Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Pirate King by RA Salvatore

After a poor performance in “The Orc King”, R.A. Salvatore is at it again. “The Pirate King” is the second book in the Transitions trilogy and as usual features Salvatore’s and Wotc’s cash cow Drizzt Do'Urden and company. Picking up a few years after “The Orc King”, an uneasy peace has settled in the North and taking advantage of the situation, King Breunor Battlehammer sends Drizzt and Regis off to find Wulfgar, who left Mithral Hall for Icewind Dale in the middle of the last war.

However with a title like “The Pirate King”, you would expect a lot of pirates to show up right? You will not be disappointed. In their journey to Icewind Dale, Drizzt and Regis pass through the port city of Luskan. There they met up with Captain Deudermont who has teamed up with a Waterdeep noble to try and save Luskan from the Hosttower of the Arcane. Naturally the Archmage Arcane, Arklem Greeth, does not take kindly to the whole venture. However Drizzt has sailed with Deudermont before as a pirate hunter and agreed to join him, and his right hand wizard Robillard, to liberate the city.

After a very impressive battle, Drizzt and Deudermont freed Luskan from Greeth’s rule but the devil is in the details. While Drizzt and Regis continue on their way to find Wulfgar, Captain Deudermont now becomes Governor Deudermont and discovered how ill-suited he is to the job. His noble aim to put together a government that will benefit everyone just can’t work in Luskan. In the past Greeth ruled the city by using five pirate ship captains to maintain order. While Greeth was evil, he was a necessary evil that kept the city from falling into chaos. Without Greeth to keep them in check, the five pirate captains rebelled against the rule of Deudermont and caused Deudermont’s quest to free Luskan to end in tragedy.

Although this is supposed to be the 18th book to feature Drizzt, it is not actually a Drizzt book. “The Pirate King” is a book that spilt between Drizzt and Deudermont, with Deudermont playing the more important part. Drizzt did some fighting here and there but doesn’t play a full role till the end of the book. Even then he was relegated to fighting the dwarf Athrogate, with the main battle all but decided already. The main story is on Deudermont. His quest to free his beloved Luskan from the Hosttower, and his rule of the city after.

Salvatore made some smart decisions in this book. After 18 books, the cast of Drizzt is great and Salvatore wisely cut out some waste here. Catti-brie and Bruenor Battlehammer are but footnotes in this book. They (along with Obould Many-Arrows) have a few lines in the early chapters and then disappeared from the book. Wulfgar show up late in the book but didn’t hang around after 1-2 chapters and Artemis didn’t show up at all. This allows the story to concentrate on Deudermont, Drizzt, Greeth, the five pirate captains, even Robillard (who was much more interesting than I though he would be).

However with good decisions, Salvatore also made some bad ones. The journey of Drizzt and Regis was a drag at times. There was an unnecessary visit to the Harpells, another unnecessary visit to Ten Towns, and finally Drizzt and Regis sudden urge to talk morals. I say it’s sudden because this has never happened before. A drow born in the Underdark talking morals with a rogue? What happened to these characters?

I was never a fan of Deudermont but Salvatore managed to flesh out the character very well in this book. He was a noble man caught in a place, in a situation where nobility is a minus and not a plus. He was a hero but a flawed one. Too proud and noble to bend, in the end the city broke against him. In short, Salvatore made Captain Deudermont believable. That more than anything is why “The Pirate King” is in my humble view much better book than “The Orc King”.

Not great by anyone’s imagination, “The Pirate King” is still a book worth reading. Pick this one up for a fun time.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Everything is Relative

You guys heard the new rules for smokers in Singapore? Now there is a rule in Singapore which state that not only does smokers cannot smoke in buildings, they can only lit up 5 metres from the building entrance.

Even to a non-smoker like me, that rule look harsh. But everything is relative. I realise that when a man was given three days in detention for breaking a non-smoking rule in China. The man was caught smoking in the toilet on a high-speed train. The smoke triggered an alarm which caused the train to stop.

