Archive for Cancellations

Pet Revengers

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Beasts of Burden: Hunters and Gatherers

Yay, a one-shot of Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson’s outstanding “Beasts of Burden!” These don’t come out often, but they’re always great fun to read.

There’s bad news on the way for the monster-fighting pets of Burden Hill — the Wise Dogs who help back them up in times of crisis are going to have to give them even less help than normal — the whole area is faced with various supernatural crises, and they have too much work to do. And there are already some serious problems the Burden Hill pets have to face — like the giant invisible monster chasing down and eating pets and people in the area! They manage to vanquish that foe — barely — and we get an opportunity to see some of the other animals in town, some of which are appreciative, some of which are dismissive, and some of which — like the rats and the crows — are likely to become serious threats in the future.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Love this series so very much. The art and writing are both fantastic, the characters and dialogue are always fun, and the action, humor, and creeping sense of foreboding are beautifully done. You shouldn’t just get this issue — you should find every possible comic from this series.

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Batman: Li’l Gotham #12

Our first story features Batman and Robin searching for Damian’s lost pet turkey, Damian — they’re not making a lot of progress because people keep making jokes about losing a turkey so close to Thanksgiving. In the end, they find Jerry in a fast food restaurant, held hostage by a new supervillain called the Condiment King! He specializes in squirting people with condiments, and he has a bunch of fast-food-themed henchmen. Will the Dynamic Duo be able to stop the villains and save Jerry? In the backup tale, Alfred tells Damian about the various members of the Bat-Family in the Wayne family album, and the heroes even help spread holiday cheer.

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, it’s cute, fun artwork, and funny, family-friendly storytelling. My lone quibble? This is the final issue of this series! Man, that is monumentally no fair.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • A great interview with Ed Piskor on hip hop and comic books.
  • If you’re going to freak out this hard about a haboob, I hope you’ll remember that our numerals and system of writing came from the Muslim world, too, so you’ll never write anything on the Internet again.
  • It’s always a good time to talk about compassion. Because our leaders and pundits are usually running on a severe compassion deficit.

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Final Farewell to the FF

FF16

FF #16

It’s the last issue of this gloriously quirky comic book. The Future Foundation has managed to shut down all of Dr. Doom’s defenses. His robots have been destroyed, his allies are wrecked, his hostages freed, his science, sorcery, and stolen power have all been neutralized. It’s all down to Dr. Doom vs. Ant-Man. Scott Lang doesn’t stand a chance, does he? Oh, you might be surprised…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not trying to tell a lot of the plot, to avoid spoilers, but it’s quite interestingly done, and if Marvel doesn’t end up forgetting all this, it’s going to make anyone using Pym particles a lot more powerful. But most importantly, this is a wonderful farewell to an awesome cast of characters, adults, kids, superheroes, supervillains, freaks, and weirdoes. It’s really too bad this one isn’t going to stick around — I’m going to miss Darla Deering, Bentley-23, and Tong.

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Mighty Avengers #5

The Superior Spider-Man has decided he wants to take over the Mighty Avengers and run it like his own personal paramilitary force. Luke Cage and Jessica Jones aren’t having any of that, and they clean Otto’s clock — at least until his Spiderling minions shoot them with high-tech weapons. Can anyone save them from Otto’s wrath? Maybe a big green lawyer. Meanwhile, inside Attilan, time-controlling corporate supervillain Quickfire is after some mystic artifacts while Spectrum, Falcon, Ronin (actually Blade — still don’t understand the silly subterfuge), Power Man, and White Tiger try to stop her — and while a three-headed monster tries to eat all of them. Who will survive and what will be left of them?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m enjoying the writing, the characters, and the story even while I’m still despising Greg Land’s tracing.

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Pretty Deadly #4

Looks like we’re gathering our cast of characters together, slowly but surely. Johnny Coyote rescues Sissy from drowning in the river. Ginny and the Mason battle each other, but eventually come to an understanding. Death restores Alice to her form so she can go out and kill more people. And we slowly find out what this is all about.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This story gets a lot more enjoyable when you can keep track of all the characters and what they’re up to. Honestly, I don’t think this ever should’ve been released as single-issue comics — it should’ve been a complete graphic novel from the very beginning.

