Batman ’66 By Jeff Parker & Jonathan Case Review

A few nights ago I read the first two issues of Batman ’66 and for lack of a better phrase, I’m completely obsessed.  In just 50 pages (30 pages in issue #1, and 20 pages in issue #2), we’ve already been introduced to Batman, Robin, Riddler (the Frank Gorshin version), Penguin, Mr. Freeze, Catwoman, Commissioner Gordon, Alfred, and Circe.  And we’ve already gotten some classic Boy Wonder exclamations such as “Holy Evil Alliance,” “Holy Tightrope,” and “”Should I enter it into the Bat-Computer?”  The first two issues each contain one main story, and a backup story.  Jeff Parker, who writes the series, told the NY Post that he listens to the characters speaking while he creates their dialogue, which you can easily tell while you’re reading.  Parker has a much bigger opportunity to tell grander stories since there’s no budget for effects in a comic book, and it comes through in his writing that Parker is basically telling dream Batman ’66 stories which wouldn’t have been able to be told on the television series due to monetary restrictions.  We haven’t seen a full blown Batusi yet, but hopefully Parker was foreshadowing in the first issue when a bar patron asks “Batman, I was hoping to run into you! Can you show us how to do that dance we heard about?”  Sadly Bats doesn’t have the time because he and the Boy Wonder are investigating a serious crime.

Jonathan Case, who illustrates and colors the series, created artwork which perfectly captures the overall tone.  He uses bright neon colors which pop against contrasting backgrounds, and in the first issue with the Riddler, he outlines all of the landscapes with blue lines which creates a kind of 3D effect in a much more attractive version of Gotham.  Case perfectly captures the likeness of the Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar’s ’66 characters, using smooth rounded lines, and hairstyles consistent with the decade to depict the cast of the comic.  And I just have to say this – Case’s Catwoman is purrfect.  I’m also loving the use of the exaggerated sound effects within the comics’ panels.  And the covers are drawn and colored by Mike and Laura Allred, who just so happen to be two of my favorite artists.  I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have flipped through these issues.

According to Comics Alliance, a very classy Mad Men-like version of Harley Quinn will be appearing in issue #7.  If you’re reading the comic digitally, you’ve already seen Harley’s introduction, but since I’m reading in print, I’m only up to issue #2.  Batman ’66 is part of the DC2 initiative to convert readers to digital comics.  I’ve been reading the physical printed copies, which are released on a very delayed time schedule compared to their digital counterparts, but since I loved the first two issues so much, I think I’m going to finally cave in and start buying the series from ComiXology… as well as the print issues… and the trade.  *Makes fist* damn you DC Comics for monopolizing my bank account!

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Customizing Vinyl Toys & My New Robocop Army

This past weekend was arguably one of the best weekends ever.  My best friend, Melissa, came over Friday afternoon, and we ended up having so much fun that she didn’t leave until Sunday evening!  Anytime Mel comes to visit me, we always end up shopping at Barnes and Noble, Hot Topic, the comic book store, and several other locations, but this time, we were shopping with a purpose.  We decided it would be fun to customize some vinyl toys so in addition to all of the books, clothes, and collectibles we usually purchase, we were also in the market for art supplies.

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We spent about 13 hours painting toys while we watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I & IITerminator 2, and Robocop.  The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies led to us ordering a pizza (obviously).  There is probably no food in the world that’s better than a New York pizza with extra cheese.

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But back to toys!  Melissa and I basically made our toy dreams into a reality this weekend.  We’re both really into pastel colors, and if it were up to us, there would be a lot more pink in the world.  So we took that dream and applied it (almost literally!) to our new collectibles.  I’m so thrilled to be the proud owner of a rainbow Robocop army, a pink Batman with a gold sparkly belt, Tinker Bell’s twin sister who prefers pink, a glittery Silver Surfer, and the sparkliest Spider-Man bank you will ever lay eyes on.

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My absolute favorite toys that Melissa customized are her lime green Terminator figure, and her pink Hulk.  If I saw either of them on a shelf at a store or convention, I would totally purchase them immediately!

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Here’s a photo of what all of our toys looked like before…

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…. and after!

