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Wait, What? Ep. 95: Flop Flips

Jeff Lester

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Above: Izzy’s Guac & Lox with extra red onion and sliced tomato, on an onion bagel, from Los Bagels in Arcata, CA.

Oh, man.  I don’t know if you’ve ever had the above but if you do–I highly recommend it.  It’s a little pricey, but the guacamole is great and the lox are fresh.  Just a fine old dining experience.

But you’re not here for the food talk, are you? (Wait…are you?)  You are here, in theory, for the latest installment of Wait, What? Ep. 95, so join me behind the jump for….show notes!

1:18-4:18: Vacation, all we ever wanted!  Graeme and I compare notes: I had one and it was fine.  Graeme hasn’t had one in YEARS.
4:18-7:28:  Comic Books Are Burning In Hell are totally dropping “the McMillion” in their new episode?  We should all listen! (Except Graeme, probably.) We tried to help them with their RSS feed, honest.
7:28-13:40:  Jeff racks his brain to see if he has a comic book related anecdote about his vacation, but he does.  Oh my, yes.  Probably skippable if you’re not a member of the family (or even if you are, I bet).
13:40-14:34:  “Congratulations, Detective!”  Graeme and I ponder the mystery of…Robo-Warrior? Judge Trooper? Don’t worry, we figure it out.
14:34-15:58:  Jonesing for 2000 AD, McMillan-style, which leads us into discussing…
15:58-37:10:  Zaucer for Zilk by Al Ewing and Brendan McCarthy, which Jeff has now read and we now discuss, along with Axe Cop: President of the World #1 and Prophet #27. Jeff draws a connective line between the three; Graeme is less sure of this.  A very big discussion about the difference between self-consciousness and self-awareness ensues.
37:10-41:57:  Returning to other 2000 AD-ish goodness, Graeme schools me on the difference between the progs and the Megazines and talks about what’s in the current issues of the latter, as well as recommendations for how and when to jump on to 2000 AD digitally
41:57-47:37:  For comparison/contrast sake, Jeff talks about the new title in Shonen Jump Alpha, how his digital subscription to Mad Magazine on the iPad is going,  and the awesome opportunity to get Charles Forsman’s The End of The Fucking World as a PDF over at OilyComics.com as well as his awesome subscription deal running through the end of July.  Yes, the future is here and we just gave you links to four very different and excellent types of comics experiences difficult to find in your average comic shop.  (Now, if I could only get Top Shelf to get Double Barrel onto the shelves of our digital store…)  I won’t give away the segue, but all of this does lead into:
47:37-1:19:50:  “Dark Knight Rises. Go.”  Jeff saw it very recently, Graeme saw it a few days previously, and we talk about it here lots and we pretty much spoil it everything so don’t listen if you haven’t seen it already.  (Note: my Bane imitation was done in-mic: no filters added.  I am inordinately proud of that.)  Around the 1:19:50 mark, Graeme makes a terrifying confession.
1:19:50-1:28:19: (Hint: It involves Batman Returns).
1:28:19-1:36:54:  New comics!  Graeme talks Captain Marvel #1 and National Comics: Eternity; Jeff talks Flash #11 and Detective Comics #11.
1:36:54-1:52:14:   Whoever had 1:36:54 as the time in the pool when we talk about Grant Morrison wrapping up his monthly book duties at DC, please collect your winnings.  We also talk about some amazing things said by Morrison at his recent CBR case.
1:52:14-1:59:26:  Closing comments, of a sort.  Graeme admits he read Extreme X-Men #1 and, as a Dazzler fan, he felt let down. Oh, and also All-Winner’s Squad over at Marvel.com.  And then we say goodbye!  No, really, that’s the end for now.
Because of some funky work scheduling, this is hitting the Net about 24 hours earlier than usual, and has perhaps already been seen cavorting with Bigfoot and a Chupacabra on iTunes.  But you are also invited to plunge into Savage Critic’s own personal Mystery Spot, and listen to it here and now:
Wait, What? Ep. 95: Flop Flips
And, as always, we thank you for listening and hope you enjoy!

64 Responses to “ Wait, What? Ep. 95: Flop Flips ”

  1. ‘Wait, What?’ became a hardcore eaters podcast so gradually I didn’t even notice.

  2. Zaucer Of Zilk is a pretty blatant love letter to Milligan & McCarthy magic, in particular Paradax and Strange Days. It’s failing (and I say this a someone who did enjoy it a great deal) is that it reads too much like that. It’s not actually as fresh and zingy as people were insisting, despite McCarthy’s always stunning art. Fun but kind of insubstantial fluff.


  4. I always thought the protagonists of Batmen movies reflect more on the filmmaker than on the property. The affected and strange awkward man who feels out of place is both Edward Scissorhands and Bruce Wayne in Tim Burton’s Batman. The man who seeks to find his identity with world-changing consequences is both Memento as well as Dark Knight. The hot-headed, brash young men seeking company and friendship in the face of adversity is both in Shumacker’s Lost Boys and Batman Forever.

    Batman is sort of auteur character, a cypher, for the director to transplant their stock male heroic themes into a mask.

  5. Yay for new podcast! This podcast has completely replaced House to Astonish as my go-to comics podcast.
    I was wondering if either of you are reading either of the Transformers titles that IDW are putting out? The first trade of More Than Meets the Eye came out last week and it is rapidly becoming my favorite monthly series. It is just so damn funny. I should note that while, as a red blooded american boy, I had an Optimus Prime toy when i was a kid, I didn’t watch the show or read any of the comics until these series started, so they are easy enough to get into.

    I am sure that the Portland library should have the first trade by now. :)

  6. Both Transformers titles are currently, FOR WHAT THEY ARE, I must stress, the best values for the $3.99 on the market.

    That Comic Books are burning in Hell podcast was surprisingly good.

  7. I thought that Bale was supposed to look sick and unhealthy. Given where Wayne was in his character arc doesn’t that make sense?

    Also, anyone else think Brave and the Bold 197 had a strong influence on the ending? The end of his obsession with death and focus on life?

  8. Los Bagels Jalapeno bagels are amazing!

    And yes, Bale was supposed to look bad. He hadn’t left the mansion, his body was falling apart on him, and just being unhappy at where his life is at.

