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Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 2/20/2021

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. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.


Future State: The Next Batman #4 (DC)– John Ridley, Nick Derington, and Laura Braga’s four part “Next Batman” serial concludes as one of the killers that Tim is trying to bring to justice turns on him. This cliffhanger is quickly resolved, and we’re onto a chase scene with a suburban instead of a Batmobile. Derington and Braga continue to be nimble with the action scenes picking interesting moments to focus on like the brake slam before the Peackeeper’s motorcycles come and using grids for hand to hand combat. Theme-wise, Ridley shows Fox’s struggles as Batman, especially with the no-killing rule, and that he has no friends among the GCPD before wrapping everything up with a strained, yet slightly tender family moment. Seeing a Batman who has a living family that thinks he’s a loser is an interesting dynamic, and I look forward to seeing more of it in the upcoming Tim Fox digital series“Batgirls” concludes with a glorious prison break story that also sets up the status quo in Future State Gotham going forward. Writer Vita Ayala uses time stamp captions based on the time of the prison riot started by Stephanie Brown to create tension and also show what’s going on in Cassandra Cain’s hacking/rescue mission. Aneke varies her layouts using double page spreads for the big prison brawl featuring Stephanie and various supervillains and using precise, diagram-style ones for Cass’ break in. And then she and Ayala spring the big emotional moment: a big reunion with Barbara Gordon aka Oracle that changes the tone of the whole story for good and shows that heroism can still exist even in a fascist state as they also show that the paradigm of hero/villain has changed in this new setting. “Batgirls” has excellent action, but Vita Ayala and Aneke especially nail the little reunion moments at the end between Steph and Cass and Oracle and a slightly too pragmatic Nightwing. They are a true dynamic duo and really understand the Bat-family’s relationship even in a dark, crappy futurePaula Sevenbergen, Emanuela Luppacino, and Wade von Grawbadger’s tonally all over the place “Gotham Sirens” wraps up with a mix of darkness and girl’s night out antics. This is a comic where a tech billionaire but the the consciousness of a dying teenage girl into his sex-bot and also one where the eggplant emoji is used to describe Bruce Wayne. Luppacino’s art captures the sparkling personalities of Selina, Poison Ivy, and Dee as well as the mayhem of the Peacemakers, but the story doesn’t know if it wants to be a fun romp or a serious story about consent, cyber ethics, and what it means to be human. It’s definitely the weak link of the bunch even though it has some fun ideas like Poison Ivy opening a speakeasy and talking about how she turns to cause instead of people because she’s afraid to get vulnerable. Sevenbergen definitely has a good handle on her character, but she makes the underdeveloped, plot device, borderline trauma porn original character Dee the focus of the story, which makes it less effective. Overall: 8.1 Verdict: Buy

Snow Angels #1 (Comixology Originals)– Jeff Lemire and Jock combine their storytelling sensibilities to tell the story of a dad and his two daughters, Milliken and Mae Mae, who live in a post-apocalyptic frozen wasteland called the Trench. This is a world where clouds cover the sky, children learn how to ice skate before walking, and folks cower in fear before the mysterious Snowman. Jock uses a lot of negative space to show the sheer bleakness of the landscape using pencil and ink to make wind, ice, and snow cover everything. During more tense scenes, like the hunting of a wolf, he adds reds and blacks to create tension and shifts to a more radiant palette when the dad gives Milliken a birthday present: a relic of the “before times”. He and Lemire have the task of establishing a world and a family dynamic, and they do that by having everything center around a coming of age hunt/road trip. It’s refreshing to see sibling squabbles still happening in the midst of the apocalypse, and Lemire’s skill combining interpersonal relationships in genre setting is a perfect fit for this comic. Throw in an air of mystery and a refreshing subversion of traditional gender roles in a society that is definitely in patriarchal, hunter gatherer mode, and Snow Angels #1 is a solid start to a series that fits in with my current icy, living-in-a-pandemic reality. Overall: 8.7 Verdict: Buy