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Tea & Manga Chat: Paradise Kiss by Ai Yazawa

Paradise Kiss by Ai Yazawa is a series that feels as if it were written for me.  Having gone to fashion school myself and spending the majority of my years in high school focusing more on my career than studying for tests, I completely relate to Yukari (aka Caroline, aka Carrie).  In the beginning, Yukari is a shy student with little confidence and direction, but everything changes for her when she meets Arashi, Miwako, Isabella and George (students at Yaza Arts, a fashion institute).  Arashi bumps into Yukari on the street and asks her to be a model for their fashion show.  At first, Yukari has many reservations about modeling, but once she visits their atelier she sees how serious the group is about producing and selling Paradise Kiss label clothing.  She waits several days to give them her final answer, but she ultimately decides to lie to her mother, skip out on cram school, and help out at the atelier as much as she possibly can.  Infatuated by the brands designer, George, and driven by a a newfound career passion, Yukari’s character becomes way more dynamic.  Throughout the series she continues to grow and push her sense of free will to the limit.

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Yukari immerses herself in the world of fashion.  She becomes best friends with Miwako, who is constantly comparing herself and trying to measure up to her older sister, the designer of Happy Berry clothing.  Miwako helps Yukari with girly things like picking out clothing and acting as a makeup artist as well as offering her comfort in times of need, and a place to stay when things get rough.  Yukari also ditches her childhood crush on a fellow student in high school and gets involved in a twisted and confusing romance with the irresistible George.  It’s questionable whether George’s antics are helping or hindering Yukari’s development, but it’s a storyline you’ll be clinging to until the very last word.

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One of the most fascinating aspects of the series is how self aware the characters are, and their constant habit of breaking the fourth wall.  The majority of Yukari’s communication of her innermost thoughts to the reader is primarily through monologues, while the other characters will turn their heads to the read and blatantly express a thought, apologize for jumping around, or clarify which type of chapter this will be.  Also, it would be impossible to fully express my love of this series without mentioning the amazing artwork.  Each character is drawn flawlessly!  They’re just the right mix of cute, chic, and youthful. Obviously their clothes are to die for (as this is a tale about fashion), and the atelier looks like my high school dream hangout.  Throughout the series I felt connected and invested in each character’s life.  I will forever be grateful to Betty Felon who enlightened me with her recommendation (for those who don’t know, she’s pretty fashionable herself ^_^).  Paradise Kiss is without a doubt my favorite manga series, and I would go so far as to say that it is also one of my favorite series I’ve ever read in any form of literature.

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You can pick up all three volumes of Paradise Kiss on Amazon, or at a bookstore near you that sells manga!  If you decide to indulge yourself and read the series, I’d love to hear your thoughts on Yukari and the Yaza Arts kids!

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Geek Girl Blogger Brunch #1

To me, one of the most exciting things about being a blogger is the opportunity to meet a community of other likeminded women who are also interested in blogging about geek culture.  I met two of my best friends Melissa and Cassie through blogging and tweeting and such and since then I’ve been rapidly expanding my network!  My friend Jamila and I previously had a blogger brunch and it was so much fun that we wanted to have another one, but include more of our other friends.  Both of us have a “the more the merrier” type mentality!  After coordinating our schedules on a google calendar we decided to go to a Mexican restaurant in the East Village that serves delicious food and a plethora of strong and unlimited drinks.  All six of us (Me, Melissa, Cassie who writes for Bibliomantics, Jamila who runs Girl Gone Geek, Leslie who created the International Geek Girls Pen Pal Club, and blogs on Darling Stewie, and Yissel), woke up extra early and traveled downtown so we could discuss things like which Game of Thrones house is our favorite, who our fictional crushes are (my first one was Link from Zelda), and tweet about it using the hashtag #GGBrunch.  After brunch, we headed over to Big Gay Ice Cream Shop (I had another Mermaid), Toy Tokyo, Forbidden Planet, Barnes and Noble, Kinokuniya and Midtown Comics.  We had so much fun that we’ve decided to plan monthly brunches and give them each a theme.  Here are some photos from our lovely day!

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The Girls

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Our first round of frozen Rosalitas

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Goodies From Leslie’s Etsy Shop!

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Geek girls always accessorize

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Cassie whispers Game of Thrones spoilers to Melissa

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Outside of Toy Tokyo

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Mermaid from Big Gay Ice Cream Shop

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The $1,000 Boba Fett I need in my life (From Toy Tokyo)

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And surprising no one, I bought way too many books!