  9. Jeff! JEFF! Did you see the parting shot at comics alliance last Friday? It was, no bullshit, a photo of the graph Johnathon Hickman made to map out his Fantastic Four run before he started! You are a prophet, sir. Check it out:


    Fabulous podcast, gents. The stuff about Haney had me rolling.

  10. With every episode of Wait What I want to read Zaucer of Zilk that little bit more. Eagerly awaiting the IDW editions.

    Pardon my ignorance but what do you guys mean by Archness?

    If Jeff and Graeme ever have a Wolverine/Cyclops style Schism and do separate podcasts, Jeff should name his “The Cranky Old Man Event Horizon”. Love that term

  11. How did so many people not realize the fighting was downright atrocious in the other Batman movies? I mean isn’t that what people see superhero movies for? The action? The bad fight scenes were the first thing I noticed about the first two movies and the reason I refuse to see the 3rd. Not noticing bad action in a superhero movie is like watching a musical with bad songs and dancing and then saying you didn’t notice until someone points it out.

    I don’t watch superhero movies for deep themes, intense drama, psychological polemics, etc. I mean, if I get those, hey, it’s a bonus. I don’t mind. But I don’t want them at the expense of cool, coherent action scenes. I’d rather go to non-superhero movies to get the “deep” stuff.

  12. My take on Grant Morrison winding things up at DC is this: Given everything he has given DC (which is to say, a lot), he expected DC to sign over to him the full rights to Flex Mentallo (whether as part of a future contract being negotiated or in recognition and compensation for past work). When DC was unable and unwilling to do so, he chose to walk away. Can’t say I blame him.

  13. Oh, and thanks for mentioning DECOMPRESSED. I’ve caught every epidsode so far, and completely loved it. And yeah, I really loved how frank Kelly Sue was – that seems to be the kind of openness that you guys have talked about wanting more of in creator interviews. :)

  14. Graeme is so incredibly wrong about Axe Cop that I can’t even imagine how he must feel about Santa Claus and Choco Tacos. I don’t think I want to know.

  15. Am i the only person who spent all day thinking today was tuesday after listening to the podcast this morning?

  16. I’m not at all surprised about that bit of the Morrison interview Graeme quoted. People’s perspectives – political, social, ethical, etc. – are most directly influenced by their experience and their social status, and Morrison’s experience has been that the big corporate companies treat him just fine – I mean, what’s the worst treatment he’s gotten from a company so far, Marvel periodically expressing irritation with him while he was writing New X-Men? That’s a far, far cry from the kind of abuse that Siegel and Shuster, Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson, Jack Kirby, etc. had to go through. To shrug it off and go “shoulda had a lawyer look over your contracts, chumps!” is a laughably facile thing for Morrison to say, considering the gulf between his socioeconomic status and theirs (despite the fact that there would be no Grant Morrison without Jack Kirby, Jack Kirby could never have gotten anyone to pay $700.00 plus travel, lodging and expenses to attend Kirbycon).

    But it’s also a fairly predictable thing for him to say – I don’t know that Grant Morrison has anything more than the barest theoretical conception of what it’s like to be really screwed over by one’s corporate masters, not in some “we’re going to make you write four issues of this year’s Bat-crossover” way, but in a real and palpable “you put everything you had into this thing, this thing which has proven highly profitable for us, and your reward for that is you get to see us fuck it for money while we deny you have any ownership of anything” kind of way. When it comes down to it, DC is still the hand that feeds, and Morrison isn’t going to bite it, however many semi-critical quasi-fables he writes into Action Comics.*

    As for why he’s leaving now, I think Jeff and Graeme both have it right – Morrison has always aspired, at least within his corporate superhero work, to be a sort of master-writer, who not only gets to play with all the toys but gets to rework all the toys everyone else is playing with. That period more or less peaked with Final Crisis, when the DCU’s big event was a Morrison-scripted sequel to Morrison’s own Seven Soldiers. But Final Crisis flopped, and DC ran back to its first love: getting Geoff Johns to smash clumsy multi-colored metaphors into each other. And since the New 52 essentially cut Morrison’s Batman arc off at the knees, sidelining it in its own little corner of the Bat-verse that doesn’t have anything to do with bats and owls fucking each other up, his work has seemed increasingly marginal – which has to bother him. The Morrison of the corporate DC era has, I think, largely been defined by ambition – not in terms of storytelling, really, but in terms of a desire to influence the other corporate comics around him – and at this point that ambition has been pretty effectively frustrated.

    (*And we should remember that while Action #9 took a swipe at DC for stealing Superman, it also took a defensive, pox-on-both-their-houses swipe at Siegel and Shuster with its “Superman belongs to everyone” shtick – a logic, it should be noted, that Morrison isn’t that quick to apply to any of his own creator-owned works.)

  17. Well, I’m with Morrison that Superman does belong to everyone. More so than Mickey Mouse or Charlie Brown or Santa Claus. Superman is not a particularly original concept. It’s been around before Nietsche and has its origins in the Bible and other myths. Do we need to go there yet again?

    To distinguish himself, Morrison needs to move on. DC’s loss is everyone else’s gain. DC could no longer afford Grant Morrison.

  18. The Batman discussion was awesome, by the way. I guess my brain is syncing up with Graeme a lot these days, because I’ve got a huge soft spot for Batman Returns, too – I can’t justify it, but I will say that at no point does it commit the cardinal sin of the Nolan films, which is to take Batman soooo damn seriously. I think once you commit yourself to doing Super-Serious Batman, you’re in for trouble, because if nothing else, you’ve got to deal with the fact that the premise of the character is somewhere between stupid and fascist, which isn’t something you want your audience dwelling on for any length of time unless you’re purposely bringing it up to make fun of it.

    So, yeah. Penguin rockets good, bat-statues bad.

  19. “Superman is not a particularly original concept. It’s been around before Nietsche and has its origins in the Bible and other myths.”

    Sorry, sorry, I must have missed this one – which book of the Bible has the baby alien crash-landing in Kansas growing up to fly and wield super-strength? And did Nietzsche stuff some character designs in the back of Beyond Good and Evil or something? Did he doodle the S shield in the margins, maybe?

    I mean, the concept of “person who runs faster than other people” isn’t a new concept, either, but I’m pretty sure we can credit the design of Barry Allen’s costume to Carmine Infantino, and not to some inscrutable unnameable ancients.

