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Snark Blocker – Amalgam Comics!

Here a series of covers from a simpler time…the mid 1990s. In 1996 and 1997, DC and Marvel released a week’s worth of comics called Amalgam Comics, which were made up of a mixture of DC and Marvel characters. They got a number of their top creators at the time to work on the projects, and the results were mostly quite fun.


An interesting thing to note is how you can easily tell the ones produced by DC from the ones produced by Marvel, because Marvel was not putting creator credits on their covers back then (they did not start until 1997).



What was your favorite title?

Super Soldier was mine (Mark Waid and Dave Gibbons?!? Wow!).


Why only two from the first wave?

My favorite part of Challengers of the Fantastic was where, after Galactiac turns “Rocky” Grimm into a monstrous, out-of-control four-armed thing, Rocky muses on how much good he could he could do if he could transform back into it but be in control, and “Prof” Reed Richards swears that he’ll find a way to make it happen.

A glitch in the html code. I fixed it now!

A simpler time?

The pile of crap that was DC vs. Marvel and the entire Amalgaverse almost scared me off comics for good. In 1996, marketing stunts were far more important than actual content. I had to keep a barf bag in my pocket every time I walked into my LCS (Strange Adventures in Halifax back in my law school days).

Thank God for the likes of Mike Allred and Kurt Busiek. Those guys allowed me to keep the faith.

I’d rant more, but Matlock’s on in 5 minutes.

Gotta go with Spider-Boy as my favorite. They perfectly captured the teen-hero vibe. And there’s a picture of Mike Wieringo panel of Reed Richards going secretly crazy that’s an absolute classic.

A simpler time?

A joke. ;)

I remember I was still in elementary school when the first wave hit, and I think that’s around the same time I read in Wizard that Marvel had filed for bankruptcy. Being a kid, I thought the Amalgam thing was a permenant change and DC had bought Marvel Comics. I was so mad because I was a huge X-fan at the time and refused to buy Amalgam comics in hopes the X-men would come back. Obviously I did something right since the X-men (and Marvel) were back the following week. You may all thank young Lawrence for saving Marvel Comics. Heh.

Years later, I bought the trades and didn’t think the comics were so bad. I really enjoyed Spider-boy and JLX. In the second wave, Spider-boy Team-up definitely showed why Ladronn should draw the Legion.

Damn. God forbid they make fun, continuity-free one-shots for us to actually…*gasp* enjoy.

Amalgam’s Spider-Boy is the first comic book I ever bought on my own after walking into a comic book shop. I was 8. The next day I came in and most of them. Which I did again with the second wave.

Loved every issue–no favorites. Need more one-shots from that universe. Seriously. Paul Levitz and Joe Quesada need to “hug it out” or whatever the hell needs to happen for the fans to get more Amalgam Comics.

Spider-Boy was awesome. And Challengers. And anything by Kesel, basically.

Right, Gotcha

My brain gets all weird whenever people refer to the 90s in the past tense.

For me, the whole DC vs. Marvel thing was such a letdown after 40 years of anticipation.

Just looking at that X-Patrol cover brings back some bad memories, though.

I loved so many Amalgam titles! Spider-Boy was the absolute best, though. Gosh. Thanks for the walk down awesome memory lane. :D

I’d given up on comics at this stage, and didn’t get back into them until Bendis took on DD, but I don’t think I could have resisted Lobo the Duck had I strolled into a comic store at the time, especially with that tag-line!

Was it any good? Even in a “It’s so bad it’s good kind of way,”?

What about first wave titles Speed Demon, Bruce Wayne: Agent of SHIELD, Magneot and the Magnetic Men and X-Patrol?

Skipped my particular favorite, Speed Demon! Flash, Ghost Rider, and Etrigan all at once, utter brilliance!


Legion of Galactic Guardians is my favorite thing ever.

The Amalgam titles were what redeemed the whole sad Marvel vs DC thing. The letter pages were brilliant.

Bullets and Bracelets was my favorite by a mile.

damn, i missed the spider-boy train. I was in the Dark Claw camp myself. Jubilee as “Sparrow” was/is still adorable!

Dr. Strangefate is one the best comics of the last decade!

I grooved on the Bruce Timm vibe of Dark Claw Adventures. That was fun.

