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Review: The Life of Captain Marvel #1

672995._SX1280_QL80_TTD_.jpgWhenever I talk about Carol Danvers’ backstory, I tend to parrot the way I once heard Kelly Sue Deconnick say the words “Psyche Magnitron.” With a cartoonish condescending tone and a slight eyeroll. While Carol’s history has been up and down since her inception, the story of how she gained her powers never stops being so weird, at least in a modern sense. Carol Danvers gained her powers because she wished she could be as strong as the man she was trying to get close to and then received his powers through… DNA fusion transfer after the explosion of a Kree wish machine? It’s definitely a comics backstory.

Deconnick has admitted on panels that she did try to change Carol’s backstory to her saving herself at the time of the explosion due to time travel wackiness, but was stopped by editorial during the writing process. Writer Margaret Stohl, who has taken the torch of the Carol Corps with gusto since taking over the book after Civil War II, has hinted in her run about the planned changes to Carol’s backstory. However, it’s not until now with The Life of Captain Marvel that we’re seeing just how radical it might be.

The Life of Captain Marvel #1 opens with Carol’s memories of spending summers in Maine with her family, specifically how she would spend time with her brothers Stevie and Joe Jr, who have been alluded to in varying degrees throughout Carol’s history. Marguerite Sauvage does an amazing job of presenting a soft and idyllic memory that soon turns bad as Carol remembers the awful abusive nature of Joseph Danvers and it becomes interspersed with current day as Carol has a panic attack while fighting Moonstone and Tanalth on Father’s Day. The page of Carol’s mother looming over her, imploring her not to make her brothers’ abuse worse is probably the most memorable page of the issue and just proves the range of emotions Sauvage has at her disposal.

As Carol comes down, she and Tony end up having a long heart to heart about the complicated nature of family PTSD and fathers. This is probably my favorite part of the issue just from how heartfelt Stohl writes the friendship between Carol and Tony and just how warm Marcio Menyz’s colors are. Carlos Pacheco ends up being a bit hit or miss for me especially with regards to his faces, but he does intimate feelings and moments very well, which plays especially well to his favor in this issue because there are so many of those as things get more real. Not to mention his page of Carol flying through the air as she goes to visit her mom in Maine is just absolutely stunning.

Carol’s visit to Maine quickly becomes a lesson in “You can never go home again” though when in the middle of an argument about why Carol’s been away, she lets her brother Joe Jr. drive off drunkenly and he ends up crashing his car off a bridge. She tries to rescue him, but he ends up sustaining long term brain damage. In her guilt over the incident, a short visit turns into nine months as Carol helps her mom take care of JJ. Tony tries to get her to come back, but she refuses.

At this point, it seems like the entire mini-series might just be Carol coming to grips with her guilt and her trauma with not much superheroics. Stohl writes it in such a heart rendering way though that I could easily read six issues of Carol unpacking her past by just talking it out with friends and family.

But then… the bottom falls out, and suddenly, neither Carol nor the reader really know what Carol’s true backstory is. It’s a brilliant and unexpected twist that suddenly makes me want to read the entire story now.

Margaret Stohl’s take on Captain Marvel has all been leading up to this moment and if the first issue of The Life of Captain Marvel is any indication, it is the revamp/dissection has desperately needed for years. It just might be going in a different direction than any of us expected.

Story: Margaret Stohl Art: Carlos Pacheco and Marguerite Sauvage
Story: 9.0 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Web of Lives Collection 1

The world has both progressed and regressed in many ways over the last few decades. The fight for visibility and acceptance seems like an almost eternal struggle for so many. Members of the LGBTQ community know this fight all too well. The choice to either live out loud or in silence carries consequences for them both and can weigh heavily either way. They must risk the fear of their lives, of un-acceptance by loved ones, the dismissal by co-workers, and outright hate by some on society. The decision in how open to be can be impacted be all of that and more

