Archive for Captain America

Double Buck

I picked up a couple of comics yesterday starring people named either Buck or Bucky. Sometimes, the themes just fall into your lap. Let’s see how they shaped up…

Captain America #50

James “Bucky” Barnes, better known as the current Captain America, as well as the old Captain America’s original sidekick, is getting chased by a bunch of armored terrorists — not the best way to spend his birthday. And really, that’s about it as far as the plot goes — most of this is taken up with flashbacks to some of Bucky’s earlier birthdays during World War II, including one in the stockade and one with him, Cap, the Human Torch, and Toro being attacked by Nazi ubermensch.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Yeah, not a lot of plot, but the action is outstanding, the flashbacks are grand fun, and the dialogue and characterization are first-rate. Ed Brubaker and Luke Ross are really producing a great comic book here.

Buck Rogers #0

It took me a while to realize that this one was sitting by the counter with a price tag of just 25 cents. It’s embarrassing that it took me so long to pick up on a bargain like that.

A preview issue for a new ongoing series about the sci-fi hero, this one starts with Buck captured by invading aliens who are actually giant-sized cells. He’s able to give them the slip for a while, but they’re on the verge of conquering the Earth. Will Buck Rogers have to sacrifice himself to save the planet?

Verdict: Thumbs up, mainly because it’s just a quarter. A quarter! That’s almost as good as “All in color for a dime”! Not entirely sure I’m enthused about the story — excellent artwork, interesting aliens, but I’m not sure there’s enough in this preview to give me the ammo to recommend it or not.

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Friday Night Fights: America Bashed!

It’s been another crazy week — and an unusually busy one for me — so it’s time we all got to blow off some steam with some weekend relaxation — and as always, a quick dose of FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Today, we’re going all the way back to October 1941 in Captain America Comics #7 (reprinted in last week’s Captain America Comics Special #1) by the great Jack “King” Kirby and the almost-equally-great Joe Simon. Here, we see Captain America planting his star-spangled fist somewhere about halfway through the skull of one of the Toad’s goons.

That’s violence that’ll get you to stand up and salute.

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Punching Nazis in the Face

Captain America Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1

This is the first of a series of comics Marvel is putting out to commemorate their 70th birthday. And I gotta say, I love the cover, with Cap and Bucky beating the snot out of Nazis, plus that retro “Timely Comics” banner — for those of you who aren’t as up on comics history, Timely was Marvel’s original name.

Anyway, our main story is written by James Robinson, one of my favorite comics writers, with illustrations by Marcos Martin. It tells a story of Steve Rogers before he became Captain America, when he was a skinny 4-F reject, heartbroken that he won’t be able to serve his country. But by blind luck, a murdered fed pushes a mysterious jewel into his hands, and Steve is on the run from a gang of Nazi saboteurs. He manages to elude them, even manages to kill a couple of them. He even pulls off some fancy stunts with a garbage can lid that suggest that Cap’s later shield-throwing abilities didn’t come from the super-soldier serum.

And there’s a followup story, a reprint from Captain America Comics #7 in 1941 by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Far from the battlefields of WWII, it details Cap and Bucky’s battle against a villain called the Toad as he tries to ruin the Brookly Badgers baseball team by killing off the players. It’s a decent story, but I kept getting distracted by the villain, who despite being called the Toad, wears a costume that looks like this:

Siiiigh. You almost wish they’d just called him Batman. (Dig the jawline on his lowlife henchman, though)

Verdict: Thumbs up. The Simon and Kirby reprint is a great bonus, but the main story really is excellent. Steve’s dejection at being rejected by the Army is really well done, the chase through New York is excellent and thrilling, and the framing sequence — Cap and Bucky preparing for a paratrooper jump over Europe — is also very good. Gotta love the way 4-F Steve manages to take out so many Nazis, even if he gets winded and banged-up in the process. And of course, there are very few things, either in comics or in the real world, that are more awesome than beating the heil out of Nazis! This is just a plain wonderful comic from beginning to end.

