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Rogue State #1 and Godkiller: For Those I Love I Will Sacrifice #1 go back to print

After immediately selling out at both Diamond Comics Distribution and Lunar Distribution, Black Mask is rushing new editions of two of its titles: Rogue State #1 and Godkiller: For Those I Love I Will Sacrifice #1.

Rogue State #1 hit the ground running by selling out of its First Printing on release day last November when it debuted as Black Mask’s all-time top-ordered book, and now both Second Printing covers by Jasmin Darnell have also sold out within days of release. The new Third Printing set for release on February 8th will feature a new cover by series artist C. Granda.

Godkiller: For Those I Love I Will Sacrifice #1 exploded onto shelves last week, with this newest launch from the Godkiller universe selling out immediately on its day of release. Its Second Printing is also planned for a February 8th release, featuring two covers (a standard edition and a bagged-NSFW edition) by Jasmin Darnell.

Rogue State is illustrated by C. Granda, written by Matteo Pizzolo, colored by Brad Simpson, and lettered by Jim Campbell.

Godkiller: For Those I Love I Will Sacrifice is illustrated by Anna Muckcracker, written by Matteo Pizzolo, and lettered by Jim Campbell.

Rogue State #1 is Black Mask Studios’ Highest Selling Premier Issue

The first printings of Rogue State #1 sold out at both distributors Diamond and Lunar on its first day of release, breaking Black Mask‘s all-time record for bestselling comic. Black Mask is rushing Rogue State to second printing with two covers by Jasmin Darnell that will arrive in both standard and ‘gallery’ (no-text) editions.

While Jasmin Darnell’s cover art presents a powerful image of post-apocalyptic street artist Dust Girl, Ramon Villalobos‘ Tour Cover pays homage to the history of socially-engaged public art in San Francisco’s Mission District, where Rogue State is set.

Rogue State #1 reunites C. Granda and Matteo Pizzolo, who first collaborated on the acclaimed CalExit: San Diego

Rogue State combines Granda’s experiences coming of age amid political violence in Medellín-Colombia with Pizzolo’s street-politics, crafting the story of a near-future America overrun by political violence set in the embattled blue-enclave of ‘Occupied San Francisco.’

Political violence plunges America into turmoil. Local police forces join with the National Guard, but even their combined strength is unable to quell the rage. Filling the vacuum, militia groups rise into roving gangs of vigilantes.

In a strict interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, an embattled Supreme Court overturns two centuries of settled law by recognizing militias as Constitutionally protected. In an instant, every paramilitary gang in America is suddenly deputized, transforming the entire country into a vigilante police-state. Lockdowns set in. Fear spreads… and whispers of revolution.

Review: Rogue State #1

Rogue State #1

What if a contested Presidential election plunged America into turmoil? What if political violence consumed the streets? And what if a raging Supreme Court, in a strict interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, legitimized and deputized all militias, transforming the entire country into a paramilitary police state? Rogue State #1 takes reality and moves it to the extreme so many of us are worried about.

Written by Matteo Pizzolo, Rogue State #1 is an interesting start but doesn’t quite have the hook that’s pitched. While I was provided the first three issues, I read what I believe is just the first (it’s one file, so wasn’t 100% sure) and there’s a lot of potential. The idea of a nation torn apart by an election is one that has so much potential for storytelling. Where this series is going is a mysterious figure eventually rising and whether that individual is a freedom fighter or a terrorist. Unfortunately, none of that is conveyed in the debut. Instead, we get an inept militia, corrupt cops, and a character who seems to be very acrobatic for unknown reasons. It all comes across as good ideas, but not meshed together well.

Where Rogue State #1 falls flat is that none of the crisis or danger feels felt. There’s little escalation from what we see every so often on television. BLM protests and Antifa/Proud Boy clashes have more danger, tension, and stakes felt around them. We get a main character who’s an unemployed architect that can scale buildings like Spider-Man and a clash between protestors and police. All of which feels a bit exaggerated or not exaggerated enough. There’s also something about drugs and bootlegging but none of that really feels relevant so far, it just fills space. In other words, the danger of the world is never really established. Pizzolo opens with an inept militia that can shoot something 20 feet away and come off more Barney Fife than Terminator.