  20. Anyone who thinks Morrison is leaving DC because he feels hurt or marginalized is a fool. It’s monetary and that includes ownership rights to a character (Flex Mentallo) that Morrison loves and sees value in (film rights, etc). Morrison may be egotistical (Morrison Con), but he’s no fool.

  21. You’re being to literal moose n squirrel. Think large.

  22. Well, you know, Flex Mentallo is not a particularly original concept. It’s been around before Charles Atlas and has its origins in the Bible and other myths. Do we need to go there yet again?

  23. I’m done if an intelligent discussion can’t be had. I thought this was the place for that.

  24. And good day to you, sir!

  25. Siegel and Schuster were Jews. They lifted heavily from the Bible. Moses was sent in a reed basket down the Nile. He wasn’t from another planet but he parted the Red Sea and was a savior to his people, the Israelites. He didn’t have a nifty costume, but I guess you got me there.

    Christ was a savior as well. Virgin Birth. Miraculous super powers. Raising the dead and changing water to wine is not the power of flight, but nothing to sneeze at.

    Okay. Ignore the larger picture. Nothing to see here folks. Move along.

  26. Personally, I’ve never bought the whole “Siegel and Shuster based Superman on Moses/Jesus” thing; it reeks too much of Joseph Campbell reading Jungian archetypes into Star Wars. Does that mean there were no influences whatsoever that went into the making of Star Wars? Hell no, but it does mean that when we talk about the actual influences on Star Wars, we should talk about the actual influences on Star Wars – which were not some quasi-mystical archetypes floating out in the collective unconscious, but in fact cheesy old space opera serials.*

    Likewise, Siegel and Shuster had plenty of influences when they were writing Superman – the old pulps, for an obvious start. This doesn’t mean, however, that there was nothing original the character. There’s a reason why, before Action Comics #1, there aren’t any characters that you can point to and identify as “superheroes” in the way we know them – whereas after Action #1, there are loads of them. And that’s because Siegel and Shuster created something that was different and distinct from the various influences that came before it – the same way George Lucas deserves credit for Star Wars, even though it’s based on old serials, the same way Morrison deserves credit for Flex Mentallo, even though the character is based on an ad for a bodybuilding program. You can’t rob a creator of credit for their creation – or claim that their creation somehow predates them – simply because in the act of creation they were influenced and inspired by the works of others.

    When Morrison says that Superman “belongs to all of us,” he’s using a feel-good hippie-ism to actually rob Siegel and Shuster – the wronged parties in the actual events obliquely alluded to in Action #9 – of credit for their work. Indeed, the story itself depicts Superman as an idea that transcends any notion of authorship – which may sound all fine and noble until one considers the actual particulars of the case, in which there were two very real creators of Superman, who did the work of writing and drawing those comics and creating that character, and were rewarded by having that work and that character stolen from them. The polite fiction that Superman is merely a pleasant idea that belongs to us all, rather than the concrete product of the work of exploited artists, serves to minimize the work that brought the character into existence – and to minimize the exploitation of the artists.

    *But for the sake of what I’m arguing, it really doesn’t matter – you could find a character in the Bible called “Superman” (hint: you will not find a character in the Bible called “Superman”) and it still wouldn’t demonstrate that Siegel and Shuster’s work was somehow unoriginal – fuck, Kirby and Lee created Thor, even though there’d existed a Thor worshiped by the Norse centuries earlier, and the character they created was still clearly distinct and original.

  27. I’m very frustrated with the level of commentary on this site and wonder at times what I am doing here. I dwell (as opposed to “lurk”) here because I thought the level of discourse was based upon a certain degree of knowledge and insight and analytical thinking (as opposed to people just being bitchy or snarky or trolls).

    Despite what some may think, there are two maxims at play here: “things are not created in a vacuum” and “there is nothing new under the sun.” Take Superman for instance.
    The creators of Superman, Jerome Siegel and Joseph Schuster, were Jewish kids who apparently used their knowledge of Hebrew history to create a modern Moses. The book “Up, Up, and Oy Vey: How Jewish History, Culture, and Values Shaped The Comic Book Superhero” is illustrative of how there is nothing new under the sun. In the book, the author cites the following similarities between Moses and Superman:

    1) Moses was born into a world where people faced annihilation; Krypton (Superman’s home planet) also faced extinction;

    2) Baby Moses is put into a small basket and floated down the Nile by his mother; Kal-El (Superman’s original name) is put into a rocket ship and sent to Earth by his father;

    3.) Moses is rescued by a daughter of the pharaoh; Kal-El is rescued by Martha and Jonathan Kent;

    4.) Like Moses, Superman is raised in an alien environment where he must conceal his true identity.

    5.) Moses receives a calling from God through a burning bush to liberate his people from tyranny; young Clark discovers the green crystal in the shed in Smallville, it “calls” to him and bids him trek north. The crystal creates his home where he learns who he is and receives direction from the spirit of his father, Jor-El. He uses his powers to liberate humanity from evildoers.

    Another key point: The book and article point out that Moses is the leader of Israel or Yisra-el in Hebrew—translated as “one who strives with God.” El was a common name for God, and appears in the Bible as Elohim, El Shaddai, and many other such designations. Kal-El, in the Superman comic book means “swift God” in Hebrew!

    I guess I am disparaging the lack of context and history when it comes to discussing and understanding comic books and their heroes and their analogues and predecessors. There are books out there besides ones that contain sequential art. Superheroes were not created in the Twentieth Century out of whole cloth, though it sometimes seems that way, because that is what the comic book companies would have you believe.

    I think that was what Morrison was getting at, despite his staunch defense of DC vis-à-vis Siegel and Schuster. I don’t know. He’s right about contractual obligations and the need to abide by them. But I refuse to believe that he choose to leave DC for reasons of vanity as opposed to financial reasons. He is egotistical but ego equates with value. I doubt he is leaving because he can’t play with the DC toys like he wants. That would be too principled. I suspect DC’s assessment of his value was less than Morrison’s assessment of his value. Is that ego on his part? Maybe, but it fails only when the other party disagrees on your value. It’s financial and to speculate otherwise is to show ignorance.

    Anyhow, great podcast as usual. I’m putting on too much weight what with the waffles and bagels and lox. I may need to hit the treadmill and pretend I’m chasing a chocolate dipped waffle from the Waffle Window. Or at least dream I’m on a treadmill.


