Back-to-back Cover to Cover Jaw-Breaking part1: How many darn buzzwords can I FIT here???

Oh my god, I haven't posted here in about. . . FIVE THOUSAND YEARS!

I definitely do not win any awards for consistency.

But Birds of Prey should!

Birds of Prey #115
by Sean McKeever and Nicola Scott

The fun continues, but the middle part of McKeever's run on Birds is definitely slowed down. There's a lot of build-up here, particularly the hostility between Misfit and Black Alice. It only really explodes in the end.

And then you have Huntress and Lady Blackhawk traveling to confront Killer Shark.

As it turns out, Killer Shark had drugged Zinda before in WWII and brainwashed her to become his "Queen Killer Shark."


I originally thought Killer Shark would be cool, because of, well, his fish-shaped planes! But now?
Dude. Ten kinds of creepy right there. It's too bad that Zinda got drugged by him (again) and became Queen Killer Shark at the end of the comic, but then again, without that, we wouldn't have a darn story. I'm sure he'll get his comeuppance.

There's one thing that McKeever doesn't really get. To him, Misfit's another angsty teenager, but she was so much better as a fun and spunky girl.

That's very, very bad dialogue for Charlie. I know that Charlie Radcliffe (Misfit) is probably scarred from the Metropolis incident, but this was a very jarring transition from yay-misfit to angst-misfit. I don't appreciate that. If I'm gonna criticize McKeever, this is where I'd do it.

But you gotta admit, McKeever can be competent. Here, Lady Blackhawk (Zinda) and Huntress (Helena) are about to infiltrate Killer Shark Island.

I love Zinda.

And really, this issue was pretty much centered on her, yet it was all narrated from the point of view of Huntress. Her narration was very down-to-earth and it read very well. I got the sense that she admires Zinda, respects her, and this panel is done very well.

There were a lot of other panels, too, but I thought this was most representative of what Birds should always be about: camaraderie and empowerment. These are gals who are competent, good role models and they're just darn fun to listen to. I love it when superheroes acknowledge their alter-egos, and I love to see such a sense of friendship.

Currently, this gets a two out of five creepy sharks, but only because it's in the middle of an arc, and not too much plot develops. Misfit is somewhat mishandled, I'd argue, but it's believable given the circumstances.

Hack/Slash #9
by Tim Seeley and Rebekah Isaacs

Thank god this is over.

I didn't like part 2 of "Tub Club" and that remains the same for part 3. Basically, Cassie saves an obscure college from the menace of Zombie American Queen Emily Cristy, who's out to eeeaaattt thhhheeir fleeeeeesh.

And I say meh. A bunch of side characters are meaningless; the deaths/killings are un-compelling; the humor in this issue is scant compared to Hack/Slash's pedigree, and there was, maybe, two character moments?

The first: Vlad deals with his self-perception (: ugly) issues in two, maybe three panels. it's kind of a bad theme to mention at the end of the arc.

The second: Cassie kind of deals with her possible homosexual leanings, but not really. It's really vague.

The problem with this arc is that nothing concludes but the plot. We don't know anything more about the characters, and in three issues, there kinda should've been more.

I definitely think artist Rebekah Isaacs is at fault as well. Backgrounds are bland and uninteresting, particularly in the college.

A one out of five skin-eating zombie american queens from me. Emily Stone is coming back on art for issue 10, so I really hope that it picks up there! She drew that cover you see up top!

And, because I don't like leaving you on a low note, Cassie Hack has something to tell you:
just remember. . .

Spidey and me: a super special spidey report

Things have been kind of rushed around here, so I apologize for such a shortage of postings.

If there's a posting drought in the middle of the week, it's almost always school. If you look back at the posts, you'll notice that they've been for the most part on Fridays and Saturdays.

This week's comics are pretty much mid-arc, so I'm going to lump this week with the next. For today, I'd like to talk about. . .


Marvel offers subscriptions to its readers for some titles (not miniseries though!) and considering the price of 24 bucks for twelve issues, that's saving 12 dollars when you're three bucks an issue! The catch, of course, is the feeling of commitment, but you can actually refund your subscriptions.

Originally, I was just reading it in trade, but the first title I subscribed to was Amazing Spider-Man. Considering the title of the blog, is that much of a surprise???