Barbalien: Red Planet #4 (Dark Horse)– Tate Brombal, Jeff Lemire, and Gabriel Walta look into the background of Luke/Barbalien’s lover, Miguel using grids and minimal captions to trace the life of this Puerto Rican activist, who has AIDS and lost his boyfriend to the virus. It gives context to his passion and creates distance between them when Luke tries to “come out” as Barbalien, which he eventually just does in a full page spread that comes after 17 pages of build-up. Also, Brombal goes after the Catholic Church in this issue and shows the homophobia and hatefulness of many Christian organizations (Especially at that time), and how they contributed to the stigma towards AIDS and HIV and hindered finding a cure or treatment for these diseases. With the conflict building between the predominantly Black and Latinx queer community of Spiral City and their police department, the serial killer plotline featuring Boaz isn’t as compelling even though it’s interesting that he probably gets away with his crimes because he’s disguised as a police officer. Barbalien: Red Planet #4 features a big moment in Barbalien’s life and also shows him struggling with his various identities: Martian, superhero, cop, and gay man. There is emotion and a darkness to Walta and Joride Bellaire’s visuals that is only broken up by the growing scope of the conflict as this mini goes into its final issue. Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Buy

Hollow Heart #1 (Vault)– Paul Allor and Paul Tucker turn in a pretty good slow burn queer romance between a cyborg El and his mechanic Mateo. Allor’s philosophical, at times tangential narration fleshes out the profound empathy that Mateo shows to people, and why he wants to set El free from the base that he’s at and would rather die than spend another day there. Tucker’s art is hit or miss for me with the opening pages being a little unclear to follow, and Allor’s dialogue setting up the context that El is running away. However, I love his color choices, especially the pink for El’s face, and the mood lighting at the bar where Mateo tries to build a rapport with a coworker and at an apartment where he tries to empathize with a hook up, but really only cares for El. Hollow Heart is definitely centered around their relationship, and Tucker builds it with glances between them while Allor adds precise dialogue to build their romance like El immediately starting to speak when Mateo says he respects him. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Once and Future #16 (BOOM!)– Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora, and Tamra Bonvillain return to the Brexit-y, Grail myth trappings of the early issues of Once and Future in this action-packed middle chapter. With Bridgette and Duncan holed up and stuck between the proverbial fire and frying pan (Lancelot and a dragon), the walls between myth and the real world are dangerously thin. There is just as much political conniving and maneuvering as gun and sword play in Once and Future #16, and Mora and Bonvillain are game for either kind of scene going for big reaction shots and even bigger bursts of colors any time Lancelot or Merlin do their thing. By the time the final page rolls around, our main cast seems to be totally screwed, and Dan Mora has fun on a “redesign” of a previous antagonist that we thought was a protagonist. Once and Future continues to be one of Gillen’s more setpiece and plot driven comics, but issue 16 shows that this book still has a bit of a bite with its comment on British nationalism, government bureaucracies, and the ability to twist stories to one’s end. (See what white supremacists have done with Thor’s hammer and Odin’s symbols.) Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Second Coming: Only Begotten Son #2 (Ahoy!)– Mark Russell and artists Richard Pace, Leonard Kirk, and Andy Troy satirize the commercialization of Christianity by evangelicals, prosperity preachers, televangelists etc in Second Coming: Only Begotten Son #2. On a hunt for more disciples, Jesus rolls up up to Bible Safari that instantly brought flashbacks of places like the Creation Museum, Ark Experience, and even church fairs/events as these ancient writings lose context and meaning to make a buck. Pace channels his inner Sienkiewicz and uses a scratchy style for the waves of people at Bible Safari and nails the depersonalization of 21st century life and being a statistic in a mega church. However, Second Coming #2 isn’t all satire and irony, but Russell throws in a touching B-plot that becomes an A-plot as Jesus just *connects* with a man attempting suicide on a bridge aka the polar opposite of the televangelist company he called earlier. I like this book when it’s being sharp, but I love it when it’s being sweet and humanist. (In the nice chaplain at my university sense, not the Bill Maher one.) Overall: 9.2 Verdict: Buy

