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Review: Wolverine #15

Wolverine #15

It’s been a while since I checked up on Wolverine’s solo adventures and for sure, I checked out long before Jonathan Hickman revamped the X-line in spectacular fashion. I’m glad I did because Wolverine #15 had a few nice surprises that kept me interested.

The pirate lord Sevyr Blackmore tells the tale of when he met Solem, a mutant with adamantium skin. Sevyr captured him when Solem was a kid but found he couldn’t kill him and couldn’t keep him held captive because he escaped everything. Instead, he took him under his wing and taught him the life of a pirate and in these kinds of tales, the student soon becomes the teacher and Solem turns out to be very, very good at what he’s learned. After all has been said, Wolverine and Sevyr go at it, with the winner to continue on the trail of Solem.

I got drawn into this issue of Wolverine pretty easy, despite my own shortcomings with not knowing much of who the cast was. I can confirm Sevyr’s tale works well for someone new to Wolverine. I like Ben Percy’s work, notably his work on Year Zero for AWA Studios. I think it would be hard to write villains for Wolverine. He heals and can cut anything in his path. Sevyr’s acidic blood mixed with having the foresight to install a magnetic floor to keep Logan in one spot seemed like a winning formula to me. And having Solem be a step or two ahead of Logan is a nice touch.

I was not expecting to be impressed with the art of Adam Kubert in 2021 or to have him throw out visuals that keep his work looking so fresh. I mean, I like his art and all but what I saw in the pages of Wolverine really stood out to me. I could gush all over this issue. While I’m sure Percy’s script is tight, Adam Kubert really knows how to make the story flow from panel to panel. I thought the colors by Frank Martin looked a tiny bit odd paired with Kubert’s art but I was sold after a few pages.

Could it be better? Sure. Everything can be better. I’m not much of a fan of Wolverine because he used to just pop up everywhere and mess up the place. Characters like Wolverine tend to feel a bit stale to me and I can honestly say I haven’t picked up his solo book in years. However, I was really enjoying what I read from Wolverine #15, so it’s definitely possible to put some good shine on something that for me was dull. Enough so that I want to see where this tale is going to go. Sevyr and Solem seem interesting enough as foils to Logan. This is definitely a book to read but it wouldn’t hurt to buy it since there was enough thought to make it feel like the story went somewhere and delivered on some good action.

Story: Benjamin Percy Art: Adam Kubert
Color: Frank Martin Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit Design: Tom Muller
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Donny Cates and Ryan Ottley Explore the Hulk’s Rage in a New Series

Al Ewing’s groundbreaking Immortal Hulk saga will reach its climactic conclusion later this year, but the strongest there is won’t stay down for long… This November, the Hulk will return in an all-new ongoing series by acclaimed writer Donny Cates, known for his revolutionary work on Venom and Thor, and superstar artist Ryan Ottley of Amazing Spider-Man and Invincible!

This unstoppable team of some of the industry’s greatest talent will helm a bold new era of Hulk that begins when Bruce Banner discovers a radical way to control the monster within. Could this mark the final end of the green goliath? Or will the extreme solution create something new – with massive consequences? Prepare to dive deep into the very core of Hulk’s rage in this thrilling epic that will explore this iconic character’s incredible—and destructive—legacy in a way no one has dared to before.

Fans can get their first glimpse at what’s in store in this year’s Free Comic Book Day title, Free Comic Book Day 2021: Avengers/Hulk, available at participating comics shops on August 14th.

Hulk #1 comes to shelves in November featuring color by Frank Martin.

Image and Skybound Preview Ultramega #3 and Variants

Image Comics and Skybound unveiled a first look at Ultramega #3 interior pages, plus new covers from Ryan Ottley and Frank Martin, and Afu Chan.

Chan’s cover is one of Skybound’s special edition covers honoring Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. All proceeds from the sales for AAPI Heritage Month variant covers will be donated to CCED, a Los Angeles-based volunteer organization that builds grassroots power through organizing, education, and mutual help.  

