2014 so have decided to do what all lazy papers when they can’t be arsed to write a proper piece (I’m looking at you The Telegraph and Guardian) and publish a TOP FIVE (AKA “The Five Things We Learned” or “five things to know”).

It’s been a good year in the realms of entertainment as Marvel continue to build themselves up as the big brand of a generation while their puppet master Disney rake in the billions. We had a World Cup were we couldn’t be defeated by England’s lack of, well, anything as we savored some of the most superb shock results in sporting memory. There was also the ending of eras with both Boardwalk Empire and Sons of Anarchy among the last to be bowing out to what has been the greatest decade of television in human history.

There have also been the lows, with Sony murdering the Spider-Man franchise, their spat with North Korea regarding such as poor film as The Interview, and the subsequent hacking and exposure of both highly confidential e-mails and digital content. Both the Playstation 4 and X-box of struggled to release any real killer-apps with a series of game delays and the damning verdict of superior previous-platform re-masters over new IPs.    Finally and more poignantly there was the tragic end to the life of Robin Williams a man whom touched mine generation with a balance of humour, emotion and raw talent that we won’t see on this Earth again.

So see below for some of my thoughts on what was great in 2014 and what we can look forward to in 2015. Please note that I’ve not seen everything released this year with heavy hitters like Birdman and Boyhood yet to enter my consciousness and I’ve decided to ignore games this year due to the incredibly lame standard of overall releases.

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Summer Transfer Window Review 2014

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The transfer window closes having, again, smashed all previous records the Premier League amassed a total spend of 835 million (twice as much as La Liga and almost four times the Budesliga) in another filthy example of capitalism. With the top seven teams all spending big (except for Tottenham) and each looking so much more formidable then last year. So I’m going to have a look at the business of the top teams and review how I think it went. An honorable mention for Stevie Bruce who really smashed it out of the park for Hull City (Tigers) this season with the signings of Ramirez, Livermore and Ben (fatty) Arfa, top ten beckons.

Arsenal, net spend £46m

In: Alexis Sánchez (Barcelona, £30m), Calum Chambers (Southampton, £16m), Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle, £12m), David Ospina (Nice, £3m), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United, £16m)
Out: Bacary Sagna (Manchester City, free), Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea City, free), Nicklas Bendtner (released), Park Ju-young (released), Thomas Eisfeld (Fulham, undisclosed), Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona, £15m), Carl Jenkinson (West Ham, loan), Chuks Aneke (Zulte-Waregem, free), Ryo Miyaichi (FC Twente, loan), Ignasi Miquel (Norwich, undisclosed)

At first glance Arsenal have done very well having upgraded in virtually every position with Sanchez potentially a World Class talent. Much maligned Danny Welbeck is very promising and offers a good alternative to an injured Giroud. Vermaelen out for 15 million was a great bit of business.

Alexis "I'll settle for fourth place o I can live in London" Sanchez

Alexis “I’ll settle for fourth place o I can live in London” Sanchez

Star signing: Alexis Sanchez
Missed Opportunity: with only six senior defenders at the club (including Monreal) were Mertesacker or Emirates hero Koscielny to pick up an injury it will be on 19 year old chambers to take up the mantle.
Value rating: 7
Excitement rating: 8
January prediction: A trolley dash for any centre-backs not cup tied in the champions league, Sokratis or Nastasic.


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Mad Mario is back!