Carlos Granda‘s art doesn’t help matters. Characters aren’t consistent in their look which at times distracts and moments that should have the feel of danger feel more like slapstick comedy. The art tone, and tone of situations as a whole, don’t match the pitch. Granda is joined by Brad Simpson on color and Jim Campbell on lettering. The color does stand out in its purples and pinks, a sky motif playing off the sunset and down of a new day. The lettering I noticed one issue where it looks like a word was cut off at the top of the word balloon, an odd mistake.

Rogue State has potential and maybe as it gets going things improve. But, as an opening issue, Rogue State #1 falls into the trap so many high concept comics have lately. The concept doesn’t match the execution and things fall short of what is promised. It feels a bit scattered in its focus overall. We’ll see if that continues to be true but for a first issue, this one stumbles.

Story: Matteo Pizzolo Art: Carlos Granda
Color: Brad Simpson Letterer: Jim Campbell
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Black Mask Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: TFAWZeus Comics

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

ACCIDENTAL CZAR

Wednesdays (and 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.

Accidental Czar: Life & Lies of Vladimir Putin (First Second) – With everything that’s going on, this is a fantastic graphic novel to teach you about Vladimir Putin and some Russian history. It’s written by a former White House Russia expert and delivers a very even handed take on history and what lead to today.

Blade: Vampire Nation #1 (Marvel) – Blade as well as the Vampire Nation have been somewhat quiet recently but left with some much potential. Here’s hoping we get a solid story that does it all justice. A nation of vampires with lots of political intrigue sounds like too much fun.

By the Horns: Dark Earth #6 (Scout Comics) – We’ve loved this fantasy series. Don’t miss out on it and if you haven’t been reading it since the first issue, go start from the beginning!

Dino Mighty: Law and Odor (Clarion Books) – We’ve loved this series of dinosaur heroes. It’s meant for kids but adults will enjoy it too.

Einstein (First Second) – It’s the story of Einstein! Learn about the amazing person who has defined so much but how much do we know about his personal life?

GCPD: Blue Wall #2 (DC Comics) – Writer John Ridley explores policing in the GCPD. Ridley’s exploration of the DCU has been amazing so far including this series’ debut issue.

I Hate Fairyland #1 (Image Comics) – Over the top insanity is back!

Kepler (Dark Horse) – A graphic novel from David Duchovny? Yeah, we’re intrigued.

Maker Comics: How to Design a Game (First Second) – Step-by-step instructions for six tabletop game design projects!

Murderworld: Avengers #1 (Marvel) – We love a good story featuring the villain Arcade who doesn’t seem to get the use and respect he deserves

Rogue State #1 (Black Mask Studios) – A Presidential election plunges the country into crisis from which a mysterious figure rises, but is she a freedom fighter or a terrorist?

Terry’s Crew (Little Brown Books for Young Readers) – Terry Crews digs into his childhood in Detroit in his debut graphic novel.

Black Mask Studios’ Rogue State gets a variant cover by Chuck D of Public Enemy

What if a contested Presidential election plunged America into turmoil? What if political violence consumed the streets? And what if a raging Supreme Court, in a strict interpretation of the Second Amendment, legitimized and deputized all militias—transforming the entire country into a paramilitary police state? What if a freedom fighter emerged from the chaos, raised a civilian army, and carved out a territory across the United States–pushing out police, militias, and National Guard… enforcing its own laws… sovereign. What if Americans refused to be governed?

This is the world of Rogue State, the new ongoing graphic novel series that marks writer Matteo Pizzolo’s return to comics for his first new series since 2017’s acclaimed CalEXIT, reuniting with artist C. Granda and CalEXIT cover artists Soo Lee and Ashley A Woods. Rogue State will launch with a special variant cover drawn by hip hop legend and higher thought leader Chuck D of Public Enemy. Together, Pizzolo and Granda have created a timely title about rebelling against tyranny, reconquering stolen land, punching fascists in the face, and building a better nation.

In addition to appearing as a cover, Chuck D’s illustration will also be inside the book itself as a street-art mural, in an homage to the Mission District’s history of socially-engaged public art.

