Archive for the ‘Comics/Graphic Novels’ Category

Green Arrow: Into The Woods – Graphic Novel Review

TITLE: Green Arrow: Into The Woods
PENCILLER: Diogenes Neves, Vincente Cifuentes. Cover by Mauro Cascioli
COLLECTS: Green Arrow #1-6
FORMAT: Hardcover
PRICE: $22.99
RELEASE DATE: July 6, 2011

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I always understood the motivation behind DC Comics breaking up Green Arrow’s marriage to Black Canary and making him a forest-dwelling loner. It puts the character in touch with his Robin Hood-esque roots. But that doesn’t mean it was a good decision.

After murdering the villain Prometheus in Justice League: Cry For Justice, Green Arrow’s identity as Oliver Queen has been made public, his marriage to Black Canary is over, and a large portion of Star City lays in ruins. G.A. now lives in the forest that suddenly sprouted in the middle of the city at the beginning of Brightest Day. As Oliver continues to serve Star City as best he can, a mysterious woman calling herself The Queen has taken over Oliver’s company, Queen Industries. Her motivations are questionable, to say the least. But Green Arrow will soon discover this woman is linked to the father he barely knew.

This book was a disappointment for me. After reading some of J.T. Krul’s previous work, I was hoping he’d be able to really knock this one out of the park. He doesn’t. It’s not that putting Ollie in the forest was a bad move, per se. It was an interesting attempt at shaking up his status quo, and the fact that the forest seems to be the center of the white entity from Brightest Day adds a bit of intrigue. But the creators either don’t play the forest element up in a way that’s interesting enough, or they push the Robin Hood thing so far it becomes silly.

For instance, in this book Ollie gains a new sidekick/confidant in Galahad, a man who claims to be a knight from King Arthur’s Round Table. This character, in my opinion, was a ridiculous and feeble attempt to make Green Arrow more akin to Robin Hood by pairing him with someone with a medieval vibe. Apparently being a bow and arrow wielding, forest dwelling outlaw wasn’t enough. It’s one thing to be reminiscent of a classic character, it’s another thing to rip that character off. This book pushes Green Arrow a bit too close to the latter for my tastes. Personally, I’d rather have seen him find a civilian to bounce dialogue off of. Oddly, we almost get that in a reporter who Ollie gets information from. The reporter would have been a much better choice than some dude who thinks he’s a knight.

When I picked up this book, I was hoping to see Ollie really use the forest to his advantage in battle. I figured we’d see him eying targets from treetops, setting up clever traps, and really using the environment to his advantage. We really don’t see much of that. He and Hal Jordan have a battle scene with some of The Queen’s “Royal Guard,” and there’s a moment where he uses such a trap on an out of control Martian Manhunter. But that’s the best stuff we get in that regard, which obviously left me wanting more. I was hoping to see the forest really become a part of Green Arrow’s persona. Instead, it really just acts as a new setting that happens to act weirdly sometimes.

What I did enjoy about Into The Woods was the look at Oliver Queen’s parents. It was interesting to see how their influence made Ollie the character he is, and their relationship to The Queen does make for an interesting dynamic.

Though it’s all very well drawn by Diogenes Neves, everything else this book offered fell into “meh” territory. That’s a shame, as this book could have been much better. It likely isn’t a coincidence that the Green Arrow we’ll meet in September via the DCU reboot is essentially placed in the exact opposite circumstances as this version of the character. Instead of being a forest-dwelling outlaw with little use for technology, Green Arrow will be flying around the world apprehending criminals, using illegally gained intel to his advantage. In short, Ollie will be out of the woods very soon.

I can’t say I’m sad about that.

RATING: 5/10

Green Arrow and Galahad image from


Warren Ellis on the DC’s Digital Comics Strategy

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Warren Ellis, a man who has worked on books like Transmetropolitan, Planetary, The Authority and RED posted an insightful blog this week, offering his opinion on DC Comics’ same-day digital comics initiative which will start in September…

“…For as long as I’ve known him, Dan Didio has believed the key to a resurgent DC is reclaiming all the readers the commercial medium lost in the 90s. On the DC Retailer Roadshow, he’s been hammering this home. Recent statements about how commercial comics have gotten boring and that there should be more visual punch in the mode of 90s comics movements like the early Image Comics work and (unspoken, but certainly associated) the Marvel style of that general period… have made their mark, but have also misled a bit. It’s all about accessing that hypothetical lost fan base. The impression the recent statements have left is Dan saying ‘comics used to sell loads back then, let’s do that again.’ And that can’t happen in print.