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It looks like Mario Balotelli is joining Liverpool, I’m going to say that again, Balotelli is (probably) joking Liverpool. Brendan Rodgers clearly isn’t content with the scandal-free summer just passed and is looking to spice things up in a post-Suarez world, the “Mad Dog” is out and the “Mad Mario” is in. Many comparisons are being drawn between the two, both are aggressive in attack, both have a habit for making headlines and both enjoy plundering the England goal and knocking us out of tournaments, from one media “darling” to another. But no matter how many comparisons can be drawn between the pairs oft-mentioned moments of insanity they couldn’t be more different as players. Suarez is a force of nature and the most talented individual to ever wear a Liverpool shirt was a phenomenon for Liverpool and would have been golden boot winner for two years running (was three ahead of Van Persie at the time his suspension was handed out in the 2012/13 season). He is simply irreplaceable in his contribution to the team that he plays for. Balotelli signs for Liverpool very much as the number two striker ,he is simply not in the same class as Suarez, but that is not to say he can’t be. Many in the media are lambasting the club hierarchy as having “lost their heads” and spouting clichés such as “jumping out if the frying pan and into the fire” while my fellow fanatics are deliciously ecstatic at the prospect, simply put, we love a bastard, a bastard that’s ours.
So here is why the Balotelli signing makes sense:

1. Liverpool are in dire need of a striker. Sturridge has earned his place as the leading man, however, he has a patchy injury record and will never play more than 30 league games a season. Rickie Lambert is a solid squad player but at 32 hardly represent the future and is somewhat lacking in pace. Balotelli is the physical embodiment of the classical English number 9, he’s built like a tank, he’s quick, he’s not intimidated and has a lethal right food. not bad at set pieces either. To mount a top four challenge, let alone a title challenge, Liverpool need strength-in-depth up front and Balotelli represents a player who could either partner or replace Sturridge in attack.
2. Liverpool can add variety to their attack. Rodgers seems to be leaning towards a 4231 formation due to both his fondness for versatile attacking midfielders-cum-wingers. The truth is Liverpool looked at their best last season in a diamond formation with two strikers. Their plethora of multi-taskers in the middle means that they have the capacity to field both Sturridge and Balotelli. Sturridge can be accused of drifting into the wings a tad too much (particularly to the right) and while this worked to great effect with Suarez in-tow it doesn’t work quite so well when up front alone. If Balotelli can replicate the same sort of runs Suarez used to, he certainly has the ability, then he can scare the life out of defenders. He offers an alternative to Sturridge for different games, more physically imposing, right-footed and with a scary-as-hell death-stare he throws a spanner in the works for teams plotting to negate a pacey Sturridge attack.
3. He is proven in the Premier League. Though lacking the best scoring record in open=-play Balotelli had a decent record in England. 20 goals in 54 (League) appearances considering a third of them were off the bench is not-bad for a player who was then in his early twenties. He won’t require the adjustment needed for most foreigners to acclimatise to the pace and physicality of the Premier League. He scores a lot of goals from free kicks and is one of the best penalty takers that the game has seen, with Lambo and Gerrard in the squad Liverpool will have one of the strongest set-play teams in the league, something they were already pretty good at.
4. Rodgers may be the one to unlock his potential. It’s widely believe that Mario has yet to near revealing his true capabilities. His seemingly bad attitude and laziness has led to managerial heavyweights such as Jose Mourinho and Roberto Mancini branding him an impossibility, a lost cause. Rodgers, who built his reputation in youth coaching, has been nothing short of a miracle-working with his man-management and the improvement he has made on players. Raheem Sterling has evolved from inconsistent winger into a multi-positional, intelligent attacked who will one day be challenging for the Ballon d’Or in the near future, Daniel Sturridge has gone from fourth-choice at Chelsea to world-beater and what about the man once nicknamed Horrendosen? If Balotelli really does have capacity to be the talent predicted by many then Rodgers is the man to bring that out.
5. He’s a bargain. The departure of Suarez has left Liverpool with a lack of star-power and the Kop needing a hero to worship. Mario is that hero, he ticks every category possible to ensure cult-legend status among redmen everywhere. He scores goals, he told a Sun journalist to shut-up and not ask him any questions, he doesn’t like bullies, he can’t master the bib, he nonchalantly pissed-off the entire Manchester United squad and he spends his money on a variety of scooters, post-firework bathroom renovations, homeless people and meme inspiring t-shirts. You can see why so many are eager for him to rock-up in the North West. More than that he is only 24, and at a relatively paltry sixteen million (especially considering Borini and his impending sale to Sunderland for 14) represents a low risk, even if he himself is quite a risk. He is young enough to learn and develop his game and take on Rodgers advice, in Steven Gerrard he has a statesmen to put him in place. If you consider that Bony would have cost twenty, Falcao ten for a single year and Cavani anything upwards of 35 it represents good business. If it doesn’t work out he still should have enough market value to be moved on. He also offers lots of commercial opportunities for the club, he’s a big-name player who In a world when Ross McCormack costs eleven million pounds and Shane Long 12, it looks good business indeed.
And though I am fully in favour of the transfer (though I would love to have seen Falcao at the club) there are some reservations:
1. Indiscipline. He has a habit for picking up red cards, worse than that, he gets sent off in big games at the worst possible moment. It may just be Rodgers ego that he believes he is the one to tame the Italian.
2. He is lazy and may be tactically inflexible. Rodgers demands his players be both flexible and hard-working, two things that Mario has never displayed. Whether he can fit into Rodgers system is curious, one cannot see him dropping into midfield or replicating anything near the pressing that Luis had previously offered.
3. He’s an Enigma. Nobody on Earth can predict how this will go.
So those are my thoughts in an exciting transfer window. Why always you Mario, why always you.