  28. Hang on a minute! No snarking on Before Sandman?! What the hell guys? Eh, I guess you kind of said everything you had to say before it was announced.

    Anyway, just finished greasing up so Im ready to jump into the Morrison-bar brawl thats going on here. :)

    The interview reminded me of what FunnybookBabylon said about the Morrison-documenary. It was something to the effect of “the whole thing is set up to make him look like a shaman or something but when you just watch him sit down and talk its super clear hes just a normal guy”. Sure Morrison had a unique start to his career, what with the wanking spells to keep the Invisibles from being cancelled, telling people hed be abducted by aliens, fiction suits and telling people how to do magic but at the end of the day hes just a dude. He wrote some very good comics and had a huge hand in defining the feel of DC intellectual property, but personally it doesnt feel that shocking that his view of all these lawsuits is impacted by working for DC and Marvel for 20+ years.
    Perhaps the shocking thing about Morrison’s interview isnt that he said some ignorant, missing-the-point stuff about Seigal/Shuster/Moore/etc but that we expected anything else.

    Also reguarding the not getting to be the big writer of Batman and Superman/his ego: This seems like a totally reasonable thing to do, hanging around and becoming a second stringer Batman writer is a backwards step for his career. Maybe thats ego but hanging around is just stupidity, and its not like he cant go back to that if the creator owned thing doesnt work.

    All that being said some of my favourite comics are Morrison comics and Im looking forward to Happy!
    And if youre going to get old, out-of-touch and slightly insane better to do it in this way rather than write something like Holy Terror or Glamorous.

    Also the idea that Superman isn’t an original concept is completely and utterly laughable hippy nonsense

  29. For the record, Joseph Campbell didn’t “read Jungian archetypes into STAR WARS;” it was more that George Lucas had read Campbell’s HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES and reverse engineered the Campbellian “monomyth” into the grand space opera he was devising — establishing a grim precedent that became further codified when Disney story consultant Christopher Vogel enthusiastically used Campbell’s monomyth to create a road map for a screenplay structure.

    In doing so, he violated a principle inherent in Campbell’s theories: that the Story itself should echo the journey it told; the story should illustrate the efforts of the storyteller to reach beyond the edge of these Woods We Know, to touch the divine and bring back something magical to share with the mundane world.

    All too many writers began to the “Hero’s Journey” template — its exoskeleton — without ever living inside it, becoming one with its guts. Thus they create Hero’s Journey’s that had the mythic shape but were hollow inside, the spiritual equivalent of junk food which failed to satisfy a deeper sense of hunger.

    And as a writer who has, on occasion, actually been paid to Write Stuff, I have to say that the understanding of creativity is often deeply misplaced.

    Yes, the writer should be honored for the original and unique expressions. But in terms of that original creative spark, the work is often less about some creative work within the egocentric mind… it’s often more about creating a space for a spark to take root and grow. Every writer has some personal horror story about the incredible original idea that was his or her own special unique idea — until they walked into a theater, or opened a script and saw “their” idea brought to life by someone else. Ideas have a strange way of arising spontaneously in different places: that scholarly collector of oddities Charles Fort once remarked on how an “invention” could be invented simultaneously, in several countries at once. To describe this synchronicity, Fort quipped, “It steam engines when it’s steam engine time.”

    Waiting for the spark to take root is part of the process. There’s a reason David Lynch called his book about transcendental meditation and creativity CATCHING THE BIG FISH: like fishing, it’s finding the right isolated spot, and waiting patiently, and being ready to tug and fight to reel it in when the line bogs. It’s been noted by many that the word “genius” is much misused — the Greeks would never call someone “a genius;” instead, they might say a person had been possessed by genius. In her TED Talk, author Elizabeth Gilbert talks about this elusive nature of inspiration, a force that seems to dwell outside one, visiting briefly and capriciously.


    (Of the many anecdotes she relates, my favorite is a tale from Tom Waits — who, stuck in traffic, snarls at a passing inspiration for a song — “Go bother Leonard Cohen or someone, can’t you see I’m busy?”)

    An original and startlingly “unique” idea is often arrived at by dressing it in disparate elements — the legend of the orphaned savior, found in the bulrushes; clad in the tights of a circus strongman, not unlike the breakthrough comic strip character of 1936, The Phantom; given the name of a concept concocted by Nietzsche, in 1883, and popularized by George Bernard Shaw in his 1903 play MAN AND SUPERMAN; with superhuman powers and abilities, eerily reminiscent of Hugo Danner, the hero of GLADIATOR by Philip Wylie — a popular novel released in 1930, whose hero possessed bulletproof skin and who escaped a death trap by lifting a car in the air, anticipating the famous cover of ACTION COMICS. And of course, Siegel & Schuster’s “Man of Steel” who dwelled in his “Fortress of Solitude” paralleled, in more than one way, Dr. Clark “Doc” Savage, Jr. — the pulp proto-superhero who himself may have been partly inspired by another Philip Wylie novel about an adventurer known as THE SAVAGE GENTLEMEN.

    From disparate and familiar elements, Siegel & Schuster alchemized something that felt new and startling in 1938. But there’s a reason copyrights don’t protect naked “ideas” by themselves — but only their expressions.

    Siegel & Schuster weren’t creating in a vacuum. They brought all these elements together to dress the divine spark of the Superhero — and, yes, their service to the holy Story, and their efforts should have been much better honored.

  30. That’s a very nice post, Steve D.


    I happened to see the movie with my wife and she really enjoyed it. She caught all the open signposts (and, to be fair, I think there were about 8) that all was not kosher with Miranda. On the plus side, without the grounding of years and years of comics, she didn’t see it coming in that particular format. I felt I was onto it from her initial appearance and her massive investment in an environmentally sound energy program.

    So, in a lot of ways, what might have been telegraphed for us was a nicely layered misdirection for neophytes or simply fans of the movies.

    As to the level of commentary here I find it generally agreeable and not overly quarrelsome but in that regard it’s much like the taste of soylent cola. It varies from person to person. If it’s not up to your standard the internet is a wide and vast plain with all manner of flora and fauna.

    Too Busy Thinking About My Comics generally brings a deep and considered viewpoint.

    Inkstuds is kind of a hardcore thing

    Mindless Ones is nice – although I’m there a bit so if you don’t care for me…

    And The Comics Journal is up there as far as intensity is concerned.