As more of the maligned masses starts to grab streams of the spotlight that the world has denied until recently, their stories have started to enter the public conscience. These stories show the world that it is more than binary. It’s a kaleidoscope of love and choices. Though progress is a slowly bending arc, these struggles remain. In some ways they’re less harsh than in the past they remain. Some of these stories are told masterfully in Kristen P. EnosWeb Of Lives: The Collection Volume 1

In “Berserker,” a family moves into a new neighborhood, where a young girl, Casey who just so happens to be a tomboy, starts having feelings for a neighbor, Cynthia. As they grow older, both of them become closer, as Casey hides her feelings from Cindy, but a terrible ailment has rendered Casey unconscious, leaving her future uncertain. Casey comes out of a coma, still  not realizing why she passed out . Meanwhile, her parents and friends try to convince her to join the LGBTQ club, somewhere she can meet like personalities. Also, at a medical facility in New York, it seems as though some strange characters are very interested in Casey, for her physical traits. As she gets more comfortable in her skin, a boy picks on her for being gay resulting in retaliation. In “The Good Child,” Yoshiko, the daughter of a powerful Yakuza lord Master Watanabe, is shaken to the core as the family’s matriarch passes away. The Yakuza lord remarries someone close to him, his mistress while at the same time Yoshiko, is betrothed to an older man, one whose demure demeanor gives Yoshiko pause. As her wedding day approaches she feels a change in the wind. With her wedding day, her father ‘s enemies are the gate, as chaos ensues with an assault on the family mansion. Yoshiko soon realizes that everything is not what it seems and the attack was deliberate and was planned from the inside. Soon she finds out that her husband’s business partners are shadier than she originally perceived. She soon finds every man in her life, her husband and brother, have either has underestimated or undermined her, as such disregard has no place.

Overall, two very different stories which both show the struggles women both gay and straight. The stories are action packed, relatable,  and always intriguing. The art by creative team is gorgeous. Altogether, a a great book which shows how great a writer Kristen P. Enos is.

Story: Kristin P. Enos Art: Song Ye, Pablo Romero, and Howard Cruse
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 8/18

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews.


 

Logan

Extermination #1Extermination #1 (Marvel)– The grim dark is strong with Extermination #1 where a time traveling figure is gunning for the time displaced, original 5 X-Men. Like its sort-of companion book Death of Inhumans, Ed Brisson and Pepe Larraz have turned in a brutal board clearer to set up future X-books. Larraz and colorist Marte Gracia nails the tone of danger and destruction with their shadow filled artwork and action scenes done in tight close-up instead of stylized team up battles. However, there’s no real depth beyond continuity porn and the young X-Men being in peril beginning with a highly telegraphed character killing. The final twist is a little jazzier though and definitely fits a certain character’s M.O. It’s all very Looper. Overall: 7.2 Verdict: Read

Crowded #1 (Image)– In the future, everything can be crowdfunded, including death. Crowded #1 tells the tale of Charlie, a bubbly, side hustle happy, and slightly obnoxious woman who has an enormous Reapr bounty on her head. Luckily, she has the help of stoic Dfender Vita, who has a low rating on the app and hasn’t killed many people, but has protected all her clients. Christopher Sebela uses conversations to craft this not-so-different from our own world and create the two leads’ personality while leaving plenty of room open for mystery. Artists Ro Stein and Ted Brandt are masters of expressions and body language from Vita’s controlled movements and the austere layouts of her safehouse to Charlie flailing all over the place. They occasionally play with layouts to make the story more exciting like a mid-first issue car chase. Crowded #1 has it all: social satire, inviting art and splashy colors, two well-developed protagonists, and a thriller plot. It has the potential to be one of my new favorite Image series. Overall: 9 Verdict: Buy