In Rogue State, a crew of young vigilantes will rise against a paramilitary police state robbing Americans of their rights. The ongoing series tells the story of Vya of Brightstars, a mysterious figure rising from the unrest, and Clara Cruz (aka Dust Girl), who becomes activated in Vya’s movement when her fiancée Taylor Sanchez is disappeared as militias take over their Mission District neighborhood. But are Vya and Dust Girl freedom fighters or terrorists? Either way, their rogue state will not just blaze a path across America, it will also inspire others to raise their own armies… some in solidarity, others in opposition. 

The first issue of Rogue State will be available from Black Mask Studios on November 9, with a special variant pulled directly out of the pages of the comic and drawn by Chuck D himself exclusively from your favorite comic book shop in extremely limited quantities. Retailers, consult your Diamond rep to find out how to order ahead of the book’s Final Order Cutoff on October 17.

Rogue State Chuck D

Matteo Pizzolo and Anna Wieszczyk’s Godkiller is being developed as a video game

Aya Cash will take on the voice role of a god-hunting dark witch in the narrative-videogame adaptation of beloved, bestselling comic series Godkiller by writer Matteo Pizzolo and artist Anna Wieszczyk. Pizzolo, who penned the screenplay adaptation of his Calexit comic that sold in a 5-studio bidding war and is currently producing the feature adaptation of Black at Warner Bros., will write the adaptation.

Following her role as the villain Stormfront on The Boys, Cash will perform the Godkiller role of Bones, an anti-hero sorcerer who survives her world’s descent into dystopia and leads a vendetta against the cruel men and strange deities responsible for the end of the world.

Produced by Emmy-winner Brian Giberson, the project leads a new gaming initiative at Black Mask Entertainment, the busy production arm with more than two dozen features and series in development at studios and networks.

Pizzolo and Wieszczyk self-distributed the Godkiller’ comic at comic cons starting in 2008, where it grew in notoriety leading to a Warner Bros.-distributed animated feature written and directed by Pizzolo in 2011. The comic book returned through publisher Black Mask Studios with 2021’s ‘Godkiller: Tomorrow’s Ashes’ to overwhelming success, selling out of a 40,000 book print run on the day of its release and going on to sell through numerous additional printings. It quickly became one of the top-selling indie comic books of the year, and Black Mask’s all-time bestselling series.

Godkiller will next return to comic shops in September with the brand new series Godkiller: For Those I Love I Will Sacrifice.

Godkiller

Gerard McMurray will write and direct Black for Studio 8

Black

Gerard McMurray will write and direct the film Black, based on the comic series published by Black Mask Studios and created by Kwanza Osajyefo and Tim Smith 3, with artists Jamal Igle and Khary Randolph.

Black debuted in 2016 and since has spun out multiple series set in the world. The comic is set in a world where only Black people have superpowers and it’s kept a secret. Kareem Jenkins discovers his powers after being shot by the police.

The film will take a similar direction following a young man who discovers his powers after surviving a violent crime. He then finds himself in the middle of a war over who will control the empowered and their abilities and the future of humanity.

Robinov and John Graham will produce for Studio 8. Osajyefo and Smith will co-produce with Black Mask Studio’s Matteo Pizzolo and Brett Gurewitz serving as producer and executive producer.

Review: Hecate’s Will #2

Hecate's Will #2

The premise of Hecate’s Will by cartoonist Iolanda Zanfardino is centered around the last works (Or will and testament) of a New York guerrilla artist named Hecate before she goes back to “normal life” as Rebecca the tailor. In addition to her art, Hecate is also doing costumes for a revival of Rent at a local queer community center, and her ex is in the cast so there’s lots of sniping behind the scenes. Hecate’s Will #2 is a true slice of life story going through Hecate’s day-to-day as she makes her art, visits friends, and grapples with what normalcy is through a queer lens.