I did this around. . . Straczynski's and Deodato's third or fourth arc together. Peter had just joined the New Avengers, and seeds were being planted for the Other.

I continued to follow the subscription (yes, even through the Other), until it ended around Civil War (my last issue was "Mr. Parker Goes to Washington pt.2"). I could've renewed it, but it was going into a direction that I didn't care for. Don't get me wrong, I really liked the idea that Peter wanted a father figure through Tony, but I dunno, I was just apathetic about the title, I guess.

That was the point where I stopped reading Amazing and started reading Sensational Spider-Man (which happened to be written by current Dead of Night scribe Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Interesting, that.)

The title was meant to be a more urban, mature take on Spidey's life, and it accomplished that well enough. Sales never flourished, though, because readers saw it as a peripheral and "unnecessary" spidey book. The Black Cat made some appearances (remember her???), and there was a beautiful arc in #38-39 called "The Last Temptation of Eddie Brock" or somesuch, so it's a shame that no one paid attention to it until it was tied into OMD.

It was then that I started investing myself in Amazing again, and six issues into Brand New Day? I can't say that I'm pleased, not at all.

I feel like I'm being gypped by the writers. They haven't given much attention to any of the devoted fans besides "just bear with us, we promise it'll get better." By six issues and 20 bucks, you should've tossed them some kind of bone. But no: inconsistent art, disconnect from and disregard for past, unextraordinary writing, for ten bucks a month?

I really want to like Amazing, but I, well, don't. When Slott and Guggenheim started their arcs, I was optimistic, maybe too optimistic, but eventually disappointed.

It's been two weeks or so, and I haven't received the last two issues of Guggenheim's arc from my subscription, so that may explain some of it, but still. There's no reason to keep on plopping money down for a book that doesn't respect me as a reader. It's just a pity that Amazing was my gateway comic, and I have so much invested in the characters, or at least who they used to be.
Currently, the Marvel Subs. office is down due to severe weather, so that gives me some time to think it over, but apathy might force me to transfer the sub. to something else, like Spidey's Ultimate title (who has Stuart Immonen on art!!!!).

I know that Amazing will get better, and I"ll be there when it does, but currently, it just doesn't make sense to keep reading.

So, if you're reading the blog for BND, I guess now's the time to take it off your bookmark or your RSS feed (cricket, cricket). I might, however, make nostalgic posts like the MJ one from time to time.

Do YOU guys have anything to say? Maybe you're actually enjoying BND and wanna rub it in my face/change my mind? Feel free to, so long as you're respectful about it.

Which is more than I can say for the title right now =(.

Reading All-Star Superman vol. 1

Today we review the first All-Star Superman hardcover!

Collecting issues #1-6!

The All-Star line was DC's way of telling the iconic/classic/timeless stories of their big three characters without heavy continuity weighing their books down.

Frank Miller and Jim Lee took up All-Star Batman and the Boy Wonder, which hasn't been doing well at all critically. Wonder Woman was supposed to be All-Starred (with art by Adam Hughes!), but that fell through for one reason or another (I think it's because no one knows how to write Wonder Woman!).

All-Star Superman, however, is doing much better. Writer Grant Morrison is positively a hit, so let's take a look at. . .


Each issue is a self-contained story, all contained within a point established in the first issue: Superman is dying.
The next issues see Supes revealing his identity to Lois Lane, celebrating her birthday, fighting Jimmy Olsen (as Doomsday! Doomsday Olsen!), tagging along Lex Luthor in prison before his execution as Clark Kent, and travel back in time to a very special moment.

Each issue is meaningful by itself, yet each issue contributes to the overall arc of Superman dying. This is very refreshing to see, in an age where you have to wait six months to get a full story.

The art is just absolutely fun, too:


Morrison does. Superman gets involved in all sorts of wacky antics, such as the attack of a chronovore on Smallville:
Don't worry, though. The comic does take itself seriously. This scene is framed within the more serious matter of Superman time-travelling to the past to a very important moment in his life, and there's a huge emotional impact from that.

It's fun and important. You don't get better than that!

And just because it's awesome:


Morrison's interpretation of the characters is absolutely wonderful. He can tell so much in so little.

Like when Lois Lane accepts her birthday gift from Superman:

Here's a woman who's headstrong, assertive, and knows what she wants. All told in a mere 3 panels. This is art, guys.