Pearl #1 (DC/Jinxworld)– Brian Michael Bendis’ first creator owned work for DC is all style and no substance. There’s lots of banter about tattoos, yakuza gangs, and the main character’s attractiveness, but at the end of the comic, I don’t really know much about her except she’s a good tattoo artists and has a nice apartment. Michael Gaydos’ art still has a refined elegance to it, and his colors hit some intense notes during a shoot out sequence. Still, this issue is a snooze and is definitely dwarfed by the reprint of the clever “Citizen Wayne” story by Bendis and Gaydos. Overall: 5 Verdict: Pass

Batgirl #25 (DC)– Mairghread Scott instantly makes a strong impression as the new Batgirl writer and finds a balance between Gail Simone’s darkness and the cheeriness of the Burnside era. Her first story is all about the emotions as she secretly attends the funeral of a man she saved and was later gunned down by the Joker, and it shows that there can still be hope in the darkness of Gotham. The second story, which is aptly drawn by Paul Pelletier (Tom Derenick on the lead story does weird anatomy stuff.) sets up Scott’s ongoing series plot and shows that Batgirl takes time to think about the humanity of a serial killer’s victims even as she tracks him down. But the real crown jewel of this issue is Marguerite Bennett and Dan Panosian’s Dick and Babs story, which made me an emotional compromise and makes a strong argument for them as a couple. It’s also nice to see characters in-universe processing the events of Batman #50. Also, there’s another backup where Paul Dini and Emanuela Lupaccino have Batgirl fight a copyright friendly Playboy bunny armed with Mad Hatter tech. Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Read

Ryan C

BM_Cv53Batman #53 (DC)** – Tom King and Lee Weeks wrap up their little three-part “Bruce Wayne On Jury Duty” story with another well-illustrated (as you’d expect) installment that nevertheless fails to entirely satisfy. Mr. Freeze beats the rap on him, but the villain could just as well have been anyone, while Batman has a mid-life crisis that ends with him returning to his original costume, which seems to be the plot contrivance this whole thing was designed to facilitate. Readable enough, but nothing special by any means. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Read

Batman #53 (DC)** – Tom King and Lee Weeks wrap up their little three-part “Bruce Wayne On Jury Duty” story with another well-illustrated (as you’d expect) installment that nevertheless fails to entirely satisfy. Mr. Freeze beats the rap on him, but the villain could just as well have been anyone, while Batman has a mid-life crisis that ends with him returning to his original costume, which seems to be the plot contrivance this whole thing was designed to facilitate. Readable enough, but nothing special by any means. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Read

 The Grave Diggers Union #9 (Image)** – The final issue of Wes Craig and Toby Cypress’ supernatuaral horror/comedy wraps up every major and minor plot thread, is loaded with smartly-executed action, and even manages a wry laugh or two. This was a good series, and I’m sorry to see it wrap up so soon. Cypress’ art was the star of the show, of course, and he pulls out all the stops with this one, including an acid-trip/vaguely Lovecraftian double-page spread that will blow your mind and is worth the price of admission alone. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Crude #5 (Image/Skybound) – I’ve really been digging what Steve Orlando and Garry Brown are laying down with their Russian crime thriller, and this penultimate issue delivers a real body-blow of a plot twist that shows both “sides” in the struggle at the heart of the series are being played for suckers and milked for profits. You’ll feel the floor give out under your feet as you read this one, trust me, and Brown’s gritty, back-alley artwork is pitch-perfect for the script. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy



Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write. See you next week!

Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).

Review: Daddy Cool

When it comes to stories about hitmen, they usually cross genres these days, the very premise usually pulls people in. One of my favorite John Cusack movies, Grosse Pointe Blank, was about a hitman who was a having a crisis of conscience while rekindling an old flame and staying alive despite the many attacks of Dan Ackroyd’s army of assassins. The movie was probably his best in years and proved that the genres of comedy and thriller can exist in the same story. As original a concept that was, not too many movies replicated its success.