Wonder Woman #30

Genocide is torturing Etta Candy, Zeus has resurrected Achilles to serve as his warmongering peacenik ambassador to the Earth, and Wonder Woman beats up on Cheetah, mashes the Secret Society’s headquarters, and gains Dr. T.O. Morrow as a new (though probably temporary) ally.

Verdict: Ehhh. It seems fairly well produced, but I’m just colossally bored with this whole storyline.

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Praise Gog

Justice Society of America: Kingdom Come Special: The Kingdom

Again, whoaaa there, DC, let’s try to get those titles a little under control, a’ight? Less is more, ya know?

The blessings of Gog are showing their downsides more and more. Sand is able to sleep through the night, but he’s lost his predictive dreams that let him prevent murders. Dr. Mid-Nite has his regular sight back, but he’s lost his special sensory abilities that made him such a great doctor. Starman is sane, but he’s really unhappy about that. Damage is handsome again, but his vanity and egotism have gone out of control. And Citizen Steel hasn’t been granted his wish yet of being able to hug his nieces and nephews again — and I hope he doesn’t, ’cause all of the other wishes haven’t really turned out well.

What else? Stargirl and Atom-Smasher give Damage a stern talking-to, which he completely disregards. Cyclone is wearing a witch hat now, which seems a little goofy but still kinda cool. Starman has a new and fairly unpleasant job. Sand learns that Gog’s presence on Earth has a pretty darn good chance of destroying the planet. And Gog craves what all gods crave.

Verdict: Thumbs up, mainly because it finally feels like the story is moving forward. This storyline has gone on way, way too long, and I hope they get it wrapped up very soon, and with as few characters needlessly killed as possible.

Captain America #44

Bucky’s past as the Winter Soldier, a brainwashed Soviet agent, are coming back to haunt him. Batroc the Leaper is causing trouble, and a mysterious Chinese villain appears to have Bucky’s number.

Verdict: Thumbs down. I like the way they’re handling Batroc as something other than a buffoon, but right now, this is an espionage comic, and most espionage comics just don’t interest me.

The Brave and the Bold #19

The Phantom Stranger brings Hal Jordan to a private hospital that’s housing a bunch of children who were deformed during a drug trial. One of the children has begun writing in a wide variety of languages, many of them completely alien, many of them telling about far-distant catastrophes and galactic disasters. GL and the Stranger travel to Sector 3897 to assist the Green Lantern there with cleanup from a disaster that destroyed a city. It soon becomes clear that the disaster was caused by magic — magic connected to the deformed children on Earth, according to the Stranger.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Green Lantern and the Phantom Stranger aren’t the most obvious team that pops to mind, but they do seem to go together fairly well. I also like the details of the planet GL and the Stranger visit — very strange, very alien, ver much unlike Earth. And the cliffhanger at the end is excellent — I am eagerly awaiting the next issue of this one.

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Hot Stephen Colbert Action!

The Amazing Spider-Man #573

It’s the end of the “New Ways to Die” storyarc, which really ought to get an award for both the dumbest storyarc title and for dumbest new villain — namely, Anti-Venom: former regular Venom Eddie Brock now wearing some kind of negative-colored Venom outfit and with a mad-on for the current Venom, Mac Gargan, the former Scorpion. Hey, I just felt some of my brain cells die just from describing that! Anyway, Spidey and (snicker) Anti-Venom beat up Norman Osborne and Venom and various people and then everything goes back to the regular status quo.

Oh, but what everyone really cares about is the backup story, which stars Stephen Colbert, host of “The Colbert Report.” Most of y’all may remember that Colbert briefly threw his hat into the presidential race earlier this year — well, in Marvel’s continuity, Colbert is (A) exactly like his rightwing blowhard character on “The Colbert Report” and (B) is an actual candidate for the presidency. Well, Colbert’s candidacy ain’t goin’ so well. His most recent contribution is from Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson, and it’s for a measly $100. His rallies are marked by an awful lot of apathy and not many people. In frustration, he gives up his campaign, until he runs into Spider-Man fighting a supervillain called (GASP!) the Grizzly! He helps Spidey beat the bad guy and gets to go web-slinging with the Wall-Crawler.