There's a fantastic series of scenes where Clark Kent visits Lex Luthor to do a feature on him for the Planet. Because Lex has just been sentenced to execution.

What the two don't anticipate is that a riot breaks out in prison!

There were soooo many other panels I wanted to show you, but this post should only be so long!

What I love about this is that Morrison is using Clark Kent for what Clark Kent was always intended to be: a disguise for Superman. The irony that not even Superman's greatest enemy can see him when he puts on glasses is written so well.

You could argue that Clark Kent isn't as (finger-quote:) "good" as other characters, because he's just a mere mask, cloaking the real identity of Superman. And why should a superhero be the ultimate identity, when real life doesn't reflect it at all? An obvious comparison would be Spider-Man: his alter-ego plays a HUGE role in his stories, and is one of the driving forces behind the character.

I would argue that as well, but remember: Clark Kent was never meant for that. He was meant as an ironic look at secret identities. Nothing more, nothing less, and Morrison accomplished that well.

An issue that I completely overlooked is the Jimmy Olsen issue. That guy irks me: he's so obnoxious, and yet everything comes up keen for him. I hate that.

But seriously, this trade is really, really packed. From Lois's insistence that "Clark is not my idiot!" to Superman's arm-wrestling of Atlas and Samson, there's something to smile about on every single page (unless it's the Jimmy Olsen issue).

Five children-eating Krulls out of five from me!

Comics Buzz: Forward to the Past?

"Civil War was all about pulling something apart. It was always about a line being drawn down the middle of the Marvel Universe. But now my spider-sense tells me that the time is right for reconciliation. This is all about building things up and making people feel good again. It's very much a response to the gloominess of Civil War."

That's from Mark Millar's interview, showing up in several Marvel Comics comics.
This interview was about his then-upcoming run on Fantastic Four, and with the first issue out (554), we can see some classic F4 beats: Johnny being a celebrity, Ben being a loveable uncle, Reed being a nerd and Sue being a competent and motherly figure.

It's the Fantastic Four as a family again.

Sure, but what does this mean?

Meanwhile, let's take a look at Tom Brevoort's Spidey Bible, outlining the future of Spidey stories:

-Peter has a supporting cast again;
-Peter's a freelancer, without too much direction in his career;
-Spidey's back to fighting villains of the month;
-Spidey's back to being an outcast of society;
-everyone's back to not knowing Spider-Man's secret identity (not even MJ? I'm kind of in disbelief here.).

Okay, okay, yeah, sure, but what does it all mean???

Meanwhile, the Uncanny X-Men, having just survived Messiah CompleX, had some downtime in issue 495.

In it, we saw the return of the three musketeers: Wolverine, Nightcrawler and Colossus are back to their adventuring camaraderie, as in the Claremont years.

We see Angel returning to the Uncanny X-Men, and we see Cyclops as being competent, as in-that's right- the (pre-Phoenix) Claremont years!

Okay, quit yanking my chain, what are you getting at here?
by Gary Frank
Noticing a pattern here?

Going "back to basics" in one Marvel title is an anomaly. Going back to basics in three of them, one of which is its flagship title, the others of which are prominent Marvel team books . . . is a pattern. Grassroots seems to be the keyword for these titles, so I want to ask you:

Has Marvel learned from the folly of Civil War?

Is it returning to its foundation of human characters with extraordinary superpowers?

Will we see a Renaissance in Marvel books?

Maybe I'm blowing this out of proportion. After all, I'm overlooking one of Marvel's biggest titles: the Avengers books, one of which is still caught up in the aftermath of Civil War (The Initiative), another of which has turned into a crime fiction book (New), two of which are gearing up for the next Event That Will Change the Universe Forever (New and Mighty).

I just wanna prop up that question though, maybe spark up a little discussion.

If Marvel wants to return their books to their roots, that'll make them much more attractive to me.

Yes, even after One More Day.

But currently, OMD has put an odor on all things Marvel for me. Maybe we ought to look at its Distinguished Competition.

Specifically, let's talk about former Deadpool and Birds of Prey, currently Wonder Woman writer Gail Simone.

