Who's Who in the DCU

Tim, you realize that Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. If you haven’t made reservations at some fancy dancy place you should probably get a jump on it.

Hey, thanks for the advice, big guy. Unfortunately, I’ll be at work until 9 that night (damn you hospital shifts!!!!), but I am sure that I will still come up with something excellent for the lady in my life. I’ll keep you posted throughout.


Links

IP Music features the return of Mike Eagle!

IP Movies has me looking forward to seeing Munich.

IP Games give me optimism for 2006.

IP Figures is getting lots of traffic from me, especially now.

IP TV finally has new shows to talk about.

IP Sports has lots of pigskin stuff.

Moodspins is a great place to discover new, well thought out points of view.

IP Culture really covers a wide variety of topics.

Our DC Forums has Judd Winick bashing and the triumphant return of Hallsy!

Tim, sites you think our readers should check out?

I love these like a fat kid loves cake (my apologies to all those fat kids who do not, in fact, love cake) so I think you folks will too. Dig it, Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed for your reading pleasure.


What I Read Last Week

Superman #225 – Huh? Wait, what happened? Why did we cut away to Supergirl and Firestorm? I’m confused.

Jonah Hex #3 – I love this book! Bat Lash was such a good character and guest star. I really dig the self-contained tale and how dense it was. Great issue.

Day of Vengeance Special #1 – Nice conclusion, but last time I checked Empress was Blacks. And what book did Bloodwynd die in, because every other character with a pinkie toe in the realm of magic appeared in this issue or the mini.

Shouldn’t you be telling us what issue Bloodwynd died in? You are, after all, the expert on the matter.

Frankenstein #2 – I’m betting this issue will read much better when I sit down and read the entire Seven Soldiers story together. I liked the actual story and art.

I really dug it, independent of the rest of the Seven Soldier series. But there is a lot of connections to what has come before, so I can understand what you mean about enjoying it more.

First Thunder #3 – I think this would have made a great final issue. I do wish that Judd’s editors would do some editing, because that whole Eclipso thing seemed a tad off.

Down #2 & 3 – I’ve loved Hamner’s art since Mosaic. It really works well on this title. Plus it’s nice to see that Ellis can write something that’s not all freaked out and still make it work.

Nighthawk #5 – I wish I could say that I’ve been enjoying this mini, but it’s a real disappointment. Instead of actually delving into Richmond’s character and fleshing it out, Marvel seems content on playing up the “He’s really Batman” angle. How innovative.

That’s sarcasm right there, right? I like that. I like how you went there with the sarcasm.

The Exterminators #1 – Loved this debut! I’m in for the long haul. I like the reflection in the eyes on the cover, I like the mix of characters. I’m sold!

I am so unsold you would not believe it. Boo I say to this title. Boooooooo!

Hard Time #2 – Now that I’ve seen every episode of Oz and Prison Break in on hiatus this is where I’m getting my prison fix. The betrayal was scary, but I’m really loving how things are progressing here. This is an underrated gem.

Detective Comics #815 – Cliff Chiang art? I’m so there! Zsasz is only a bonus. Man did I love this issue.

Somehow I missed this. Don’t worry though, it is an error that will not stand.

Teen Titans #31 – Which storyline did I like more: Captain Carrot or Brother Blood? Neither. Kid Eternity barely keep this storyline interesting. I’m disappointed, but Johns is certainly overworked at this point.

I’ll admit, the Captain Carrot thing did end up just kind of sitting on the page to me. That’s too bad because I had some high hopes for it. However, the rest of the storyline was not bad, in my opinion. It was nice to see Kid Eternity again, even if it was a bit “Dr. Strange in Avengers Disassembled” to have him show up and end everything.

The one thing I will say that did bother me though: is that really the explanation for how Jason Todd is back? Because if so a.) WWWWWWWWEAK and b.) shouldn’t we have gotten that in Batman?

Y the Last Man #41 – I do love those “background issues.” This was such a fun issue. We get some great insight into 355. I do hope to see a 355 spin off somewhere down the line. The quality of the art did seem spotty in some places, but apart from that this book was superb.

Outsiders #32 – Glad to see CM3 made it back to Earth. But I’ve never been more worried for Bumblebee and Herald. I’m getting flashes of Dick Grayson and Helena Wayne.