    In our defense, I think we’ve come a very fair distance over the course of nearly 100 hundred podcasts. There were days and weeks with no better than 3 comments per thread with one of them being Aaronson showing up to gripe about the lack of written reviews.

    Ah, memories.

  31. It’s Wall of Text vs Wall of Text in a battle for the ages!

  32. What I do think is unique in Superman is that while there were many pulp characters and science fiction characters before him, there was this melding between pulp, sci-fi, and religious fantasy to give Superman more than his parts. The idea that Superman is sort of an anti-city character…someone who is defined purposefully with disregard towards the limitations of the city (Faster than a speeding bullet means he isn’t affected by crime. More powerful than a locomotive means that he cannot be disfigured by the biggest machines of the age. Able to leap tall buildings means that he can defy the confines that the city puts him in). This was written by two kids in a claustrophobic city that confined them in as much as it thrilled them. To imagine a being that not only could defy the threats of the city, but who also was a part of someone living in the city is something really powerful that wasn’t in the previous works cited. Moses may have a mysterious birth, but he never kept his identity secret. Doc Savage may be the Man of Bronze, but he was never one of us.

    And don’t get me started on Superman’s relationship with Luthor, which is more or less Superman trying to help Luthor become the missing father figure he craves.


    Man, I would’ve loved for them to somehow split the movie in two just after the football stadium bit — and then fill the six-month gap between movies with an HBO-quality No Man’s Land miniseries. Not with any of the big-name actors, necessarily, nor directly dealing with the movie’s plot, but conveying the weight of what had happened, explain what the ordinary folks were doing, etc. Fleshing out something that just didn’t quite make sense in the film. Plus it would’ve let the big reveal(s) in the last act breathe a bit and might’ve removed some of the “is-it-a-movie-or-is-it-a-montage” feeling that I was starting to get.

    End wishful thinking. I saw the movie twice (sort of by accident) and liked it MUCH better the second time.

  34. “Kal-El, in the Superman comic book means “swift God” in Hebrew!”

    You know that his name wasn’t originally Kal-El, right? It was Kal-L. Less like “Swift God in Hebrew” and more like “a fake alien name that some teenagers made up.”

    These conversations always remind me of those nerds who think that Douglas Adams chose “42” as the answer to life the universe and everything because it’s an obscure reference to a math “joke” in base-13.

  35. But as I said before, the Bible stuff is really beside the point. Siegel and Shuster had plenty of actual influences, but they nonetheless came up with an original work that wouldn’t have been produced, at that time and that place, if they hadn’t produced it. How am I so sure of this? Because there were two human beings who actually drew and wrote the Superman story in Action Comics #1, and they were Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. And if they hadn’t, who was going to tell that particular story with that particular character in that particular way? Was the collective unconsciousness going to pick up pencil and pen and say, “welp, time to invent the archetypal superhero”? Were the Biblical ancients going to draw that cover of Superman smashing a car? Was the “everybody” to which Superman presumably belongs going to pick up a giant sketchbook in its multitudinous arms and start doing character designs? At some point we have to give the people who did the actual work their due.

  36. I have no patience for warmed-over claims that “superheroes are modern myths,” especially when they’re used to deprive Siegel and Shuster of the credit they deserve for creating not just a character but an entire genre. But I have to say that this whole argument is based on a false premise from “moose.”

    When, exactly, did Morrison say that Superman belongs to everyone? It certainly wasn’t in Action Comics #9, where Superman belonged to Clark, Lois, and Jimmy before they sold him to “Overcorp” against their better judgment. The issue carries an implied criticism of Siegel and Shuster for signing their creation away in exchange for exposure, but Morrison doesn’t claim that Superman didn’t have creators. (It’s also interesting that Morrison makes the exact same criticism of himself with respect to Flex Mentallo in this other CBR interview. I don’t think he’s unsympathetic to Siegel and Shuster in that issue of Action. Supergods, of course, is another story.)

    Whether we want to believe that Morrison is leaving DC because he wants to do creator-owned work or because he’s miffed that Scott Snyder is the new belle of the ball, either way we’re making huge assumptions about his motivation, assumptions that just happen to conform to whatever story we already want to tell about Morrison. But this “Superman belongs to everyone” shtick, that comes from this thread, not Action Comics.

  37. I have to disagree. Yes, the comic portrays Superman as being created by Lois, Clark, and Jimmy, but it cuts very strongly against the idea that Superman ever (or should have) belonged to them – and instead portrays the Superman concept as one that transcends creators, given that it exists in countless universes. Lois, Clark, and Jimmy may have created a Superman, but only one Superman among a multitude of universal Supermen – and indeed, their Superman proves corruptible and corrupt by the very fact that he was ever “owned” by them (and thus, capable of being owned by Overcorp) in the first place. I think the line Morrison takes here is still very much of a piece with the line he took in Supergods.

  38. @ Robert G – “I’m very frustrated with the level of commentary on this site and wonder at times what I am doing here. I dwell (as opposed to “lurk”) here because I thought the level of discourse was based upon a certain degree of knowledge and insight and analytical thinking (as opposed to people just being bitchy or snarky or trolls).”

    Presenting an argument and having someone present a counter-argument/opinion and backing it up is intelligent discourse/commentary. Just because they don’t agree with you doesn’t mean they are trolling.

    Back and forth’s like this are exactly why I enjoy this site and are at a higher level than your newsarama’s and CBR’s. Relax and enjoy the debate. Nobody has to “win”.

  39. By that definition, any story that features parallel universes or multiple Superman would somehow cut against creator’s rights when in fact they tend to reinforce the power and the flexibility of Siegel and Shuster’s creation. (On a related note, the issue hinges on this irony that President Superman and Red X or Superdoom or whatever he’s called both think they’re the real deal, the original that spawns all the inferior copies, when anybody reading the book knows they’re obviously not.)

    But this is beside the point–for the one and only character in the book who’s presented as having creators, Morrison clearly comes down on the side of him _having creators_, not “belonging to everybody.” Summing up the issue in that way is deeply misleading, and it ignores all the things the characters in the comic actually say:

    “It was Clark’s idea. His super-genius big idea.”

    “…We made this machine together, the three of us.”

    “We’d invented solid mind movies.”

    “We know we’re onto something big.”

    Etc. etc.