The punishment for the man was 3 days in jail. Like I said, everything is relative.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Comics this week

Reign in Hell #6- The war for hell take a turn as Neron has clearly beaten Satanus and Lady Blaze. Doctor Fate add to the duo's misery as he injured Lady Blaze. With their forces nearing defeat, Satanus issued out a challenge to Neron. His ego being what it is, Neron accepted the challenge. That's when Satanus came out with his trump card of a magical virus that help him defeat Neron. A WHAT? That's my reaction as well. What virus? Never in the last 5 issues was there ever any talk about a magical virus that could turn the tide of battle, now there's suddenly one? Bad move Keith Giffen.

Nova #20- I said last issue that Nova works best in space. We are still on Earth, so that's not good. Firestar and Justice are guest-stars; that's bad as well because the last thing Nova need is a remainder of what a joke the character was before Annihilation. Dear Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, please send Nova back to space ASAP. Thanks

Street Fighter II Turbo #3- I have a problem with this issue. Although the issue is pretty well-done, I always have a huge problem with Fei Long. This issue is nothing more than a Fei Long/Bruce Lee tribute issue. Not what the series need after a solid start

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cutting no ice with Singaporeans

"(During) this tough and uncertain period, I hope there will be no increase in transport fares." So asked a resident to Singapore's Transport Minister Raymond Lim during a dialogue session with MacPherson residents on Sunday.

It seems like a fair question. The resident hope that there will be no increase in transport fares, and I believe another asked if the government will consider subsidising public transport fares. Fair, legitimate questions in my view. So how did this became a question of whether Singapore public transport becoming completely free?

Transport Minister Raymond Lim revealed that it would take a further 1.5% hike in GST if bus and train rides were to be made completely free. The thing is that no one is asking for free transport! Singaporeans understand that there is no such thing as a free transport service; the question isn't that but if
A) will there be an increase in transport fares
and B) will the government consider subsidising public transport fares

How did those questions led to completely free public transport? Mr Raymond Lim also made another mistake when he said that the public transport fare is not directly linked to the oil prices. The fares now seems to be linked factors like the inflation level in Singapore, and the wage level in the whole of Singapore.

This despite the fact that the rise in oil prices is the reason given for all those fares increases these past few years. Even if the public transport fare is not directly linked to the oil prices, the other reasons Mr Raymond Lim gave cut no ice with Singaporeans. Wages in Singapore are going down due to job losses and inflation is hardly a problem with a global financial meltdown in the works.

If Mr Raymond Lim want to say that he cannot confirm that there will not be any increase in transport fares, I suggest that he just say so in the future.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Transparency and Accountability

I haven't said anything about Town Councils Losing $12 millions of Singapore Public Funds so far because I find it kind of understanding. With the credit crisis, the Town Councils are not the only one so far to have lost money in the market, and they will not be the last.

In an interview published in The Straits Times, Minister of Health Mr Khaw Boon Wan came out in defence of the PAP Town Councils. Mr Khaw, like every other PAP leaders so far, said that Singaporeans should be more understanding towards the Town Councils’ investment policies and the delay in the Town Councils announcing the losses to the public.

He is half right. I understand them losing the money, but the delay in announcing the loss is another matter. Now I have no problem if the Town Council want to invest to make more money, but I have an issue with the delay in announcing the loss. This is public money right? The money came from, and belong to the public. Surely we should know if the money is gone?

In recent weeks, there's been a clear backlash from the public on the loss. What I think the PAP should understand is that the anger is only partly about the loss, the anger is also because the loss was hidden for so long. There has been no transparency or accountability in the handling of the loss, and that more than anything is what the public is angry about.

Mr Khaw want Singaporeans to be more understanding towards the Town Councils, however the same thing must be done on the government's side as well. The Town Councils must improve on the transparency and accountability of the investments. If they do not, the anger will continue to simmer.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Back to the Drawing Board

After an undeserved draw in Hanoi, Singapore’s luck ran out. Vietnam’s Quang The Nguyen came off the bench and scored in the 75 min to kick Singapore out of the Southeast Asian championship.

The shock 1-0 win mean that Vietnam will face Thailand in the finals, and I think Singapore has to go back to the drawing board. The Singapore team was vastly outplayed in Hanoi, and like I said earlier was lucky to escape with a draw. This despite the fact that half of the Singapore team were foreign talents.