As you may be able to tell, I acquired quite a few books during our after brunch shopping spree and I could barely feel my arms as I was running to catch my train.  My Saturday haul included 1)Books – Fablehaven by Brandon Mull and Brandon Dorman, and Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl, 2) Manga – 5 Centimeters Per Second by Makoto Shinkai, Cardcaptor Sakura by CLAMP, Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa, and Is This a Zombie? by Shinichi Kimura & Sacchi, 4) Graphic Novels – Saga Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples, The Sixth Gun Volume 1 by Cullen Bunn & Brian Hurtt, The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 3 (Marvel Masterworks) by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko, and 5) Comics – The Wake #3 by Scott Snyder & Sean Murphy, Trillium #1 by Jeff Lemire, Infinity Part One by Jonathan Hickman, and Li’l Gotham #5 by Dustin Nguyen & Derek Fridolfs.

So now I’ll be hiding in my house all week and spending time with my new books! How was your weekend?

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FANGASM Or How I Spent My Summer

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written a personal blog post about my latest adventures so I thought now would be as good a time as any to fill you all in on what’s been going on.  As you may have noticed I’ve been tweeting and Facebooking about a new television show on Syfy called Fangasm.  Fangasm is responsible for my internet hiatus earlier this year, and as much as I knew I would miss the interwebs, I also knew that I would have to be crazy to pass up this opportunity!  I spent the beginning of my summer moving clear across the country to intern for Stan Lee’s Comikaze and move into a house with five strangers and one of my very best friends, Molly McIsaac.  I can’t even begin to capture in words how excited I am to have been a part of show that celebrates geek culture instead of exploiting it.  I posted the full press release on my other website and you can also check out some of cast photos and promos on Syfy.com.  I can’t wait to be able to speak more about my wonderful roommates, my incredible boss Regina Carpinelli, and of course, the legend himself, Stan Lee.  Until then, here’s the newest promo for Fangasm, which is two whole minutes long!  And just to fangirl out for a moment, I’M ON A COMMERCIAL WITH STAN LEE!  If anyone ever says that dreams don’t come true, I will show them this trailer as proof of their fallacious claim.

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Sailor Moon & Sailor Jupiter

Sometimes it’s fun to just impulsively cosplay on an afternoon for absolutely no reason.  In between SDCC cosplay prep, Melissa and I decided to dress up in these Sailor Scout outfits because we had to wait about 30 minutes for our first coat of modpodge to dry.  Here are the resulting photos. Moon Prism Power Make Up!

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(Photos by Robert Hackett)

Pacific Rim Movie Review

Pacific Rim is a mecha dream come true.  In a world where the Kaiju, an alien race who emerges from the sea, attacks major cities in an attempt to take over Earth, the humans inhabiting it retaliate by building robots called Jaegers.  Jaegers are operated by two human pilots who use a technique called drifting to share their memories with one another and become compatible with the machine they’re fighting in.  Throw in a strong female character, Mako, who has spent her life resenting Kaiju and is waiting for her chance to pilot her own Jaeger, a mismatched team of quirky, yet lovable scientists (played by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman), a former Jaeger pilot who lost his brother in battle against a category 4 Kaiju named Knifehead, and Idris Elba, the Marshall who is determined to keep the Jaeger program alive even after his funding is cut.  (How could anyone not get chills when they hear Idris Elba exclaim, “Today, we are canceling the apocalypse!”)  It would also be impossible not to mention Ron Perlman’s kooky character, an outrageous and cartoonish black market dealer of Kaiju parts who wears gold metal toed shoes and dark round glasses.  While some of the characters may seem cliched, there is enough heart behind their actions to justify their motivations and transform them into memorable characters.  Pacific Rim is a film about war, but instead of people vs. people, the people have all banded together whether they’ve helped build walls, machines, or technology, in an epic robots vs. aliens battle.

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Director and co-screenwriter (with Travis Beacham), Guillermo del Toro’s love of all things Japanese really shines through in the film.  The Kaiju and the Jaegers are both enormous in size, towering over any skyscraper, and the majority of the film’s footage is devoted to their larger than life battles.  The film utilizes special effects galore to show the destruction of coastal cities in the Pacific, create unique looking sea monsters and their portal to Earth, and of course Earth’s final hope at salvation, the Jaegers.  Gipsy is the beautifully crafted analog Jaeger depicted on all of the posters.  She enters battles by being flown in by a slew of helicopters who then release her from the sky, submerging her into the Pacific Ocean with a powerful splash.  Throughout the film, she feels very humanized from the moment she smashes her first into her palm before battle until her final run in with the Kaiju.  Del Toro also included a love story that is very shoujo in nature, which allows the viewer to focus their attention on Earth’s impending doom and of course, it’s beautiful creatures.