My favorite sequence in Hecate’s Will #2 is a silent page early on where Hecate is walking from her art installment to her friend Amber’s clothing store to pick up some outfits and smoke weed. Zanfardino nails aggressive, powerful queerness as she brings out the bold red in Hecate’s hair as she walks by some boomer white women in her jacket with a dyke patch on it and simulates cunnilingus as they wander off feebly talking shit. Iolanda Zanfardino’s art is so playful in this scene as she shows Hecate channeling the swagger and fearlessness in her art that she installs in very public places like the New York Times building. (Take that opinion page that belongs in the Washington Times!)

However, Hecate contains millions, and we her softer side as she smokes with her friends Amber and roasts New Yorkers, who pay a high price for clothes they could find cheaper at a thrift store, but they don’t want to spend the time or effort to go to those spaces. She’s also kind to a young trans kid who doesn’t want to have his top surgery scars showing in his costume and has flashbacks about her childhood in Italy and is generally a fascinating character. Iolanda Zanfardino goes away from melodrama in her plotting and spends a lot of time on Hecate’s inner life through both narrative captions and powerful images like a close-up of her lip quivering when she realizes that she’s mesmerized by her ex’s talent. But, then, a laugh brings her out of her reverie, and she’s back to hating.

Hecate’s Will #2 goes from big ideas about art, queerness, discourse, and found family to more personal moments like the aforementioned friendship/passive aggressive ex thing with style and grace. Iolanda Zanfardino doesn’t just preach her ideas about wonderful queer community helping people experiencing homelessness, but shows it in action in a holiday dinner montage that is juxtaposed with captions about Hecate thinking about spending holidays with her biological family once she “retires” from art and becomes Rebecca again. The art is happy, but the words are sad. However, there is a real air of hope to wrap up the comic even though Hecate may end up turning her back on her work and community to embrace normalcy, whatever the hell that means.

Boasting a variety of storytelling styles from the full page spreads of Hecate’s art to dinner table montages and characterization expanded up on in glances, Iolanda Zanfardino’s Hecate’s Will #2 unpacks its protagonist’s journey and feeling at its own pace leaving time for being deep in thought, taunting the straights, or spending time with old friends. It’s art about art, but mainly focuses on Hecate’s daily life, friendships/drama, and the personal context behind her images ending up as an intimate character study that embraces the collective (Aka the dinner at the end) and not just navel gazing.

Story/Art/Letters: Iolanda Zanfardino
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.9 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Iolanda Zanfardino provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: Zeus Comics

Logan’s Favorite Comics of 2021

Even though it was a shitty year overall, I found some great comics to enjoy in 2021, both old and new. Beginning with its “Future State” event, DC easily shot up to become my favorite mainstream publisher thanks to its renewed focus on different visual styles instead of a Jim Lee-esque art style and its emphasis on LGBTQ+ characters even after Pride Month. Vault and Image continued to be the homes of both my favorite creators and SF stories, and AWA, Dark Horse and even Black Mask and Archie had titles that surprised me even if they didn’t make the cut on this list. Finally, continuing a trend that I jumped on in 2020, I continued to read or revisit classic comics (Both old and new) in 2021, like Copra, Invincible, The Umbrella Academy, Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, Wonder Woman: True Amazon, The Invisibles, Peter Milligan and Mike Allred’s X-Force, Hawkeye, and Black Bolt among others.

So, without further ado, here are my ten favorite comics of 2021

10. Alice in Leatherland (Black Mask)

Alice in Leatherland is a wholesome, sexy, and hyper-stylized slice of life romance comic from the creative team of Iolanda Zanfardino and Elisa Romboli. The book is about Alice, a children’s book writer, who leaves her small town for San Francisco when her girlfriend cheats on her and captures the fear and adrenaline of taking a big step in your life. The series explores sex and love through an expansive cast of LGBTQ+ characters that I wanted to spend more than five issues with. Romboli uses fairy tale style visuals as a metaphor to examine Alice’s feelings and self-growth throughout the series, and she excels at depicting both the hilarious and erotic. Alice in Leatherland is an emotional, funny read with well-developed queer characters and made me immediately add Zanfardino and Elisa Romboli to the list of creators I’ll read anything by.