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Farewell, Young Avengers

YoungAvengers15

Young Avengers #15

It’s the final issue of “Young Avengers”! NO FAIR! Can we trick Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie into continuing this series somehow?

Marvel Boy has a heart-to-heart with Broo — who isn’t actually paying attention to him. Loki makes an appearance, we find out who zombie Patriot was, We find out where Tommy was hiding, and we get one final moment with the whole team together. Plus one final surprise about some of the characters’ sexual orientations…

Verdict: Thumbs up. And not just for this issue, which was entirely fun and charismatic, but for the series as a whole. We need more superhero comics where the characters are this much fun to read about. The big reveal at the end will get everyone talking, but the bigger news is that it’s still possible to make fun, exciting teen superhero comics that don’t skimp on the action or characterization and never devolve into mindless carnage. DC could learn some lessons from this book.

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The Fox #3

The Fox is still traveling through a strange crystalline fantasy world, dodging deadly traps and monsters. He encounters and defeats a giant spider and a flaming monster, discovers a transmogrified superhero, and saves another hero, only to land in even more trouble than before. Meanwhile, the Shield battles two wartime enemies, but discovers they may actually be on the same side for once.

Verdict: Thumbs up. My favorite issue of this series so far. I’ve complained that it didn’t feel like it was bringing the A-game that it should, but it’s finally feeling like the kind of butt-whupping comic we should expect. Let’s hope it keeps the party train rolling…

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After the End of the World

Well, City of Heroes, the best dang superhero MMO ever, was shut down in the wee hours of this morning, and I got to stay online and enjoy the ride clear up to the final disconnect notice.

I played City of Heroes for over eight years. I didn’t get in at the very beginning, ’cause I had to get a new computer that was able to run it. And I had a few periods when I wasn’t playing, either because life was too busy, or because my old computer went kaput and I wasn’t able to play anything. And I’m really glad I got to play all that time. I’m even glad I got to play clear ’til the game shut down. I know people who were so upset about the game ending that they didn’t play anymore — every time they logged in, they were overcome with sadness. I don’t blame them a bit — I think I’ve been adjusting fairly well, but there’s no way to tell whether I’ll wake up tomorrow and go into a period of deep mourning about it.

I can guarantee I’ll very quickly miss flying over the casinos in St. Martial, or super-jumping across the rooftops of Steel Canyon and Talos Island, or zipping across Skyway City at superspeed. I’ll miss watching my mastermind’s robot minions tear through enemies, smashing through villains with my tanker, or blowing up cars and bank vaults with my brutes. I’ll miss sliding down the slopes in the ski chalet, watching costume contests in Atlas Park, hunting exploration badges, and finding the secret, hidden locations in each zone.

There are rumors that there may still be a chance to resurrect the game. Some of the players have speculated that NCSoft may have obscure legal reasons — possibly related to the $47 million judgment against them in the Richard Garriott lawsuit from a few years back — to want to shut the game down completely before offering it up for sale. If that’s the case, whoever ended up buying the IP and the servers would probably be able to get them for a lot less money. But I’m not comfortable assuming that’s going to happen. I think it’s probably better to expect it not to happen — to expect the game to be gone for good. If it is done for, the easier to get adjusted to that fact. If it comes back, well, that’s a happy surprise, isn’t it?

I don’t think there’s any way to question that City of Heroes did a lot of things right. The character creator is widely considered the best one ever made for any game — with a lot of people wondering why other games haven’t made similarly extensive ones. Likewise, the sidekicking system, which let players team up no matter what level they were, is something I just can’t believe hasn’t been adopted in every game out there. You could bring new players in, team them up with players who had already hit the level cap, and know that everyone was still going to have fun. The mission architect — which let players create and play their own missions — was an amazing accomplishment, even if they stumbled in implementing it.