Verdict: Thumbs down for the main story. Dull, dull, dull, and stupid, stupid, stupid. However, a big thumbs up for the Colbert backup story. Much fun, very goofy, and still fairly action-packed. Ya know what’d be cool? If Colbert ends up becoming president of Marvel’s version of the USA. That’d rock soooo hard.

Atomic Robo: Dogs of War #3

Robo has managed to put most of the Nazis’ walking tanks out of commission, but now he’s on the trail of the Nazibots’ designer, Otto Skorzeny. But there’s another Allied agent tracking Skorzeny, a British agent called the Sparrow, and they end up getting in each others’ way and on each others’ nerves while they’re doing their Nazi-bashing. And complicating things even more are some more Nazi experimental monsters closing in on everyone.

Verdict: Thumbs up. More over-the-top action and Nazi bashing. All the action here takes place in and on top of a speeding train, which keeps things nicely focused and intense.

Captain America #43

Several different things going on here. We get World War II flashbacks with Cap, Bucky, and the Human Torch. We get Bucky smoochin’ with the Black Widow. And best of all, we get the return of Batroc the Leaper! Batroc’s French may be the most accurate it’s ever been (as far as I can tell — it’s not like I can read French anyway), and he actually manages to uncover Bucky’s secret identity as both the new Captain America and as the former Winter Soldier.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Hey, it’s Batroc the Leaper! BATROC ZE LEAPAIR!

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Three Cheers for the Red, White, and Blue!

Captain America #42

It’s the big conclusion of the first epic-length storyarc with Bucky Barnes as Captain America. Bucky foils the assassination attempt on Senator Wright, the Red Skull’s flunky, and pursues the Skull’s daughter, Sin. Knowing her dad will kill her for failing, she makes up a contingency plan to blow up all of the presidential candidates. Is there any way for Bucky to save everyone and embrace Captain America’s legacy? Elsewhere, the Falcon and the Black Widow are searching through the bad guys’ self-destructing base while the Skull and Arnim Zola try to transfer the Skull’s consciousness into Sharon Carter.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This ended up just plain excellent — much better than I was expecting. All the threads got either wrapped up beautifully or extended perfectly so they can be used later. This was a very long arc, but the finale was so spectacular, it made up for everything.

Blue Beetle #31

The artificially-created magnetic metahumans who Jaime captured last issue are brought to an El Paso hospital — their powers are killing them, and the only person who can save them is a metahuman doctor — namely, the Justice Society’s Dr. Mid-Nite. He’s able to stabilize them, but Intergang is planning on kidnapping them right back so they can dissect them. Meanwhile, Blue Beetle is awarded the key to the city, but the politically ambitious D.A. surprises Jaime by deputizing him into the Border Patrol! Oh, great, now half the city thinks Blue Beetle is a racist immigrant-basher. But Jaime doesn’t have long to worry about the fix he’s gotten into — Intergang attacks the hospital and takes his mother hostage! Jaime and Dr. Mid-Nite save the innocent bystanders, but Intergang escapes. But who’s pulling Intergang’s strings?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The Blue Beetle is awesome, and you should all go out and buy several copies right now.

Atomic Robo: Dogs of War #2

Robo is assisting with the invasion of Italy during WWII and runs into the Axis’ secret weapons — oversized suits of powered armor that give the Nazis an awful lot of butt-kicking power. Robo and the Allies end up taking down five of them over the next few hours, but it takes quite a struggle to take each one down, and there are still another seven out there. Do they have a chance of destroying the rest before the Nazis use them to stop the Allies dead?

Verdict: Giving this one a thumbs up, too. Robo’s a ton of fun, and the only thing better than killing Nazis is killing Nazi robots.

Superman # 680

I’m not a regular reader of this comic, but come on, who can resist that cover? We’re in the middle of a storyline where Supes is battling an ancient superhuman named Atlas — and Atlas is way too strong for Superman to beat. So is there any hope for Superman and Metropolis? Krypto… sic ’em!

Verdict: Good dog! What a good, good dog!