I have to cast my vote for Dr. StrangeFate. I recall that it had a pretty cool twist ending but honestly, I think I’m a sucker for anything with Kevin Nowlan artwork!

Yeah, Amalgam was a lot of fun. I loved Iron Lantern especially (written by Mr. Kurt Busiek, by the way).

I recall Lobo the Duck being something of a turkey, Chris.

gen hex was surprisingly fun, a great end.
lobo the duck was poo.
dark claw was lovely, but it was such a cheesy concept, I couldn’t buy it ironically, because we weren’t doing that in the mid ninties.
assassins [ass ass ins] was lovely looking, but nasty.

I really liked the two Spider-Boy books. I didn’t pick up nearly as many Amalgam books as I wanted (being a kid with an allowance and all). Perhaps I should visit eBay…

Dark Claw adventures was my favourite one! Although I don’t have the comics anymore (I needed the space) I remember I enjoyed this one the most. I was 12 years old at that time, it really was a simpler time!

I heart Amalgam. Some of those designs were so perfect: Spider-Boy, Speed Demon, Amazon, Iron Lantern …

The only thing I didn’t like was that there were no clear rules about “Amalgaming” characters. Most of them were one-to-one, but sometimes it worked more like an Elseworlds story (Bruce Wayne, Agent of SHIELD) or involved three or more characters (Speed Demon).

It was weird having two Batman and two Wonder Woman Amalgams, etc. running around.

I totally would’ve bought a Dark Claw Adventures series. The first one was a bit too serious, but the DCAU version was great stuff. Then again, I’d likely buy a Ten-Eyed Man Adventures if it was done by that creative team.

I always thought it was interesting how it seems as though on most of the “big” characters (Dark Claw, Super Soldier, Speed Demon, and later Iron Lantern) the Marvel aspects of the visual design are a lot more apparent than the DC ones. Dark Claw is just Wolverine in a cape, Super Soldier is Cap with an open cowl and a shield with Superman’s logo, etc.

The best running gag through the books was that there was all sorts of continuity for these titles, leading to a stream of hilarious editor’s notes. If they did that today, there’d be a stream of internet commentators complaining that a new reader wouldn’t have any idea what was going on while missing the point entirely.

(I think it also says something about just how broken Avengers was at the time that there isn’t an obvious Avengers book tucked in there. I think they were tied into JLX somehow, but it just goes to show how much Marvel’s put into restoring them as one of their “name” properties.)

these books were all fun..even the the ones that werent as good had entertaining bits in them…I still like the combination of the Riddler and the King Pin in Assasins as the Big Question

I never got to reading any of these. Iron Lantern and Amazon look cool. Darkclaw looks like somthing I would have come up with when I was twelve.

I have to say, I kinda dig Shatterstarfire even if she inherently looks very Liefield-esque.

RE: Scott’s comments:
The pile of crap that was DC vs. Marvel and the entire Amalgaverse almost scared me off comics for good. In 1996, marketing stunts were far more important than actual content. I had to keep a barf bag in my pocket every time I walked into my LCS.

i had been reading comics for about 15 years when these books came out. i picked up ‘DC vs Marvel’ and while the main book wasn’t very good, i truly enjoyed the first wave of these books! All the creators seemed to be having such a blast coming up with the concepts and in the execution as well. i still can go back and read these just for the enjoyment of seeing how creative the mix of charecters were. The fanboy in me got a huge kick out of these books. The second wave didn’t hold my attention as much as the first [and i would never buy ‘Lobo the Duck!] but still were very fun. i felt that all the backstory for each character and all the letters made these books more than just ‘marketing stunts’, although we all know that there were TONS of those in the ’90’s.

Not featured on that X-Patrol cover, but oughta be: Dial HUSK. Some of the wackiest Amalgams of the bunch came from her transformations, including Mary Marvel Girl and Artemisty Knight.

Stephen – I’m mildly ashamed for knowing this, but the JLX was a splinter group from Amalgam’s Judgment League: Avengers, which had the standard mashups of the big heroes (including Amazon, Super-Soldier, Dark Claw, Angelhawk, and Mariner, before the latter broke away over the JLA’s support of mutant registration).

I always particularly liked Deadeye, if only for the “they should have gone the other way in combining the names” implied gag…

before the latter broke away over the JLA’s support of mutant registration).