Cable #8 (Marvel)– With the exception of some gorgeous art and colors from Phil Noto and witty banter from Cable and Domino via Gerry Duggan’s dialogue, Cable #8 is really a confusing mess of clones, time travelers, timelines, and Stryfes. Annoyingly enough, it starts like Armageddon with Domino narrating and comparing her powers to asteroids hitting each other. There’s some charm to the Tokyo setting as Domino and Cable enjoy gyoza at a Space-Knight themed eatery, and Noto’s fight choreography is sharp and fun on an aesthetic level. However, there’s no deeper level or reason to care about these characters beyond the “pew pew” of it all as Cable fights copies of himself and has a crisis about his place on the timeline. Maybe, if I read more X-comics from the 1990s, I would get it. Domino’s charisma, and Phil Noto’s portrayal of her powers keep this one from being a total stinker, but it’s still a pass from me. Overall: 5.6 Verdict: Pass

Marauders #18 (Marvel)– Gerry Duggan, Matteo Lolli, and Stefano Casselli show Krakoan foreign policy in action in Marauders #18 as the team buys up property and opens a free clinic in Madripoor to fight back the gentrification of the Homines Verendi. Iceman, Bishop, and Pyro take center stage with some key guest appearances from Professor X, Magneto, and (!!) Proteus, who shows that this clinic is named after his mother Moira MacTaggart. (This is a bit of a tie-in to Powers of X, and I’m curious to see how it’s explored down the road.) However, the real action in Marauders #18 comes from a new take on the Reavers, who are humans that have been maimed by characters like Iceman and Gorgon and are fitted with upgrades to take their revenge. The Reavers combined with the Marauders not being so stealthy puts pressure on the team and shows some consequences to Krakoa’s well-intentioned saber rattling. After the Shaw storyline, Duggan and steady artists Lolli and Casselli are really on a role combining political allegory and superhero team-up action in Marauders. However, Bishop joking about “Hands up. Don’t shoot.” was in very poor taste even if it is one panel in the midst of many. Overall: 8.6 Verdict: Bu


Batman/Catwoman #3 (DC Comics) – An improved issue for me. The narrative is a bit clearer as to the timelines and there’s a hell of a lot of tension throughout the issue. The art is solid though there seems to be a bit of a focus on Catwoman’s ass throughout. A much better issue than the first two and I’m finally interested in seeing where the series goes. Overall Rating: 7.95 Recommendation: Read

Future State: Catwoman #2 (DC Comics) – DC has been running on full cylinders with Batman’s corner of Future State. In this series we see how a captured Bruce/Batman was freed and talks of the Resistance against the Magistrate. It’s a sliver of the bigger picture and works so well building the world. These two issues deliver solid action with Catwoman on a mission to steal from a train and it works so well. The art is top notch showing off the action and creating a fantastic flow that’s befitting a train heist. DC has nailed this pocket universe and every series and issue involved has been a piece of the puzzle creating a hell of a picture. Overall Rating: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Future State: Nightwing #2 (DC Comics) – A nice action comic that’s a bit more than one long fight sequence. There’s some interesting bits about technology and the use of media to wage wars and battles. Again, as a piece of the larger story about a Future Gotham, it’s a great piece of the puzzle. There’s some fantastic moments that really hit a solid beat with the art just nailing the action. Overall Rating: 7.75 Recommendation: Read

