Archive for Love and Capes

Baby Time


Love and Capes: What to Expect #6

Well, everyone wants to find out when Abby and Mark’s baby is going to be born and whether it’s a boy or a girl… but you’re gonna have to wait ’til the end of the issue for that, of course. Between now and then, we’ll also get to find out who Darkblade will pick as his new protege, as well as Abby’s plan to save her bookstore — and how her sister Charlotte is going to help. But of course, the bulk of the story focuses on the soon-to-be-born baby. Crusader arranges for Major Might to back him up if there are any crises when the baby’s due — and he’s also considering giving up his powers so he can focus on being a father. And of course, the Chlorodrones pick that moment to invade the Earth. Will Abby’s baby be born okay? Is it a boy or a girl? And who’s the secret, entirely unexpected guest star who shows up?

Verdict: Thumbs up. An extraordinarily fun comic. Lots of great dialogue, humor, and even low-grade suspense — and not just about the childbirth, either. I know I say this about a lot of comics, but — why the heck aren’t more of y’all reading this one?


Finding Gossamyr #3

Jenna and Denny are still stuck in the fantasy world of Gossamyr, in and out of danger. They meet some new friends, particularly Azune D’Tall, a big green ogre-lookin’ dude, and they show that both of them have some skills that make them useful in this setting. Denny’s vast mathematical genius allows him to work magic here, while Jenna’s medical training lets her heal people and animals without needing magic. But there are still many wonders and dangers they have to get through — ships that can sail up mountains, rock-skinned rhinos, and much more. Can they find a place of sanctuary from the enemies pursuing them?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent action and a real sense of wonder and amazement throughout the whole story. I love the idea of a world where math is magic, and I love the fact that the completely mundane, non-magical character still has skills that let her contribute to the adventure.

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The Hero Sandwich List of Favorite Comics for 2012

Well, 2012 is almost over, and I’m absolutely delighted to see it go. This has been, without a single doubt, the absolute worst year of my life.

My grandmother died in January — she was 100 years old, but nope, you’re never prepared for that, never, never. Three friends died of cancer. We lost Ray Bradbury. I was diagnosed with diabetes. “City of Heroes” was shut down.

Oh, I know, there are lots of ways it could’ve been worse. Lots of people have gone through more horrible things this year, and I’ve got it relatively good. My family is healthy and happy. I have a job that keeps a roof over my head, food on the table, and comics in the longboxes. I’ve lost about 45 pounds since July, and my health is overall pretty good.

Nevertheless. It’s been a deeply unpleasant, depressing, sorrowful year, and I won’t be at all sad to see it end.

And ya know, this hasn’t been a very good year for comics, either.

We’ve had to sit through DC firing Gail Simone from “Batgirl” for no apparent reason (and then hiring her back when they realized that she was much more popular than anyone else at the company); DC shutting down “Hellblazer” so they can try to turn John Constantine into a superhero; fans responding to the (truly awful sounding) Amazing Spider-Man #700 by making serious death threats against writer Dan Slott (Pff, like Slott came up with that? Joe Quesada and Alex Alonso probably thought that one up, then assigned him to work on it.); DC just straight up being a dick to Alan Moore almost all year long with the (mostly ignored by readers) “Before Watchmen” comics.

And dominating geek news for the entire year has been the bizarre hostility in comics and gaming toward anyone who isn’t a straight white male. In a lot of ways, the gaming industry has been far worse with the hating-on-everyone problem, but the new obsession with Fake Geek Girls is largely focused on the comics fan community, especially cosplayers. Tony Harris’s bizarre misogyny helped play it up, but DC and Marvel have had more than their fair share of He Man Woman Hater moments, too. Really, would you be particularly surprised if Dan DiDio announced he was firing all the female creators at DC?

I’m probably forgetting some really important awful moments for comics, too, but there have just been so dang many of them…

Even the year’s major successes — the films of “The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight Rises” — were really to be attributed more to the skill, talent, and imagination of movie studios than to comics publishers.