    I agree that the issue has more in common with Supergods than it might seem on a surface reading, but that common ground is a criticism of Siegel and Shuster for selling their idea too cheaply, not a claim that they never invented Superman in the first place. And it adds a critique of the company that’s exploited and franchised the character.

  40. @Yonatan B

    But we can still be friends, right?

  41. But I don’t think you can separate the two strands in that comic – Morrison’s charge against Siegel and Shuster, that they betrayed their creation by selling it (in fact, he has Lois say “WE SOLD OUT!” at one point, and Clark’s dying words are that this is his fault) is intimately connected with his argument that Superman is a concept that’s larger than his creators – Lois, Clark, and Jimmy betray their creation, they “sell out,” not just because they sell it too cheaply, but because they sell something that shouldn’t be sold, something that’s too big and too powerful to belong to any one person or corporate entity.

    “By that definition, any story that features parallel universes or multiple Superman would somehow cut against creator’s rights”

    And I’m sorry, but this is a silly response. Not every story that features parallel universe and multiple Supermen also features a fairly explicit allegory for the creation of the character and the exploitation of that character and the artists who created it. Morrison’s choice to present this story as a parallel universe story – as a story which frames the creation of Superman as just one creation among a multitude of others, a story in which one of Superman’s creators get to meet another Superman independent of that creation and hail that other Superman, in the story’s last line, as superior to her own creation (“I guess you must be Superman done right”) – has to be accounted for when interpreting the issue.

  42. To the first point, I have to ask where Morrison makes that argument in the comic, because it sounds like you’re projecting the narrative you want to read on it (the one that would let you criticize Morrison most easily).

    To the second point, let me rephrase my objection–you’re forcing a category error. Yes, the story has multiple Supermen in multiple universes, but only one is presented as a work of art, a copyrightable character who has authors and doesn’t belong to everybody. (And who, by the terms of the story, is not actually derivative of any of these parallel Supermen.)

    In fact, the situation in the story is analogous to the argument that you and Steve D. have made in favor of recognizing Siegel and Shuster’s authorship–just because there were similar and earlier ideas out there doesn’t mean that Clark, Lois, and Jimmy didn’t make something new, and Morrison recognizes their authorship. But apparently this argument doesn’t apply if it would contradict a chance to take a shot at Morrison?

  43. Re: The Dark Knight Rises

    “It’s a dumb movie that thinks it’s smart” is endemic to Nolan’s latter films, it’s been so long since I’ve seen Memento, Insomnia,etc. to be able to comment on the early ones, but that is the exact same statement I made when I walked out of Inception. However, DKR worked for me in a “shut your brain off and let it move you along” way, where Inception didn’t.

    I think the praise heaped on The Dark Knight as the proverbial “good” superhero film with depth is grossly overstated. Without Heath Ledger’s transcendent performance holding it together that movie totally falls apart.

    The Nolan Batman films are at heart, pulpy plot driven action films, where the point is to get from point A to point B in the story and we’ll bend things however we need to in order to achieve that. I think any “statements” that can be derived from them are more of an unconscious tapping into the zeitgeist than most people would like to believe.

  44. I love Batman Returns for everything that is not penguins. For as cartoony caricature Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman can be, it is stilly dynamic and fun. And the dance between Bale’s Bruce Wayne and Selina is a totally callback to Batman Returns, including the real villain of the movie calling out Bruce Wayne for not wearing a mask at a masquerade party.

    As for Christian Bale’s eyes, that was the scar make-up.

    As for the quote from Grant’s interview, I read it as the guy, concerned about the Flex Mentallo rights, who saw the Before Watchman and is savvy enough after so many years in writing comics to realize that DC, like Marvel, only use monthlies as place-holders and is turning into event driven comics. When he says I, I think he genuinely means “I” and is aware enough that he’s talking about himself, and much like Jeff and Graeme have said, is calling out Alan Moore for being as much of the problem in his relationship with DC as it is the ‘corporation’.

    At times it feels like J&G have already made up their minds, and then find ways to support it. Much like when Jeff goes off for 20 minutes on a blog post he hasn’t read, and it’s the same thing here. Grant is trying to say I got 99 problems but a suit ain’t one, and even though Grant has made the same argument, even though Jeff has struggled with the same article, you’re more than happy to call the guy a dick for giving an exit interview in which he’s trying to display some savvy in saying “before watchmen is horrid and you should be ashamed” while trying to keep the door open in case he needs WB dollars at some point in the future.

  45. I love Batman Returns for everything that is not penguins. For as cartoony caricature Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman can be, it is stilly dynamic and fun. And the dance between Bale’s Bruce Wayne and Selina is a totally callback to Batman Returns, including the real villain of the movie calling out Bruce Wayne for not wearing a mask at a masquerade party.

    As for Christian Bale’s eyes, that was the scar make-up.

    And on the “Occupy Gotham” part, I’d love to see Goyer and Nolan’s crystal ball that allowed them to write a script passing judgement on a movement almost 2 years before it happened and finished filming as Occupy Wall Street was starting. Plus the plot of Call of Duty Black Ops 2 written by David Goyer, pretty much copies the terrorist bad guy co-opting the Occupy Movement for his own nefarious ends (http://youtu.be/KQv90T800kw) just seems like copy from Goyer doesn’t stray far from his well.

    As for the quote from Grant’s interview, I read it as the guy, concerned about the Flex Mentallo rights, who saw the Before Watchman and is savvy enough after so many years in writing comics to realize that DC, like Marvel, only use monthlies as place-holders and is turning into event driven comics. When he says I, I think he genuinely means “I” and is aware enough that he’s talking about himself, and much like Jeff and Graeme have said, is calling out Alan Moore for being as much of the problem in his relationship with DC as it is the ‘corporation’.

    At times it feels like J&G have already made up their minds, and then find ways to support it. Much like when Jeff goes off for 20 minutes on a blog post he hasn’t read, and it’s the same thing here. Grant is trying to say I got 99 problems but a suit ain’t one, and even though Grant has made the same argument, even though Jeff has struggled with the same article, you’re more than happy to call the guy a dick for giving an exit interview in which he’s trying to display some savvy in saying “before watchmen is horrid and you should be ashamed” while trying to keep the door open in case he needs WB dollars at some point in the future.

