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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #433

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Welcome to the four hundred and thirty-third in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous four hundred and thirty-two. This week is SORT of a theme, in the sense that each legend sort of ties into the one that follows it. So how does the true face of Doctor Doom, the Powerpuff Girls and the X-Files connect to each other? Read on to find out!

Let’s begin!

NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).

COMIC LEGEND: Jack Kirby originally intended Doctor Doom to have only a small scar on his face.

STATUS: I’m Going With False

There is a somewhat famous drawing by Jack Kirby of Doctor Doom without his mask…

kirbydoom

Amazingly enough, it seems as though Greg Theakston actually RECORDED Kirby drawing this drawing (the above is likely a lightboxed version that Mike Royer then inked and not the ACTUAL drawing you see Kirby drawing in the video)…….

Clearly, at the point of this drawing, Kirby’s belief regarding Doctor Doom’s face is that Doom is so arrogant that he hides his face with a mask even though it only has a tiny scar. Doom has SUCH a high opinion of himself that he can’t let people see his face since the scar “ruins” it.

That, then, has been translated to be what Kirby has always believed that Doom’s face looked like.

However, Kirby was the co-plotter (and obviously the penciler) on Fantastic Four with Stan Lee for YEARS, and from Doom’s appearance in Fantastic Four #10…

ff10

and Fantastic Four Annual #2…

ffannual2

ffannual2a

it sure seems like Kirby was down with the notion that Doom had a horribly disfigured face.

Instead, this seems like Kirby just came up with this idea AFTER the fact, likely around his return to Marvel in the mid-1970s. And that’s fine. I think that’s a pretty cool take on the character, but I believe it was a retcon and not what Kirby initially felt about the character, especially when the odds are quite high that neither Kirby nor Lee gave the backgrounds of their villains a whole ton of thought as of yet when #10 came out.

John Byrne later tried to reconcile both by having Doom have just a minor scar but become disfigured when he put the mask on…

byrnedoom1

byrnedoom2

byrnedoom3
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Speaking of John Byrne, read the next page to see how DC wouldn’t authorize the use of Superman in…a DC Comic?

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69 Comments

I take it that the guy who replaced Superman in Byrne’s drawing is supposed to be the Professor. The pens (or whatever they are) in his pocket give it away–compare with the cartoonish version reading the story.

nice for always heard the legend about the reason doom never removes his mask is due to his vanity over a little scar on his face. for if any one knows why doom never removed his mask at least in the comics it would be his very own creators. as for the powerpuffs one surprised dc said no to a superman cameo given that they published both comics.

“The difference between this and the Powerpuff Girls/Superman team-up”

… is that this is a parody and they are identified by names that aren’t the characters’ names?

… is that this is a parody and they are identified by names that aren’t the characters’ names?

I was confused because I said that in the piece, but then I saw that apparently when I updated the article, it lost my last edit. I got it back, so yes, the parody option is clearly there.

I take it that the guy who replaced Superman in Byrne’s drawing is supposed to be the Professor. The pens (or whatever they are) in his pocket give it away–compare with the cartoonish version reading the story.

Definitely. Byrne really did do his best to deal with the limits of the piece.

There’s just one wrinkle to the Kirby piece; Kirby and Lee often had different plots, but believed that the other was on the same page. Kirby would draw the plot he had in his head and Lee would script based on the plot in his head, even when they differed. This has bee cataloged in the Jack Kirby Collector, showcasing Kirby’s plotting notes in the margins of the original art, which often differed with Lee’s script. John Romita also remarked about witnessing Lee/Kirby plotting sessions, where they were each describing different plots but weren’t listening to each other, though they acted like they were talking about the same plot. Both had notoriously bad memories, so the intent of Dr. Doom may have changed at times, which wasn’t exactly uncommon in those early Marvel days. They may have started out with him disfigured, then Kirby had the idea that it was only minor, but he was never able to illustrate it until later. Since Stan’s scripting came after the fact, any illusion Kirby might have made in the margin notes might have been ignored and altered by Lee. So, while the first piece suggests that they agreed that Doom was hideously scarred, that doesn’t preclude Kirby changing his mind (or forgetting) in later stories, especially the ones where the FF come to Latveria, where we see Doom in full arrogance. Perhaps we should consult with Mr. Evanier on the subject.