They had some stunningly beautiful zones — Atlas Park, Founders Falls, Croatoa, Talos Island, St. Martial, just about every zone in Praetoria — and lots of amazing music. They had incredible details in the scenery that often had me sitting around and wondering what on earth it must be like to live in a place like Praetoria or the Rogue Isles.

And they did superheroics better than anyone else. I was never a roleplayer, but I loved getting to play all my characters — not just because they had great powers, but because I loved getting to imagine what they were thinking while they fought (or committed) crime. I wrote biographies for almost all of my characters, often before I got out of the tutorial. It was one thing to play the game — it was another to play while envisioning my characters’ motivations. That helped make it the most fun of all.

There were still some things that I wish had been done better. All of the most recent zones were very strongly horror-based, particularly First Ward, Night Ward, and the new Dark Astoria, which went from enjoyably creepy to unpleasantly scary and depressingly grim. I like horror a lot, ya know, but I think they really overdid things in their last few updates. I wanted to play a superhero and smash up the bad guys — I didn’t want to run around the nightmarish zone and deal with missions where the monsters told me I hated life, was chronically depressed, and wanted to be eaten by eldritch monster-gods.

The game never managed to do superstrength the right way. Superstrength really is the signature superhero power, but characters who had superstrength in City of Heroes only got to smash up bad guys a bit — it didn’t even do very much damage, compared to other powers. And you certainly couldn’t pick up a car and throw it at a bad guy. Both Champions Online and DC Universe Online had decent superstrength powers, but City of Heroes never managed it.

And really, I wanted a costume option for pencil-thin mustaches for years, and I never got it. How was I to recreate Mandrake the Magician without pencil-thin mustaches?

I’ve long wished that City of Heroes had gotten some more press within the comics community. The game got possibly its only mention on comics news websites like Comics Alliance when it was announced that it was closing — and Comics Alliance gave buckets of free publicity to every single press release for any computer games based on DC or Marvel comics. The occasional article about CoH on Comics Alliance or Comic Book Resources might’ve brought in a bit more cash for the best dang superhero MMO ever made.

But I don’t want to spend a lot of time with recriminations and complaints. I had a great time over the past eight years, and though I’m sad that the game is gone, I’m also very happy that it was ever made in the first place, and that the City of Heroes community, already known for being one of the strongest in the computer game community, got even stronger over the last few months. And the developers at Paragon Studios, who’ve been awesome from the first time they started work on the game, have gotten even cooler, too. City of Heroes gave me almost a decade of happy superheroic memories, and that’s a solid win in my book.

Was this a sad day? Yes, it was. There are lots of folks who I knew through this game who I’ll probably never meet again, whether online or in meatspace. There was a great deal of sorrow, not just sitting out in Atlas Park, but during our missions and taskforces. There were a lot of people bidding farewell to the characters they’d played — in some cases, they’d been playing these very same characters ever since they started the game, and they knew they’d never see them again, except in their own screenshots.

But more than anything else, we were all saying to ourselves, “What a great game. These last few years have been amazing. We had so much fun playing together and running around this great game world.” We were sad, but we also stuck around, not just because we enjoyed the game so much, but to pay tribute to the game creators and developers and to the players who have made the game so wonderful.

Hats off, ladies and gentlemen, for City of Heroes. May it live long in our memories.

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Friday Night Fights: City of Heroes Forever!

Okay, I was taking the week off, but I couldn’t say no to a little Friday Night Fights, could I?

Well, it’s November 30th, and in mere hours, City of Heroes, the best dang superhero MMO ever, will be shut down. The game’s owner, NCSoft, has shown more dedication and grit and focus in getting the game cancelled than anything else it did over the last eight years, and the loyal players and developers have been amazing and impressive in the ways they’ve worked to save the game. Unfortunately, it’s looking very clear that nothing is going to save the game, despite nearly the entire playerbase working together and supporting each other. So again, mere hours ’til the game’s servers are shut down. I expect to spend my last day in City of Heroes running missions and taskforces, and probably sitting around in Atlas Park outside of City Hall, reminiscing about how much fun we’ve all had.