JSA #81 – Nice appearance by The Shade. But the story just seemed flat to me. It really didn’t connect with me. It may be because I hate my father. Actually I’m pretty sure that’s the reason.

Wow. Well, if you hate your dad, I hate him too. We’ve got to stick together, us Who’s Whoers.

However, speaking as one who does not currently hate his father, the story was still flat. The last two pages, “Boo, your dad is dead!” revelation failed to connect in any meaningful way and, at least for me, ended up making the rest of it feel very artificial.

Aquaman #38 – Vulko? Koryak? Tempest? TEMPEST?! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!

What the hell am I supposed to do now without my perennial Titan to graduate to the JLA choice? Choose Donna Troy? No, thank you.


Words From An Alum

“I’m starting this new year off by linking nothing. Because I’m sick. And sick people can act like lazy children if they damn well please.”

Cry me a river, Justin Timberlake (and feel better…which you probably already do since I’m writing this Friday).

Did you really just call me Justin Timberlake? Really?

“She does, sort of, have a place in modern continuity via a different name: Vicki Vale. Watch the first Burton Batman film and it is pretty clear that Vale is, basically, St. Cloud. Around the same time, a Vicki Vale was introduced in the comics.”

I’m 85% sure that Vicki Vale appeared in the comics years before the movie, but I’ll need to double check.

Nope, that is true and thanks to everyone else who pointed it out. What I should have said is this: Vicki Vale did exist prior to the movie. However, when the movie came out she made a return to the title with a slightly altered personality. That personality was altered to better reflect her movie alter ego. Her movie alter ego’s personality was, in fact, modeled on a different Batman lady though, that being Silver St. Cloud. Thus, the modern Vicki Vale is as close to an in-continuity version of Silver St. Cloud that you will find.

Whew…that’s long winded.

“Did Nocturna’s ‘adoption’ of Jason Todd ever get overturned?

I really feel badly for you. You’ve been waiting like 20 years for this question to be answered, haven’t you. Well I won’t prolong it any further.”

He’s not the only one!

“Did he ever! He found out in storyline that Tim Stevens Monthly called “Best Storyline of the 2005”; War Crimes. The magazine gave it “5 Stars” and hailed it as an “instant classic.” “

Heh.

Yeah…heh. You are all SOOOOOOO funny.


Aaron Cameron placed the lyric at the end of last week’s column, thus his question gets answered first.

Inside Pulse’s own Aaron, you have the floor

As an avid fan of The Outsiders during their initial run in the ’80s, I was wondering the group’s “motivation” was these days in their current incarnation. Back in my day, all of ’em were basically rejects on the fringes of superhero society (Metamorpho, Black Lightning) or rookies trying to find their way (Halo, Geo-Force). Y’know…”Outsiders”. Is that still their gimmick today or are they warmed-over heroes using the “Outsider” name?

That’s a very interesting question. Well in order to fully understand we’ve got to go back to a time when there were two teams known as “Young Justice” and “The Titans” (shudder).

Dear god, why?! Why does every column have to revisit either The Titans or War Crimes? You people do this on purpose to us, don’t you?

A company known as Optitron offered to sponsor the teams as a way to write off some funds during tax time. Well during that initial meeting (Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day) some Superman robots became activated by a robot from the future. Both teams were decimated and disbanded.

However Arsenal eventually took Optitron up on its offer and put together a team of heroes to take a more “proactive” role in battling crime. Basically they wanted to stop things before they started. Arsenal would occasionally get tips from a shadowed figure (who later turned out to be Batman.)

But they mostly just bungled things. They allowed lots of criminals to escape a super prison. They somehow let the Fearsome Four get away after a battle.

Eventually we find out that Optitron is actually a subsidiary of Wayne Industries. Furthermore it’s actually revealed that the “Batman” Arsenal had be getting information from was none other than Deathstroke! And that Indigo (a character I’ll get to later) was actually Brainaic 8. This book should come with a seat belt, it’s got so many twists and turns.

So basically this team was put together because Arsenal wanted to fight crime. That’s it. He got some people who happened to be available. Who as we’re about to find out weren’t necessarily “Outsiders.” Here’s a breakdown of the team;

Nightwing – Was recruited by Arsenal and took control. He’s not an “Outsider” by any stretch of the imagination as he’s been both a member of the JLA and the Titans. Not an “Outsider”

Arsenal – Has been a member of various do gooder organizations (as we’ll see in a future column) and has a history of being a sidekick. Not an “Outsider”.