X-Men Redesign: Purple Team

This group was a lot more inconsistent then I wanted it to be (not that anyone ever wants their art to be inconsistent on purpose), I feel that Anole and Rockslide are amongst my best works to date while Quentin is probably my worst. So expect me to revise my Kid Omega design at some point though I cannot guarantee it any time soon. This team is made up of the leftover cast-memebers of New X-men: Acasdemy X with the addition of Kid Omega who has, in my opinion, been one of the standout X-men thanks to Jason Aarons superb writing on Wolverine & the X-men. Victor and Santo are one of my favorite pairings in comics as their contrasting personalities are often hilarious, Pixie is similarly funny and her British slang always feels like a fantastic in-joke. Cessily is very much the voice of reason needed to ground a cast of such misfits. As ever, you can find my works at devantart.
Purpleteam2

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Premier League Prediction 2014/15

The new season kicks off tomorrow and though we cannot fully judge the squads until the transfer window closes I thought I’d get my two cents in nice and early. My Premier League prediction table:

1: Chelsea

Jose did a stellar job of convincing everyone his side were not equipped to win the League last year despite having a significantly stronger team then fellow top 4 finishers Arsenal and Liverpool. The Special one would truly need divine intervention to convince his team are underdogs this time around with the resolute strengthening they’ve done so far this summer. Fabregas, Fillipe Luis and Diego Costa have filled the little gaps that previously haunted the first eleven to ensure they have a squad equal, if not superior, to Manchester City in firepower with the added edge of a consistent champions mentality. Physically strong and with super-subs abound (Schürrle, Willian) expect them to dominate teams with both set pieces and energy-sapping bombastic performances.

Who to watch – With Suarez taking chunks out of La Liga it will be interesting to see if Eden Hazard can push for the Player of the Year awards that is talent demands, though witnessing Diego Costa try and break the Stamford Striker Curse may be just as tantalising.
What they need – Extracurricular activity. With so many players worthy of a starting spot it’s going to be a test, even for Mourinho, to keep everyone happy. Another striker to replace (and the ever-never present Fernando Torres) Lukaku wouldn’t hurt.

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Guardians of the Galaxy: Review

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Marvel prove that they don’t need spandex to succeed as their biggest gamble is an utter blast

It has been a fantastic summer-fare for bombastic, high-quality blockbusters so far this year. Starting with the surprisingly challenging Captain America: Winter Soldier we have had The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (which scrapes this list), X-Men: Days of Future Past, Dawn of The Planet of the Apes and now the latest in this slightly-too-long-titled-cabal in Guardians of the Galaxy. What is staggering about this aforementioned list is how four of the five originate from comic-book behemoth Marvel (though ASM and X-men are ,of course, produced by Sony and Fox respectively) truly cementing the publishers status as the most valuable entertainment brand since Star Wars.

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