DC, of course, has been the leader in bad comics and bad decisions. Marvel’s been a bit better, but has still shown too much enthusiasm for dull crossover events and poor judgement. The independents have been better than both of the Big Two — and yet I’ve still felt mostly bored with the comics that’ve been released this year.

I went through my pull-list earlier this year and stripped a lot of it out. I was tired of spending so much money on comics, of having to find storage space for all my books. And a lot of what I got rid of was actually pretty good. Scott Snyder’s Batman comic, for example, got pulled off my list. It was just fine, Snyder’s still a fantastic writer, and his work on the Dark Knight is just plain some of the best work anyone’s done with him for years. But I still took it off my list because I wasn’t excited about it. It wasn’t a book I looked forward to getting anymore. There were lots of comics like that — The Massive, Dark Horse Presents, Dial H, Demon Knights, Fatale, Frankenstein, Morning Glories, Popeye, Saucer Country, Unwritten, even B.P.R.D. — and I don’t really regret taking any of them off the list.

So what are my picks for my favorite comics of 2012? Here they are, in alphabetical order…


American Vampire

Still the best and most gloriously visceral horror comic we’ve got. Great characterization, art, and plotting make it a winner every issue.


Atomic Robo

Possibly the most consistently fun and entertaining comic out there. Any comic fan who isn’t reading this is utterly, utterly mad.


Avengers Academy

Cancelled long before its time, I loved this one for the great characterization and for its refusal to fall into the same boring traps as other teen-oriented comics. Random, shock-value deaths were avoided, and the heroes got out of plenty of problems by talking instead of fighting.


Axe Cop

This remains one of the best humor comics you’ll find — the Nicolle brothers are still hugely imaginative, funny, and audacious, even years after they started their comic.



Month after month, the best art you’re going to find in any comic book on the stands.



Probably the best pure superhero comic out there. Mark Waid’s Daredevil is fun, charismatic, clever, action-packed, and just all-around fantastic. And the art is usually pretty darn good, too.


The Goon

Rude? Yes. Hilarious? Yes. Unexpectedly emotional? Yes, yes, yes. Eric Powell would probably kick my ass for saying it, but he’s got more heart than any other comic book creator.


Love and Capes

This superhero sitcom is light on the action, but heavy on the humor, awesome characterization, and brainy storytelling. I would like more of you to read this, please.


Punk Rock Jesus

An amazing story combining religion, punk rock, politics of all stripes, science fiction, and our global obsessions with pop culture and entertainment. Sean Murphy deserves to win all kinds of awards for this.



A very fun modernized re-telling of Lewis Carroll’s “The Hunting of the Snark.” Great characters, dialogue, humor, and action, all wrapped up in a very friendly all-ages bow. I want Roger Langridge to make more and more comics, that’s all there is to it.


Wonder Woman

This isn’t really a superhero book at all — it’s part horror comic, part urban fantasy, part reboot of the ancient Greek myths. Half the fun of this is seeing what bizarre new forms the Greek gods and monsters will take.

So that’s what I’ve got for this year. I left off a lot of good comics — books that debuted in only the last few months, books that were cancelled in the first month or two of the year, books that were of unquestionably high-quality but which were nevertheless boring me when I finally dropped them.

What can we hope for in the future? I’m sure not dumb enough to try to make predictions, but I’d like to think that, after a year this bad, there’s nowhere the comics industry can go but up. Unfortunately, my optimism bone done got snapped off, and it wouldn’t shock me a bit to see things get even worse in 2013.

Hold on to your hats, and pray for miracles.

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Everyone’s Sweetheart


Batgirl #15

Well, we now know that we’re looking at the last few months of enjoying Gail Simone’s take on Batgirl — or apparently, on anything else DC Comics is publishing. Ya see, DC is run by stupid people. And either they don’t like phenomenally-popular and extremely-talented creators who are producing critically acclaimed comics that sell well — or they just don’t like yucky girls. I know where I’m placing my bets. And I also know that Gail is going to land on her feet — she’s just too good not to get more work from more intelligent comics publishers.