Of course, the stories that usually captures people’s attention, is the serious thrillers, where the protagonists act as predator and prey. One of the most underrated movies which showed this in the sleekest way, was Enemy At The Gateswhich was more about the competition between two military snipers on opposite ends but contained elements of a thriller. It is rare for a book to both grip you and make you think, and it is even more electrifying when it is action packed. This is exactly what I found when I read Donald Goines‘ Daddy Cool.

We meet Daddy Cool, a hitman, who has a knack for close combat kills, and his weapon of choice are knives, something that he is very good at and becomes his calling card. A he tries to balance work and family, he finds his daughter, Janet, growing up way too fast, as she runs away with her boyfriend. By the time Daddy Cool finds out she skipped the town, he gets another call for a hit. Meanwhile, as she leaves town, she soon realizes that life on her own, is not as nice as when she was under father’s care, running into some conspicuous characters. Soon her boyfriend, Ron, turns into a prostitute, to make his ends meet, which sends Janet down a long spiral. As Daddy Cool, gets closer to finding her, he takes on a few more hits, ones where his work matters. Soon Daddy Cool, finds Janet, as he tries to steer her away from her boyfriend, but she stays with him despite Daddy Cool’s pleading. AS Daddy Cool decides to retire, he takes one last hit, taking out a group of thugs who sodomized a family  and raped a 13 year old girl, as he shows these goons, no mercy. By book’s end, Janet finds finally comes to her senses and kills Ron, with a knife, just like Daddy Cool showed her to.

Overall, a substantial and courageous tale about the lure of street life, as Randy Crawford sang, “It’s the only life I know”. The story by Goines is intense, action packed and melodramatic. The art by Alcala is very much of the time, but still gorgeous. Altogether, the type of story that rarely gets turned into a graphic novel but should more often.

Story: Donald Goines Art: Alfredo P. Alcala and Jesse Dena
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Fake Empire Vol. 1

When growing up I believed in fairytales, much like every other kid. I remember watching Peter Pan and seeing Tinker Bell come across the screen. I had my first idea of how such a magical creature is supposed to look. Her fair image gave most kids including me that all faeries must be good. This changed when I saw True Blood, which gave readers first, and then viewers, a wholly different view of the mythical creatures. It also featured the idea of them not being so good. Charlaine Harris changed how these creatures were looked at creating a mythology that would only make them endure by becoming as fallible as humans. This very idea would continue in different books, tv shows and movies. One of my favorite examples is the TV show Lost Girl which used this same lore and made it very modern.

In Eric Palicki and Vinnie Rico’s brilliant Fake Empire, we get introduced to another world full of these magical beings where things like murder creep up ever so often.

We first meet a fairy, Jill, who has lost one of her wings and much of her way, as she contemplates her life, she is looking to end it all, but before she does, someone shoots her. We also meet Charli, a newly minted NYPD detective, who just so happens to be the dead fairy’s sister, and who gets a call in the middle of the night, from their father advising of her death. We also meet one of their other sisters, the black sheep of the family, Lucy, who lost her wings and is passing for human. As the reader gets introduced to the history of fairies and why they went into hiding in the first place and that Jill, was the chosen Tooth Fairy, an important position. We also find out that their father Oberlin, is King of all fairies, as there may be more to the murder than meets the eye. The two sisters decide to join forces and find out who killed their sister and why. Charli starts working the case like a detective, trying to establish a timeline, and wondering where Jill’s bodyguards were when she got slain. We also find out that Lucy, has a secret life, as a vigilante who goes after criminals and uncovers the last picture Jill took on social media. Meanwhile, King Oberlin, makes a fatal move and a key betrayal which may kill one of his daughters, as he sends his hitman, Puck after Lucy. As the sisters begin to bond, Lucy lets Charli in on the real reason she left the kingdom, one that gives Charlie even more insight to who their father really is. By story’s ed, we find out who really killed their sister, leaving the reign of the kingdom in new hands and forging a new path forward for all fairies.