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5 If by C

So Kalinara proposed a little meme-game called the “Five Characters” meme, which I’ve decided to play around with. Here are the rules:

1. Comment on this post.
2. I will give you a letter.
3. Think of 5 fictional characters and post their names and your comments on these characters in your blog or Livejournal. Or even here in the comments.

You’ll note it says “fictional characters” — you don’t have to include any comics characters if you want… but hey, I run a comic book blog, so I went with all super-people.

Anyway, the letter I was assigned was “C“… and here are the characters I picked.

1. Captain America – I’ve only recently started reading any “Captain America” comics, and it used to be that I didn’t even understand the appeal of the character. But in the last few years, I think I’ve started to catch on to why Cap is so much fun.

Granted, back in the day, he didn’t do much but wave the flag, fight Nazis, and be patriotic. But for the past several decades, lots of writers have realized that Cap is a perfect vehicle for exploring topics like the nature of patriotism and America’s strong and weak points. Heck, the guy’s basically a big living flag, and he’s just about the closest thing any comic companies have to an actual symbol of America — with that pedigree, he’s tailor-made for storylines dealing with the times when America hasn’t lived up to its idealistic promises.

There’ve been Cap stories dealing with the War on Terror, the dangers of knee-jerk nationalism and jingoism, national dissent over the Vietnam War, fascism, racism, and just about every other important national issue. Even the current storyline focuses on an attempt to destroy America by tearing it down from the inside, using a collapsing economy, an out-of-control security apparatus, and collusions between corporate and governmental conspirators. Talk about “ripped from the headlines!”

2. Captain Carrot – Aww, how could I resist! The lead character of my favorite funny-animal comic ever! Originally a mild-mannered cartoonist named, believe it or not, Roger Rabbit (DC changed his name to Rodney when Disney started working on their movie), he got his abilities of super-strength and super-leaping by eating “Cosmic Carrots.”

Actually, Captain Carrot may have been my least favorite character out of the entire Zoo Crew. Fastback, Pig-Iron, and Rubberduck had the powers I wanted, Alley-Kat-Abra and Yankee Poodle were easier on the eyes, and even Little Cheese had a more interesting backstory. But Cap was the glue that held them all together — without him, you just couldn’t see any of the rest of the Zoo Crew working as a team or even getting along that well.

In a way, that’s what leaders do best, at least in fiction — they may not be the most interesting characters, but they exist to make sure the other characters stay linked together and interacting with each other. Or maybe I’m over-thinking that. Cap is just a cartoon rabbit who makes a “SPROING” noise when he jumps…

3. Changeling – No, not “Beast Boy.” I always hated that name. I still don’t know why they went back to it, other than stupid Silver Age nostalgia. Gar Logan’s gotta be in his 20s by now — why would he want to be called a boy? I definitely preferred the “Changeling” name he went by during the Wolfman/Perez “Teen Titans” series in the ’80s.

Anyway, I’ve always liked shapeshifters and stretchers, because they can physically change their own identities. I guess I’ve always wanted to be different people, so I tend to gravitate to shapeshifters, like Changeling, Plastic Man, Chameleon Boy, Warlock, and Morph. I think it’s even why I enjoy werewolf movies so much. But Changeling was always one of my favorites. I liked his juvenile/goofball attitude, for one thing, and I think I’ve always liked comics characters with green skin. Heck, you should see my “City of Heroes” characters — you’ve never seen so many green-skinned freaks in yer life, I promise.

So yeah, I’m a complete fan of Changeling, and I can’t wait ’til they change his name back like it oughtta be.

4. Citizen Steel – So you got Nate Heywood, former football star, now drug-addicted, whiny amputee, and he gets superpowers that give him his leg back and give him superstrength. His powers have taken away most of his ability to feel anything, and he’s too strong to touch anything without causing damage. His costume is designed to slow him down and reduce his strength. I was not expecting to like this guy at all, but he’s turned out to be one of my favorite characters in the new “Justice Society of America” series.