So in this issue, Batgirl is facing off against the Joker — with her mother’s life on the line. The Joker has her mom tied to a chair with a five-pound nail bomb strapped underneath, and the price for Barbara’s mom is — Batgirl’s hand in marriage? Can Barbara keep him from killing her mother? Can she keep herself from killing the groom-to-be? And what other horrific surprises does the Joker have in store for her?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A wonderfully dark, suspenseful story. For once, Batgirl is the one dispensing the savage beatings — even if, ultimately, she’s not in control of the situation at all. I still hate the Joker’s stitched-on face, but he’s as crazy and dangerous as he ever has been. We also get a short appearance by Barbara’s psychotic brother, who may actually be on her side for once.


Love and Capes: What to Expect #5

Thanks to the kind of accident that’s only too common in comic books, Mark and Abby have switched bodies. That’d be a problem any time, but it’s particularly rough now, since Abby is now the most powerful male superhero in the world and Mark is now pregnant. A lot of adjustments have to be made — Mark has to get used to food cravings, being unable to sleep comfortably, and being panicked about the potential for having to give birth, while Abby… well, Abby gets to drink coffee again. Will they ever get back into the correct bodies again?

Meanwhile, Darkblade and Amazonia have a serious crisis in their relationship. Amazonia is being named queen of her interdimensional homeworld — and that means she can never go to Earth again. And Darkblade knows he’d never be able to live on Amazonia’s mostly crime-free world. Is their relationship doomed?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This was a really, really good comic — both storylines are really strong, with the bodyswitching as the more comedic and the Amazonia/Darkblade story being, obviously, a lot more dramatic. But there’s a lot of story here, it’s all enjoyable and satisfying to read, and you won’t regret coming along for the ride. This is really one of the best comics out there.


Ame-Comi Girls Featuring Duella Dent #3

Most of this issue is devoted to the origin of Duella Dent, the Ame-Comi universe’s version of the Joker. The daughter of a career criminal, his death spurred her to embrace chaos as a lifestyle. Batgirl tries to stop her, but she’s vastly outnumbered by Duella’s supervillain allies. But when they learn that Duella is working with Brainiac to destroy human civilization, Cheetah takes a powder, and Catwoman tries to help Batgirl escape. Meanwhile, Steel and the Flash are about to enter the battle, too, but will they be too late to save Batgirl?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Duella’s origin is really pretty good — probably the most enjoyable part of the whole story. One doesn’t often see an origin in which the death of a genuinely loving parent inspires someone to turn supervillain instead of superhero. In addition, the action is good, the dialogue is good, and the whole thing is pretty entertaining.

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Pony Power!

I’m a bit behind on my comics reviews, aren’t I? Let’s see how many I can get out of the way.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #1

You can’t really call me a Brony. I’ve watched the new “My Little Pony” cartoon, and I think it’s clever and funny and entertaining, but I haven’t gotten into it like a lot of people have. Still, I heard from a lot of folks that the new MLP comic book looked like a winner, so I picked it up.

I’m going to assume that you have some familiarity with the show. Because if you don’t, well, dadgummit, I don’t have time to explain all of this stuff. Sorry ’bout that.

The story begins with a group of young ponies who are trying to figure out how to get their own cutie marks (small magical tattoos related to interests, hobbies, or professions) when they’re suddenly attacked by unseen, menacing creatures. The next day, we finally meet up with our main characters, Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, and Spike, who first discover that the younger ponies have become emotionless, unenthusiastic zombies — and then that almost everypony has been similarly transformed. The culprits are quasi-demonic changelings, and the friends may have to discover a solution to the problem all by themselves.