James Harren is the creator, writer, and artist of Ultramega, with Eisner-award-winning colorist Dave Stewart. In the world of Ultramega, a cosmic plague has spread and transformed everyday people into violent, monstrous kaiju. Only the Ultramega—three individuals imbued with incredible powers—hold the line against this madness. Their battles level cities and leave untold horror in their wake. Now, the final reckoning approaches for the Ultramega… but is this a war they can even win?

Ultramega #3 will be available at comic book shops and digital platforms including Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, comiXology, and Google Play on Wednesday, May 19:

  • Cover A by James Harren – Diamond Code MAR210236
  • Cover B by Ryan Ottley & Frank Martin – Diamond Code MAR210237
  • Cover C by Ryan Ottley B&W 1:5 incentive copy – Diamond Code FEB218441
  • Cover D by James Harren B&W 1:10 incentive copy – Diamond Code FEB218444
  • Cover E by Afu Chan – Diamond Code MAR218079

Review: King in Black #5

King in Black #5

King in Black #5 is the big finale to Marvel’s latest event as Venom finally faces off with Knull. In what felt like a bit of a one-sided affair, Venom mops the town up with Knull. Possessing the Enigma Force makes Eddie Brock Knull’s equal. Even more so, he’s equipped with a weapon made of the Silver Surfer’s board and Mjolnir. It all ends with everything being hunky-dory for everyone, save Eddie, who now appears to be the new King In Black.

You know…I wanted to dislike this so much. There’s something about Donny Cates’ writing that is so enjoyable and yet, some of his work seriously feels like a child who gets to do whatever with his action figures…and I mean that in a positive way. King in Black did really feel like all the power was with Venom, leaving Knull pretty weak, but it all just works. It’s not perfect. I’m not sure how I feel about Venom more-or-less wielding Mjolnir but for what it’s worth, this was a really fun read, spotlighting a character I normally care very little for and leaving me with a newfound appreciation for Venom. I thought the dialogue is great. Knull is one of those pompous characters that has never known defeat so seeing someone like that get taken down is pretty much a guaranteed enjoyable moment.

On the artistic side, Ryan Stegman really put a lot into every page. I felt the layouts stood out to me in a really unique way and the colors really pop. And if I can bring attention to one thing that I like about his art, I feel that he does a good job of conveying emotion on a character’s face. Knull looked really fierce and sinister. Venom just looked awesome.

King in Black #5 was a total package of fun and excitement, coupled with some really cool art. I’m not huge on Marvel or DC events but my overall feeling is that this one ended up being fun while also bringing a lot of stuff that Cates has worked on at Marvel to a head. As far as Venom goes, King in Black serves as a good exclamation point on a really great run for the character. Not sure if it’s worth the cost of admission but I think you’d like what you would read.

Story: Donny Cates Art: Ryan Stegman
Ink: JP Mayer, Ryan Stegman Color: Frank Martin, Jason Keith Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: King in Black #5

King in Black #5

I’ve generally enjoyed the King in Black series and event. It’s big popcorn blockbuster ideas in five issues with a bunch of tie-ins. I was gung-ho about the tie-ins but as the months went on I slowly stopped reading them. And, my gut says, that might have been a bad idea. Going into King in Black #5, I feel like I missed something. The opening and much of the comic feels like I had to walk out of a movie to go to the concession stand and returned having missed key moments. Still, it’s a comic to sit back and just enjoy the over-the-top nature of it all.

Donny Cates delivers a finale that has been built up for years. Eddie Brock, back with Venom and now the Enigma Force, square off against Knull for the fate of everything. The issue is one giant drag out fight between the two that’s not really a contest. Much like their first meeting, this is a one-sided fight that echoes that opening battle. Cates doesn’t even make this close. It’s Eddie beating the living daylights into Knull and the darkness. And seriously, that’s about it.