9. The Autumnal (Vault)

The Autumnal by Daniel Kraus, Chris Shehan, and Jason Wordie was the most unsettling comic I read in 2021. The book follows Kat Somerville and her daughter Sybil as they leave Chicago for the town of Comfort Notch, New Hampshire. However, this town isn’t a rural oasis, but incredibly creepy. Kraus’ script unravels the foundation of blood that the town is built on while Shehan and Wordie create tension with the fall of the leaf or a crackle of a branch. I also love how fleshed out Kat is as she deals with being an outsider in what turns out to be an unfriendly space with her parenting style and approach to life being critiqued by her neighbors. Finally, The Autumnal is the finest of slow burns beginning with NIMBY/Karen-like behavior and then going full-on death cult. It’s a must read for anyone who has lived or experienced a place where time seems to stand still, or who thinks a NextDoor app post could be the basis of a good horror story.

8. The Joker (DC)

Contrary to its title, James Tynion, Guillem March, Steffano Rafaele, Arif Prianto, and others’ The Joker isn’t a comic looking at the Clown Prince of Crime’s inner psyche, but is a globe-trotting P.I. type story featuring Jim Gordon trying to capture the Joker for some folks that looks shadier and shadier as the story progresses. Tynion and (predominantly) March show the effect Joker has had on Gordon’s life and his family while also showing him discover himself outside the bounds of Gotham and its police department. As the series progresses, The Joker shows the impact that Batman and his rogue’s gallery have had on the rest of the world, and the ways governments, intelligence agencies, and more nefarious organizations deal with threats of their ilk. Along with a crime novel set in present time, James Tynion, Matthew Rosenberg, and the virtuosic Francesco Francavilla created several flashback comics showing the development of Jim Gordon’s relationship with the Joker over the years, and how it effected his family life and career almost acting as a “Year One” for Gordon as Francavilla’s art style shifts based on the era the story is set in. Plus most issues of Joker feature colorful backup stories with Harper Row trying to bring Joker’s newest ally Punchline to justice in and out of prison from Tynion, Sam Johns, Sweeney Boo, Rosi Kampe, and others.

7. Kane and Able (Image)

Kane and Able is a dual-cartoonist anthology featuring work by British cartoonists Shaky Kane and Krent Able. Kane’s stories flow together in a Jack Kirby-meets-David Lynch kind of way blurring the lines between fiction and metafiction, reality and unreality while also acting as an opportunity for him to draw cool things like dinosaurs, space women, aliens, the King of Comics, and even himself. Able’s stories have more of a grindhouse, body horror quality to him as a chainsaw-wielding Bear Fur battles a boom box wielding cockroach woman, who flesh bonds everyone in a listless, major city. Both creators have delightful, distinctive styles and put their own spin on genres like sci-fi, exploitation, and superhero. Kane and Able is free-flowing, clever, and most of all, fun and is tailor made for the larger page format of treasury editions.

6. Static Season One (DC/Milestone)

As far as pure visuals go, Static Season One by Vita Ayala, Nikolas Draper-Ivey, and ChrisCross was easily one of the best looking books on the stands in 2021. This was in addition to reinventing the iconic Black superhero through the lens of contemporary social movements, like Black Lives Matter and protests against police brutality in summer of 2020. Static Season One doesn’t merely pay homage to the classic Milestone series, but brings it into 2021 with fight sequences straight out of the best shonen manga and a three dimensional supporting cast that holistically explore the Black experience in the United States while also being a coming of age and superhero origin tale. Draper-Ivey’s character designs are sleek as hell, and his high energy approach to color palette adds intensity to fight and chase scenes. I’m excited to see what the talented creative duo of Ayala and Nikolas Draper-Ivey bring to Static’s journey as Season One wraps up and Season Two (hopefully) begins in 2022.