A defeat and an undeserved draw despite our foreign talents; yes, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Comics this week

Avengers: The Initiative #19- The final Secret Invasion tie-in of them all is perhaps rightfully an Avengers: The Initiative issue. Although I think you can say this is more of a Skrull Kill Krew issue than an A:TI issue as the issue is basically about the team jumping all over America to kill Skrulls, Skrulls and more Skrulls. That’s it, that’s the whole issue. A lot of fighting (some of them very confusing), a lot of Skrulls getting killed, and that’s the end of the tie-ins. Thank God for that!

Stormwatch #17- Stormwatch is having problems with over-crowding as their base, Skywatch, just isn’t big enough to house everyone they’ve been saving. A set-up issue for the meeting between Stormwatch and the Authority, this issue is passable but Stormwatch need to kick it up a gear. They seem to be treading water for the pass few issues and that’s not good.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Suggestion for all Illegals in Singapore

As I watch Singapore taking on Vietnam in Hanoi on TV, I'm struck by one thing. Half the team is part of the foreign talent scheme!

Half of Singapore's defence are foreigners, half the midfield are foreigners, and one of our strikers is a foreigner. The thing is that I was watching the match on ESPN, and the commentators felt that they had to explain to their viewers why Singapore has several players with such funny names. They then tried to put in an excuse for Singapore, something about how Singapore is merely trying to boost their local talent level with this foreign talent scheme and that there are many new local-born players waiting to take over from these foreign players.

I don't know which was worse; listening to the lame excuse, or trying not to laugh at the suggestions of new local-born players for our 'national' team. Let's admit it, the reason Singapore has the foreign talent scheme is to strictly to win medals. Like our silver medal in the Olympics, you are not going to see too many Singaporeans celebrating in the streets if Singapore do win the AFF Suzuki Cup for the 4th time.

Even if there are new Singapore-born players ready for the national team, they will have to fight for places in the team with all the foreigners currently playing in the S-League. The management of the national team clearly has no problems with issuing out passports like candy and I'm looking for the day when all 11 of the first team are foreign-born.

So for all the illegal overstayers in Singapore, here's a suggestion; Learn some football skills

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Starting a new industry in Singapore

As a fan of video games, I was glad to hear that the Media Development Authority (MDA) of Singapore is now offering grants to video game developers in Singapore to create games for Xbox LIVE.

The amount MDA is offering will be up to S$50,000 for every successful applicant under the MDA-Microsoft XNA Development Initiative. Considering the number of Xboxes in the world, this is not a bad idea. However, I suggest that MDA expand the grants to cover all other platforms including PC, PS3 and the all-conquering Wii. I will agree that the newly launched Xbox Live Community Games Channel make it a good idea to start with the Xbox, but PS3 is more popular in Asia; PC has money-spinning MMOs; and Wii outsell Xbox and PC3 combined!

Offering grants to budding video game developers is a good idea but I feel MDA need to be more ambitious. Starting a new industry from scratch is hard and budding video game developers in Singapore need all the help they can get.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More Financial Problems from America

As if the global credit crisis isn’t bad enough, the world economy is now left reeling through one of the greatest financial fraud in the history of mankind. Wall Street heavyweight Bernard Madoff is accused of running a pyramid scam that cost his investors US$50 billion.

US$50 billion! Not only is that a lot of money but the list of victims are some of the biggest, most respected banks in the world. Europe's biggest bank, HSBC, lost around US$1 billion; Santander, the second-largest in Europe after HSBC, has an exposure of more than three billion dollars; Fortis Bank Netherlands stood to lose up to a billion euros. Even banks in Asia are affected; Japan’s Nomura loss is at 303 million dollars and various South Korean financial institutions has a total exposure of 95 million dollars. Singapore’s Great Eastern is also affected, but as is usually the case in Singapore, no word yet on how much they are going to lose.

Funny thing is that almost no one is blaming these banks for losing the money to Bernard Madoff. Bernard Madoff is a trusted name, so trusted that he was once the chairman of the Nasdaq. A former chairman of a stock exchange who running a pyramid scam undetected for decades? If there were still any doubts that the US regulators were sleeping on the job, they are all gone now.

