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DD Book Club - The Devil Takes a Ride

 
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 12, 2020 9:43 am    Post subject: DD Book Club - The Devil Takes a Ride Reply with quote

I hope everyone is doing well right now. Since there's a delay in new comics, I'm hoping reading along with old comics can bring people some joy. After what felt like entirely too long of a break, we're back to Ed Brubaker's run.

Daredevil Vol. 2 #89 - The Devil Takes a Ride Part 1

Quote:

Daredevil’s search for the truth leads him out of the country, on a swashbuckling noir adventure that hasn’t been seen in the pages of DD for years! But, is this the other DD, or the original?


Due 4/19
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Dimetre
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 12, 2020 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So it's been a while since the Book Club last looked at an Ed Brubaker issue, so it's worth reminding people that we have been let in on the fact that Foggy Nelson is, in fact, alive. So when this new arc kicks off with Foggy showing Matt around a brand new office in the very first page, we should immediately know that something is off. That's confirmed when we turn the page and see Karen Page alive, looking even more like the perfect Kennedy-era secretary than possible. Sure enough, Matt is dreaming.

Yes, it's a bit of a cliche opening. We probably didn't need three pages of that, but it serves as a reminder that Matt is tortured by what he has lost. He still thinks Foggy has been murdered. He doesn't know what we know. That's why he's traveled halfway around the world to track down the one lead he has to unravel this mystery -- Alton Lennox.

This issue is heavy on atmosphere, and I value that. Michael Lark spares no detail on the sumptuous and glamourous Monaco setting. The railings, chandeliers, flowers, cobblestones and trees are all meticulously produced. I'm not sure if Lark works from photographs, but I think in order to recreate this amount of detail he must have to in some way. It really helps the reader soak in the setting, and establish a new tone for this new chapter in Brubaker's run.

Brubaker loves femme fatales, and Lily Lucca is a good one. From the start she's mysterious and alluring. Soon she starts eliciting sympathy from Matt. It's telling that when Lily's fiance gets stabbed by the new Matador, Daredevil yells at him to get away from her, not her father or Lennox. He's immediately coming to her protection.

I remember how much I enjoyed the panel where Lark hearkens back to Frank Miller's trick of drawing multiple Daredevils in motion. It's on the second last page of this issue and it shows Daredevil flipping and jumping as he dodges machine-gun fire. In 2006 this scratched such an itch for a return to to a more agile and swashbuckling Daredevil after such a long period of Bendis and Maleev's less graceful fighter. I still find that panel great, and it's the most memorable part of the issue for me.

I also found it strange that I forgot how good Matt was at poker in this issue. I can totally buy that he would have an advantage due to his senses, and I love that he never once looks at his cards. Years later Charles Soule would write an issue with Matt and Peter in Macau, where Matt would use his unique power set to beat an Inhuman at poker, and I still think that's my favourite Soule issue. I imagine Soule read this issue, and that it served as inspiration.

This issue's cliffhanger reveals that there is yet another shadowy figure pulling the strings in this plot to make Matt's life a living hell -- a figure attached to an intravenous pole. I, of course, remember who it is, and I'm looking forward to the issue where they meet.

I think this is a great issue. We probably didn't need the first three pages, but they serve as a clever refresher. Michael Lark's art is gorgeous, and Brubaker, still one of my favourite writers, does what he does best -- weave excellent mysteries and capers. If you're going to take Daredevil out of Hell's Kitchen, you may as well plop him in the middle of a gorgeous land with mysterious and enthralling characters. I think this arc may prove to be the height of Brubaker's run, but as we go along I'll see if that holds true.

I think I'll give this a 4.5 out of five.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2020 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The opening dream and its wrongness helps emphasize the guilt Matt feels. He's trying to right wrongs, but he can't change the past. Brubaker's run so far has stood out for being different in setting. The first arc was in prison. This one is in Europe. It puts Matt in a different place than he would normally be, so everything is unexpected.

Probably the best unexpected idea is a new Matador. Reading this issue for the first time, I thought Matador was a major silver age Daredevil villain or something, but he really only appeared a couple of times. Even then, I think they thought the idea was silly. But still, I think the rebooted version of the character is handled quite well here. It makes sense and he shows off his skills as a fighter and swordsman.

Things get very action-packed. It keeps things moving with enough twists that to keep you on your toes. Honestly, my only complaint is the ending feels a bit abrupt.

Four and a Half Stars.
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2020 8:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 2 #90 - The Devil Takes a Ride Part 2

Quote:

THE DEVIL TAKES A RIDE races into the second of five parts, as Daredevil finds himself in Paris, on the hunt for some very dangerous men... But they just might be hunting him, as well!


Due 4/26
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Dimetre
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2020 5:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is the second issue in a row that opens with Matt dreaming, and waking up disturbed by his dream. It speaks volumes that, this time, Lily is in his dream instead of Karen, and the only person who speaks of Milla in this entire issue is the dream version of Foggy. Matt never mentions his wife, not even in internal monologue.

I'm really enjoying Michael Lark's environments. The amount of detail is amazing to behold. You really feel like Matt isn't in Hell's Kitchen anymore.

So many pages in this issue have no spoken dialogue. Most of the words are in captions representing Matt's internal thoughts. I think Ed Brubaker has done a great job pairing those up with Lark's astounding visuals. I love the one where Matt is walking across a street in Sintra, thinking, "According to guidebooks, Sintra was one of the most beautiful spots in Portugal. I wouldn't know." Even better is lower down on the same page with Matt standing atop a lookout tower in a castle, thinking, "It almost felt like the past was looking out at us, frozen in those ancient stones. Even my radar felt different bouncing off that much history." I don't think it gets better than that. I love the idea that Matt somehow feels the age and the history of the landscape around him.