I’m gonna miss this game a lot, not just because I loved playing superheroes and supervillains, not just because the costume creator was the best ever made for a game, not just because of all the friendships I made with other players. But also because it was fun to drop some whupass on the bad guys.

So, from the minds of Cryptic Studios and Paragon Studios, here are the heroes and villains of City of Heroes. Please give it up for…

The Orange Avenger!

Necrovora!

Miss Mega!

Jonni Rotten!

Beelzebambi!

The Brain from Planet 7!

Blue Heaven!

Murderin’ Jack!

Talon-12!

Waterspout!

Plutonium Lass!

Justice Gal!

The game may end tonight, but in my imagination, they’ll be fighting the good fight forever.

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Graduation Day

Avengers Academy #39

It’s the final issue of “Avengers Academy,” one of Marvel’s best series. Let’s start off by congratulating Christos Gage, Tom Grummett, and the other artists who worked on the series. It was great fun almost all the way through, and a great example that a superhero series can break the mold in numerous ways and still enjoy some success. I just wish it had enjoyed a bit more success…

What we get here is a lot of wrap-up of character stories. X-23 and Finesse essentially agree to disagree. Striker goes on a date and starts adjusting to his status as a gay icon. Hazmat and Mettle take their relationship to the next level. Reptil and White Tiger start their own relationship, as do Lightspeed and Karolina Dean. The students reveal to their teachers that they’ve known all along that they were considered potential supervillains, and they also learn what their future is with the Avengers.

Verdict: Thumbs up. An excellent ending for an excellent series. Great emotional moments for almost everyone — yes, even Finesse. My only regret is that most of the cast members here will be moving on “Avengers Arena,” where they’re scheduled to be pointlessly killed. But it was a good run while it lasted.

The Hypernaturals #5

While the Hypernaturals try to solve the mystery of what destroyed the previous Hypernaturals team, they track down a couple of stray clues — they search for the significance of something called the Chernovski Event, and they try to track down the mysterious Clone 21, the only one of the Clone series to go into hiding. Meanwhile, former member Stellerator, desperate for a cure for her husband, who was de-aged by Sublime, agrees to break the supervillain out of prison so he can find out who’s been impersonating him.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s still good, futuristic fun, like an alternate version of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Excellent action and dialogue, and tons of intrigue and mysteries. Mysteries piled on top of mysteries, in fact. The characterization is pretty good, too. All in all, it’s a lot of fun.

Worlds’ Finest #6

While Huntress visits Gotham City to steal a few million dollars from Bruce Wayne, to help finance her activities, she runs into Damian Wayne, who is essentially her alternate universe half-brother. They spend at least half the issue beating the heck out of each other. Power Girl, meanwhile, is focused on her own research, which generally involves highjacking some computing cycles from communications satellites and avoiding any contact with Supergirl.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great action and beautiful art by both Kevin Maguire and George Perez. Still can’t stand Power Girl’s new costume — not like anyone else can either. That’s probably the only thing they’d have to fix to make this series even more enjoyable.

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Zombie’s End

iZombie #28

So it’s time for the final issue of Chris Roberson and Michael Allred’s wonderful supernatural soap opera. Xitalu, an eldritch monster-god from between dimensions, is preparing to devour the entire world, starting with Eugene, Oregon. The treacherous mummy Amon has a plan to Xitalu away for a few centuries by having our heroine, intelligent zombie Gwen Dylan, absorb the souls of everyone in the city — including her friends and family — then he can then feed her to Xitalu so he’ll go away. Equally treacherous mad scientist/Frankenstein monster Galatea wants to download Xitalu into Frankenteen so she can gain all of Xitalu’s power for herself. As the seconds tick by and everyone gets closer to being eaten alive by Xitalu, is there any way for Gwen to save everyone?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nicely-done ending, with lots of suspense and tension — and everyone in the cast gets at least a brief moment in the spotlight. I’m still not sure if this one got cancelled because it wasn’t selling well enough, because DC didn’t like Roberson talking smack about them, or just because DC is a bit dim (though I’d bet on that last one). But I’m glad it got 28 fun issues.