The Byrne thing demonstrates how screwed up a company Warner Brothers has been, at times. The Cartoon Network was owned by Warner, which owned DC, so there shouldn’t have been a problem, except the divisions at Warner often acted as separate fiefdoms, as described by Joe Straczynski, in regards to his frustrations with promoting Babylon 5 via other Warner platforms. You would think that and Warner property could seamlessly work with another, apart from creator/producer profit participation; but, no…….

Kevin Smith said DC once made him edit out a Powerpuff Girls reference in Green Arrow. Oddly, they did appear with The Super Friends in a Cartoon Network promo.

An Alex Ross pinup for the Powerpuff Girls comic would’ve been interesting.

Here’s Smith’s story:
“When I was writing ”Green Arrow” at DC, there were a few content issues that I found puzzling. The first occurred when I included a reference to the cartoon ”The Powerpuff Girls.” It wasn’t a smutty, Jay and Silent Bob-level reference, but instead, it featured a female character talking about how great it was to have cartoon characters for little girls to model themselves on, as opposed to the Rainbow Brites and Strawberry Shortcakes of old. I was told that the references to both Rainbow Brite and Strawberry Shortcake had to be altered to Rainbow Sprite and Raspberry Shortcakes, which I understood. However, I was also informed that the ”Powerpuff” reference (a positive one) had to go. This blew my mind, as ”The Powerpuff Girls” are owned by AOL Time Warner… which also owns DC Comics. What, was there the chance in this highly litigious culture that AOL Time Warner would sue itself? Weird.”

source: http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,234758,00.html

There’s just one wrinkle to the Kirby piece; Kirby and Lee often had different plots, but believed that the other was on the same page. Kirby would draw the plot he had in his head and Lee would script based on the plot in his head, even when they differed. This has bee cataloged in the Jack Kirby Collector, showcasing Kirby’s plotting notes in the margins of the original art, which often differed with Lee’s script. John Romita also remarked about witnessing Lee/Kirby plotting sessions, where they were each describing different plots but weren’t listening to each other, though they acted like they were talking about the same plot. Both had notoriously bad memories, so the intent of Dr. Doom may have changed at times, which wasn’t exactly uncommon in those early Marvel days. They may have started out with him disfigured, then Kirby had the idea that it was only minor, but he was never able to illustrate it until later. Since Stan’s scripting came after the fact, any illusion Kirby might have made in the margin notes might have been ignored and altered by Lee. So, while the first piece suggests that they agreed that Doom was hideously scarred, that doesn’t preclude Kirby changing his mind (or forgetting) in later stories, especially the ones where the FF come to Latveria, where we see Doom in full arrogance. Perhaps we should consult with Mr. Evanier on the subject.

Oh, I think that’s very much a possibility, Jeff. I just mean that I don’t think Kirby ever ORIGINALLY considered Doom to be anything but horribly disfigured. I think he definitely came up with the idea for the change later on. I think it happened post FF Annual #2, but there’s a chance it happened before then. Really, though, before FF Annual #2, how could Kirby possibly have given it any real thought? Doom was just a pretty straightforward villain by Fantastic Four #10.

In that “Animaniacs” comic, “Doctor Morgan” and “Professor Wong” are named after Glen Morgan and James Wong, two of “The X Files”‘ executive producers.

I always figured that once Doom placed that red hot mask on his face, It was more than a minor scar.

I always figured that once Doom placed that red hot mask on his face, It was more than a minor scar.

While true, I imagine that Kirby was, in effect, saying that he would retcon that aspect of Doom’s origin.

Bob from Accounting

August 23, 2013 at 10:41 am

Holy shit these Powerpuff Girls are amazing and you 100% just wanted an excuse to post them.

Holy shit these Powerpuff Girls are amazing and you 100% just wanted an excuse to post them.

Ha! I think the legend is interesting without the other pinups, but yeah, I definitely didn’t need much arm-twisting of myself to post the other ones! :)

Well, the only people we see recoiling in horror from Doom’s face are Stan and Jack, yeah? Maybe they’re just really, really superficial. “Good lord (choke)! You’ve put on 10 pounds! Nooooooo!”