Hm. Sounds a lot like the premise of Civil War.

I remember the Joker/Sabretooth amalgam, the Hyena, being a particularly disturbing visual. Jim Balent did a great job with that. I also remember Speed Demon being a great visual by Larocca, but the story by Howard Mackie was horribly incoherent and ridiculous.

Michael – Thanks. Knew there was some Avengers-related tie in to that, even if it wasn’t used to sell the book. Funny how it’s very much the “big name” X-Men – Cyclops, Rogue, Phoenix, Nightcrawler – but the DC side of things is a bunch of leftover heroes, some with little or no tie to the JLA (the Creeper and Impulse, specifically).

Another question, since I never read Assassins (Nightwing hadn’t turned me into a McDaniel fanboy yet) – I get that the one on the right is a combination of Deathstroke and Elektra, but who’s the other one? Catwoman and Psylocke?

Stephen- the assassins were Catsai (Catwoman + Elektra) and Dare the Terminator (a female amalgam of Daredevil and Deathstroke).

I thought Dark Claw adventures was phenomenal, but Super Soldier will always be my favourite.

We still get people coming into the comic shop looking for more Dark Claw comics.


September 9, 2008 at 6:08 pm

I’m sure it wasn’t that good, but as a young teen, Dark Claw was the coolest concept ever, and just seeing the pic brings back some of the excitement I had when I picked that up, so it’s my fave, if only for nostalgia reasons.

Another difference between the DC books and Marvel ones, is the placement of the price, as well as DC books didn’t have the code seal on a white back ground.
Interesting that they were down playing it well before Marvel, an yet it was Marvel who first pulled it off their books.

The DC produced books also seem to have better logos than the Marvel produced one’s.
More of the DC one’s look like they’d be logo’s on an ongoing book, where as a couple of the Marvels one’s are atrocious.
I’d like to know what was going on at Marvel around that time in the design department – from 96 until past 2000 Marvel had some of the worst designs coming from their in-house departments that I’ve ever seen.
Look at a trade paper back released in that period, or a bullpen page (that you can’t read because of the image behind the text) to see what I mean.

I had a really good time with Lobo the Duck.


I skipped the whole Amalgam thing just because I was low on cash and didn’t think any of the stories would live up to the basic concepts and covers (I did shell out for the vs. miniseries and was mildly disappointed).

Incidentally, like previous poster Scott, I too was living in Halifax at the time and a proud customer of Strange Adventures. Great store (and it even got a cameo in an issue of Adventures of Superman right around that time!).

Okay, let’s up the nerd ante a bit: Did anyone else buy the Amalgam Series Trading Cards? They had profile cards on all the characters who showed up in the first wave of comics, and I think a few that didn’t; “classic first appearances” cards of back issues that never happened; and a nov-tych chase set featuring the “Secret Crisis Of The Infinity Hour.” The mind kind of boggles at the level of work that went into creating all that back material for a mashed-up superhero universe that only “existed” for one month.

First Wave:
I remember reading Spider-Boy and thinking about how awesome it would be if ‘Ringo were drawing a Spider-Man book.

Second Wave:
I remember reading Thorion and thinking about how awesome it would be if J.R. JR. were drawing a Thor book.

“Behold the Crimson Whirlwind” is one of my faves from the trading card set that never made it into a book.

Some of these choices would be so different if they were done today. I remember the Spider-Boy pairing was based on both characters being clones–Spidey being Ben Reilly at the time (groan).

It’s a pity we can’t reamalgam the two companies. Marvel and DC could do it every few years, and split the proceeds with Hero Inititative or some other charity. Years ago, I figured that Batman and Black Panther could be squished together. Or how about Young Warriors, featuring Thrasher (Robin + Night Thrasher, emphasis on the bird theme), Nova Boy (Superman + Nova), and Fastball (Impulse + Speedball).

“Spider-Boy, Spider-Boy, has the very best action toys. Top ten show! Games and vid! Gotta love the Arachnkid!”

Oops, that’s Superman + Nova. And if you can fuse female Warriors to Wonder Girl, Secret and/or Arrowette, I’d like to hear about it.

It would be cool to hear the creators’ thoughts on these books 10 years later. I read most of them at the time but don’t recall feeling strongly one way or the other about any of them. Though Dark Claw really appealed to my fanboy instincts back then.