Grace – New character who happens to be a bit rough around the edges. She’s a tall Asian bouncer who happens to have super powers and a super libido. “Outsider”

Indigo – The robot who doomed Young Justice was reprogrammed, hooked up with a fellow member and then turned on the team. She’s also a new character, but she probably would have fit anywhere. Not an “Outsider”

Jade – Former member of Infinity Inc, daughter of Alan “Green Lantern” Scott and former girlfriend of Kyle “Green Lantern” Rayner. She was even associated with that horrible “Blood Pack” concept. She might not be ready for the JLA but she could surely join the JSA via a “legacy” endowment. Not an “Outsider”.

Thunder – The brand new daughter of Black Lightning (even though she flies in the face of established continuity) is new at the hero thing and jumped at the chance to join an upstart team. Given her lack of experience she’s an “Outsider.”

Shift – This guy is a part of Metamorpho who gained sentience. Like father like son; “Outsider.

Huntress – Sure she’s been a member of the JLA and hangs with the Birds of Prey, but she’s still not really a “team” person. Hell, she didn’t even stay with this team that long. “Outsider”

Starfire – This former Titan isn’t as “alien” as she used to be. Not an “Outsider.”

Captain Marvel Jr. – This goody-goody is the consummate good guy. Ironically that makes him an “Outsider” within the Outsiders. However in the DCU he’s Not an “Outsider.”

Tim, do you have any differences of opinion about my designation of the various team members?

Just one. Indigo. She’s an Outsider, definitely. I cannot think of one team that would have taken her in without her doing anything to prove herself like this team did. Plus, she had that checkered past as being at least partly responsible for Donna Troy’s death (now “death”). That sounds like a spot on Outsider to me.

Otherwise though, I’d agree with your choices. Yup, it was a pretty ill suited now for the team. We’ll see if the new Outsider (who, of course, don’t exist) better live up to their title.


Talowolf has a case of blue fever

I got into Gotham Central really late as in now it’s almost done. But I keep hearing about “disgraced cop” Harvey Bullock. How did he go from lovable loudmouth to never showing his face again?

It’s crazy because I’m almost done with the first Gotham Central trade and I’ve decided to collect the title now that it’s canceled. I thought it’d be a nice twist to pick up a book that’s already canceled as opposed to the usual “love a book that’s about to be canceled” that I go through every year.

Um, but back to your question, let’s get a visit from “Mathan from the Past!”

From the 2/4/04/ column;
Harvey Bullock is another mystery. See back when James Gordon was Commissioner, Gordon got shot. The shooter, one Jordan Rich, was about to get off scot-free. Now, Harv being the loyal guy he was couldn’t have that happening. But Harv was also a cop, sworn to uphold the law. So what’s a guy to do? Well he got the mob to handle the “dirty” work for him. When his involvement in the “disappearance” of Jordan Rich came to light, by investigating Internal Affairs officers, Bullock resigned from GCPD. He was replaced by a Maggie Sawyer from Metropolis. He turned in his badge in Detective Comics #762.

As you are reading Gotham Central now, you may want to go to the back issues as well and look for the “Unresolved” storyline. It involves one of Bullock’s old, unsolved cases and reveals what the disgraced cop has been up to since he was bounced off the fort. It is a great storyline, but I still wish we could have the ol’ bull in the china shop back in a Gotham precinct. Especially with everything his former partner Montoya is going through these days.


Phooling is one spiritual dude

Since it can be established that Lucifer, John Constantine, Tim Hunter (the original concept, not the current series), and The Endless are all in the same universe, and further established by the original Crisis crossover with the Swamp thing as well as the recent JSA arc as being in the normal DC universe…. out of breath… how do the various versions of the afterlife and the various beings in charge work? The most painful one to me is the version of Hell’s hierarchy in Constantine with the “First of the Fallen” when compared to Lucifer and the events that have been unfolding in that series. I just can’t seem to reconcile the different books together, as they seem to be in or out of continuity at a whim. Can you offer any help?