Byrne would regularly and repeatedly tell that version of the Doom origin in speeches and panel at Creation conventions well before it showed up in the comics. What’s more, he’d tell it like it was a joke. So when it showed up in the book played straight, I was impressed (dare I say I marveled) as to how he took what came off as so hilarious the way he was telling it, to working so well on the printed page.

In a similar vein, I remember Kevin Smith once saying that he wasn’t even allowed to mention the Powerpuff Girls by name in Green Arrow, despite them having the same corporate owner (and the mention being a positive one.)

Nice easter egg in the Animaniacs story (one of several, I’m sure) with “Doctor Morgan and Professor Wong” (eg Glen Morgan and James Wong, two of The X-Files’ producers.

I remember an episode where the Professor wanted to help his girls fight crime and developed that suit to do just that. Sure they probably wanted to get that Superman vibe going but the suit and the Prof wearing it to have super powers was established in the cartoon.

Awesome pinups indeed.
By the 1980s, the idea Doom had only a small scar was common in fandom (actually the mid-to-late seventies) despite the obvious implications of FF 10. So Kirby may have heard it and thought hmm, that’s actually better.
There’s a scene of Don Blake meeting Doom (who wants the benefit of Blake’s new plastic surgery technique) and recoiling in horror—”There’s nothing plastic surgery can do for you, nothing!” So definitely scarred in the MU, whatever was going on in Jack’s head.

Everyone shoud take note of how quickly Kirby drew that beautiful image. For years, artists talk about how it’s a struggle to complete a page each day. Even if that was just one panel, he did it in just 23 minutes. Incredible. Truly the King!

Mulder and Scully also appeared as parodies of themselves in season 2 of “Reboot,” an early CGI cartoon show. They were portrayed in the style of the show as one-eyed Binomes (named Fax Modem and Data Nully), but it still captured their essences pretty well. Gillian Anderson even provided the voice for her character.

Check out the nurse’s reaction at 7 minutes and 6 seconds http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYYBQh94CeE

Hey Brian: I forget, did you ever do a piece on the similarity between Jerry Siegel’s 1960 story about Luthor losing his hair in a lab accident, setting him on the road to villainy, and Stan & Jack’s 1964 story about Dr. Doom scarring his face in a lab accident, setting him on the road to villainy? Because, you know, it is whispered in legend that there may have been some influence there.

Stan always scripted it as scarred, as fraser mentions in the Thor story where Doctor Don Blake demonstrates possibly the worst bedside manner ever. The last time that Stan and Jack worked on a major Doom story together is in Fantastic Four #84-87. Kirby draws a full page splash of Doom posing unmasked for an artist, who gives very little reaction at all to seeing Doom unmasked. Much later, during the Wolfman story in FF 196-200, Aliciia is sculpting his face for a stature and she uses her sense of touch to do his face. The finished work doesn’t have any extensive scarring.

Recent artists have gone pretty far though and frequently show a hint of the scars by showing just the top of his head above the mask. I like the Kirby retcon best though.

Methinks Brian must have been perusing the Doctor Doom appreciation thread were we’ve gone over this before :-) http://forums.comicbookresources.com/showthread.php?299636-Doctor-Doom-Appreciation

Animaniacs was a Warner Brothers show. It’s even in the name of the lead characters…the Warner Brothers and their sister Dot. Fox Kids just aired the show. They didn’t own it.

Thanks for that link, Michael Sacal. That old show, for all its sometimes goofiness, was great. Pretty damned accurate to the source material, too. But what an awful choice they went with for Doom’s voice… he sounds like a weaselly little creep, not the booming and arrogant voice of DOOM!

Brian, thanks for the mention and link to my Tumblr. Glad you enjoy it.

If I get an influx of new followers in the next couple of days, I guess I’ll know why.

Regarding Doom’s mask and face, here’s a post John made in 2006 about an idea he had.

JBF Member: “Did you toss out the idea somewhere that the original accident shifted Doom’s face into another plain of existence so that there’s really *nothing* there (just his eyes). Spooky!”