Cates focuses on these two’s battle so much that the rest of the heroes are generally and afterthought. They stand around and get one moment to look cool. But, beyond that, they don’t really do much and are a non-factor. For as much as various characters have been key in the main event, let alone the various tie-ins, they’re pretty much window dressing for this final issue. It’s an odd choice that takes some of the epic out of the nature of the battle.

Ryan Stegman does deliver solid art. Along with JP Mayer on ink and Frank Martin and Jason Keith on color, the visuals feel like fantasy heavy metal as Venom delivers a beat down with his giant axe. The battle itself looks good and there’s a cathartic aspect to seeing Eddie deliver punch after punch. But, there’s also something missing as well. There’s that truly awe-inspiring epic moment that’s just not there. Beyond one page of “Avengers Assemble” the comic never really goes for the metal aspect it teases. It looks good but isn’t memorable.

Clayton Cowles’ lettering continues to deserve mention for the series. The lettering really helps deliver and nail down Knull. With “normal” lettering, the character wouldn’t work as well. It’s a small detail and nice touch that really emphasizes the character and how “evil” he is.

King in Black #5 is a fine finale. It wraps up the event well and there’s some cathartic aspects to it. But, for an event that was so good, it’s a bit of a letdown. The comic lacks that memorable moment and the one it delivers feels like we’ve seen before. It’s the end sequence for a summer popcorn film that attempts to be full of ideas and visuals but lacks depth.

Story: Donny Cates Art: Ryan Stegman
Ink: JP Mayer, Ryan Stegman Color: Frank Martin, Jason Keith Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

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Review: Wolverine #10

Wolverine #10

Wolverine #10 starts out like an action movie with Benjamin Percy, Adam Kubert, and Frank Martin channeling that black ops Team X killing machine energy that the folks who made X-Men Origins: Wolverine tried and failed at. Maverick gets to shoot, fight, and kill his way out of being mind-controlled with Wolverine trying to get him to find healing in Krakoa. However, unlike Wolverine who basically has a whole family (Found, cloned, blood, and otherwise) waiting for him on the island, Maverick doesn’t have friends: just co-workers and employers. That’s the tragedy at the heart of the relationship between Maverick and Wolverine. Logan wants to move on while Maverick wants to continue to re-live the past glories of his Team X days and wander around with guns and a mask taking out baddies for the highest bidder even if he no longer has his mutant powers.

Adam Kubert has been drawing Wolverine for over 27 years, but his work on Wolverine #10 shows that he still enjoys drawing Logan’s berserker rage and the nobility buried underneath. (Full disclosure, he’s my favorite Wolverine artist along with John Romita Jr. You gotta love second generation comics pros.) Kubert also has some damn good storytelling chops, especially in his approach to layouts. He uses white space to simulate Maverick coming out of his mindwipe as well as gaps in his memory. At the beginning of the comic, Kubert uses close-ups and different angles on the same stand-off to show Maverick starting to fill in the details with the help of Wolverine. The next page uses more straighforward panel choices while keeping the blanks, and by the time the Merchant grazes Maverick with Frank Castle’s pistol, we’re back in double page spread mode with insets showing these former Team X members doing what they do best while colorist Frank Martin turns on the red.

Wolverine #10 features quite a few of these compositions from Kubert, namely, a double page spread freezing a moment in time while the story progresses through small grids or inset panels. This is also happening while Martin sets the general tone of the page with his color choices from sleazy neons for the port of Madripoor to *fittingly* black for the Mercs and finally light greens for Krakoa. Frank Martin uses darker greens for the inset panels to drive home that Maverick is really hostile and skeptical about Krakoa even if it means rest and the restoration of his considerable abilities. These color choices along with the insets give you the key story information about the sequence while the rest of the spread adds context and atmosphere. They also show how Maverick is still boxed into his past as a merc and is cool with taking money from the CIA (Who tried to kill him earlier) even while he chides and quips at Wolverine for being a cult leader and Kool-Aid drinker. He’s definitely the kind of guy who says “sell-out” unironically.