Sadly no I can’t. My advice is not to worry about it. Don’t try to reconcile the DCU with the Vertigo Universe, you’ll go mad if you attempt that.

I think that the best idea about the Vertigo titles is to think of them as singular entities. Sure Hellblazer sprang from the pages of Swamp Thing but then it became its own book. For the most part, while Swamp Thing and John appear in each others books, what happens in Swamp Thing rarely affects John and vice versa. That’s because Vertigo allows the creators to be freed from cumbersome continuity issues.

And while Lucifer came from Sandman which has ties to Swamp Thing, Lucifer isn’t necessarily connected to Hellblazer (apart from the fact that Mike Carey used to write for them both).

The books, while they may have connections, are pretty much distinct. The focus of Vertigo is on the tale, not the ties.

Tim, how do you deal with all of the various afterlifes?

I consult my Bible. If it does not fit into the continuity of the good book, I ignore it.

Okay, seriously, I don’t really worry about it. If it really bothers you, think of it this way: heaven and hell are pretty much in the eyes of the beholder. There, you and I could be in heaven together, but I would perceive as a different place than you would. Same with hell. For me it might be all bad metal groups and fire whereas for you it might be extreme cold and, I don’t know, bad emo music. So, just chalk up the differences in the afterlifes to the differences in the individuals perceiving them. I hope that helps.


Aaron never could sit still, he was never too hip, he never caught the ride, he’s on the outside, he’s on the outside now.

In the late ’80s, The original Outsiders title was apparently struggling with sales, so the writers brought Batman back in, even though the group had relocated to the west coast. In recent memory, has there ever been a more desperate ploy to boost sales in a last-gasp attempt to save a failing title?

You mean apart from the upcoming total revamp of Aquaman? I’m temped to go with Emerald Twilight where “boring” Hal was replaced with “Ben Reilly” Kyle Rayner.

But instead I’m going to go with Green Arrow. No, not Ollie Queen, Connor Hawke. Back when DC felt the need to kill off Silver Age characters and replace them with new characters, Connor Hawke didn’t quite take off as well as hoped.

I’m not basing this on actual sales figures, I’m basing it on the fact that he had so many crossovers during his time as a title character. In fact in the last year of his title, six issues were devoted to crossovers with other titles. (As a guy who has Kyle Rayner’s entire run, I know what it’s like to be force fed the concept that a title hero does indeed exist in the DCU.)

Green Arrow #125 begins a crossover with Green Lantern

Green Arrow #126 concludes the crossover.

Green Arrow #130 is the second of a three part crossover with Green Lantern and The Flash.

Green Arrow #134 is the beginning of a crossover with three Bat books (Robin, Nightwing and Detective Comics).

Green Arrow #135 concludes that storyline.

Green Arrow #136 is a crossover with Green Lantern.

Doesn’t that seem a bit excessive to you? And as a guy who read Green Lantern, The Flash and Nightwing I can say that I never picked up an issue of Green Arrow despite DC’s prodding.

Tim, can you think of any other examples of ploys used to boost sagging sales?

Death of Superman, Funeral for a Friend, Reign of the Supermen, Death of Clark Kent, Superman Blue/Superman Red, Knightfall, KnightQuest, Knight’s End

I think you get the idea. Not to say there is not some good stories in those mega crossovers, but they were all pretty blatant attempts to revitalize and refocus attention on DC’s two banner characters. In the case of Batman, it seemed to work, but as you can see from the several more Superman entries, DC still has not quite found the formula for Supes.


Debbie and/or Mike want to know what Kal-L’s got to talk junk about Earth-2 Dick Grayson

During their Batcave meeting, Batman asks Kal-L if the Earth-2 Dick Grayson was as ‘good’ as the current one. Kal-L looks sad and says ‘no’. That seems more than a little harsh to me, especially with Nightwing running around as Renegade right now; Earth-2’s Robin never lead a team like the Outsiders or Titans, but he was a JSA member (in the 60s) and a member of the ‘Super Squad’ with Power Girl and Star Spangled Kid. Granted, he was the prosecutor against the JSA in America vs. JSA but that was portrayed as loyalty to Batman and he did get messed up by the Stream of Ruthlessness in Infinity Inc (but so did Kal-L). Is there something I’m forgetting? Or am I fixating on a throwaway comment?