John Byrne: “Not sure what you mean by “toss out”, but, yes, that was one of the many notions I had about what Doom’s face might look like under the mask. It sprange from an appearance in THOR, where Doom brings Don Blake to Latveria to possibly do something about fixing his face, but when Blake sees what he has to deal with his reactions “there’s nothing I can do about that!”

Got me thinking about the nature of the accident, and what it might actually have done to Doom’s face. The idea passed thru my brain that Doom’s face had gone “sideways” into another dimension (except the eyes), so when you looked at him your own eyes kind of slid off the area where he face should be, as it was a literal manifestation of “nothing”. The eyes and the brain simply could not deal with it.”

Because pin-ups are all about continuity and canon…

Chad: Uh……… what?

Hmm, that’s not a bad idea by Byrne.

LouReedRichards

August 23, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Ahhh Fantastic Four #278, my first issue of the Fantastic Four, probably the most important comic of my life.

It has a nice recap of Dr. Doom’s origin ,a Psycho-Man/Hatemonger story AND the Baxter Building being blown up.

Plus Byrne and Ordway doing the art. 12yr. old Lou really dug Bryne’s She-Hulk, actually 41yr. old Lou still does!

Sorry, had to get all nostalgic for a minute.

deadpool has a way more hideous face and nobody has even retched at it, dr. doom is a drama queen.

I remember reading somewhere that some people think that Doom resembles a young Stan Lee in that drawing. That maybe Kirby was making fun of (what he perceived as) Stan’s vanity.

I remember a story where the Enchantress (I think it was her, if not, then another magical female) offered to fix his face with her magic, and refused because he didn’t want to be indebted to her.

Iron Maiden wrote:
“The last time that Stan and Jack worked on a major Doom story together is in Fantastic Four #84-87. Kirby draws a full page splash of Doom posing unmasked for an artist, who gives very little reaction at all to seeing Doom unmasked.”

But I seem to recall that artist was the SHIELD spy whose reports to Nick Fury triggered the whole whole story. So his lack of reaction may not be significant.

deadpool has a way more hideous face and nobody has even retched at it, dr. doom is a drama queen.

Sure they have. Where would Deadpool be without vomit jokes? For instance: http://i.imgur.com/MrIZI.jpg

Methinks Brian must have been perusing the Doctor Doom appreciation thread were we’ve gone over this before :-) http://forums.comicbookresources.com/showthread.php?299636-Doctor-Doom-Appreciation

It’s funny, it actually WAS a CBR thread that inspired the legend this week, but another thread (I think RITA’s) where someone just casually mentioned the story of how Kirby always wanted Doom to have just a small scar and I thought, “Oh yeah, that IS something that a lot of people believe is true.”

Not that the Doom appreciation thread is not a fine, fine thread, as it is! :)

I just noticed something; in Fantastic Four#278, it is established that Doctor Doom was actually largely disfigured when a monk in the Himalayas put a still hot newly forged metal mask on his face, and Doom then rushed out into the snow to cool the mask and his face down. This story was published in the 1980′s.

Well, let us take a look at the origin of the Shrould published in the 1970′s:
a monk in the Himalayas put a hot brand on his face and he ran out into the snow.

http://bp3.blogger.com/__p6Clhn9WDI/R84f49BIHOI/AAAAAAAACJk/yz3_QHeSsjE/s1600-h/03-04-2008+08%3B14%3B47PM.JPG

http://random-happenstance.blogspot.com/2008/03/how-dcs-lawyers-missed-this-i-have-no.html

@rodney: That was one of the original Secret Wars issues, probably somewhere between #4 and #9.

IIRC Doom was more worried about the magnitude of the price than about being in Enchantress’ debt.

No, what I’m referring to was an article referencing the Kirby picture, it was before Secret Wars. It was in one of the comic magazines of the time, Amazing Heroes, Comic Scene, Comic Journal, I can’t remember which.

I can’t remember the exact wording with the Enchantress thing, but what you’re saying sounds more likely.