5. Renegade Rule (Dark Horse)

Renegade Rule is an original graphic novel from Ben Kahn, Rachel Silverstein, and Sam Beck that is a perfect fusion of a sports manga and a queer romance story set in the world of competitive video games. Even if you’re like me and have only attempted to play Overwatch a single time, Renegade Rule and its world are quite accessible via things like hypercompetitiveness, sexual tension, and breathtaking fight choreography. The in-game sequences are almost like musical numbers and use shooting, sniping, and various acrobatics to make characters’ unspoken thoughts real. Renegade Rule is like if your favorite sports movie and romantic comedy had a gay baby who loved kicking ass at video games, and I pumped my fist every time the Manhattan Mist overcame adversity or overwhelming odds and smiled when certain characters ended up with each other…

4. Echolands (Image)

After a four year absence from interior art, co-writer/artist J.H. Williams III didn’t mess around with Echolands, a love letter to both genre fiction and double page spreads. Done in collaboration with co-writer Haden Blackman and colorist Dave Stewart, Echolands is an epic fantasy quest loaded up with all kinds of genres and art styles leaking off the page and was one of the most immersive comics I read in 2021. It has a sprawling cast and world, but Blackman and Williams know when to slow down and dig into Hope Redhood and her allies and antagonists’ motivations and when to drop in a multi-page underwater or underground chase sequence. With its unique landscape layouts and all the details in J.H. Williams and Stewart’s visuals, Echolands is definitely a book worth picking up in physical format and has backmatter that both humorously and seriously adds to the worldbuilding.

3. DC Pride (DC)

In honor of Pride Month, DC Comics put some of its most talented LGBTQ+ creators on its most iconic LGBTQ+ characters in a super-sized celebration of overcoming adversity, being yourself, and loving whoever you want to love. DC Pride covered a spectrum of sexual and gender identities from a fast-paced date night story featuring the non-binary Flash, Jess Chambers, to James Tynion and Trung Le Nguyen’s fairy tale influenced story of Batwoman’s younger days and even the first appearance of transgender superhero Dreamer (From the Supergirl TV show) in the comics. Depending on the character or creative team, the different stories could be adventurous and flirtatious, heartfelt and emotional, or a bit of both. This book shows that superhero comics have come a long way since the stereotypes of the 1980s and 1990s, but there’s still room for improvement as many of the characters featured in this anthology are relegated to backup stories or are supporting cast members of cisgender, heterosexual heroes.

2. Barbalien: Red Planet (Dark Horse)

Barbalien: Red Planet is a masterfully crafted, queer rage infused superhero/sci-fi comic from Jeff Lemire, Tate Brombal, Gabriel Walta, and Jordie Bellaire. It understands subtext is for cowards and draws parallels between Barbalien coming out as gay and a Martian with his new friend/potential lover Miguel, who is a Latino activist fighting for the US government to do something about the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. Barbalien: Red Planet pays homage to the Black and Latinx activists who fought for queer liberation and is also an emotionally honest character study for Barbalien, who is easily my favorite character in the Black Hammer universe. Lemire, Brombal, and Walta use the superhero and sword and planet genres to explore the conflict between queer folks and power structures as Barbalien struggles with trying to fit into Spiral City as a white cop or being his true, gay Martian self. And to get personal for a second, Barbalien: Red Planet inspired me to speak out against my city’s Pride organization’s open support of police even though it led to me resigning as chairperson of my work’s LGBTQ+ employee affinity group. It’s both a damn good superhero book and a story that had a huge impact on my life in 2020-2021.

1. Die (Image)

My favorite comic of 2021 was Die by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans that wrapped up with the mother of all quest arcs. But beyond having cool fantasy landscapes and wrapping up each party member’s arc, Die nailed the importance of stories, whether games, comics, films, prose, TV shows etc., to change how we view and interact with the world in both a heightened and realistic manner. Most of the realism came in Die #20 where the main characters escape the world of the game into our reality with the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing and have emotional reunions with loved ones or just hang out by themselves. However, the final arc of Die also is full of existential nightmares courtesy of Hans’ visuals as well as awakenings and self-realization, especially in Die #19 where Ash comes out as non-binary and discusses how games and fiction shaped their identity. The final issues of Die is a double-edged look at the power of narrative and games to shape us done in both glorious and surprisingly intimate fashion, and I felt I really knew Ash, Matt, Angela, Isabelle, Matt, Chuck, and Sol in the end.

Honorable Mentions: Casual Fling (AWA), Nightwing (DC), Made in Korea (Image), Barbaric (Vault), Superman and the Authority (DC), Catwoman: Lonely City (DC/Black Label)

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