I don’t know if it was a “throwaway comment.” It certainly got the whole internets abuzz about it. I ventured over to the DC Message Boards and people were still debating its meaning.

One theory about Kal’s comment is the implication is that Dick Grayson will be dead. Another theory is that Nightwing could cease to exist and be replaced by the adult Robin, much like how the Daily Planet exists and the Daily Star is a figment of everyone imagination.

However I’ve got a theory of my own; Kal answers “no” because Earth 2’s Dick Grayson sucked.

First off how wack are you if you’re a full grown adult and you call yourself “Robin?” This guy is still running around sporting that bright color scheme, with a straight face.

(For those of you unfamiliar with Earth 2’s Robin just take a peek here. Believe me when I tell you that’s the coolest he’s ever looked, and he still looks pretty lame.)

Even his “Batman” motif costume sucked.

Another thing, Earth 2’s Dick Grayson never seemed to get over his Batman issues. Nightwing is pretty much over his “living in the shadow of Batman” drama. He’s his own person. He abandoned the Robin persona and pretty much moved on. Earth-2 Dick Grayson is probably still sporting his yellow tights as his body decays somewhere in the multiverse.

Nightwing is also a better leader. He lead the Teen Titans and the Outsiders! What did the adult Robin lead, except the Huntress to her death?

Of course I’ve got a back up theory. I think that Batman actually cut Kal off with the kryptonite ring thing. What Kal was going to say was “No, your Dick Grayson is much better…at getting Blockbuster killed!” or “No, your Dick Grayson is much better…at being the real Identity Crisis killer!”

Tim, what you thing was meant by the exchange between Kal and Bruce?
I just read it as, “No, he’s not better.” Not, “No, he’s worse.” In other words, the Earth-2 Dick is a good guy, good hero, etc. but he’s not better than the Earth-1 Dick which is the Dick that Batman knows, respects, and yes, loves. So Kal-L’s downcast response is him realizing that this partnership will never work because merging the Earths will erase the one thing that Bruce cares the most about and his “replacement” will never live up to those memories. Not because he is inferior, mind you, he’s just a very different Dick than the Earth-1 one is. So, I did not read as a judgment against Earth-2 Robin, merely an acknowledgement of the fact that Bruce could gain nothing from trading his version for Kal-L’s.

I do like your idea about the real Identity Crisis killer comment. Because we all know it is true. Dick Grayson killed Sue Dibny. You’ll see.


Is Aaron‘s mind playing tricks on him?

Years ago, during the immediate post-Crisis “Justice League” run, there was an early issue, either #2 or #3, that came out with two separate covers, or something. Anyway, one of ’em ended up being worth like a zillion dollars (slightly exaggerated). Two covers of the same issue and one of ’em was seemingly instantly valuable according to the price guides. What was the story behind that, because I know I’m not imagining it.

No Aaron, you’re not imagining it. The cover that you’re referring to can be viewed over here. It was Justice League #3 and it featured two covers. The common one and a second “test cover” that had a lower print run. There’s also Fury of Firestorm #61 that has a test cover. The test cover is noticeable because instead of the “DC Bullet” it features a logo and the designation “Superman Comics.”

I remember going to Fantasy Comics (back in Tucson) and seeing that cover and thinking that the $7 price tag was way too much money to spend on book. Man, those were the days.

I kind of like the idea of test covers, as it shows that DC was trying something new. But now variant covers are for financial purposes. It stinks.

Tim, what are your thoughts on variant covers of any sort?

Eh. I don’t love them, but I do not hate them either. I have fears about them since the first time we saw these many variants it ended up leading to a crushing drop in sales in the mid-90’s.

However, I do think that people generally overreact with their anger about them. Many individuals act as though, because DC or Marvel is offering a variant cover, they are required to purchase it. That’s not the case. You can buy the regular ol’ normal cover and everything will still be cool. The fact is, if we just did that, variant covers would go away. However, at least some of the same people who complain about variant covers are making them a continued possibility by still insisting on buying them. Vote your wallet and stop scrambling for them and all will be well, I promise.

That said, it does sometimes stink when the variant cover is cooler than the normal one. But, sometimes the price of saving money and sending a message is not getting the coolest cover. This is a war and there are sacrifices.

Okay, that last sentence there was a bit over the top. The rest though, I think is accurate.