The video of Kirby drawing is totally worth watching. The video shows Kirby’s true genius to just flat out draw what’s in his head. I grew up thinking that this was how all artist draw and was so frustrated that I couldn’t do it. The truth is that there are very few artist who can put pencil to page and come up with a finished product that parallels Kirby’s. No sketches, no shape rendering, just drawing the pages in his head.

It would be interesting to find out that Doom’s face has long healed, but that he keeps on the mask because he sees himself as scarred.

For a long time, I’ve wondered why Doctor Doom (except when he ends up stealing outside power from someone like the Beyonder) has never been able to repair the damage to his own face. I mean, putting his gigantic ego and monumental arrogance aside, the man actually is an incredibly brilliant genius. Doom was the one man who was able to save Shadowcat’s life after “Mutant Massacre.” He also managed to cure Sharon Ventura of being the She-Thing, something Reed Richards was never able to achieve.

The only conclusion that I’ve come up with is that, subconsciously, Doom has convinced himself that his face cannot be repaired. After all, he blames Reed Richards for causing him to be horribly scarred. So if Doom was able to repair the damage, that would give him less of a reason to hate Reed. And, on some level, Doom probably feels it’s more important for him to have the hatred driving & motivating him than it is to have a restored, undamaged face.

Anyone else have an opinion on this?

@Ben Herman: I like your theory. It fits Doom’s character nicely and supports Kirby’s own thoughts on his legendary creation’s inner motivations.

“Clearly, at the point of this drawing, Kirby’s belief regarding Doctor Doom’s face is that Doom is so arrogant that he hides his face with a mask even though it only has a tiny scar. Doom has SUCH a high opinion of himself that he can’t let people see his face since the scar “ruins” it.”

That’s the exact same story I got the one time I met Kirby in Orange, CA, shortly before his passing. It was a comic store signing and Jack was holding court while Roz watched over him from the sidelines. He was very enthusiastic about retelling Doom’s origin and pointed out how a small scar seemed like a horrible disfigurement to Doom due to his tremendous pride and arrogance.

Curiously, this was the first time I’d heard this take on Doom’s origin and I got it from Kirby himself. I’m not sure if Jack had gone back to his initial line of thinking and dismissed his own retcon or if he wasn’t aware of Byrne’s later take on it, which I assume was long considered canon by then.

I think it would be interesting to discover that no one can tell how badly Doom’s original scarring was, because he’s spent almost every minute of his life since then with his face encased in a metal mask, with all the wear and tear that would result.

There is a reference to the Powerpuff Girls/Superman story in Kevin Smith’s Green Arrow run somewhere. I think it might actually be in the first issue. I had not seen the pin-up previously but I clearly remember there being a lot of discussion about it.

I would like to see a writer propose something a bit different from Byrne’s retcon about the damage to Doom’s face. Since we have varying degrees of reactions from people maybe his face does change because the damage really is some kind of curse, probably done by Mephisto or whoever the demon is he encounters in Books of Doom. Sue saw his face in the Liddleville story and just said it was something she didn’t expect. Then we have Don Blake, a grown man and a doctor, with his extreme reaction. Sue caught him unawares so maybe she saw the small scar. The instance Brian has used in one of his columns where the entire FF saw him with no reaction other than Ben saying he was nuts. There is a short story that Priest did shortly before he left comics and it was called “Masks” in an issue of Marvel Double Shots. He unmasked in front of a spy who was surgically altered to enhance her ressemblance to Valeria (Doom’s lost love from his early years). She fainted dead away. Again, this might be the curse part and Mephisto loves to torture him with this.

Darn,….that Anonymous post about the curse is me :-)

@Iron Maiden: yes, there is an interesting and unlikely spectrum of variation in the reactions of people who saw him unmasked.

Generally speaking, it would seem that it is all the more shocking when Doom is deliberately allowing himself to be seen. Almost as if he somehow enhanced the effect with his purpose.

Seeing how there is a mystical origin to the scars, maybe Doom has a psychic talent or curse that is actually causing the reactions, more than the scars themselves? Maybe he is not even aware of that.

I think the PPG pin-up’s actually better as published than as conceived, personally. Fits PPG better for them to go into battle with the Professor (as an ally, rather than a protector, unlike the last time he followed them into battle) than Superman, IMO.