Future State: Shazam! #2 (DC Comics) – I really like the concept of the comic’s two issues. But, it takes a bit too long before things come together. The ending also is a bit shrug unless you really know the character, which I don’t. The art is solid though I’d like to have seen a little bit more torture in Shazam over what’s going on. A not bad issue that’s so close to being great. Overall Rating: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Future State: Superman: Worlds of War #2 (DC Comics) – The main Superman story has a nice poetic aspect to it with some fantastic art. There’s a Spartacus/World War Hulk vibe about it but the comic makes a fantastic case for Superman’s position and what he’s up to and why. The trio of other stories are a bit mixed. Featuring Mister Miracle, Midnighter, and a new Black Racer, each story has some good and bad about it. They all feel setups for things to come though never giving a complete feel to them. They feel like preludes to something else instead of self-contained stories which feels odd for a self-contained event like this. Still, each is entertaining. The issue as a whole is pretty solid and does a decent job of crafting a “world” revolving around Superman. Overall Rating: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #2 (IDW Publishing) – The issue is fantastic like the debut. There’s a lot of history laid out here as we get a better sense of the world and what happened to the Turtles. There’s a hell of a lot of tragedy to it that matches the action. This is a must for TMNT fans and those that love stories like The Dark Knight. Overall Rating: 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 (**).

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

We Live #5

Wednesdays (and now Tuesdays) are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in

Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this week.

Abbott 1973 #2 (BOOM! Studios) – Some solid mystery continues in 1970s Detroit with a tinge of politics thrown in.

Black Cotton #1 (Scout Comics) – In this alternate timeline the social order of “white” and “black” is reversed and we’re all in to see where this series takes the concept.

Black Friday #1 (Scout Comics/Black Caravan) – Years of pent-up negative energy from Black Fridays has built up and unleashed something very evil and dark into a superstore.

Black Widow #5 (Marvel) – The series has been amazing mixing action with some great visuals.

History Comics: The Wild Mustang, Horses of the American West (:01 First Second) – Learn how horses were brought to the Western Hemisphere by Spanish conquistadors and immediately became a crucial part of the American story.

Hollow Heart #1 (Vault Comics) – EL used to be human. Now he’s a jumble of organs in a bio-suit. EL is also in tremendous pain and has been for a very long time. Described as a queer monster love story, the concept seems very unique.

The Immortal Hulk: Flatline #1 (Marvel) – The series of one-shots have done a great job of allowing various creators tell their tales of this version of the Hulk. So far, they’ve been great.

King in Black #4 (Marvel) – It’s an event that’s really be paying off. Can’t wait to see where it all goes.

Michael Jackson in Comics (NBM) – A biography mixing comics and documentary chapters taking us from the Jackson 5 through his solo career.

Mieruko-Chan Vol. 2 (Yen Press) – What other strange encounters await Miko?

M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games #3 (Marvel) – The issue has been laugh out loud funny with every issue.

Pepper Page Saves the Universe! (:01 First Second) – Pepper encounters a strange cat named Mister McKittens and stumbles into a volatile science experiment run by a sinister substitute teacher named Doctor Killian. Yeah, we’re in for this.

The Recount #2 (Scout Comics) – The first issue blew us away with American citizens taking up the government corruption into their own hands.

Savage #1 (Valiant) – Teenage heartthrob. Feral social icon. Dinosaur hunter? Kevin Sauvage has a taste of home when a mutant dino threat invades England!

Second Coming: Only Begotten Son #2 (AHOY Comics) – Chaos, weirdness, and corndogs reign when Jesus innocently stumbles into Bible Safari, a profit-squeezing amusement park that trades in his image. That alone has us reading this fantastic take on religion and superheroes.

The Shadow Doctor #1 (AfterShock) – A Black doctor in the 1930s us unable to get work in Chicago’s hospitals and turns to the Prohibition-era Chicago Mafia to make some money.

Steambound #1 (Behemoth Comics) – Hound is a knight of the order’s restricted council while Yaeger is genetically modified and works for the city’s criminal cartels. They’ll force to team up again.

We Live #5 (AfterShock) – Extinction day hits humanity. We’re at the edge of our seats.

White Lily #1 (Red 5 Comics) – Lilya Litvak is destined to become the greatest female fighter pilot of all time, flying for the Russian Army in World War II against the Germans. But first she has to get through the training.

Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land #1 (Dark Horse) – An unknown adventure of a younger Hellboy!

Preview: Second Coming: Only Begotten Son #2


(W) Mark Russell
(A) Richard Pace, Leonard Kirk
(C): Richard Pace
February 17, 2021

Chaos, weirdness, and corndogs reign when Jesus innocently stumbles into Bible Safari, a profit-squeezing amusement park that trades in his image. Meanwhile, Sunstar gets some disturbing news about his earthly foster-grandmother. Later, Jesus stands to recruit a new disciple—if he can inspire said disciple to keep on living! Also featuring illustrated bonus stories in the AHOY tradition.


Preview: Penultiman #5


(W) Tom Peyer
(A) Alan Robinson
(C) Alan Robinson
February 17, 2021

Final issue! Penultiman’s artificial understudy, Antepenultiman, has patiently tried to repair the superhero’s self-loathing attitude—but now the android’s patience is gone! Can a sidekick force a hero to heal?

Also: bonus illustrated prose stories!


Preview: Happy Hour #4


(W) Peter Milligan
(A/C) Michael Montenat
February 10, 2021

In a near-future America where sadness is illegal and punishment is extreme, rebel fugitives Kim and Jerry start to succumb to the irresistible stirrings of romance and—to their horror—happiness!

Extra: the best short prose stories and illustrations in all of comics!


Underrated: The Wrong Earth

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: The Wrong Earth

I initially stumbled over The Wrong Earth because the first issue of the second volume caught my eye. I enjoyed it, a lot, and decided to circle back and order the trade of the first volume.

What’s the book about? Well because I don’t see the need to rewrite the publisher’s blurb for the trade, I’ll paste it below.

“On dark, gritty Earth-Omega, masked vigilante Dragonfly punishes evil maniacs and evades corrupt authorities. On sun-splashed Earth-Alpha, costumed crook-catcher Dragonflyman upholds the letter of the law. Now they’re trapped on each other’s worlds, where even the good guys don’t share their values!”

If the idea of the Silver Age Batman or the Adam West Batman and Frank Miller’s Dark Knight switching places sounds awesome, to you, well, that’s because it is. But it’s also so much more than just that elevator pitch.

Written by Tom Peyer, featuring art by Jamal Igle, with inks and colours provided by Juan Castro and Andy Troy respectively. Rounding out the creative team is letterer Rob Steen, who’s contributions to the comic are often subtle until you catch the sound effects giving you a nostalgic smile. Wrong Earth is the six issue miniseries that launched publisher Ahoy Comics, who some of you may recognise from comics such as Captain Ginger, Second Coming and Penultiman – but we’re not looking at those today. No, this column is about a book that hooked me from the premise, and then surprised me with just how well executed everything was.

A lot of superhero stories that can be seen to take inspiration from others (in the case, Batman), often struggle to tell a compelling story and also stand apart as anything other than a lesser imitation when all is said and done. Wrong Earth leans into the familiarity of the Silver Age with gleeful abandon; Peyer adds a little more realism to the era without sacrificing any of its fun – but he certainly calls out the foolishness of it all as you see the gritty Dragonfly loses his mind at how innocent the world of Earth: Alpha. Conversely, the reader is commiserating with Dragonfly Man as he realizes that Earth: Omega’s world is a living nightmare – and yet you can’t help but laugh as his Silver Age tricks inexplicably work in the modern era. There’s nothing quite like the sense of familiarity as he explains how he escaped a death trap with his cunning, logic, and a little bit of comics magic.

It shouldn’t work, but it does. It REALLY does.

When it comes to The Wrong Earth, I think I’ve found one of my favourite new stories. It is equal parts the charm of the Silver Age and the gritty sensibilities of modern comics, and yet it works in delivering one of the most entertaining stories from start to finish in this volume. In addition, there’s also five back up stories within the trade that enhance and build out the mythology of (the) Dragonfly/man’s world, which are all utterly fantastic.