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Especially enjoyable are the brilliant pops of color and neons used throughout the film.  It feels like a Daft Punk video, meets retro color blocked comics, with a futuristic twist. In addition to the incredible aesthetics, anyone who’s ever played Portal will also be pleased to hear GLaDOS’ soothing robotic voice inform the Marshall of the Jaeger’s statuses throughout the film.  It’s difficult to put my love of Pacific Rim into words, but I will say that it renewed my faith in movies this year.  After seeing (and strongly disliking) Man of Steel and World War Z, I feared that I was becoming too critical, but Pacific Rim proved that my nitpicking is valid and thankfully, I am not becoming a miserable pessimist.  Guillermo del Toro created an instant classic and a welcome addition to the mecha vs. monsters genre.  This film is way more than fan service.  I had watched the Pacific Rim trailer on repeat since the day it was released, so I knew I was going to enjoy the film, I just hadn’t known I would love it this much.  Immediately upon its ending I found myself ready and eager to watch it again.  If you haven’t seen Pacific Rim yet, I strongly suggest sprinting to the nearest movie theater and getting comfortable for the next couple of hours.  It is worth it to see the film on the big screen.  Do not wait until it’s on blu-ray or demand!

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And just for good measure, here’s a photo of Charlie Day next to a Kaiju’s secondary brain.

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Tea & Book Chat: Cinder by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #1)

Marissa Meyer’s debut novel, Cinder, quickly became a book that I could not put down.  In fact, I became so attached to the characters and the story that I ended up reading the entire 387 page book in just one day.  Cinder is a modern day Cinderella tale that blends science fiction with fantasy, creating a whimsical yet bleak dystopian society aptly named New Beijing, which formed following the end of the Fourth World War.  Adding to the science fiction aspect of the story, Cinder is cyborg, a lower class citizen in the ranks of New Beijing’s caste system, with a mechanical leg who suffered a traumatic event early on in her childhood, just before she turned 11.  An event of which, Cinder has no recollection of.  All she is aware of is that her father saved her life and soon after lost his own, leaving Cinder to live with her evil stepmother Adri, evil stepsister Pearl, loving stepsister Peony, and their hilarious android Iko who has an affinity for wearing jewelry.

Times are tough in New Beijing, as the entire county is becoming infected with a very deadly virus called Letumosis.  There is no known cure for the disease, also referred to as the plague, which hits suddenly and quickly progresses through the four stages of the disease before finally resulting in death.  Prince Kai’s father, the current Emperor, becomes infected with the disease along with Cinder’s stepsister Peony, before a cure can be discovered.  Once Peony’s illness is discovered and she is brought to the hospital to be placed in quarantine, Adril decides that the entire misfortune is somehow Cinder’s fault and as her legal guardian, she volunteers Cinder to join the Cyborg Draft and to become a test subject at the hospital.  They inject her with the disease, but miraculously, Cinder’s immune system seems to fight off the virus and her body is clear within a matter of hours.  She develops an interesting relationship to her less than truthful doctor, becomes more closely involved with Prince Kai, and learns some very shocking information about her past in the process of her volunteered research.  And of course, in true Cinderella fashion, the book spends many pages building up the excitement of big celebratory ball that is being held by Prince Kai in his castle during the final chapters.

Just when it seemed that their world couldn’t possibly face any other hardships, a race of humans who left planet Earth to inhabit the moon, called The Lunars, show up to negotiate a marriage to Prince Kai in exchange for continued peace between the colonies.  While Prince Kai detests Queen Levana, he is faced with the  difficult decision of marrying her in an effort to protect his people.  Queen Levana is shockingly beautiful due to a false facade that she is able to project to the people on Earth.  One line that I particularly loved in the novel conveyed the notion that truth cannot be hidden from mirrors.  Which is why The Lunars demanded that all mirrors be removed from the premises before they arrived on Earth.  In addition, any prior communication with Earth had always been done with a shield so they’re able to avoid revealing their true forms.