Verdict: I’ll thumbs it up — the story and art by Katie Cook and Andy Price are just fine, with lots of funny character moments and background gags. I probably won’t be picking up more of these, though — like I said, I’m not a brony, and while I think this was a nice comic, I’m not interested enough to keep reading…

FF #1

Well, it looks like the Fantastic Four are going on a working vacation — they’ll be gone for a year, but for the rest of the Earth, it will seem that they’ll be gone for only four minutes. And because Planet Earth can’t handle the Fantastic Four being gone for even four minutes, they’ve decided to recruit some replacements for the Future Foundation for those four minutes. So Reed Richards recruits Scott Lang, Ant-Man, Sue Richards calls in Medusa of the Inhumans, Ben Grimm invites the She-Hulk, and Johnny Storm completely forgets that he has to recruit anyone, so he picks his latest bedmate, socialite actress Darla Deering. Most of the rest of the issue focuses on the underage members of the Future Foundation to explain who they are and what the FF means to them.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a completely idiotic premise, but Matt Fraction’s writing carries it, and Michael Allred’s artwork pushes it over the top. I enjoyed it, I really did, even with the ridiculous egotism that the Fantastic Four, which travels to other planets and other dimensions almost constantly, suddenly believes that the world will end if they’re gone for less than five minutes.

Love and Capes: What to Expect #4

This issue has a lot of emphasis on a couple other than Abby and Mark — namely, Darkblade and Amazonia. Her mother had a stroke, which makes Amazonia the Queen of Leandia, her other-dimensional homeworld, at least temporarily. Amazonia, in fact, doesn’t want to be the Queen, but has no choice, and as long as she’s the Queen, she’s not allowed to go off-world at all, which makes her relationship with Darkblade problematical. Meanwhile, Abby’s bookstore is having financial troubles, Amazonia’s sister, Oriana, is assigned to take over her superhero duties, and the Spencers are enjoying making plans for baby showers.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good funny stuff, lots of great characterization, all the wonderful stuff we’ve come to expect from the “Love and Capes” comics.

Today’s Cool Links:

I’m still thinking a lot about the end of City of Heroes, so here’s some more links about the best dang superhero MMO ever.

  • Real World Heroes is a charity created by and for City of Heroes players, supporting four worthy organizations. I think it’d be great if they had their best year ever. Would you consider donating to them?
  • A team of friends finishes one of the biggest task forces in City of Heroes mere seconds before the servers are shut down. Watch the video and be amazed.
  • Champions Online competed with City of Heroes, but Cryptic Studios created both games. Champions had their own excellent statement of support after CoH was closed down.

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Sidekick Stuff

Love and Capes: What to Expect #3

Aside from the pregnancy preparations we’d expect from this series, including an agreement between Abby and Mark to let the baby’s gender be a surprise and Abby’s distress about all the women who tell her horror stories about pregnancy, Darkblade takes on three new sidekicks, and Amazonia gets some bad news from home.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good stuff, funny, nice dialogue, clever situations, and even some cliffhangers to up the tension.

Avengers Academy #38

Okay, it’s not the end of the series, but we’re getting close, as the Avengers Academy students and teachers play a game of flag football against the students and teachers at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, which is headmastered by Wolverine. Nothing too serious going on, mostly just hijinx.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Like I said, mostly silly stuff, but this series deserved a break from the serious crises and angst.

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Adventures in Comics Sitting

Love and Capes: What to Expect #2

Abby and Mark continue their pregnancy preparations, including volunteering to babysit a friend’s baby to see how they handle pre-parenthood. Things don’t go as planned, though nothing truly disastrous happens.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Okay, not a whole lot happens in here. No smackdowns against crazed supervillains, no terrible crisis to solve, no danger or derring-do. But it’s a good, fun, funny story, so heck yeah, it’s a thumbs up.

Worlds’ Finest #0

We get a look back on Power Girl and the Huntress when they were Supergirl and Robin on Earth-2. Robin has her debut adventure, with the permission of her mother, Catwoman (though daddy Batman disapproves). Superman trains Supergirl for potential attacks by Apocalypse. Tragedy brings the two fledgling heroines together.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very nice writing by Paul Levitz, and amazingly appealing art by Kevin Maguire. Honestly, I’d rather read about Robin and Supergirl than almost anything else DC is publishing right now.