It’s an interesting take on urban fantasy that both reinvigorates the genre and treats fans to what they like about it the most. The story by Palicki is brash, brilliant and action packed. The art by Rico, is lucid and elegant. Altogether, a fun story that effectively uses detective noir and urban fantasy, with a dash of palace intrigue that will has made this reviewer, a fan of Eric Palicki.

Story: Eric Palicki Art: Vinnie Rico
Story: 9.8 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.7 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Ghetto Klown

Growing up In Queens, New York, is a one of a kind experience. The thing is, I did not realize how good I had it until I left home and joined the military. Growing up in my neighborhood got me ready for dealing with people from all walks of life, different parts of the world, and to different languages.

During my time serving, it felt if my fellow soldiers weren’t from major metropolises they had never seen anyone of color. Ever. This became even more apparent when we would visit different countries and I watched as many of the people I came with had never heard certain languages or ate certain foods. Much of what we saw during my time serving, I had experienced right there in Queens years before. As the immortal Rakim Allah once said “its not where you from, its where you at.” It calls for the individual to take their experience where they’re from and apply it to where they are going. In John Leguizamo’s Ghetto Klown, another resident son of Queens sheds light on his journey for all to see.

We meet John through his parents and their struggle as immigrants, working their hands to the bone, trying do better for him. As he grows up, he soon finds out he has a knack for comedy, one that would get him a reputation in the neighborhood and school. Soon he catches the eye of one drama teacher, one that would introduce him to the plays of Arthur Miller and Sam Shepherd. He eventually goes to school for acting and works under the tutelage of the great Lee Strassburg.  As he gained notice, he was cast in his first film Casualties Of War, one that would prove he was good, but h did not find his voice as of yet. It was not until he wrote Mambo Mouth, his first play, which caught the eyes of his heroes, Miller, and Shepherd, but also made Hollywood take another look at him. He books his next movie and one of my personal favorites, Carlito’s Way, one which he has more than a tenuous relationship with Al Pacino. He eventually books another film, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, which he starred alongside the late great Patrick Swayze and the underrated Wesley Snipes, which garnered him a Golden Globes nomination, and gave him enough influence to write Buggin, his second play. Eventually, he would marry his longtime on again off again girlfriend, Teeny, and have a son and a daughter. By book’s end, he eventually realizes he cannot run away form who he is, an actor, a husband, a father a son, a grandson, and a native New Yorker.

Overall, an excellent memoir that reveals much about the man behind the public personality that is John Leguizamo. The story by Leguizamo, is raw, emotional, funny, and brimming with hope at times. The art by Beyale and Cassano is simply beautiful. Altogether, a graphic novel that proves to part therapy and part memoir.

Story: John Leguizamo Art: Shamus Beyale and Christa Cassano
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.4 Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Pearl #1

This week sees the release of the first comic from Jinxworld under its new publisher DC Comics! Pearl #1 is by Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos, and Josh Reed.

Pearl is the story of an exceptional tattoo artist and accidental assassin for one of the modern-day San Francisco Yakuza.

She was born into one life, but another is calling to her. When Pearl accidentally meets one of her peers, her doppelgänger from another clan, she starts to dream of a better life. But Pearl has a very special ability that keeps pulling her back into the violent world she is desperate to escape.

Get your copy in comic shops today. To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology or TFAW

 

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Review: Injustice vs. Masters of the Universe #1

It’s Thursday and we’ve got a Throwback Thursday review of Injustice vs. Masters of the Universe #1 released in July! The second issue is out this week, so it’s a perfect time to check out this debut issue.

Injustice vs. Masters of the Universe #1 is by Tim Seeley, Freddie Williams II, Jeremy Colwell, and Wes Abbott.

Get your copy in comic shops today. To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology or TFAW

 

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Review: Pearl #1

Pearl is the story of an exceptional tattoo artist and accidental assassin for one of the modern-day San Francisco Yakuza.