“Comics used to sell loads back then, yes. But a big part of that — and this is the part he isn’t mentioning — is that there were ten thousand comics shops back then. And now there are, optimistically and rounding up, about two thousand. There simply aren’t the number of outlets left to sell the kind of volume comics could shift in the 90s.

“The gamble here is this: that hypothetical lost fan base is older, has credit cards and disposable income, and an internet connection that can bring the DC Comics section of a notional comics store right to their desks. That, in fact, digital comics services will do the work of those eight thousand stores that don’t exist anymore.

“It was in DC’s core DNA to protect and serve physical comics stores. To the point where every 18 months or so they’d pay for a hundred comics retailers to attend a special DC conference, where the retailers could moan at them for two days and then go home and order more Marvel comics. (In broad and crude terms, DC were the attentive suitor, while Marvel Comics treated retailers mean to keep them keen.)…DC are offering support to retailers in other ways and are making sympathetic noises, but other quotes from this roadshow — one from Bob Wayne, DC’s head of sales, boiled down to “if you’re not selling enough of our comics you’re not doing your job” — tend to suggest that someone at the company has realised that the comics retailers already have a girlfriend and never liked DC anyway.

“(Also, Dan and Jim? I love you guys, and I’m greatly enjoying watching you start some shit. But you can’t keep talking about how the old comics were boring when you in fact were the old management too. Someone’s eventually going to call you on it, and you’re not going to have a good answer. That said: keep starting fires. It’s good.)”

Warren Ellis image from


First Impressions: Last Mortal

TITLE: Last Immortal
AUTHOR: John Mahoney
PENCILLER: Filip Sablik
PUBLISHERS: Image Comics, Top Cow Productions, Minotaur Press
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: May 18, 2011

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Sometimes, your story’s first line can really make it. “It was a dark, stormy night” and all that. Last Mortal has a pretty good one: “My name is Alec King. I just killed my best friend.” Alec then shoots himself in the head.

From there, we go into the back story. Alec’s best friend Brian draws him into a plot to assassinate a mayoral candidate. They try and go through with it, but Alec makes a very costly mistake, and botches it. Cut back to the present, and we see that Alec’s suicide attempt has failed. For some reason, he cannot die.

Now THERE’s an end-of-issue reveal for ya…

Fittingly enough, Alec spends a bit of this issue pondering how he’ll be remembered, what his legacy will be, etc. At this point, it’s not looking like it will be much, as he and Brian are a pair of small-time criminals. But while Alec is ripping off change machines, Brian is stealing from his drug fixer and getting involved with assassination plots. That’s not to say Alec is the brains of the operation, but he’s definitely the more cautious one. He has a conscience, as evidenced by the fact that he feels guilty about having shot someone in the past.

What’s curious to me about the issue is that way the friendship between Alec and Brian seems to take center stage. An a small essay at the end of the issue, writer John Mahoney even talks about how he’s a longtime friend of penciller Filip Sablik, and ponders how they compare to Alec and Brian. If Brian is dead, why bother? Unless whatever is effecting Alec is somehow effecting Brian as well, in which case the entire dynamic of the story changes.

In any event, this story may be my new indie comic fix (along with Samurai’s Blood) for the next few months. Although we don’t learn much about Alec as an individual, what we’ve seen of him through his interactions with Brian has piqued my curiosity enough to pick up another issue.