What’s he got that makes him appealing? Personality. The guy is absolutely devoted to the surviving kids in his family, and it seems like half of his appearances have featured him hanging out his numerous cousins, just letting them crawl all over him while he makes them pancakes or something crazy like that. In the current JSA storyline, he’s clearly jonesing hard for Gog to grant his wish of being able to hug his cousins without injuring or killing them. It’s that strong attachment to his family that really makes Nate unique and cool.

5. Crazy Jane – And finally, there’s Kay Challis, from Grant Morrison’s late-80s/early-90s “Doom Patrol” series. Kay suffers from multiple personality disorder, and each of her 64 personalities has its own superpowers. The hyper-aggressive and super-scary Black Annis has claws, the Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter creates psychically-active paintings, Flit can teleport, Lucy Fugue has radioactive bones, Sun Daddy has a sun for a head.

Robotman is the best superhero, Rebis seems to know the answers to everything, but Crazy Jane was the heart and soul of the Doom Patrol. Her madness was the perfect mirror for everything Morrison was doing in this comic. And she was actually better at holding the entire team together — Rebis always seemed about to vanish somewhere to contemplate his/her radioactive navel, and Cliff Steele tended to want to stay home and avoid trouble. Jane motivated Cliff to act, and Rebis usually tagged along for the ride. And she still turned out to be a pretty good superhero — she often lasted longer against the Doom Patrol’s weird bad guys than either Rebis or Robotman.

I wish they’d bring her back. I don’t know if she’d be as good if someone other than Morrison was writing her, but I still think it’d be cool.

So there are my five characters. Gimme a shout in comments if you wanna play, and I’ll assign you your letter.

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Turbo Booster

Booster Gold #11

The timeline has gotten screwed up again. Because of a criminal time-traveler’s interference during a museum robbery by Killer Moth, Batman, Robin, and Batgirl have ceased to exist. Booster, Skeets, Rip Hunter, and Booster’s formerly-dead-but-now-alive twin sister Goldstar are on the case, and decide that what caused the chronal chaos was Batman capturing Killer Moth. So to make sure Moth gets away, Booster mugs him, dresses up in his costume, stages the heist, and knocks out the crimefighters. Unfortunately, Booster’s stunt has made Killer Moth look like an unstoppable criminal, which has pushed him into becoming a Batman-like defender of Gotham City’s underworld. How to fix things this time? Booster is going to have to masquerade as the Dark Knight himself. But that’s easier said than done…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Old-school Bat-folks! And Skeets gets to run around with little-bitty moth wings while Booster’s disguised as Killer Moth, so extra points for Teh Cute.

Number of the Beast #8

I missed the final issue of this miniseries a while back, but finally got it picked up. There’s a lot less emphasis on the Paladins and a lot more focus on the heroes of the Wildstorm Universe, including the Authority, Majestic, StormWatch, and the WildC.A.T.S. trying to fight off the army of clones of the High, the mega-powerful anti-hero. They manage to put a few of the clones down and lose a few heroes (most of them being stray members of the Paladins). In the end, the High clones fly up into the upper atmosphere and blow themselves up like bipedal nukes. Crisis over? Actually, no. A hundred nukes blowing up in the atmosphere? Now the planet’s off its axis, the moon has been destroyed, and 90% of Earth’s population is dead. Wow, way to completely shake up the Etch-a-Sketch, Wildstorm…

Verdict: I’m a bit up in the air about this one. I respect any comic company willing to change their universe so drastically, but Wildstorm was already pretty dark and morally-conflicted — how much darker can they make things? And it’s really hard for me to believe that the Authority, who’ve already saved the planet from gods, would manage to get skunked so severely by a bunch of doofy clones. And heck, I wish we’d seen some more of the Paladins. I liked those dudes…

Captain America #41

The Red Skull’s schemes march on. The fake Captain America is recaptured, and plans are made to assassinate a few presidential candidates. But the evil Dr. Faustus has decided to betray the Skull, help Sharon Carter escape, and lead the forces of S.H.I.E.L.D. to the Skull’s doorstep. And of course, Cap, the Falcon, the Black Widow, and more are on hand to help out.