She was born into one life, but another is calling to her. When Pearl accidentally meets one of her peers, her doppelgänger from another clan, she starts to dream of a better life. But Pearl has a very special ability that keeps pulling her back into the violent world she is desperate to escape.

I’ve always been fascinated by tattoos and especially the use of them by some gangs to tell a story. I myself have two and both tell a story though are simple designs. They are memories to me and there’s many more to come to tell my life. Brian Michael Bendis dips into the world of tattooing with Pearl and it’s an intriguing first issue that reminds me a bit of his previous series Scarlet.

The issue is interesting as it’s the debut of Bendis’ Jinxworld by DC Comics and while it’s a good start, it’s not one that has me super excited. What’s interesting though is, I think by the time things are done, the whole will be so much better than the individual issues.

The story isn’t bad in any way, there’s just a spark that’s missing and there’s a sense we’ve seen this before in Bendis’ other work. There isn’t that think that makes it really stand out when it comes to the story.

Where it does stand out is Michael Gaydos‘ art which is as stunning as expected. Gaydos is one of the best artists today and the watercolor like imagery is beautiful and haunting perfectly capturing the story. While the story lacks, the art is a draw, standing out and making this a comic worthy of checking out.

Again, the first issue isn’t bad, there’s just a spark that’s missing to make it stand out from the pack. It is fairly standard Bendis and something we’ve seen before. It’s not a first issue I’m jumping up and down about but I have a feeling that by the time things wrap up, that may change. If you’re a diehard Bendis and/or Gaydos fan, then this is one to get, but for me, this is one to wait and see where it goes.

Story: Brian Michael Bendis Art: Michael Gaydos Letterer: Joshua Reed
Story: 6.85 Art: 8.75 Overall: 6.95 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Luke Cage: Everyman Chapter 1 and 2

A brand new Marvel Digital Original, Luke Cage: Everyman finding himself battling a serial killer during a horrible summer heat wave in Harlem and then is diagnosed with CTE, the neurological syndrome best known as afflicting football players.

Written by Anthony Del Col, with art by Jahnoy Lindsay, and Ian Herring on colors, the first chapter sets things up nicely with a mysterious villain and unknown hurdles to follow. The digital chapter is a solid start in that it feels like it grounds the character, who is one of the more grounded in the Marvel universe, and has him facing health. Del Col starts intelligently by focusing in on his daughter helping to transition into what he’s facing himself, traumatic brain injury.

There’s an intelligence about it all in that it really does have him facing an issue more heroes, and villains, should be facing. There’s so much damage done to them, there has to be long lasting issues. While the first chapter doesn’t quite dive into that, it’s the set-up, the end does. We, like Luke, are faced with the implications and it feels very original as far as concept. This is a man who can’t be hurt by so many things, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel it or deal with the ramifications.

The second chapter of the first issue ups the action a bit with a surprise villain I wasn’t expecting at all. While the CTE aspect is in the background we don’t get too much depth as to what’s going on, just the fact he’s suffering from something. The villain is an intriguing one, someone I’d not have expected and saying something I’m not sure what he’s going on about.

The art is solid and I can’t really comment on how it reads on Marvel Unlimited or comiXology, as I read it as a PDF, but there’s a good flow to it all and the art is solid. Much like the story itself, it’s a bit dialed back focusing on the human aspect of it all. It’s grounded in a very good way. When the action does dial up, it’s a quick fight that feels rather appropriate and again muted in a way.

Issue #2 of Luke Cage releases on September 19th, and the full series will be available in print for the first time as a Marvel Premiere Graphic Novel (MPGN) on November 14th. But, you can get the first chapter digitally now, and it’s solid. There’s an originality of it all that has me hooked and I can’t wait to see what the second chapter is like as Luke faces the physical repercussions of his being a hero.

Story: Anthony Del Col Art: Jahnoy Lindsay Color: Ian Herring
Story: 8.0 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.75 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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