I’ve only really scratched the surface with this book, because a lot of it you’ll benefit from going in as blind as you can – it’s fun, really fun, and an engrossing read that swooped below far too many radars. Go find this underrated gem at your favourite retailer now.

Unless the comics industry ceases to exist this week, Underrated will return next week.

Preview: Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Blood #4


(W) Tyrone Finch, James Finn Garner
(A) Ryan Kelly, Sandy Jarrell
(C) Alan Robinson
January 27, 2021

AHOY continues to cheaply exploit the great Edgar Allan Poe’s reputation with two hilarious new horrors: an updated version of “The Tell-Tale Heart” by James Finn Garner and artist Sandy Jarrell; the original tale of “Winston,” a six-year old who terrorizes a town, written by Tyrone Finch with art by Ryan Kelly; plus the usual AHOY extra illustrated prose stories. Cover by PENULTIMAN co-creator Alan Robinson.


Preview: Penultiman #4


(W) Tom Peyer
(A) Alan Robinson
(C) Alan Robinson
January 13, 2021

Early retirement torments Penultiman—but he just might have found the right motivational speaker to dig him out of his rut! (SPOILER: It’s the WRONG motivational speaker!) Meanwhile, Penultiman’s android assistant, Antepenultiman, builds an artificial sidekick of its own! Also: bonus illustrated prose stories!


Review: The Wrong Earth: Night and Day #1

The Wrong Earth: Night and Day #1

The vengeance-dealing Dragonfly sticks it to the man! The acrobatic sleuth Dragonflyman assists the police! These alternate-earth versions of the same masked crimefighter meet face-to-face for the first time in this new series by the original creators of the smash-hit The Wrong Earth! Will their impossible encounter result in a team-up…or an all-out war? Find out in The Wrong Earth: Night and Day #1!

The Wrong Earth: Night And Day #1 is the follow up to AHOY‘s The Wrong Earth, but you don’t need to have read the original series (or its prequel) to enjoy the first issue of this one because the tale is positioned in a way that any who are familiar with the Batman 66 comics or TV show and the grittier modern Batman comics will understand the status quo of the comic with the simple recap page. Because it really is a simple concept, but it’s one that hooks you in rather effortlessly.

The comic is an easy read, and plays off the switch between the gritty Dragonfly and the innocuous Dragonfly Man as they inhabit the wrong world – although after a year, the characters have some familiarity with their surroundings

Writer Tom Peyer is able to write a sequel comic that’s every bit as accessible to new readers, of which I am one, than the first issue of volume one. He strikes a unique balance between telling the story and giving you a sense of who the players are without spoon feeding you the details in a way that will leave returning readers rolling their eyes as the unnecessary recaps. Peyer gives each version of Dragonfly (Man) a unique voice, playing into the dichotomy of their switched roles with a level of dry humour that sings to me.

Artistically, penciller Jamal Igle, inker Juan Castro and colourist Andy Troy deliver a solid book. It’s worth mentioning that there’s a slight slip in the art – there are two panels with the hilariously named Lady Dragonfly Man where the lines of her legs don’t seem to follow any real anatomical sense. While I did spend a few minutes trying to work out how what I was looking at made sense, I didn’t feel that it really took away from the experience of the comic on the whole because the trio give an energy to the story that makes you want to keep turning the page.

Wrong Earth: Night And Day #1 also include a couple of prose pieces that aren’t necessarily required reading, but are certainly nice additions to a comic that was already worth buying on the merits of its main story (which clocks in around 20 odd pages). Despite not needing to read the first volume of the story to enjoy the start of this volume, I’m now curious and interested enough to circle back and pick the first trade up. This is just the kind of refreshing story I needed to kick off 2021.

Story: Tom Peyer Art: Jamal Igle Inker: Juan Castro
Color: Andy Troy Letterer: Rob Steen
Story: 8.6 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.2 Recommendation: Buy

AHOY Comics provide Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Purchase: Zeus Comics

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