The Hypernaturals #2

In the distant future, the newest Hypernaturals superteam has just been wiped out by an unknown foe. The temporary replacement team — Bewilder, Thinkwell, Halfshell, and Shoal — finds themselves under assault by a flesh mob, a bunch of regenerating monsters made of all the debris around them. They’re able to escape — barely — but it leaves them with some serious problems: one of their greatest foes, Sublime, is apparently back, their current team is missing and presumed dead, and the replacements include two rookies, one who overthinks everything and another who’s too hotheaded. Bewilder and Thinkwell go out to recruit some former team members, including the down-on-his-luck Clone 45, who doesn’t even have his powers anymore.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I think I’m having quite a lot of fun meeting these characters. It’s very much a Legion-of-Super-Heroes thing with the serial numbers rubbed off, but it still comes off fresh, interesting, and a lot of fun. Looking forward to plenty more.

Dial H #4

Abyss, a creature of pure darkness, has appeared in the city, and Nelson Jent, Manteau, Squid, and Ex Nihilo are unable to stop it. Abyss disappears temporarily, Squid gets shot full of holes, Manteau is captured by Ex Nihilo, and Nelson gets left behind without powers. It turns out Ex Nihilo is a doctor at the local hospital, as well as a “nullomancer” — a sorceress who specializes in magically altering nothing — literally nothing. While she tortures Manteau for information, Abyss starts wrecking downtown, and Ex Nihilo, using Manteau’s dial, goes to try to capture him. Squid, meanwhile, goes to Nelson for help — he’s wounded, maybe dying, and he wants Nelson to help him rescue Manteau and then get back to his own homeworld. But what can Nelson do when he can’t get his dial to work anymore?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Tons of stuff happening here, and it’s all wonderful fun. Scary, surreal, intense, even inspiring. China Mieville is a pretty dang good comic book writer, ain’t he?

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Farewell, Tiny Titans

Tiny Titans #50

The final issue of this glorious, hilarious series. You have no idea how depressed I’ve been about this.

What do we get in the last issue? No big tearjerking farewell, no complex, series-ending plotline — we get what “Tiny Titans” always did best — lots of hijinx. Beast Boy continues to try to win Terra’s heart and decides he’ll need to relaunch himself — with a rocket — to get her to love him. Meanwhile, Superboy and Supergirl get some new costumes, Alfred shows off the awards the series has won, and Superman himself shows up. We also get a short preview of “Superman Family Adventures,” the new all-ages comic that Art Baltazar and Franco will be working on.

Verdict: Thumbs up. But I actually do have one quibble, because this issue really should’ve been three or four times as long as normal, just to make sure we’d be able to see as many characters as possible and give them all a proper farewell. As it is, most of the characters we see just show up for brief cameos. But having said that, yeah, this is another wonderful, awesome issue of “Tiny Titans” and thus a perfect way to end the series. We get lots of reminders of some of the high points — the “Little Archie” crossover, Batcow, the sideways snarky comments about goings-on in the DCU — and altogether, it’s just a great little issue of a great all-ages series.

I hope you all got to read and enjoy it — and if you didn’t, fer cryin’ out loud, go get the trade paperbacks. And thanks, Baltazar and Franco, for fifty issues of comics joy.