Which bring me to an earlier post on this blog. I suggested that America need to fix the structural fault in their economy; now it seems I was underestimating the problem. America not only needs to fix the fundamentals of their economy; they will also need to fix their financial regulatory system as well. More work for everyone!

Monday, December 15, 2008

No Victory in Iraq for Bush

Since he will be out of the job next month, current U.S. President George W. Bush is on a mission to play up the achievements of his presidency. Now I find this very understandable; it’s very normal for a departing president to want to leave a good impression.

Which is why I cannot understand why he would even dream of visiting Iraq! As I had stated often on this blog, I do not believe America and her allies (including Singapore) can win in Iraq. The war was supposed to be a short, glorious war to take out the hated Saddam Hussein. Nearly six years after the U.S. invasion, U.S. troops are still in the country whose devastation has been largely due to the American-led invasion.

The Iraq war is not a victory for America, and it never will be! By bogging America down for six years, the Iraqi militias had scored a moral victory if nothing else. It’s not quite a quagmire for America but a victory is out of the question. Even if the fighting stop tomorrow and American troops has a victory parade out of Baghdad; who in their right mind will call it an American victory?

Even today, Iraq is a country with almost daily bombings, kidnappings and shootings. Even Bush wasn’t safe in Iraq! At a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, he had to dodge a pair of shoes thrown by an enraged Iraqi. That’s at his own press conference!

If Bush want to tout his successes, then he need to avoid even a mention of Iraq and without question, avoid Iraq at all course.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Another Failed Bailout

The GOP did it again. After all the talks, another bailout in the U.S. has collapse due to Republicans tanking it.

With the failure of the U.S. bailout, the three American car giants Ford, General Motors (GM) and Chrysler are officially dead companies on life support. So far only GM has admitted to hiring lawyers with a view of bankruptcy, but I suspect they are not the only one.

I have to wonder why the Republican Senators did not pass the bailout, because it almost guarantee that at least one of the 3 car giants will have to go. The demand that wages paid by the car giants to their workers must be brought into line with those at foreign firms seems quite a silly (and minor) thing when compared to the danger of the collapse of the bailout! I mean with sweeping job losses all over the world; why would they want to add on to the problem now?

When there are layoffs at Bank of America, the second biggest bank in the world, surely job losses in America is more important than economic principles? When a US banking giant like Citigroup just cut 50,000 jobs last month, does America really want auto-workers to join financial workers in the unemployment line at the same time? Is the dive on the stock markets after the last bailout failure not enough? Do they want another 777 points loss on the market? Yes, I admit that's unlikely this time but is any dive on the stock market a good thing at this point of time?

Like it or not, that's what going to happen now.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Of Course the Law Favor the Rich

There is no such thing as one law for the rich and one for the poor, so says Singapore’s Attorney-General Walter Woon.

Now I know of some people who laughed when they read Mr. Woon’s comments, but I think Mr. Woon meant well when he said this. After all, he can’t actually say that there is a law for the rich and a law for the poor right? Yes I know that’s the true of the matter but you can’t expect the Attorney-General to say so. To be realistic, this can only be expected. When you are rich, or well-connected, the laws work differently for you.

A prefect example of my view is the case of a rich man who tried to buy an organ from Indonesia. The man in question only spend only hours in jail; while the middleman and the seller of the organ got far longer sentences. I know I’m not the only one who felt that the sentences were wildly different due to the money that can be thrown around. And mind you, the family of the rich man was unhappy even with the 1 day jail sentence. The family was so confident about the power of money that they were unhappy with nothing less than total victory.

That’s the way it is, the way is always has been, the way it always will be. From ancient times to now, Singapore is no different from any other country out there.

So for those who laugh and smile at Mr. Woon’s comments…oh please; what do you expect him to say?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Comics this week

Final Crisis #5- Darkseid is here! As the remaining DCU's heroes make their counterattack against the evil God's forces, other forces are entering the fight. The Green Lanterns Corp rushes to Earth, while Checkmate (and the Question) organized their final options. All these forces against Darkseid and you know what; it's just not enough. The feeling of doom is just all over this issue. You just feel that without a doubt, Darkseid will win. Hell, even Lex Luthor can't think of a way to save the planet. All bow to Darkseid!