Page 1 image from


Mark Millar Comments on Superhero Movies, DC Characters

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Mark Millar, the man widely known for his creator-owned projects like Kick-Ass and Nemesis, recently spoke out on the fan forum for his web site,, about the future of superhero films…

“Any Chicken Littles screeching about Green Lantern being a flop and ruining everything must look at the big picture and remember it’s far rosier than any other genre. Our track record in comic book movies has been incredible since Goyer and Norrington changed the game with Blade, Singer carried it through with X-Men and Sam Raimi slam-dunked with Spidey. In the decade that followed we’ve had monster hits from almost unknown characters. Iron Man sells around 40,000 copies a month, but a combination of a fun script and very clever casting turned it into a $500 million grossing beast. Last year’s sequel hit $650 million and these numbers don’t even include DVD. The X-Men franchise has managed over 2 billion dollars in 5 movies and Spidey and Batman are the biggest of the lot…it’s very heartening to note that superhero and comic book adaptations have an incredible consistency for turning vast profits. There’s the occasional dud like Catwoman and Jonah Hex, but these tend to be the exceptions rather than the norm…”

Millar also made some interesting comments about DC Comics superheroes, and their place in cinema.

“…the non-Batman DC characters just don’t seem to work in modern cinema and TV. I’ve loved these characters as far back as I remember, but whether it’s Wonder Woman or Superman or the Aquaman pilot or Catwoman or Jonah Hex or Birds of Prey or whatever… they just don’t seem to catch on in the modern world. I think it’s hard to compete with the new characters (or even the more recent Marvel characters, created a full generation later). Batman works because he’s more human for the big screen and more empathetic, but I fear The Flash and others would just meet the same fate as Green Lantern. They’re just too outrageous to provide tension in a live action format and I’d love to see them done, Pixar style, as brilliant, theatrical animated movies. Aquaman talking underwater would have us wincing in live action. In a cartoon we wouldn’t even blink. Some stuff just doesn’t suit the format.”

Millar image from


Red Robin: The Hit List – Graphic Novel Review

TITLE: Red Robin: The Hit List
AUTHOR: Fabian Nicieza
COLLECTS: Red Robin #13-17
FORMAT: Softcover
PRICE: $17.99
RELEASE DATE: July 29, 2011

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

After the names of all the titles DC would be relaunching this September came out, I was very disappointed to see Red Robin was not among them. This title isn’t always the best in my pile, but it’s always pretty good. Granted, Tim Drake will still be around in Teen Titans, wearing one of the worst re-designed costumes I’ve ever seen. At least he’s not being retconned out of existence.

I suppose one of the double-edged swords about Red Robin was that the storytelling is very linear. You couldn’t pick up just any issue and start fresh. Even when the series started, you had to have at least a vague knowledge of Final Crisis and Batman: Battle For The Cowl to understand it. On the other hand, if you were on board, you went to some cool places, especially in The Hit List. In this book, Tim takes a more proactive approach to taking on Gotham’s criminal element. He develops a list of names that need to be taken down, which includes villains as notorious as The Joker and as obscure as Scarab. Meanwhile, Vicki Vale has some strong, accurate hunches about how the Wayne family is connected to Batman and his partners, and Tim is taking matters into his own hands.

For my money, the best part of this book is when Tim Drake and Damian Wayne finally come to blows. Something sets Damian off, and he attacks Tim, giving us a rematch of sorts from Batman & Son. The fight isn’t all you’d hope for, but it’s decent. It’s good to see them finally get some of that pent-up anger out. Tim’s solution to the Vicki Vale problem is also very well done. Although, Tim does get a bit of help from outside the Bat-circle, which tarnishes it a bit in my opinion.

Toward the end of the book, there’s a bit of an oddball moment between Tim and the villain Lynx that doesn’t make a lot of sense. The character is on Tim’s list, but he’s conflicted because she tells him she’s actually an undercover cop infiltrating a gang. They appear to be setting her up to be a Catwoman-type character, but I’m not sure it works. I’m also not sure it’ll go anywhere, what with the relaunch.

The close to this book is especially nice, because it wraps up a plot thread from the beginning of the series. I won’t spoil it outright, but I will say it involves two old partners re-uniting…

I’m definitely going to miss this series. Tim will obviously be a major part of Teen Titans, but it won’t be the same. This will be the first time Tim hasn’t had a book to himself since the early ’90s. That kind of longevity obviously means he has a solid fan base. His stories weren’t always the best, but they were consistently good. I certainly hope he gets his own book again down the road. Perhaps after DC drops some of the dud titles they’re going to run with this relaunch…

But at the very least, we’ve got one more collected edition to look forward to.