The Amazing Spider-Man #682

After Spider-Man takes down a supervillain with some tech inspired by his arch-foe, the Green Goblin, including some Spider-Bombs and a Spider-Glider, he gets a reminder that the work he’s been doing at Horizon Labs as Peter Parker has had a powerful effect on the world, too. Not everyone agrees — Mayor J. Jonah Jameson wants Horizon Labs shut down permanently — and far away, Doctor Octopus, slowly dying and wrapped up in more cybernetic machinery than ever, is plotting the world’s downfall with the rest of the Sinister Six. He uses satellites secretly placed in orbit to magnify the effects of the sun’s rays and accelerate climate change worldwide. What does he want to make all this go away? He wants the world to acknowledge him as one of the planet’s greatest geniuses before he dies — and in exchange, he will use his satellites to actually reverse global warming. Will the world play along? Will Spidey be able to get the Avengers to deal with Doc Ock as a serious threat?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a fine story, even if I really can’t buy Doc Ock as a guy willing to pull of a global scheme like this, especially since he’s always been focused on more down-to-earth supervillainy. But the art is good, the dialogue pops nicely, there are some nice, small character moments scattered around the issue, and the plot moves along at a good pace, too.

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Tiny Titans cancelled

I’ll be blasted.

This has probably been the comic I always looked forward to the most every month. Yes, just an all-ages comic, but as I’ve said over and over, a lot of the very best comics out there are all-ages comics. They’re fun, accessible, and exciting for readers of any age. And we’re losing one of the best ones in March.

Just four issues left. But at least it’ll make it to #50. Plenty of comics don’t even get that much of a chance.

Kudos to Art Baltazar and Franco for putting out so many wonderful, cute, hilarious, beautifully created issues. And if the rest of y’all haven’t been picking this up, you’d really better go looking for the trade paperbacks.

Baltazar and Franco will be working on a new kids series called “Superman Family Adventures,” so we’ll at least get some of their comics work in the future.

Still, I’m going to be in mourning for this comic for a while. Heck, I’ll be in mourning on behalf of comics everywhere. It’s so depressing to see awesome comics get cancelled.

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The Xombi Process

Xombi #6

And almost without me noticing, here’s the final review I’ll get to write of what I’m already considering the lost classic DC Universe. Odd that it’s for such an unusual off-the-beaten-path series as “Xombi,” though…

Roland Finch has taken over the Ninth Stronghold, a giant floating city made out of the skull of a Biblical giant, and David Kim, the immortal xombi, and his religious-oriented magic-wielding friends have stormed the city in an attempt to take it back. While Finch sends his minions (like the Dental Phantoms and the horrific Sisterhood of the Blood Mummies, infested with spiders and armed with  knives that have different powers depending on the phase of the moon), the good guys work to shut down the Stronghold’s power so Finch can’t use it to wage war on other cities. Can David figure out how to stop Finch, defeat his monstrous allies, and still restore the Stronghold to its former glory?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Beautiful writing and artwork by John Rozum and Frazer Irving. Such brilliant, gloriously off-kilter ideas for such a short-lived series. Will there be room in the new DC for anything so wild or fun?

Dark Horse Presents #3

A new oversized issue of this anthology series. The eight-dollar cover price should be offset a bit by the fact that this issue has quite a few good stories in it.

We get “Treatment” by Dave Gibbons, a futuristic story about a world that combines law enforcement with reality TV. There’s the odd but wonderful “Finder: Third World” by Carla Speed McNeil. There’s Robert Love and David Walker’s “Number 13″ which is strange and off-kilter and still kinda heartwarming. There’s Jim Steranko’s fantastic hard-boiled private-eye tale “Red Tide,” along with a lengthy interview with Steranko. Howard Chaykin brings in a new chapter of his offbeat “Marked Man” crime thriller, and Richard Corben contributes his weird fantasy “Murky World: The Sleepers.” We also get the last chapter of David Chelsea’s awesome “Snow Angel” serial. And as always, there’s a new “Concrete” story by Paul Chadwick, in which Concrete, disturbed by the high kill-rate of the supposedly non-lethal taser weapons, begins working with the police to try make arrests a bit more humane using… hugs?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots and lots of stories here. A few dogs, but most of these are good, fun reading, especially the stories by Chadwick, Steranko, Gibbons, McNeil, Chelsea, and Chaykin. If you don’t mind the high price tag, it’s definitely worth picking up.

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