Avengers Academy #36

Jeremy Briggs has depowered most of the Academy members, and he’s planning on depowering the rest of the world’s heroes and villains, too. Hazmat has gotten her powers back, Striker has gotten his face scarred, Mettle gets his powers back, but only letting Hazmat burn his flesh away, and White Tiger and Reptil have to persuade their own magic powers to come back to them. Will they be able to get the rest of the team’s powers back? Will they be able to stop Jeremy from releasing the Clean Slate virus?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I like these characters a lot. Even without their powers, they’re a lot of fun. Also, Hazmat and Mettle are just so awesome. I’m gonna miss this series so very much.

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Baby Showers

Love and Capes: What to Expect #1

Tom Zahler is back with a new mini about Abby Spencer, her husband Mark — better known to the world as the superhero Crusader — and their assorted friends and family. Abby’s pregnant, which brings many changes to their lives. Not even considering the mundane concerns — no alcohol, no caffeine, getting good prenatal care, putting aside money for college — there are other things to worry about when the baby’s father is a superhero — namely, what do you do about the danger of a super-baby kicking a hole in mama? In addition, we get to meet the second Doctor Karma, we learn if Mark can keep his big secret from Darkblade, and we get to sit in on the scene when Mark and Abby break the news to their parents.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent humor, characterization, and dialogue. Really, I’m looking forward to this series so much, and I don’t know what else I can say about it.

Avengers Academy #34

Apparently, this is going to be the final storyarc before the series cancellation, which is too danged bad.

In the aftermath of the closing of Avengers Academy, the students are mostly on their own, until teenaged CEO and all-around shady character Jeremy Briggs calls Hazmat and Mettle to let them know he’s discovered a way to remove their powers and let them live normal lives. The rest of the students come along, mostly to make sure Jeremy isn’t planning on doing something rotten to them. But as it turns out, Jeremy’s “Clean Slate” formula returns Hazmat and Mettle to the forms they had before they got their powers. Unfortunately, he’s decided he wants to dose everyone in the world with Clean Slate — he thinks superheroes and supervillains are a huge problem, and he wants to make sure that the only people with powers are himself and whoever he decides is suitably loyal to him. And they’ve all been breathing in the Clean Slate formula ever since they got there.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent intensity and characterization. We always figured Jeremy was a bad guy, but it’s nice to see that his level of villainy got cranked up extra high for this storyarc. I am disappointed, however, that the other teachers from the academy won’t be around for this arc.

Beasts of Burden: Neighborhood Watch

A quick one-shot for fans of Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson’s great “Beasts of Burden” series. This collects the three stories that appeared a few months ago in “Dark Horse Presents” — so if you don’t shell out the bucks for DHP, you can still read them. So we’ve got a light-hearted story with the gang forced to deal with a chicken-stealing goblin, and second one with the wise dog telling some puppies about a heroic dog who fought against evil, and final one, particularly creepy, about a lost herd of sheep.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent stories, with the last one being my favorite because it really is wonderfully eerie. Wonderful art and wonderful empathetic storytelling. These stories aren’t just about monsters and ghosts — they’ve got concerns about heroism, friendship, philosophy, and mortality.

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Maid to Order

Empowered: Ten Questions for the Maidman

Adam Warren’s plucky, bondage-prone superheroine returns for another one-shot special, this time spotlighting the Maidman, an unpowered guy who dresses up like a stereotypical French maid but still has the bad guys terrified because he’s such an unrelenting badass. In other words, he’s Batman in a miniskirt and apron. The entire story is written by Adam Warren and part of the art is by him, but a lot of the art — specifically, anything in color — is by Emily Warren (no relation to Adam).

While Emp bluffs multiple bad guys by pretending “Hey, Maidman’s right behind you” and then using their panic to take them down solo, the Maidman himself is being interviewed by a superhero celebrity interviewer named Blitzcraig. Can Emp’s diversionary tactics continue to be successful? And what is the Maidman’s secret motive for agreeing to the silly celebrity interview?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Everything about this series is fun and awesome. I don’t know anything else I can say about it but that.