Funny – just a couple of weeks ago I was coming up with my own Amalgam characters for fun.

My favorites were probably Thorion, Super-Soldier and Iron Lantern. But Dark Claw Adventures was fun.

i can’t believe there’s no love for the Legion of Galactic Guardians 2099’s Paste-Eater-Pete!!

the art, the ridiculousness of that story, the sheer mass number of amalgams, and the IN-STORY-REBOOT was glorious!

the first group was Guardians of the Galaxy and Legion of Superheroes, the second was X-Men and the Legion. it was great!

they told the story of bringing Spiderboy to the future to save the Mon-El/Spiderman 2099 character MIG-EL!!! let’s just drop the Legion of Three Worlds and threeboots mess and take this as canon!

now i’m all fired up, i’m gonna go read that issue…

If these came to my house tomorrow I’d read them all. Love it or hate it, if you’re a fan of comics in general, then this was a dream of yours, to see the two companies come together. I only own a few of these, because back then I wasn’t even old enough to have a job to afford them, and I didn’t know where I could get them all.

SuperBOY plus Nova. I suck.

I probably would’ve liked Iron Lantern better if Busiek did make the Kyle Rayner/”Green Guardian” combo a jealous dick. Super-Solider worked for me in both of his books. For true genius, there was Captain America Jr. from Kesel’s Unlimited Access; a frail boy named Freddy Rodgers who transformed into Cap Jr. by shouting, “UNCLE SAM!” His abilities included the wisdom of Lincoln, the strategy of Eisenhower, and the trickery of Nixon. Also, the Iceman/Impulse amalgam that made ice sculptures of whatever he was thinking. That was cute.

Thorion completely revitalized JR Jr’s career. Amazing double page spreads of Kirby on Kirby action (seriously though, how hot does that sound).
AND it was a way early example of “Digital Inking”. Romita’s pencils were left uninked, giving it this great charcoal drawing effect.
NOBODY does Kirby characters better than Romita Jr.
When I met Romita as a young lad I had him sign my copy. It’s my Favrotist.

I actually bought the entire run of Amalgam comics a year or two back, because the very fact that they existed brought me great joy. Unfortunately, when I actually read them, I thought a lot of them came off as incoherent, sloppy; very 90’s. I don’t plan on ever getting rid of them, though, because I think my world would be a little less bright if I’d never heard of DarkClaw.

(I never got around to reading Thorion, because this was before I got into JR jr. But reading about it now… I may need to give it a look.)

Gotta go with Bruce Wayne: Agent of SHIELD. It had that late 60’s espionage comics feel to it that I loved.

“I have to cast my vote for Dr. StrangeFate. I recall that it had a pretty cool twist ending but honestly, I think I’m a sucker for anything with Kevin Nowlan artwork!”

That was actually Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez…one of the most underrated artists, if you ask me.

I couldn’t pic a favorite issue, actually. It was lots of fun, and lots of good issues. And as people said, MUCH better than the actual Marvel vs. DC series.

I only read a few, but the only one I liked was Doctor Strangefate.

In fact that was the one put in the DC vs Marvel TPB and the only part of that TPB worth reading.

I must admit I found the whole “smooshing character together” idea stupid, and I still do. It made no sense, it was like something a 10-year-old would come up with.

THAT said, the actual titles were in general very good- well written and drawn, and some were actually clever. My favorites were Magnetic Men and Spider-Boy; the latter was especially fun.

You know, they could still do another Amalgam crossover in the future (after things cool down between companies again.) If so, I’d like it to be more of an “Elseworlds” thing, with Marvel and DC characters coexisting but NOT merged, living different lives and roles. Like Luthor being Tony Stark’s archfoe, Matt Murdock as a Green Lantern, etc. I’m sure it’d sell well.

I remember when these came out, I thought they were so damned cool. Now it seems kinda pathetic.

Super-Soldier was still great.