I really enjoyed this fractured fairytale.  Cinderella has never been one of my favorite fairytale princesses because she has always seemed slightly useless, but Meyer turns cyborg Cinder into a memorable heroine.  The book was full of foreshadowing which enabled me to figure out the plot twists early on, but despite being able to tell what was coming, I was still excited for all of the big reveals.  As I mentioned before, I ended up reading the entire book in one day because I had to watch the next series of events unfold.  I also liked how the beginnings of each section were prefaced with a quote from Cinderella which previewed the upcoming portion of the story which was about to be retold.  I’m very fond of the books cover art as well.  The artist made Cinder’s skin translucent so that you can see her mechanical leg which translates the fragility of the glass slipper into the fragility of her artificial limb.  She’s depicted wearing a striking red pump which pops against the shadowy background, and the title font is the perfect choice.

Cinder ends with a major cliffhanger, but luckily, the new paperback version of the book includes a bunch of extras that any book lover would appreciate.  There was an added short story called Glitches which brings us back into Cinder’s past before the events in the book occurred, an in depth interview with Marissa Meyer, twelve discussion questions which would be very interesting to discuss whether you are hosting a Cinder book club or simply pondering them on your own, and a seven page preview of Meyer’s next book.  Cinder is the first book in a four book series called “The Lunar Chronicles,” that Meyer will be releasing between 2012-2015.  Her second book, Scarlet, which twists and retells Little Red Riding Hood, will be available in bookstores nationwide this Tuesday February 5th.  Following that, Rapunzel’s story will be reimagined in Cress, and Snow White’s in Winter.  I am very much looking forward to continuing on with the series and discovering how each of the fairytales retellings will intertwine and relate to The Lunars.

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Kristin

SDCC ’13: 5 Artists I Want to Give All of Money To

One of my favorite parts of any convention is the day I devote to purchasing artwork.  Walking through the show floor aisles sandwiched between the industry’s top talent gives me an adrenaline rush like no other.  How many times have you been browsing titles at a bookstore and impulsively picked up a new series because you fell in love with the art?  A majority of the reason we start reading new comics and manga is because the artwork appeals to us.  I waited until exactly a week before SDCC to browse the list of attendees in Artist Alley, but I knew I immediately had to make a list of who I want to buy prints from.  I’m expecting to find plenty of new artists as well, but I like to make my initial plan so I can budget accordingly.  Here are the artists I’m most interested in seeing!

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Agnes Garbowska

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Dustin Nguyen

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Andy Price

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Chrissie Zullo

Who are you looking forward to buying prints or having artwork commissioned from?  Leave comments if there’s anyone else you think I should check out!

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Tea & Book Chat: Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson Review

This week I couldn’t put down Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson.  The book serves as a prequel to Peter Pan, who at the time is an orphan without a last name.  Peter and the other orphan boys are sent aboard a ship named the Wasp, to go to Rundoon and serve the evil King Zarboff, the third.  During their journey, Peter sneaks out of the boys’ quarters to attempt to find real food for them to eat.  Along the way he makes a new friend named Molly, who is an apprentice and descends from a long line of Starcatchers.  Molly is traveling separate from her father and guarding a magical trunk aboard their ship which is to be delivered to the Queen.  Peter and the Starcatchers is a mystical page turning adventure involving familiar characters such as the pirates Black Stache and Smee, Captain and first mate aboard the Jolly Roger, the most terrifying pirate ship in the sea.  As more sailors become privy to the magic withheld inside the trunk, chaos ensues on the high seas and five separate parties (Slank and Little Richard, Black Stache and Smee, Peter and Molly, the mermaids, and once they hit land, the Mollusks) battle each other to acquire the trunk.

If you have an affinity for the story of Peter Pan, you will fall deeply in love with Peter and the Starcatchers.  It’s wonderful to read the events which shaped Peter into the legend he is today.  You also learn about the origin of  the Lost Boys, Tinkerbell, the mermaids, and Mr. Grin, the crocodile.  The story is rich with easter eggs its fast paced narrative instantly engages the reader.  I often found myself saying I would read “just one more page,” before I put it down, but in actuality I would end up reading twenty to forty more pages.  I loved the story so much that after completing the novel I felt compelled to look further into Peter and the Starcatchers online.  I had already known about the off-Broadway play in New York (which I’m going to force someone to take me to on my birthday), but I also discovered that Disney is planning on turning the book into a film.  They’ve already employed Gary Ross (The Hunger Games) to direct, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the finished product.

Peter and the Starcatchers is the first book in a four book series, and you can order a copy from Amazon.

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