Is she awesome or what? I'm not trying to take this specifically from a feminist standpoint, but I'm just saying, our gal Gail has some real talent. Like Morrison, she makes her books quirky; like Johns, she has a genuine love for her characters; like Torres, she keeps her books fun.

Case in point: her column at comicbookresources: the You'll All Be Sorry! feature that ran from 1999 to 2003.
your favorite mental psychologist in love: Harleen Quinzel!

From what I' m reading, the YABS! column was a satire on the state of comics. Now, remember this started at the end of the 20th century. In terms of comics, we're talking Todd McFarlane. We're talking Rob Liefield. We're talking Image Comics. We're talking Rob Liefied (again).

Satire material doesn't get any better than that, guys.

I've only gotten through the beginning of 2000, but here're some of my favorites:

Who Fixes the Watchmen? A "Wizard" Phone Interview with John Byrne.

This is a wonderful "phone" interview from "Wizard" with "John Byrne." Simone has fun with Byrne's reputation of revamping every book he's been on, from Superman to She-Hulk. I gotta say, his She-Hulk was good fun.

Thpawn: The Redeemer
Todd McFarlane meets the new director for his Spawn movie (he fired the previous one), as he grimly and grittily narrates.

It'th hilariouth.

Terror at Twelve Feet!

Several comics creators -Joe Madureira, Peter David, Rob Liefield, Erik Larsen, Brian Pulido- meet up at Uber-Con, and discuss the question, "Are writers necessary for comics?" They're interrupted, however, by one pizza girl's phone call. . .

. . . and her desperate struggle to finish writing Green Lantern!

It's great.

Later, in 2007 it turns out, Simone got a feature in Newsarama called the Simone Files. They went up to the Simone Files VI, I believe, but I really only want you to recommend this one:

The Simone Files V: Nicola Scott
Gail Simone interviews upcoming artist for Birds of Prey Nicola Scott. We basically get Scott's life as an artist, but Simone's introduction is just good fun to read.

So go! Read now, if you know what's good for you!


ALSO: I wanna remind everyone that Catwoman #76 will be releasing next week. Remember, the Catwoman that I talked about twice? The Catwoman with the really, really awesome writer, strong characterization, witty writing and good storytelling?

Newsarama has some preview pages for it. Scroll down around the middle of the page; you won't be disappointed!

Cover to Cover: did we ever actually marry???

What a week this was!

You had the marriage -finally- of Dinah and Ollie! The return of Marvel's Man-Thing! The conclusion to Simone's first Wonder Woman arc! The first annual for Marvel's Green Lantern - Nova!

Unfortunately, I haven't gotten my hands on the middle part of Guggenheim's arc for Amazing Spider-Man, but that doesn't mean I can't review everything else!

Broken Vows?Green Arrow and Black Canary #5
by Judd Winick and Andre Coelho

That cover is a total lie. Firstly: Amanda Conner doesn't provide ANY interior art, so why is her name below Winick's? Secondly: How can you get "Broken Vows!" when you actually make them inside the comic (as you marry!)?

Oh yeah, Dinah and Ollie finally marry in this issue! It was great. Before that, though, Ollie had to pine about his past, which was kind of overdramatic on his part, but the flashbacks were very insightful.

They say about Ollie, "Hey. This guy was a jerk. He didn't care about anyone but himself. He was a spoiled billionaire. . . BUT, he changed. He feels guilty about his past, and he wants to make things better."

I really liked that.

So Ollie gets very emotional and says that he doesn't want to be Green Arrow anymore, that he just wants to stay with Connor and be a good father. . .

. . . and then Dinah comes in to console Ollie, realising that they haven't really married! So they marry!
dinah + ollie = love
And the ceremony doesn't get interrupted by anyone! And then they hold hands! It's unbearably cute!

They come back home to discover that Connor's been kidnapped, and there's an amazing panel where Ollie resolves to find Connor. . . as the Green Arrow! GA/BC team-up is GO!

FOUR out of FIVE arrows pointed at Connor's kidnapper! I am definitely excited for issue 6. Cliff Chiang is coming back on art duties! Nice character work for Ollie, and maybe we'll get to see Dinah kick some ass next month?

It was also nice to see that the artist, Andre Coelho, was the same guy who drew Bloodrayne: Automaton! He's right up there with Terry Dodson and Paolo Siqueria in my book. What I wanna know is, why is only Terry Dodson high-profile? The other two are just as fantastic, and it was great to see one of them on a book I read.