Wolverine #10
Dudes rock…

Between the chases, killings, and tough guy one-liners, Benjamin Percy and Adam Kubert continue to explore nostalgia in Wolverine #10. Kubert is an interesting artist choice because he worked with Larry Hama and other on the Wolverine and Weapon X comics in the 1990s that the past two or three issues have been trying to evoke with the Madripoor setting, Team X (Especially Maverick’s mask.), and even the short, yet sweet return of “Patch”. Also, the plot of the comic revolves around an auction of basically Easter Eggs from the Marvel Universe like the grave stone from “Kraven’s Last Hunt”, and Maverick, Wolverine, and the Mercs end up going on a mission to a warehouse with these items. However, Wolverine realizes the emptiness of nostalgia and doesn’t even look at what’s in the “Team X” before torching them. Percy shows where Logan is at as a character while also commenting on creators who yearn to re-tell the stories of their youth instead of breaking new ground.

Basically, there have been enough Wolverine flashback/origin stories, and it’s time to put him in new context or remix these previous stories like he and Kubert are doing with Maverick as they focus on the psychological dimensions of the relationship between them. There was that great flashback sequence in Wolverine #9, and now in this issue, Percy and Kubert show the sad reality of Logan and Maverick’s friendship as they’re perfectly in-sync when fighting CIA agents or various goons, but talk past each other once they get a quiet moment on the helicopter or overlooking Krakoa. Logan and Maverick are like (ultraviolent) work buddies, who really gel professionally, successfully complete projects together, and even throw a few brews back at the happy hour, but don’t really work out of that context. So, Maverick’s actions on the last couple pages of Wolverine #10 hurt like hell, but they do make sense. They might stand back to back on the cover, but these are men heading in polar opposite directions with Logan having both family and national responsibilities. Also, the blank panels come back hinting at Maverick resigning himself to just being a weapon again instead of trying to restart his life in Krakoa as Adam Kubert wrings emotions out of just white on the page.

Benjamin Percy, Adam Kubert, and Frank Martin balance black ops action and the complicated relationship dynamic between Logan and Maverick in Wolverine #10. It also features breathtaking layouts from Kubert and smart color choices from Martin and has nods to the 1990s era of X-comics while adding a little substance to those books’ style.

Story: Benjamin Percy Art: Adam Kubert
Colors: Frank Martin Letters: Cory Petit
Story: 7.8 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: King in Black #4

King in Black #4

There are moments in film, comics, television, and books where the hero discovers their inner power and the tide begins to turn against evil. In Transformers: The Movie it was Hot Rod opening the Matrix and turning into Rodimus Prime. Those moments can bring tingles and excitement as good begins to triumph over evil. King in Black #4 delivers that moment multiple times in the penultimate issue of the event.

Written by Donny Cates, things look dire as the issue begins. Knull has dominated the world, killed Eddie Brock, and subjugated most of the world’s heroes. But Cates has been hinting at another who might defeat Knull. If Knull represents darkness, someone, or something, must be the light. It’s been pretty obvious for a while that we’d eventually find out who the who or what is in this event and this is the issue where that all becomes clearer.

King in Black #4 features a showdown between Dylan and Knull with Dylan being the clearest current threat to the wannabe god. It’s a solid showdown as Dylan takes his stand showing all it takes is a single individual to make a change. It being a kid feels all the more symbolic as it is so many kids over recent years that are leading the way. But Dylan is just a catalyst. The comic is full of “fuck yeah” moments as heroes begin to free themselves and make their attacks against Knull. We don’t get one “Rodimus” moment, we get multiple resulting in a crescendo of excitement of “hells yes” beats. All building to the issue’s finale with the big reveal Cates has been hinted at.

Cates is helped by Ryan Stegman who nails every beat. Along with JP Mayer on ink, Frank Martin on color, and Clayton Cowles on lettering, the crescendo is clear in the art. The battle goes from what feels like a “psychic landscape” to the physical world and it just ups the awe with every opportunity. There’s so many moments that are memorable, the art brings home Cates’ concepts with a blast. Cowles lettering is key as he depicts Knull giving him his own font. It emphasizes the character’s evil stance and without it, the character wouldn’t work as well. It’s a perfect combination and team.