RATING: 7.5/10

All images from
For more Red Robin, check out
Red Robin: The Grail and Red Robin: Collision.


Legendary Artist Gene Colan Passes Away

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Legendary comic book artist Gene Colan has passed away at the age of 84 due to complications from liver cancer and a broken hip.

Colan had worked in the comic book industry for nearly 70 years. He is famous for his work at Marvel. In 1969, he and Stan Lee created The Falcon, the first African American superhero in mainstream comics. His body of work also includes a seven-year run on Daredevil, as well as Tales of SuspenseDr. Strange and The Tomb of Dracula. Colan also worked for DC on Batman and Detective Comics. His last published work was Captain America #601, for which he and Ed Brubaker won the Eisner Award for Best Single Issue.


Gene Colan photo from, covers from


First Impressions: Rage

AUTHOR: Arvid Nelson
Andrea Mutti
Dark Horse Comics
PRICE: $3.50
June 23, 2011

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Ugh. This is $3.50 I’ll never get back.

This title is based on an upcoming video game of the same name from id Software about a post-apocalyptic future where an astroid slams into the Earth and wipes out 5 billion people. Before the astroid hit, scientists, engineers and various other people of significance were placed in cryogenic arks, which left them in suspended animation to ensure the survival of the human race.

This title opens as Dr. Elizabeth Cadence wakes up in the year 2095. The world is a but a shell of what it used to be, with various mutants wandering the planet as a result of a toxic chemical brought to Earth with the asteroid. Cadence is tasked with coming up with a cure for the mutation. But when her first experiment fails, she’s given a new assignment: Find a way to control the mutants.

For what it’s worth, here’s what the game will look like…

This story comes to us from the guys who wrote Doom 3, which isn’t at all surprising. Let’s shoot at the monsters and drive fast. A pretty easy formula that can obviously be a lot of fun in a game. The problem is, that fun doesn’t always translate into comics very well. Such is the case with this issue of Rage. I have absolutely no desire to buy another issue of this book, or the game for that matter, simply because this issue was so flat and unoriginal.

Obviously, this project is meant to whet the public’s appetite for Rage by getting us into the game’s backstory. The problem is, in 2011 we’ve seen this story done a million times. Something fresh needs to be injected into it to keep us coming back. And there’s nothing fresh or new going on in this issue. It’s not a very fun or interesting read at all. We’ve got a little action in the beginning, but then it’s Cadence talking to people, then we see the experiment go awry, then yet another talking scene.

If I’m Nelson and Mutti, I’d have started the issue off with a look at what players will be doing in the game, and then sent them back to see how it all came to be. At least then we have an idea of what this world is like, so we actually can care about how it came to be. But even then, I imagine Rage wouldn’t offer much.

Comic book tie-in/video game tie-ins have a tendency to suck out loud, and that’s exactly what you get with the first issue of Rage. Not only did it not inspire me to buy another issue, it actually turned me off future issues. Skip this one, folks.

Front page image from


A Noob’s View of Flashpoint

Marvel and DC always want their big event comics to be reader-friendly in order to draw in new buyers. But how accessible are they, really? Can an average Joe really pick up an issue of Fear Itself or Blackest Night, and hit the ground running? To find out, we at Primary Ignition found Vera, a woman who has NEVER read a superhero comic book, and gave her the first issue of DC’s new event comic Flashpoint. Below is her report on the issue, with editor’s note to fill in the gaps in her knowledge of the DC Universe. Obviously, the following contains SPOILERS for Flashpoint #1.

The experiment begins now…

By Vera Abaimova
Contributor, Born Without A Last Name

As introduction and preliminary explanation I must state that I don’t usually read comic books. I have been known to read a web comic here and there, but that’s different. What I’m talking about here is the comic books filled with spandex wearing superheroes that belong to either DC or Marvel. And yes, I have a hard time keeping track of which franchise and character belongs to which company.

Quite honestly, getting into comics is daunting. There are multiple continuities, dimensions, and several different people that serve as the one superhero (i.e. Hal Jordan is Green Lantern, but so are Kyle Rayner, John Stewart and Guy Gardner). Not to mention the fact that characters die right and left only to be resurrected a short time later. The worst part of it is that these comic books have been around so long that they have seen all sorts of civil rights movements and all kinds of major wars. So there is a lot of stuff to catch up on. Not only that, but where do you start? I have yet to find a comprehensive guide or map of some sort to establish where the stories of all the different characters start.