  46. @Alan: Yeah, I was wondering about that, too — numerous reviews have noted the seeming commentary / co-opting of Occupy rhetoric, but the film shoulda been wrapped by then. Happy accident? Or intent? A lot of the most Occupy-ish lines comes from Bane’s mouth-covering filter, which would’ve made it hella easy to change & update during the post-production process as Nolan saw an opportunity to make the movie “relevant.”

    Unfortunately, it’s a mish-mash mess. I dug the first two movies for their bizarre, heady style — philosophy arguments peppered with fight scenes. But in this one, the big ideas don’t make a goddamn bit of sense. (And by the way, y’all are crazy if you think this really is the “best film” of the three — THE DARK KNIGHT is *much* more clearly structured. It’s one of those movies that plays much better the second time around — once you’re deprogrammed from the normal rhythms of a two-hour movie, Two-Face seems like the natural culmination of the story instead of a tacked-on seventh inning stretch.

  47. “To the second point, let me rephrase my objection–you’re forcing a category error. Yes, the story has multiple Supermen in multiple universes, but only one is presented as a work of art, a copyrightable character who has authors and doesn’t belong to everybody.”

    Yes, which is why I think Morrison is presenting Superman as a concept which transcends ownership – either ownership by a corporation or ownership by his creators. I don’t think you can simply dismiss the use of multiple Supermen in this story as a kind of meaningless genre convention that has no bearing whatsoever on the message of the comic – you have to have some kind of reading of why Morrison goes out of his way to juxtapose a Superman who has creators and owners with Supermen who do not, and in particular why Morrison’s depiction of a Superman without a creator/owner is far more favorable than his depiction of one that does.

    Your comments about me just wanting to bash Morrison are duly noted, but I’ve said lots and lots of nice things about Morrison elsewhere, hold nothing against the man, and count him as a vital contributor to some of my favorite genre comics. I’m not out to take pot shots at him here – this is something I read in this issue which I find rather consistent with his previously stated views on creator’s rights and the nature of superhero comics. You’re more than welcome to disagree with my reading, but I hardly think that it’s so bizarre and alien that it demands an explanation in which I’m working out some imaginary feud with a writer I’ve never met and whose work I mostly like.

  48. I’m not really concerned about whether you’ve been nice or mean to Morrison elsewhere, just whether you’ve been accurate in this thread–where you opened with a misleading one-line summary that you have yet to support with any actual evidence from the issue in question. (Even “we sold out” implies that Superman was theirs to sell to begin with.) Yes, the issue presents Superdoom (god, I hate that name) as one Superman among many, but given that it sets his ownership up as an analogy for the ownership of the Superman we’ve all been reading about in every Superman comic ever published, and his creators as analogies for Siegel and Shuster, I’m not too pressed about any imagined ontological priority–the issue reminds us that every Superman is the property of DC Comics, and that he/they were taken away from their creators. The analogy pertains to all of them, even (most especially) the Superman who normally headlines Action Comics but didn’t appear once in the issue. The rest is just projection.

    Ironically, we’re haggling over some pretty small differences, as I agree that faux-archetypal readings don’t obscure the character’s authorship (Christ, don’t get me started on using details from the Salkind movies to make claims about what inspired Jerry Siegel!) and that premature claims of public ownership would be perverse, if Morrison made them in Action Comics. Which he didn’t.

  49. “Even “we sold out” implies that Superman was theirs to sell to begin with.”

    Yes, but, at the risk of repeating myself to a degree that will seem tedious to everyone here including both you and me, I don’t think you can just dismiss the fact that the only Superman presented in the story as belonging to specific individuals or parties is transformed into a rampaging monster by dint of the fact that he belongs to specific individuals and parties – and in fact, is ultimately destroyed by a better, purer Superman who does not, in fact, belong to any creator or corporation, and is hailed at the end as “Superman done right.” I don’t think the presence of other Supermen is just something Morrison randomly threw in there; I think he’s specifically making a point about Superman – Superman the concept – being larger and more significant than Superman the property. (And the more I write this the more sympathetic I feel towards the point he’s making, even if that sympathy comes with significant caveats.)

    You don’t agree with that reading, and you feel that I’ve been “inaccurate” in this thread ‘cuz, I dunno, I failed to prove my opinion with charts or something? If that’s the point, then, well, guilty as charged! I am not likely to be able to ever prove my subjective readings of things to you, or anyone else who has a different subjective reading of things. Guess we’ll all have to muddle by together on this crazy little world anyhow.

  50. Also, sorry again to the long-suffering commenters of the Savage Critic for being a long-winded internet blowhard; by all rights this should have been forty-plus comments by lots of different people about how awesome Christopher Walken is in Batman Returns.

  51. I enjoy your blowhardyness mouse n squirrel, I look forward to dueling textwalls with you in the future :)

  52. In regards to the conversation about Zaucer of Zilk, Prophet, and Axe Cop, I think another important connection between the three is their idea buckshot. That is, tons of random ideas not necessarily given that much context or followed through. Morrison and Hickman both do this a lot, and (my impression regarding) the reason you guys enjoy Morrison and not Hickman is because Morrison both feels like a more organic storyteller and you feel that he could actually follow through on the ideas he introduces.

    Going back to those three titles, I think Graeme doesn’t like Axe Cop because the ideas aren’t focused. There’s no REASON for them to be there other than that’s what a 7 year old wrote, while on the other hand Zaucer of Zilk clearly has a point it’s trying to get across, on top of the whimsy. And without focus, all those ideas are just sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    Also, I think what I personally wanted from Axe Cop was something could capture being a child. Fun and stupid, but also the nostalgia of knowing I’m not part of that world anymore, but that’s not something a kid could ever write.

    I feel like Prophet might actually lean closer to Axe Cop on this scale, because I feel like Brandon Graham makes mood pieces over focused critiques, but that’s just me, and I haven’t read too much of his stuff.

    I’ve gotten to a place where I’m not sure how much I’m repeating things you’ve said vs. my own opinions, so I’ll leave it at that.

  53. Err I had paused this podcast to write this all out, and have now realized you hadn’t even finished talking about those comics yet. It’s late.

  54. “the only Superman presented in the story as belonging to specific individuals or parties is transformed into a rampaging monster by dint of the fact that he belongs to specific individuals and parties”

    No, it’s by dint of the fact that his creators sell him to another party that’s interested in maximizing his value rather than promoting the original, humanistic concept.