@Luis Dantas: Yes, I agree with you about Doom not even being aware of how his appearance changes. There may be a subconscious trigger.

Michael Sacal, Thanks for the link to that clip. I’m now imagining the follow-up deleted scene.

“Nurse Jones, I appreciate you coming to see me. Listen, we’re all real happy with you and you do a good job with your patients but I called you in here because the hospital has a policy that I think we need to review. We’re trying to cut way, WAY back on looking at an injured patient’s face, screaming and yelling out, ‘It’s horrible!’ Do you think you could work on that?”

In Batman Family #17 (1978) Gerry Conway wrote a story called Scars where the disfigured villain is unmasked to reveal a scar pretty much the exact size and placement on his face as Kirby’s panel. It was my first exposure to this particular plot twist. I’m guessing from Brian’s talk of Kirby coming up with it in the mid-70s this is Conway giving a nod to Kirby’s idea. Has Conway ever talked about it?

Given that IDW is now publishing Cartoon Network books (and reprinting some of the previous DC books as part of that license), I’m not sure that the DC Comics people were incorrect. Granted, they could simply not grant permission for that one pinup to be reprinted by someone else, but it is a reality of licensed books.

As has been stated, including in the original article, the Animaniacs story would have gotten by as parody, whether Fox granted permission or not.

I don’t know Eye, it’s not such a singular idea Conway couldn’t have come up with it on his own. I’m Disfigured, Therefore I Turn Evil is a common comics plot so it would be natural to come up with a twist.
Later cases of the same twist: the Spider-Man newspaper strip had a beauty who believed she’d been disfigured and was out for revenge. And the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ran into a Phantom of the Opera type who believes his stage makeup has scarred him, then finds out it washed off ages ago (“Didn’t you look in a mirror once in a while, dude?”).

I think I had that issue of Animaniacs.

It’s odd that Stan and Jack hid their faces at the time, too. Was this their first appearance in the FF?

Okay, I just read the reprinted Dr. Strange/Dr. Doom teamup, Triumph and Tragedy and Doom in flashback shows us his face pre-armor. It looks like it’s got a gash up one side of the face, almost like a big dueling scar. So would this have been before Byrne definitely establishing it’s the armor that totally disfigured him, or did Stern get there first?
Thanks to everyone who recommended it in another of Brain’s comment threads. It really lived up to expectations.

And since we’re discussing Doom and his Mom, I remember the What If where Doom becomes a hero and frees her from Hell refers to him as having a blood claim on the throne of Latveria. Did the writer pull that out of nowhere or was it established somewhere, because I’ve never heard it.

So would this have been before Byrne definitely establishing it’s the armor that totally disfigured him, or did Stern get there first?

Triumph and Tragedy was after the Byrne FF issue. Byrne and Stern tended to confer about stuff, so it would make sense that they had a similar take.

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I’d like to think Doom’s scar wasn’t that big, and putting that hot iron mask on is what made his face truly disfigured.

[...] greatest superhero team (age 10 and under) for the 25th issue of their long forgotten DC title. Source. Characters owned by Warner [...]

[...] Comic Book Legends Revealed: Discover the True Face of Doctor Doom! (goodcomics.comicbookresources.com) [...]

What does Smith have against strawberry shortcake. She has no powers, but by the end of the classic abc specials magical beings were coming to her with their problems. She handles these problems with either her own cleverness or good teamwork. In the 2003 series she was written as a tomboy most of the time, and in the newest series it’s like the secret world of arietty in that they restored the forgotten plot element about people being as tiny as insects. Yes her first character design was really girly and she cried in episode 2, but for the most part these things make her a better character. In the latest series she’s so perfect the focus has to shift to her imperfect friends in order to create conflict.

When someone writes an piece of writing he/she maintains the plan of a user in his/her mind that how a user can understand it.
Therefore that’s why this article is great. Thanks!

This “tiny scar” theory of Doom’s face must have been a big influence on Miller in “The Dark Knight Returns,” when Harvey Dent’s face is restored so that both sides match; on the outside, they’re both fine, but in his mind they’re both corrupted.

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