Verdict: I gotta give this a thumbs down. It’s not that things are particularly convoluted. It’s more that Captain America doesn’t really do very much here. He gets a couple of great moments at the end of the issue, but by and large, it’s the bad guys’ scheming and betrayals that move all the action. Cap generally watches from the sidelines. And I’m really getting a mite tired of this unending storyline by now.

Jonah Hex #34

Hex has decided to reform. He buries his guns and his old Confederate uniform, builds a house, and avoid people so he won’t get in any trouble on their behalf. And naturally, a bunch of toughs ride into the nearby town to raise some hell. A pretty shopkeeper’s daughter tries to enlist Hex’s aid by bringing him pie (Amazingly, he discards the pie. Who can resist pie?!) and having sex with him (He discards the girl afterwards, too. The cad!). But Hex is a hard-hearted cuss, and he stays out of trouble up until he finds out that the girl and her family have been killed by the crooks. After that, there’s nothing left but shooting a few hellraising mooks in the face.

Verdict: Thumbs down. I like the concept of Hex trying to lie low, stay out of trouble, and lead a life without gunslinging, but the dialogue just plain cheesed me off. They made Jonah Hex talkative and poetic and downright dadgummed loquacious. People, people, people, you do not take a grim, taciturn gunslinger who’s basically modeled on Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name and turn him into a chatterbox. You just do not do that.

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The Fighting Americans


Captain America #40

It’s the new Captain America — Bucky Barnes — vs. another new Captain America — in this case, a resurrected and brainwashed replacement Cap from the 1950s. But it’s nowhere near a fair fight — the replacement Cap may think he’s the original Steve Rogers, but he’s a lot stronger and faster than Steve ever was. The fake Cap thinks the Bucky Cap is an assassin who killed Bucky in the ’40s, but when he learns that Bucky’s still alive, will his conditioning break? Meanwhile, Sharon Carter is fighting for her life against the Red Skull’s daughter, Sin.

Verdict: Thumbs up, but for once, I wasn’t overly impressed with what I was reading. Personally, I’m thinking this storyline has gone on for a really, really long time, and I’d like a bit of resolution sometime…


Wonder Woman #22

Trapped in a fantasy world, and fighting alongside Beowulf, Claw, and the Stalker, Wonder Woman is rapidly losing her soul, thanks to Stalker’s bizarre magic. Their only hope is to defeat the powerful demon D’Grth, who is assisted by Grendel itself. But someone is fated to betray them all… and what will happen when D’Grth makes his way to our world? Elsewhere, Agent Tessier has stumbled onto Diana Prince’s houseguests — a friendly band of albino gorillas from Gorilla City — and of course, a big fight breaks out, leading to Diana’s apartment getting completely wrecked…

Verdict: Thumbs up, but this is another one that I’d like to get finished up soon, preferably with some explanations that actually make sense.


Young X-Men #4

Ink is having a change of heart after betraying Blindfold to mutant-hating cyborg Donald Pierce — he goes out and gets new tattoos (one designed to give him telepathy) and prepares to help Wolf Cub and Rockslide take out the last members of the new Hellfire Club, Cannonball and Sunspot, formerly of the New Mutants. But Cannonball and Sunspot seem to be under the impression that the kids are the villains here — what’s going on? And Greymalkin, a mutant who’s previously not been seen much here, makes a surprise attack on Cyclops — or rather, on the guy who’s been pretending to be Cyclops. No, he’s not a Skrull — he may be even worse…

Verdict: Thumbs up. I was actually a bit more impressed with this issue than I’d been with the previous ones, and the big reveal on the fake Cyclops was pretty good, too.

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Friday Night Fights: Patriot Whacked!

It was delayed a week for the Fourth of July, but tonight is the final round of the latest edition of Friday Night Fights! You know what this means, right? With any luck, this’ll be the last time Bahlactus goes for an all-black-and-white comics theme. It was no fun having to bleach the color out of everything I scanned for the fightfests, lemme tell you.

So let’s go ahead and get right to it: from this year’s Captain America #34 by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting, and Butch Guice — the new Captain America and the Black Widow beat the stuffing out of the evil scientists of A.I.M.:

Even in black and white, a beat-down like that’ll make you glad you’re an American.

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