The issue also features our first look and Peach Momoko‘s Demon Days. The short backup comic features an English Adaptation by Zack Davisson, and lettering by Ariana Maher. Momoko takes the X-Men into a fantasy world rooted in Japan and its mythology. The result is a story that’s beautiful to look at but the story itself doesn’t feel quite unique enough. Taking characters and just making them samurai and animals isn’t new or different. So, this is one to wait and see. As a teaser for the first issue and series, it doesn’t excite and quite land.

King in Black #4 is a hell of a comic that’ll get you pumped and excited. There’s just one more issue left and this could leave us with a hell of a change to the Marvel landscape. Marvel has stumbled with events in recent years but King in Black #4 has delivered with every issue and is their best in a long time. It brings popcorn excitement and this issue helps lights our darkest hour.

Story: Donny Cates, Peach Momoko Art: Ryan Stegman, Peach Momoko
Ink: JP Mayer Color: Frank Martin Letterer: Clayton Cowles, Ariana Maher

English Adaptation: Zack Davisson
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: King in Black #3

King in Black #3

King in Black #3 continues the entertaining Marvel event delivering hints as to what’s to come. Knull has taken over the world bringing darkness to everywhere. There’s a glimpse of hope though. Eddie Brock’s son, Dylan, is channeling an unknown power, the light to defeat the darkness of Knull.

This is the first stand as a small group of heroes need to band together and fight back. Writer Donny Cates delivers another solid issue as what the fight back begins. Though it’s realistically a losing battle, Cates infuses the fight with hope. The heroes feel like heroes doing battle against impossible odds.

Cates delivers that with an interesting narrative. The narrator is a mysterious character who doesn’t make their presence known until the end. But, what’s said is what’s really intriguing. There’s hints as to what’s to come. Dylan’s power is coming from something, someone. Knull is darkness which means there’s someone that’s the opposite. Who is that? Get your speculation going as it’s sure to be someone big and really shake things up post event.

The issue is also very cinematic with action sequences that deliver some emotional resonance. The arrival of Thor to battle, Iron Man’s actions, these are moments that deserve to be on the big screen. They’re larger than life and that’s due to the art of Ryan Stegman.

Stegman continues to be one of the most exciting artists out there. His work with Cates has been fantastic and the duo are just in sync with what they deliver on the page. The images are jaw dropping at times. The moments really deliver that punch as things begin to go south. Everything looks fantastic no matter how over the top it all is. Stegman is helped by the ink of JP Mayer, color of Frank Martin, and lettering by Clayton Cowles. In a story that involves a world engulfed in darkness, the team keeps things colorful. It never feels “dark” but definitely gives you the sense of that world. The lettering is fantastic with Cowles giving such personality to Knull and his controlled through the choice of lettering and styles.

King in Black #3 continues an epic story. While it foreshadows things a bit too much the end of the comic made me forgive that with a new player on the field. Things really feel epic but at the same time the issue and story stays focused on a small cast. There’s been a string of misses as far as major events in recent years but King in Black continues to impress and exceed expectations.

Story: Donny Cates Art: Ryan Stegman
Ink: JP Mayer Color: Frank Martin Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.65 Art: 8.75 Overall: 8.65 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: King in Black #2

King in Black #2

The first issue of King in Black delivered a big screen blockbuster on the comic page and King in Black #2 continues the action and ups the desperation. Knull has taken over the world subjugating its heroes and controlling them through symbiotes. A small group of heroes remains to take a stand and their hope rests in Eddie Brock who last issue was tossed from atop a building. As we saw in the recent issue of Venom, Eddie does indeed fall and this issue we see the crushing conclusion.