I too thought it was a real thing… Marvel filing for Bankruptcy, DC vs Marvel the Amalgam Universe. I thought at the time “Wow, DC are going to buy Marvel, and this must be a test-run on what characters/titles to keep”

I really can’t remember all the stories that clearly, though I remember feeling “Bleh” about JLX… I loved the idea of Lobo the Duck, but remember thinking “Oh!… That wasn’t as good as it could have been” I also remember enjoying Legends of the Dark Claw (thanks for reminding me of the Hyaena – that was a cool twist!)… Gotta go back and see if I’ve still got them all now… Or if they were in the batch I eBayed a couple of years ago…

Fraction needs to have the X-Men go up against Fin Fang Foom

Dr. Strangefate was my favorite from the first wave- JL Garcia-Lopez inked by Kevin Nowlan. Awesome. Bruce Wayne: Agent of SHIELD was good fun, and introduced me to Cary Nord’s work.

Spider-Boy Team-Up was quite funny, with Ladronn in his Kirby-esque phase, and (I think) Karl Kesel having a ball with the concept. I can’t believe they snuck in “Paste-Eater Pete.”

Jason B., Thorion is worth tracking down. I’m not a huge JR Jr. fan, and I still thought it looked great.

the Phantom-Longbox

September 10, 2008 at 6:01 am

Dr. StrangeFate was my fave.
I can NEVER get enough Garcia-Lopez artwork.
The fact that he was inked by Kevin Nowlan made me squee.

And, to answer someone’s question; yes. I have the damn card set also.

I liked many other issues in this “series”; Iron Lantern (Paul Smith!!!), any of the ones drawn by Dave Gibbons, and Spider-Boy Team Up with the Ladronn was crackerjack!

I wanted to like Bat-Thing and Lobo the Duck, but don’t recall being all that impressed with them.
(It’s been a while. I don’t really recall.)

Also, Challengers of the Fantastic & Thorion were both pretty damn cool.

The “VS” mini that led up to this couldn’t have sucked more(c’mon… no way Wolverine beats Lobo. And off-panel? I call shenanigans), and the ACCESS minis that tied into all this were pretty weak, but still, I had a great ol’ time with this fun romp.


I took an 8 month hiatus from comics in 7th-8th grade, was a bit burnt out by lackluster stories following the Age of Apocalypse, but the first Amalgam Dark Claw was the first comic I bought since giving up on comics…of course there was no internet then, and I thought this was a new line of comics. Anyways, about a month later I got another issue of Wolverine, realizing how much I missed the character’s, the Onslaught stuff started happening, and I was sucked back in.

Thousands of dollars later, I’m still here because of that one issue (most likely).

Forgot about that, thanks for the post!

I loved these one shots. I’m really torn for a favorite between Spider-Boy and (surprisingly) Magnetic Men. Fun one-shots!

I was about twelve when these came out, and very new to comics. The only one of these I bought was Dark Claw Adventures, and I thought it was just about the coolest thing I’d ever read. I bought just before going on a road trip with my family; I must have read it twenty times in the car.

As I said, I was new to comics, and the letters page and editor’s notes had me fooled–I thought Dark Claw Adventures was an ongoing comic, and kept looking for more issues for the next month or two.

Wow! I must have missed the second wave.

Some of those covers look like Image parodies… as if such a thing was possible, other than Morrison’s Doom Force.


get gen hex, tho’
its fun.

I still have a handful of Amalgam books in my collection, though I think I eventually sold off my copies of the main DC vs. Marvel mini.

I have 3 of the 4 trades – I love the concept. And the best ones were interesting and fun. I liked Speed Demon, Spider Boy, and Generation Hex.

Oh man, I loved these comics– it helps that they came out when I was thirteen. I could enjoy the good ones for being clever, the mediocre ones for (usually) having great art, and the bad ones tended to be so bad they were completely hilarious. None of them were boring, so I recall Amalgam as good silly fun.

Weird thing: In DC vs. Marvel, I recall Jubilee having a crush on Robin as something of a plot point. I’m pretty sure she’s gotten much older than he has in the interim, though…

I’ve read recent comics with Nightwing and Jubilee, and Nightwing appears to be slightly older. I would think that Nightwing is closer to 30.

… or did you mean Tim Drake? She’s definitely older than him.

It was Tim Drake she flirted with during VS., mostly as an inside joke about how their costumes were so similar.

I meant Tim Drake, yeah. In Marvel vs. DC, they were portrayed as being the same age. Jubilee has since gotten much older while Tim Drake is only a little bit older.

Do comic book characters age more rapidly, in proportion to how unpopular they become? Grant Morrison needs to do a story about this.