However, Andre's dirtier art was a bit jarring from Chiang's clean art. Maybe Andre could have reduced some of the lines around everyone's noses.

homage to?Nova Annual #1
by Abning, et al.

My mind was boggled at this awesomeness. Not much happens in the way of plot, but we get three separate stories about Marvel's Green Lantern -- Nova, AKA Richard Rider.

One of them is a "dream" story where Richard, years in the future, is still struggling against the Transmode virus, a virus that takes your mind over and forces you to the bidding of its creators, the Phalanx.

It's really, really cool, because in this reality. . . the Earth's mightiest get infected with the Transmode virus!

There's a really, really touching moment where Rider meets a fledgling Nova Centurion and faces them for one final battle, but you'd have to have read issue 6 to get it. It's totally worth it though! I plan on making a special Nova feature so you guys can know All Things Nova!

Another story in the annual is a flashback to Richard Rider inheriting the Nova Force as a teenager. It's just great:
rider as a teen

The team of Abnett and Lanning really makes a great teenage voice for Richard. It sounds real, and it's hilarious. Another thing that was pretty cool is that Rider's just an ordinary guy. The more experienced Nova Centurion explains to him: The ordinary citizens of a species are often the most grateful, loyal and trustworthy of their kind. "They understand the responsibility. They appreciate the trust. They embrace the duty.
at last!
"They are the honest bedrock of the [Nova] Corps."

Isn't it uplifting when even a bunch of average joes can mean something to the world? (hint: the correct answer is yes.)

The third story is the actual one, where Richard at last makes it to Kvch. This was the birthplace of the Transmode virus, and hopefully, this is where Nova can end the war against the Phalanx.

I'm definitely looking forward to Nova #11, which sees the introduction of new cover artist Alex Maleev.

Death to the phalanx

their signature's, like, in the fire, man. steeeellarWonder Woman #17
by Gail Simone and Terry Dodson and (blech) Ron Randall

It's very, very off-putting to see Dodson on one page, and then Ron Randall on the next.

I know that this is your last issue with Wonder Woman, Mr. Dodson, but that doesn't mean you get to be lazy. You're a fantastic artist (I love the way you signed your name on the cover to the left), but it's very disappointing for the fans to see this.

Anyways, once you get past the art, this is a very well-done issue of Wonder Woman.

Honestly, I kind of wished Gail Simone's humor showed up more in this arc, but she at least makes up for it in really, really bad-ass moments.

there's wonder on your face
She takes her wound, and wipes the blood on her face in a "W." That's what you call an AMAZON, guys.

sexy. . . without bondage!I didn't get to reviewing last issue, but the main point from that was: the eagle on Diana's chest means something now. It represents her majesty, the hope that she can inspire, and the wonder that is in her power.

There's a great moment in issue 17 where Wonder Woman talks to the Amazon who wants to murder her. She knows who she is, and she knows who other people are, and she's always willing to look for the peaceful way first. I admire that.

That same moment (on your right) is powerful and sexy. I don't know if it's the hair in the rain or what, but Wonder Woman is absolutely gorgeous. And no, the sexy doesn't have to come from exploitation, Marvel, DC. The sexy can come from power. Wonder Woman should be portrayed as anything but weak.

If you still don't get it, YES: Wonder Woman is in some very capable hands right now . . . and next issue?

Next issue is Wondie -- in spaaaaaace.

Pay attention, guys. Now is the time to look at the female third of DC's Big Three.

Panel by Panel: In the Dead of Night. . . no one can hear you - oh no! Behind you!

Aw man. . . did I get ANY hits for yesterday's Valentine spectacular?

Ah well, it's the life of a comics blogging obscurity, I suppose. Let's get on with today's Panel by panel, hm?


If you've heard of Marvel's Man-Thing, it's probably for one of two reasons:

A) It was a ripoff of DC's Swamp-Thing, or

B) It was the comic that had the first appearance of Howard the Duck!!! WaAaugh!

Anyways, Issue 1 of this miniseries retells Man-Thing's origin: Ted Sallis is working in the Florida Everglades on the Super-Soldier Serum under orders from the U.S. government. Luckily, he's working with his partners Eric Schast and Ellen Brandt, the latter of whom is his fiancee.