Secret Six #4- Our misfits villains are on their way to Vegas. Along the way, they will piss each other off; stab each other; and Scandal Savage will sleep on Bane's lap like a baby (the face of Deadshot was priceless). All while driving in a ice cream truck! What's there not to like; Collect this series NOW!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

British Leaving Iraq

With America’s President-elect Barack Obama's taking office next month, the U.S Army is getting ready to get out of Iraq. The Iraq war has been nothing short of a disaster for America and her allies, and the pull-out has long been overdue. The Americans has a date somewhere in 2011 for a full pull-out (just in time for Obama’s reelection campaign), but it seems that Britain is not waiting.

Reports in British newspapers say that British forces will start withdrawing most of its 4,000 troops from Iraq in March and plans to leave only 400 personnel by mid-2009. Of course, this withdraw is also just in time for the British election Prime Minister Gordon Brown will need to call by 2010.

Whatever the reasons, I think it’s’ about time. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair 45,000 troops to join U.S. President George W. Bush's in the invasion of Iraq and both countries suffered for it in lives and prestige. Getting out sooner rather than later is a welcome move.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sky is falling on Singapore

How do you know when times in Singapore are bad? The answer: ask car dealers.

Singaporeans are well-known car crazies but this year seems to be different. Car dealers in Singapore are reporting a 50 per cent drop in business as the global financial meltdown make Singaporean hold back from making deals.

Singaporean who shy away from buying cars? At the year—end holiday season? With low Certificate of Entitlement (COE) prices? Look out, the sky is falling!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Why the world can't spend itself out of the Crisis

With the global economic downturn affecting everyone, countries all over the world are grasping for ways to avoid, or at least cushion, the blow from the crisis. One of the favorite methods from what I see is the shopping voucher.

The idea is simple; issue out shopping vouchers so that people will go out and spend. Taiwan is doing it, and the Germans want their government to do the same. The Singapore government isn’t doing it and I have to say I agree with them on this.

The problem I see with shopping vouchers is that people will only spend if they are confident in the economy. That is not the case now. Would you spend your money if you are unsure if you will still have a job next month? Already hundreds of thousand of workers around the world have lost their jobs and more will follow. Workers from America, China, to our own Singapore are looking at the clock and wondering if they will be next on the chopping block. Will shopping vouchers get these workers to the shopping centres? I think not.

That’s why I believe it is an error to think that we can spend our way out of this recession. The world cannot expect consumers to get them out of this economic downturn because there was never a lack of demand by consumers. The downturn came because of a flaw in the sub-prime industry in America; this global recession came from a structural fault in the world economy.

Fix that and we can get out of the global economic downturn.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Comics this week

Secret Invasion #8- After 7 disappointing issues, Secret Invasion come to a close. I have to wonder...that's it? The big battle was I believe the showcase of the series, but if it was, it was poor. It was over quickly with the death of the Wasp, and I found it to be very unsatisfying. One death to the Skrull Queen and that's the war? Come on Marvel, you can do better than this! I didn't go through 7 issues for this. Brian Michael Bendis, you needed 3 issues to show 15 mins between issue 1 to 3; if that held true, the big fight would have lasted all of what...15 seconds? Even the final scene which show the new status quo didn't make much sense to me. Doctor Doom, Greeen Goblin willing to share power? Why did that happen? Poor

X-Men Noir #1- While not actually a fan of Marvel's various lines, I do find most of them to be extremely fun. Their new Noir line is no different. While I don't really follow the regular X-Men books anymore, I found X-Men Noir to be a fun reimagination of the X-Men mythos. Setup as a 1950s crime story, I like the various reimagined X-characters. The setting, the concept are totally different but writer Fred Van Lente did extremely well putting in several elements from the X-Men world. Black Tom as a Irish gangster, Gambit as a casino owner, Quicksilver a track star; you can't help but chuckled at such brilliant use of the characters. The art by Dennis Calero also suit the book to a T. A surprising good story with excellent art.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Giving GTA IV PC a Pass

Why, why does it have DRM? I have played all the GTA (Grand Theft-Auto) games since GTA III (Vice City is, in my view, one of the best games ever created). I was looking forward to GTA IV on pc, but why must it be on DRM?