Writer Donny Cates delivers an issue that’s full of desperation and really sets up the uphill battle that’s ahead. Things look bleak and dark without it actually being bleak and dark. Cates does an excellent job of giving us hope. It’s the battle where Optimus shows up before falling against Megatron… queue music as he clings for life.

Cates delivers the desperation and the heart as he teases hope and solutions. The heroes are desperate and instead of dragging things out, we’re delivered a possible solution within the issue. There’s a lot packed in and that adds to the emotional punch of it all. Hope is served and quickly taken away. King in Black #2 is a hell of an emotional ride.

Things are helped by Ryan Stegman‘s art which is its usual amazing. Stegman is joined by JP Mayer on ink, Frank Martin on colors, and Clayton Cowles on lettering. Everyone nails it adding to the atmosphere. The brilliance of the art is delivering a dark horror comic without it being too dark and foreboding. The corrupted heroes are scary without being distracting. The color and ink create the darkness of Knull without making the art difficult to see. It’s a great balance and pulled off well. There’s also so much detail in the damage done, especially in Spider-Man’s tattered costume. And the lettering too adds to it all nailing Knull’s voice or emphasizing the emotion.

King in Black #2 is a hell of a second issue. It takes us on an emotional rollercoaster while also delivering big screen popcorn levels of visuals. It’s a great combination and what events should be. Two issues in and this is one of Marvel’s best events in many years.

Story: Donny Cates Art: Ryan Stegman
Ink: JP Mayer Color: Frank Martin Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: King in Black #1

King in Black #1

Marvel’s next event kicks off with King in Black #1, the culmination of years of build-up and teases throughout the Marvel Universe. This even sees Knull, the “god of the symbiotes” attack Earth with the heroes having to make a stand before he brings complete darkness to Earth and all of existence.

Marvel has had numerous events over the recent years and while many have had their moments, for the most part these events have fallen flat. They may start off with a bang but generally fizzle. King in Black #1 definitely launches with a hell of a start. It’s a disaster film in comic form. The heroes must scramble on a grand scale while the comic also focuses in on the micro scale as well.

Writer Donny Cates nails the opening with a little something for everyone. The heroes get their stand. There’s great moments like the X-Men swooping in. But, it’s the focus on Eddie Brock and his son that delivers heart for the series.

Eddie, also known as Venom, is directly tied to Knull and Cates has been building to this event through that series for years at this point. Cates has evolved Brock from the popular anti-hero to a father with concerns for his son. We see that here as he attempts to seek shelter and protect his kid. It’s a human detail that adds so much to this beginning. King in Black #1 could easily have just been battle after battle. But, this small part adds something we can relate to as parents and children. It adds a human aspect to the larger than life event and grounds it in some ways. It also allows us to connect and really care as to what happens.

Joining Cates is artist Ryan Stegman who has worked with Cates through so much of his Venom run. Stegman’s style is very much his with imagery that pops and comes off as larger than life. It’s a look I personally love and here it works so well with such grand-scale moments. Stegman’s style has a certain exaggeration and it helps emphasize the larger than life moments. Stegman is joined by JP Mayer on ink, Frank Martin on color, and Clayton Cowles with lettering. The art could easily fall into a space that’s too dark but despite the black and red, it never gets to a point it feels like a dirge. There’s still something that jumps from the page despite the “dark” nature of it all.

King in Black #1 kicks things off with jaw-dropping moments and unexpected twists. But, it’s the heart of it all where things succeed. Eddie Brock brings a touch to the story that we can all relate to. And, more importantly, he brings a character we can empathize with and feel sorry for. He’s likely sacrificing himself to save the world and his kid and knows it. Yet, he goes through with it. King in Black #1 is the shift of Eddie Brock from anti-hero to true hero willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for the greater good. It’s the start of an event but also the next step for the character that Cates and Stegman have been adding depth to for years.

Darkness might reign but King in Black #1 shines.

Story: Donny Cates Art: Ryan Stegman
Ink: JP Mayer Color: Frank Martin Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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