Love and Capes: Ever After #5

Most of this issue is taken up by the sudden unexpected (and offscreen) death of Windstar, a superhero who has only been seen a few times over the course of the entire series. Still, he’s been a member of the superhero community for a long time, so his death sends shockwaves around the circle of friends including the Crusader, his wife Abby, Darkblade, and Amazonia. Mark, Darkblade, and Doc Karma do a thorough investigation of Windstar’s body to find out if he’s going to come back from the dead, Abby and Mark attend the funeral for Windstar’s civilian identity, and they all visit the Liberty League Satellite for a memorial ceremony.

Verdict: Thumbs up. For a comedy book, this is all surprisingly moving. We get plenty of flashbacks to previous interactions between Mark and Windstar, and we spend a significant amount of time focusing on Windstar’s grief-stricken father and his similarly-powered niece. It’s a really nice, emotional story, and it serves as a very nice capper on this miniseries.

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Sorceress Apprentice

Love and Capes: Ever After #4

The Crusader may be the most powerful superhero on the planet, but in his civilian identity as Mark Spencer, he’s an accountant — and tax season is driving him nuts. His wife Abby, meanwhile, has found herself in charge of the Merchant Association, and she has big plans for special events. Plus Amazonia is about to meet Darkblade’s parents for the first time — and both are profoundly nervous about it. Can everyone get through these low-key crises with their sanity intact?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nothing real earth-shattering here, but we get some fun art, good jokes, and nice story.

Batgirl #21

Batgirl is fighting the Reapers’ newest high-tech assassin, the sonic-powered Harmony, and she’s doing a pretty good job of it — but she has to rescue the Grey Ghost, her completely unwanted and useless sidekick/stalker. Wendy Harris is having deep conversations with her dead brother and decides to travel to Nanda Parbat to see if there’s an alternate method to get her walking again. And the Grey Ghost, convinced that only he can keep Batgirl safe, works up a dangerous plan of his own.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Loved Bryan Q. Miller’s story, as always. Loved Dustin Nguyen’s artwork. Loved the dialogue, loved the action, loved everything about it.

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It’s a Trick, Get an Axe

Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth #2

Ya know, I’m not sure I can even describe the plot here. Axe Cop and his allies save the dinosaurs from aliens, the evil Psychic Brothers have basically taken over Earth and attack Uni-Smart World, Sockarang meets his supposedly-dead mother, and there’s time travel galore. I mean, the plot doesn’t matter as much as the impossibly awesome details of the story. How do the bad guys beat Uni-Smart World, where everyone has a magic wish-granting unicorn horn? They put magic traffic cones over the horns. What do the Psychic Brothers use to attack our heroes? Truckchucks, which are nunchucks made out of semi trucks. How do you defeat good Vikings? With a world full of evil baseball players. What was so special about the year Zero Thousand and Zero? I’ll save that little surprise for you to read yourself.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s really hard to believe how jaw-droppingly bizarre and awesome this story is. You know it was written by a six-year-old kid, right? Six years old!

iZombie #12

Aww, Mike Allred has the issue off, so we’ll have to suffer through some random fill-in artist who — what’s that? Gilbert Hernandez? Co-creator of “Love and Rockets“? Well, that’ll at least be interesting. And it is pretty cool — like reading a L&R/iZombie crossover issue. Our focus is on hip 1960s ghost Ellie just prior to meeting Gwen for the first time — she hangs out in the cemetery with all the other ghosts, and they tell stories to each other and argue. Ellie reflects on what her own life was like, giving us a nice origin story for her.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fun story — several fun stories, in fact — and wonderful artwork.

Love and Capes: Ever After #3

We’ve got three storylines running through this issue — Abby and Mark fixing up their new home, and later attending Abby’s class reunion, and Darkblade and Amazonia going through relationship stress over his continuing friendship with Abby’s sister Charlotte.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nothing particularly fancy this time, just solid cartooning, funny jokes, and good dialogue, characterization, and interpersonal relationship design.

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