For those people who do not know what DRM is; it stands for ‘data rights management’. It’s a measure that games publishers use to prevent game piracy. The strategies are numerous; games with DRM require you to go onto the internet to activate the game (no internet, no play); games with DRM only allow you to have a number of installs (go beyond that and the game can’t be played).

I just think DRM is stupid. Here’s my experience with DRM. With no experience with DRM before, I bought the game Spore. Another highly-anticipated game, I found that I can’t play the game. It requires me to have an internet connection to activate. An internet connection to activate a game that is NOT online! The stupidity of that still amazed me and the thing was that my internet was down at that time. So I had to wait 3 days to play the game while the Starhub technician fixed my internet problem.

That is nothing to the real problem of Spore. Spore only allow 3 installs! So right now, Spore is in my pc and I can’t uninstall it because if I do, I can only install it another 2 times. Brilliant! A game that is taking up disk space on my pc and there’s nothing I can do about it. I can’t uninstall it even though I’m not playing it now, because of the stupid DRM.

So DRM not only make me wonder whether I can play the game I buy; it also makes sure I won’t be able to get rid of the game once I install it! Brilliant! So brilliant in fact, I think I will give GTA IV a pass.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A question for all the MPs in the Singapore Parliament

While reading Mr. Tan Kin Lian’s blog (http://www.tankinlian.blogspot.com) yesterday, I came across an article that state that the Lehman Brothers minibonds saga is more widespread than anyone in Singapore originally expected.

A former lawyer from Singapore now residing in Brussels says that the Lehman Brothers saga has even affected parts of Europe. Angry clients of Citibank and Deutsche Bank held demonstrations in Brussels by marching to the HQ of Deutsche Bank, and then to Citibank.

The demonstrators say they were sold investments to their clients that were managed by Lehman Brothers, but were not informed that they will lose the money if Lehman Brothers went bust. Now they are demanding compensation for the money they lost and want Deutsche Bank and Citibank to reimburse their loss in full.

Nothing special there; it’s almost a carbon copy of what is happening in Singapore as well. Two things stand out however; one is that a number of other banks such as Fortis and Swiss Life who had also sold Lehman Brothers investments have guaranteed the capital of their clients. Another is that the demonstrators were received by Economy Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne.

Demonstrators that were received by a Minister of the Cabinet, not just a member of parliament but a Minister of the Cabinet! Compare that to the no sound response of our MPs, it’s night and day.

Like I’ve said in an earlier post, I feel that our MPs need to let Singaporeans know their position on this Lehman Brothers fiasco. If you agree with the protestors that are gathered every week at Hong Lim Park, say so. If you don’t believe the protestors has a case, say so. Singaporeans like me want to know your views! It’s been almost 2 months since this problem started, surely all of you have reviewed the problem already. Add to the fact that the Lehman Brothers minibond holders are now told that they will not be getting a swift resolution for their investments, maybe for years, what their views on this latest development as well?

So a question for all the MPs in the Singapore Parliament; what is your position on the situation?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

2009 Write-Off

The last week of November gave us hope. After 2 months of slaughter, the last week of November gave us hope that the worst was over and there is light at the end of this dark tunnel.

We really should have known better. Just when we had hope, Wall Street plunged another 680 points on Monday and the rest of Asia follow suit. It was the fourth-steepest loss the history of The Dow Jones Industrial Average for the blue-chip index and bleak economic news from around the globe looks like things are going to go bad again.

Technically, this is not a surprise. Most have already got confirmation of a recession in the United States and everyone expects bad news from Europe and Asia. The thing that worries people is that there will not be a year-end rally this year.

No matter how bad things were in the past, there is almost a guarantee rally at the end of the year. This not only window-dress the books of the companies, it also serve as a lunching pad for the next year.

It seems that this will not be the case this year. People are writing 2009 off as a loss year, one month before 2009 even starts; we can safely say goodbye to the annual year end rally.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Batman R.I.P-OFF

A trick Comic Books Companies has learnt is that if sales are down; a death is the best way to boast sales in the short term. We’ve seen this with Superman, Captain America, and X-Men; now count Batman to the list.