And the costumes….

My understanding is that Flashpoint is an “event” comic series that somehow redefines the world that the DC superheroes know. In this particular event, Barry Allen a.k.a. The Flash, becomes the main focus. The comic opens with several flashback scenes with an unknown narrator that takes you through a brief version of the character’s back story.

So far, so good. I now know that Barry Allen was close with his mother to whom something may have happened, he has a kind heart, some chemicals exploded, making him a superhero, he is married to Iris West, and that he has become a productive member of the superhero community, rubbing elbows with the big names.

One day, Barry wakes up, and it it turns out he has to solve the murder of some woman he has never heard of. This is where I started getting confused. Wasn’t he a scientist that had an experiment explode in his face? This is one of those details that is probably explained in some other comic series that stars The Flash. (Editor’s Note: Barry Allen is a forensic scientist at the Central City Police Department. This is implied, but never actually stated in the issue.)

As the story continues, there is a report of two superheroes and/or villains battling it out in the city, so Barry runs off, but oh no! He notices he isn’t wearing his wedding ring (Editor’s Note: It’s actually the ring he keeps his Flash costume in, which is also never explained in the issue) and so he trips and takes an unfortunate tumble down the stairs. This is where Barry seems to realize that something is off with the world. The missing ring is clue number one, but then there’s his mother, who appears claiming that Barry promised to take her to dinner for her birthday. I’m not alone in my confusion here as Barry asks her if she is really there.

Happy to see his mother, though, Barry seems to accept that the world is all dandy until he discovers that his mother has never heard of the Justice League. Superman, who? But Batman seems to still be around, so Barry heads to the ol’ Wayne mansion to see what’s up.

This alternate reality that Barry has entered serves as a nice entrance into the plot. Barry doesn’t seem to get what is going on, and neither do I. So together we shall go and discover. The only problem is, this has limited benefit for me, seeing as I don’t know what things were like for the character before, so I have little to compare the current goings on to.

I do know, however, that something is off with Batman’s eyes because they are red and glowy and evil looking. The henchman killing is also a tip off that something is not quite right.

The oddities continue as a larger conflict looms in the background with some of the heroes launching wars in Europe.

The concept is interesting and because Barry doesn’t know what is going on either, the story will have to be unraveled for the new reader (myself, that is), who doesn’t know how things are usually done in the DC universe.

There was a large part of this first issue where a lot of heroes stand around discussing things about how they dislike each other for such and such reason, which was difficult to get into because I didn’t know who any of them were. And then there were their costumes, some of which have clearly not been redesigned since their conception in the early 70′s (Editor’s Note: Most of the costumes, or even the characters themselves, were tweaked for the Flashpoint storyline).

It would seem that comic reading is a culture within itself, one that is difficult to unravel. Flashpoint does a decent job of introducing new readers to the world, but it is not exactly a comprehensive guide to who all these brightly colored people are and what their day jobs are. I am however, intrigued, and am looking forward to discovering what cool powers these people have and what tragic events in their pasts have shaped their crime-fighting philosophies.

Front page image from Pages from Flashpoint #1 fom and
For more Flashpoint, check out First Impressions: Flashpoint #1 and First Impressions: Batman: Knight of Vengeance #1.


Spoiler Alert: Death of Spider-Man Ending Revealed

**WARNING: This story contains major spoilers for this week’s Ultimate Spider-Man #160.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Various media outlets are reporting on this week’s Ultimate Spider-Man #160, in which Peter Parker dies saving Aunt May from The Green Goblin.

“It occurred to me that if Peter passed away in a meaningful way, he could be the Uncle Ben character to a new Spider-Man, which then continues it to be a real Spider-Man story,” writer Brian Michael Bendis told USA Today. “Then it became more than just, ‘Oh my God, you killed him!’”

Bendis emphasized that unlike most comic book superhero deaths, this one will stick.

“There’s a real point to this and the point doesn’t work if we don’t stick to our guns,” Bendis said to the New  York Post.