Ed Suave is not smooth enough to sort out Hawkman’s love life

I’ve just finished the Rann Thanagar war. It was….all right but I thought the problem was that it was trying to be too much of an epic and just sort of fell flat on its face. Anyway, onto the question. In the 5th issue, one of the Hawkworld police people died….and told Hawkman that she’ll see him in the next life. However, it was determined in the JSA that Kendra was his soul mate (to the point where she brought him back to the living world. So….who is Hawkman’s soul mate? Shayera, or Kendra?

First and foremost, some fanboy is probably crying right now because you don’t know that the “Hawkworld police person” in question was Shayera Thal, the former Hawkwoman. But not me, I’m not going to judge you. She was indeed a forgettable character with a forgettable death.

Anyway in order to truly understand you’ve got to know a bit of back-story. Shayera Thal and Katar Hol were both cops on Thanagar. They came to Earth and became Hawkman III and Hawkwoman II. But then Katar merged with the Hawk Avatar during Zero Hour and he was pretty much lost as a character. He eventually ended up in the Realm of the Hawkgod with the Hawk Spirits. But when he was around Katar and Shayera were close.

When Carter came back, Shayera thought that he was Katar. She was disappointed but knowing that Katar lived on through Carter allowed her some closure. She and Carter were cool.

Thus when she died, I think it was more of an optimistic “I’ll see you in the next life” type of thing. It was for him mostly. It wasn’t meant to imply that they’d be together and make sweet love under the moon. At least that’s not how I read it.

Tim how did you interpret that?

Ahh…sweet love under the moon.

Sorry, what were we talking about?

Oh, right, Hawkwoman. Yeah….umm…what I think is….well…

Okay, honestly, I never read anything besides the first issue of Rann/Thanagar. I just did not care enough about it so I bailed. And yes, I have heard of Hawkwoman’s demise, but I have not read the panel so I’m probably not fit to offer an opinion.

But if push came to shove, I’ll say I agree with Mathan. Because Mathan and I, well, we’re boys. Or boyz. The use of the “z” in place of the “s” is a personal choice I leave up to you, the readers.


Dhaise acts weird around time and time acts weird around him

In the recent Superman/Batman arc where time unravelled, it was revealed that Clark and Bruce both retained their memories of their lives in those timelines in which both of them made very poor choices regarding morality. Since we have been told that particular S/B story supposedly factors into IC in some manner, isn’t their ‘rift’ with Diana seemingly implausible?

No, their beef with Diana is completely valid. This isn’t like shunning a friend because they cheated in a relationship, even though you’re guilty as well. This involves time travel and alternate realities.

In the storyline that you speak of, Bruce and Kal were raised by the three most prominent members of the Legion of Super Villains; Saturn Queen, Lightning Lord and Cosmic King. This is a clear case of Nurture over Nature.

Now sometimes when a villain has a kid they become good guys. The Spoiler, well, actually she doesn’t count because Cluemaster wasn’t always around. Deathstroke’s kids really didn’t fall far from the tree either.

Anyway, Bruce and Kal were raised with a completely different set of moral values, and thus weren’t the same people that we know and love. Wonder Woman doesn’t have that excuse to fall back on. This wasn’t a different Wonder Woman with a different upbringing. This was the same Diana that they were familiar with. Furthermore I don’t recall Diana apologizing for it or saying that she didn’t mean to. She stands by what she did.

And let’s mention that Diana’s actions reflect upon the entire hero community. And she was caught on tape!

What Batman and Superman might have possibly done in another reality is completely off the record. They’re justified in their shunning of Diana.

Tim, should Batman and Superman take what they did over in Superman/Batman into account before avoiding Diana?

No. No one should ever take anything that happens in S/B into account when deciding on anything. Ever.


Alas, we have indeed come to the end of yet anther column. But don’t fret, next week is sure to feature more Infinite Crisis goodness and possibly a return of Tim’s favorite subject; War Crimes!

Yay…

Be sure to visit Our Thread over at the Message Boards (where you can post questions) or email me your comments and questions.

Before I go, here’s my question to y’all this week; Do the alleged “One Year Later” storylines seem more like a “jumping on” point or a “jumping off” point?

“See the curtains hanging in the window, in the evening on a Friday night.”

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