Now I’m not against comic heroes dying because some of the characters needed a boast and some of the best stories out there are the death stories of the characters. I remembered Captain Marvel battle with cancer, Silver Surfer’s body breakdown, more recently Steve Roger’s assassination. All death stories, all of them great.

Batman R.I.P is not one of them. One thing I hate about death stories is the resurrection of the said characters. Sabretooth had a great issue showing his death years ago, but it was spoilt by his almost immediate return. What’s the use of a hero dying if you are going to leave an opening for him to come back later?

That’s what I hate about Batman R.I.P. Grant Morrison is a great writer but maybe he’s too busy with Final Crisis to come up with a decent story here. R.I.P is a mess and the final climax wasn’t up to par. I won’t spoilt it for people who haven’t read it yet, but I will say that there was no dead body. Unlike Steve Roger’s death, there is no definite proof that Bruce Wayne is dead! How can anyone take the upcoming “Battle of the Cowl” seriously when no one believes Bruce Wayne is dead?

At least readers take Winter Solider seriously as Captain America now because they know Steve Rogers is R.I.P. Unless Marvel come up with a stupid, crazy clone/time-travel/alternate dimension/body double story, that’s the way it’s going to be! The next character to take over as Batman will have no chance because everyone expects Bruce Wayne to pop-out sooner or later.

Neil Gaiman is supposed to take over Morrison as writer of Batman; he is a great writer as well but DC is giving him a hell of a mess to deal with. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. That's my thinking for all fans of Batman.

Monday, December 1, 2008

EPL this month

2008 is almost over. With only 1 month to go before 2009, these are the noteworthy teams this month.

Top Teams this Month
Chelsea- It seems that this year instead of the Big 4, there is just the top 2. Chelsea and Liverpool has opened up a lead on Man Utd and Arsenal at the top of the EPL, and of the two, I’ve been very impressed with Chelsea. Outside a few hiccups at home, Chelsea has being playing (and winning) in style. If they keep this up (especially their 100% away record), they will win the title.

Liverpool- Like I said earlier, the Big 4 has turned into the top 2 this season. You expect Chelsea to be one of the top 2, but Liverpool? The reason for this is all down to manager Rafael Benitez. This season he has finally seen the light and stopped his crazy rotation policy. Good news for all Liverpool fans, now they just have to keep Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard healthy and they will have a chance at the title.

Aston Villa- Manager Martin O'Neill has a team that is young and fast. Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young form a good team with John Carew in attack. Garth Barry in the middle of midfield and Martin Larsen in the middle of the defense, Villa got a good spine to the team. If Carew can avoid injuries, and O’Neill can keep Barry, Villa can challenge the Big 4 this season.

Surprise Team this month
Manchester United – Of all the teams in the EPL, Man Utd would be the team you least expect to have a problem scoring goals. However that’s the problem they have and I believe it is down to the inclusion of Dimitar Berbatov. He is a good, skillful player but I’m not convinced Berbatov is right for Man Utd’s style of play. He is just not that mobile of a player and that’s the kind of striker Man Utd needs. Sir Alex Ferguson needs to change striker or change their style of play.

Disappointing Teams this month
Arsenal- Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger may have stripped William Gallas of the captaincy and gave it to Cesc Fabregas, but I feel he is missing the point there. A lot people agree with Wenger that Gallas should not said those things in the press, they say that these things should be kept indoors, but the thing is that I have yet to hear anyone say that Gallas was wrong. The thing is that nothing Gallas said was really that new. Robin van Persie has got problems in every club he played in and it’s no surprise he’s a problem in the Gunner’s dressing room as well; the youngsters at Arsenal lack steel and do not seem to have the hunger needed to strive for the title; the midfield lack bite…what’s was new? Reports say that Gallas is kind of wondering why he is made the villain in the piece; he’s not the only one.

Hull City- After the great start, Hull City has come back down to Earth. 5 losses in a row have threatened to derail their season and other teams in the EPL seem to have figured them out. Phil Brown has some work to do and will have to change some of their tactics but their great start will probably mean that they are safe this season. And survival is all Hull will ask for.