Yeah, Lynxara, I think that’s it exactly.

If you’re behind the scenes, you can be aged.

Ben Turner became a dude in his late 40s/early 50s in Richard Dragon!!

If we’re thinking seriously about aging in comics (which I don’t think the big two barely think about) I think that since DC and Marvel are two different universes, they have their own rules on how long it takes for people to age. Hey, maybe an x gene even has something to do with how quickly she ages.

-“I think that since DC and Marvel are two different universes, they have their own rules on how long it takes for people to age.”

Or it’s merely artistic license. Has either character’s actual age ever been given? (and M v DC isn’t in continuity for either company anymore anyway.)

I think that the writers, editors, etc, age characters when they see fit, and they hault aging at a certain point. Nightwing got aged (I think) because there was another Robin and they wanted to differentiate more between the two. Also, they wanted to show that the original titans and next iteration of titans were different as well.

I think that Jubilee has aged faster because she had moved on so far from when she was basically Wolverine’s sidekick. I think the new Robin has only begun to go through his trials as a hero, even though he’s been through a ton of tragedy, triumph, etc. I’d say that Jubes is in her mid -20s while Robin’s near his late teens.

Wonder Woman and Storm fan that I am, Amazon was the only Amalgam book I read. I still have it. I think it was the last thing Byrne did that I enjoyed.

Some books were WAY too 90s (i.e. quite bad), but most were nice. Miles above the regular Marvel/DC books of the time in any case!

Spider-boy Team-Up was the best of the bunch. Besides Karl Kesel’s exceedingly clever writing (why isn’t he the Fantastic Four regular writer?!?), it revealed to me Ladronn’s magnificent artwork. A great book!

Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

Definitely agree that the actual “Marvel VS. DC” comics were terrible, but the Amalgam line was pretty fun. Gotta list “Spider-Boy” as my favorite — it was silly, goofy fun, AND drawn by Mike Wieringo (my first major exposure to him as an artist, as I recall, and I absolutely adored him). The”Spider-Boy Team Up” issue from the second wave was a great continuation for the character, plus it tied in with the “Challengers of the Fantastic” issue, which I also really liked (I was kinda impressed that they managed to do a single-issue story that in some way touched upon every single high point of the original Galactus saga, and never made it feel forced or rushed).

A lot of the Amalgam books were better in concept than in execution, the first “Dark Claw” and “Amazon” books being prime examples (“Amazon” was decidedly dull and not even very well told, even if it WAS John Byrne, and “Dark Claw” got too caught up in how cool a Batman/Wolverine amalgam was to have enough time to craft a decent story — though the “animated” style Dark Claw from the second wave was much better).

The real highlight for me, though, were the fake letters fom the letter columns; particularly the “Dark Claw” letters were hilarious and easily more entertaining than the issue itself, poking fun of fans, pros and the comic industry alike. I especially liked the first letter:

“Dear bodacious clawed one,
Congratulations on getting your own book, and about time if I don’t say so myself! I am thoroughly blown away by your savage in-your-face-ness and all that cool stuff you say when you’re ripping the guts out of nasty bad guys and tearing their faces off with your admantium claws! One thing, though: You ought to dump that wussy little whiner Jubilee and get yourself a REAL sidekick! I mean, what kind of cheap power is that she has anyway? You could replace her with a midget and a bag of firecrackers! Get somebody as bad and gnarly as the HYENA! Either that or some totally awesome BABE! Yeah! Some totally babed-out ultratwist like some of those nice ladies they have on BAYWATCH! So that’s the ticket, dudes — more ripping and stomping and punching claws through brains and tearing out spinal cords through left nostrils and more outrageous totally mind-boggling, to-sell-your-soul-for, never-dream-of-getting-near-one-in-the-real-world FURIOUSLY ENDOWED BABES!!!! Get the picture?”

The answer was simply “We shall take your comments into consideration.”

That letter alone made the book totally worth getting for me. ^_^

I haven’t actually read any of these, but I’ve gotta say that I love the looks of Super Soldier. Really, it merges exactly the right amounts of Captain America and Superman’s origins, characters, and ideals into the one character, never leaning more towards one than the other. It works perfectly.

Oh yeah, and who can’t love the idea of Lobo the Duck??

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