He discovers that -gasp!- his partner is using the prototype serum on invalids!

He escapes to subsequently discover that his fiancee is also an agent of A.I.M.!


So Ted runs away with the prototype, but Ellen lands a bullet in his chest. Ted falls into the swamp. . .

Guess what happens to poor ol' Ted?

He becomes the Man-Thing and returns to
Eric and Ellen to -what else???- wreak his vengeance*!

*WARNING: Those links are fairly explicit. This title is under Marvel's MAX line, which means it can really push up the gore, the blood and yes, the nudity. Don't worry though, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Kalo don't make it gratuitous.

Now let's review this sucker.This entire story was framed with the character of "Digger." He's the guy narrating, and we're digging a grave with him as he talks to us.

How cool is that?

All in all, the story had smart narration, but seemed very rushed. Ted makes all these -gasp!- discoveries in the first half of the book, which seems kind of contrived. . .

BUT! I'm totally willing to believe it, because there was such a retro feel to the book. If you look at the cover, you'll see, "Beware the terror that is. . . the Man-Thing!" and that cool little "Featuring: Ellen Brandt. . . Ted Sallis. . . and Digger!" The art is a cool throwback too. You get the feeling that this is a fun book, and no, I don't mean Justice League Unlimited fun, or X-Men: First Class fun. This is fun dialed up to horror.

That said, Dead of Night definitely isn't for everyone. If horror and black humor isn't your thing, this won't hook you on them. I like the genres, so I really liked this comic book.

super-serum swampies out of Five. Count me in for next ish!

A Random Thought about the Comic: for once, the ads weren't the annoying Marvel merchandise schlock. It was, for once, Marvel house ads! It was awesome to see ads for Mark Millar's and John Romita Jr.'s Kick-Ass, or Garth Ennis's and Howard Chaykin's MAX miniseries War Is Hell!

It still has that annoying "hand coming out of the stomach" hot dog ads, though. Booooo.

"I love you. Just hang on, okay?"

Today is, if you haven't heard, a very special day. A day that only comes once in the year. A day of birth, of life, and -yes-
 -- of love.

And with a title like "Friendly Neighborhood Komics Blog," how could I NOT blog about Spider-Man?

Released in May 2007, this annual was stuck with having to deal with Peter Parker during Civil War. Peter's revealed his identity to the public, but he just changed his mind, so now he's being hunted by the police. MJ and Peter are in hiding, and Aunt May's in the hospital. Heck, the editor himself didn't know what to do with this kind of situation, that Peter ended up making a deal with the devil.

Writer Matt Fraction is much more competent. There's a darling flashback to when MJ and Peter were in college. The two are still in the awkward stage - they haven't kissed yet, as MJ gets Peter a gift for Christmas:

So, in the present time, MJ finds herself in the diner, the Coffee Bean, where an undercover officer
apprehends our amazing actress. They have a cup of coffee, but MJ is too busy flashbacking. . .

Anyways, as MJ is buying time from the officer, Peter goes to a diner a few blocks away, and also starts flashbacking. . .

What a great moment. It's light, with a lot of heart.

Speaking of heart, they eventually flashback to --

--the first time they kissed!

The flashbacking eventually ends, but then we get this scene of awesomeness:

Up -- to the top of the Empire State Building!

Happy Valentine's Day, guys.


Bad news guys. . .

. . . Stephane Peru died today. He was 26. You may recognize him as the colorist for such awesomeness as DC's Teen Titans: Year One or The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive, or Marvel's Annihilation: Conquest or The Incredible Herc.

Me, I knew the guy from Ultimate X-Men.

Such a young age. . . that's really unfair, my condolences to the guy and his family.
There there Jean. It'll. . . it'll be all right. The best thing you can do right now is to go on in his honor.

Gosh, I apologize for saying this, but Steve Gerber died yesterday, Sunday.

You may recognize Gerber as the perpetrator of such awesomeness as Howard the Duck, Omega the Unknown, Nevada, or The Defenders. He was a guy who believed that comics could be serious and meaningful, and yet he insistently found the funny in everything. He was working on DC's Countdown to Mystery, revamping Dr. Fate with a sidestory on Eclipso.

Your works will live on, guys, and that makes you alive in my eyes.
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