A new Ultimate Comics Spider-Man series will launch in September, with Bendis writing and Sara Pichelli pencilling. The identity of the new Spider-Man has yet to be announced.

Images from Ultimate Spider-Man #160 can be seen below, as can the cover to September’s new Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1.

Sources: Newsarama, Marvel



The Walking Dead, Vol. 14: No Way Out – Graphic Novel Review

TITLE: The Walking Dead, Vol. 14: No Way Out
AUTHOR: Robert Kirkman
PENCILLER: Charlie Adlard
COLLECTS: The Walking Dead #79-84
FORMAT: Paperback
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
PRICE: $14.99
RELEASED: June 15, 2011

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Admittedly, I came into No Way Out a bit jaded with Robert Kirkman and the whole Walking Dead experience. Let’s be honest: At this point, the book is essentially the same thing happening over and over again. Rick and the gang find a new place to stay, or get some kind of new hopeful idea, and eventually it all goes to hell, some people die, and they’re back to square one. It’s like a little kid playing with blocks. It doesn’t matter how high that tower gets, eventually it’s coming down. I came into this book knowing I was going to see everything go to hell again, and I wasn’t especially excited at the prospect of the entire process repeating itself again.

But I’d forgotten about the element that, in my opinion, is the key to The Walking Dead’s longevity: The naked humanity Kirkman and the creative team put into the stories.

In No Way Out, the small community that Rick and his band of survivors have become a part of comes under attack by a small army of zombies. The group is overwhelmed. Once again, Rick and the group are forced to make heartbreaking choices. In the end, a certain choice of Rick’s may end up costing him the life of his only son, Karl…

Indeed, this book contains the controversial issue #83, in which something terrible and irreversible happens to Karl. In the latest issue, they printed some of the hate mail the folks at TWD got over it. If you want to put a positive spin on it, it definitely illustrates how passionate the fans can be about the characters who’ve been there since the beginning of the series. Personally, what happened to Karl didn’t surprise me. In The Walking Dead, anybody can go at any time, for better or worse.

I think a few decisions Kirkman made for the worse happened in the way he handled the Morgan character, both in this book and the previous one. Morgan was the first non-zombie Rick came into contact after he woke up from his coma. At that point, Morgan had a young son, but had lost his wife in the zombie apocalypse. Morgan’s son eventually became a zombie, and had to be killed (again). Rick’s group eventually found Morgan, and he became one of them. For my money, TWD made a mistake in killing off Morgan’s son, and certainly made a mistake in reuniting him with Rick. Morgan was a character we got invested in very early. When Rick and the others found him, we all knew his backstory, and were wondering what he’d gone through since we last saw him. We cared about him. Kirkman could have used this to his advantage. In one of the Walking Dead collected books, Kirkman wrote an exclusive short story featuring Morgan and his son around Christmas time. They didn’t endure anything incredible. We just got a look at what they were up to. If I were Kirkman, I’d have kept doing these short stories not only to give us an occasional treat, but to take us to different locations and give us the occasional break from whatever Rick and the other survivors are up to. The scope of the series could have been widened, if only for a short time. Instead, Morgan became just another member of our regular cast.

I sometimes have a problem with our ensemble of characters in TWD, in that it can be hard for me to tell people apart, or remember everybody’s backstory. Rick, Glenn, Andrea, and others who’ve been around since the start aren’t a problem. But newer characters can sometimes be hard to differentiate, especially in the black and white art. “Okay wait, what’s this guy’s deal again? What’s his big trauma/secret?” Things like that. But to an extent, I suppose that’s inevitable when you’re dealing with so many people. I’ve always just pushed through, and it’s gotten me this far.

Any one character in The Walking Dead has had to endure multiple heartaches and traumas, the caliber of which the average real person only has to deal with once or twice over the course of their life. In No Way Out, we see two men torn about whether they should fall for other women after their wives have died, we see a man feel terrible remorse for cheating multiple times on his now-dead wife, and we see a man flat out say that he would sacrifice the life of another child for his own on any given occasion. That’s pretty heavy stuff to say the least, and it’s what truly makes The Walking Dead series about people, not zombies.

RATING: 8/10

Front page image from Morgan image from Page from

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