    “and in fact, is ultimately destroyed by a better, purer Superman who does not, in fact, belong to any creator or corporation, and is hailed at the end as “Superman done right.””

    But that ending is laden with irony for a number of reasons. We know that this Superman isn’t the prime model, but just another variation no different from all the other variations Superdoom has already destroyed. (It’s telling that when he tries to claim “This is the real Superman” he gets his ass kicked and doesn’t finish the sentence.) We know that the real Superman–the comic book character and all his variants, including President Superman–is in an ownership situation very much like Superdoom’s. And the story throws in another twist entirely, orthogonal to the ownership question, which is that President Superman only beats Superdoom with the help of Lex Luthor, who delivers a speech accosting the character for his fascistic, bullying underpinnings. Perhaps Morrison threw in that scene as a symbolic killing of “the smug fascist bully boy” at the root of the character? In any case, it indicates that Superdoom has just as much claim to be the “real” Superman as any of these other variants.

    I think you can say the concept is larger and significant than the property without in any way diminishing the role of the creators. But this comic foregrounds the role of the creators and the story of Superman’s contested ownership in a way that few Superman stories do; it’s probably the worst possible case for claiming Morrison is robbing Siegel and Shuster of credit for their work.

    Also, moose, I’m pretty sure you know that opinions and subjective readings can be supported with examples and quotes, not “charts and graphs.” When somebody starts complaining that they can’t support their opinions and grousing that they’ve been asked to do so, that’s usually a sign that the argument is over.

  55. Dude, the “argument is over” because I’m tired of rehashing it, over and over again, in ever-smaller concentric circles, not because I haven’t “provided examples and quotes.” Congratulations, two idiots on the internet continue to disagree over something trivial! What do you want for that, a trophy?

  56. Slamming the door on the way out is a great way to end it, though.

  57. For what it’s worth, Nolan’s chase scenes are junk, too. They’re dynamic, but they’re incomprehensible.


  58. MattM,

    I totally agree. I was mystified when Graeme and Jeff said that at least Nolan is good at chase scenes, because those to me are just as bad as his fight scenes. For example, I’m sure a vast majority of viewers could not quite figure out the logistics of how that truck flipped over in Dark Knight. I remember some cable being involved but it was very poorly conveyed.

  59. “It’s a dumb movie that thinks it’s smart” is endemic to Nolan’s latter films

    I’d take it one step further. Nolan’s latter films are dumb movies that think they’re smart, made for people who like dumb movies but are ashamed to like dumb movies and want to convince themselves and others that they actually like smart ones. They can’t take an openly dumb movie with gaping plot holes and inconsistent themes and badly shot action because it comes too close to admitting an uncomfortable truth, that they’re part of the unwashed masses and like dumb movies. Nolan does them a service by packaging a dumb movie in a shell of pretentious but utterly immature political commentary, “mature” cinematography and themes, a somber (pseudo)intellectual ambiance, dime store psychology and philosophy. Ffor such long meditations on fear in part 1 and chaos in part 2, it doesn’t really have much to say about them. In part 1 people just keep saying “fear” over and over again, then at the very end fear is just declared conquered in a rushed, unconvincing way that doesn’t feel earned..In part 2, it’s all about chaos over and over again, and nothing redeeming is shown about humanity, but at the end because it’s corporate and about superheroes and HAS to show good winning, we get a scene with two boats not blowing up to show that human nature isn’t just chaos and self-interest. None of those “turnarounds” feel earned, and it seems like part 3 did the exact same thing with class. Spend a whole two hours plus attacking something and pushing an uncomfortable viewpoint, only to turn it around with a conventional, optimistic viewpoint at the last minute that just ends up feeling unconvincing, unearned, and downright patronizing.

    But they did their job, which is it allowed people the ego-protecting guilty pleasure of watching a dumb movie while pretending to watch an intellectual one.

    (I want to add, I have NO problem with dumb movies, and watch them all the time. I just prefer an honestly dumb movie like say Waterboy to a pretentiously phony smart one).

  60. Going back to the previous podcast, I just saw the mascots for the 2012 Olympics (http://www.london2012.com/about-us/our-brand/making-of-the-mascot/) which is just too damn weird and Morrisonian/Moorian for words. Just the whole idea that they’re mascots made from the metal girders of industrial London and have cyclopian eyes that record everything you do. If Wenlock isn’t in the next League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or the next Seaguy, then something is wrong with Moore and Morrison. They’ve been replaced with body doubles.

    – l.k.

  61. As the age group ranged from 8 to 88 in the cinema I saw it in, I think people should probably re-consider criticizing Nolan for having on-the-nose political references/commentary in his films, and be happy that someone making a Hollywood blockbuster is putting them in there. Personally, I don’t think he be labored the point, he just drew parallels where he could to add more colour.
    “It’s a dumb movie that thinks it’s smart” is tripe. It’s a blockbuster, made for all ages, that added some commentary. It’s not made for political discourse, it’s made for entertainment. And it entertained – all ages seemed to enjoy it in the cinema I was at.

    To knock a few other criticisms on the head – I understood Bane throughout, I can follow Nolan’s action scenes, I guessed Talia was in it from the trailer and Marion not being seen in it but I don’t blame an adaptation for not being able to hide a twist from someone familiar with the source material, and I don’t think all of Gotham rioted for Bane – most people we saw were hiding, and it’s not out of the question that some would join, or that Bane would think they would, as every film in the trilogy has had the villain expecting the absolute worst from e people of Gotham whilst Batman inspires them to be better.

    My big problem with the film was that I think Batman should have been active from the start if we was going to be absent in the middle, but I was never bored so it’s a minor problem.

  62. My interpretation of Christopher Nolan’s films as being dumb or smart is that his films never make me feel like they are spoon-feeding things to me assuming that I am an idiot. His films also tend to make me feel like I’m seeing things play out in a way I’ve not seen before (Memento, The Prestige, Inception).

  63. I never read Axe Cop as cynical it just feels like having a kid tell you a story, which it is, so it should. Speaking of which, you’ve seen the Scary Smash video right? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ef2wnLL1s00

  64. re: Anne Hathaway, I thought Devil Wears Prada was a good one. If you can sit and enjoy a lady movie. Meryl Streep’s fun, Stanley Tucci is as good as always (not Easy A good but good), and she’s a sympathetic lead. Her boyfriend’s that Entourage guy though so it’s hard to root for him.

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