The only part of the issue that I didn't feel worked as well as it should was after Matt discovers Alton Lennox. He smells Lily's scent in the room, and then we see an overhead shot of a car with the sound effect "SLAAMM," but because the doors are shut we don't know if the car is coming or going, until a couple of panels later. On the next page Daredevil is twirling over the car as it rushes at him, and, to me, it doesn't look like he's being hit, however we have the "WWMMP" sound effect. If Matt was supposed to be hit, I think Lark could have done a better job of making it look like he was. I also think Tombstone took Daredevil down a little too easily, even though he is a tough guy.

I enjoyed Matt's French, and the Parisian guy's reaction to it was hilarious. We can, again, see how Matt's stint in prison and his reaction to Foggy's murder has changed him, and not in a good way. If this was someone's first Brubaker Daredevil issue, I could understand that reader being bothered by Matt's breaking of the Parisian guy's finger. Because I've been following the series, I understand that Brubaker isn't holding this up as what Daredevil should be.

I find it somewhat funny that while Lily's perfume reminds Matt of Karen, it reminds the new Matador of his mother. Brubaker may be making a Freudian comment here, or maybe Lily's perfume reminds men of their purest love, or their deepest comfort, or where they feel truly home. Who knows how it works? But Brubaker is adding more shading to his femme fatale.

This is another very good issue. I'm giving it a four out of five.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2020 8:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This one starts with a dream, but they make it clear, so it isn't a repeat of last time. I'm trying to think what I thought of Matt's infatuation when I first read this issue. Reading it now, it's obvious there's something wrong. But I read these issues all at once, so it's possible I kind of just thought she reminded him of Karen and that they were setting up some kind of love interest that way. Certainly, I was more concerned about her safety than threatened by her.

Her addition has created a pretty dramatic change of focus (particularly since we know Foggy isn't dead, so Matt's revenge plot isn't as important). Still, it's a shock when Lennox is dead. Things change focus quickly enough that I think I missed some fairly obvious hints the first time. In this case, it's when Tombstone shows up.

I love the international journey aspects of this. I think Matt has spoken French before. That being said, his scene interrogating the underworld is one of my favorites. I love that the biggest torture to a Frenchman is Matt speaking bad French.

The ending that Lilly is in on it should be obvious, but I missed it the first time. But, as I said, things keep twisting at the perfect pace. Even for those who catch that, the scent thing is very unnerving until the end. Four and a Half Stars.
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2020 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 2 #91 - The Devil Takes a Ride Part 3

Quote:
Daredevil finally gets close to the answers he seeks, but before he finds out the truth, he’ll have to face down two villains both out for his blood -- TOMBSTONE and the all-new, all-different MATADOR!


Due 5/3
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
Thomas More - A Man for All Seasons
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Dimetre
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2020 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The main point of this issue is how much Daredevil's attitude towards Lily has changed. He feels like she's exploiting his memory of Karen, and that makes him resentful and angry. He thinks she's the best liar he's ever encountered. With Lily, Ed Brubaker has designed a great femme fatale who draws on the empathy of the reader, but also takes advantage of it. Brubaker clearly knows noir.

One tradition of noir is long bits of narration from the protagonist, and based on how a lot of this issue dwells on Matt's feelings towards Lily, I can see how having a lot of it in this issue makes sense. But I honestly felt like there was too much. By the time we got to page 7 of Matt's internal monologue, I was getting impatient. I think a lot of the first seven pages could have been compressed more. Sure, we still get some great artwork from Michael Lark, but this issue takes place completely at night, so it's harder to make out a lot of his details, so a lot of this art isn't as easy to see. It does a great job creating atmosphere, but I would have liked to see Tombstone and Lily appear earlier.

Once Tombstone shoves Lily into his car, the issue takes off. The panel showing the gangsters hiding underneath a bridge on the River Seine is beautiful. As Lily very convincingly struggles against the gangsters and pleads for help, it was so interesting to see Matt's anger grow. I enjoyed the fight with Tombstone and the new Matador, but I would have appreciated seeing the sledgehammer appear in an earlier panel, because he ended up taking down Tombstone with it. It would have made it feel less like the sledgehammer magically appeared just when he needed it.

I understood why Daredevil called the Matador's bluff, because he finds Lily's manipulation so offensive, but it's another sign that Matt's personality has been effected by all that he's endured since his time in prison. I liked how the new Matador broke down and admitted that someone hired him to kill her. She doesn't really deny that she killed Lennox, and since her scent was all over the room it's useless for her to try. She lets him in on who's pulling her strings, and the issue ends with that information withheld from us.

It's a solid look at Matt's character. We understand why his nose is so far out of joint and why he's so resentful towards Lily. The fight with Tombstone and Lily is great, and I love the use of Paris as a setting. I just think we could have gotten to the side of the river sooner, because there was just too much of the Matt's internal monologue before that. Ed Brubaker is usually a master of pacing and economy, so I'm a little surprised to feel that way. It's still a very good issue, so I'm giving it a four out of five.

By the way, because I'm such a fan I subscribe to Ed Brubaker's email newsletter. We're all sad to have no new comics, so I was thrilled to find out that he released the first issue of a new series called Friday this past Wednesday. It's through artist and Daredevil alumnus Marcos Martin's website. Here's the link: http://panelsyndicate.com/comics/friday?fbclid=IwAR2b-5sv2hkpYuIaj2QnAtigD-TDml8yjiI2yGrCUMehvcNXNrW6TmrkXhg
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2020 7:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

With Matt focused and feeling betrayed, everything seems much more focused. Everything he sees is colored in a more suspicious light. Honestly, it feels like Matt might be too suspicious. You see things like her elevated heart rate, which he attributes to her being a sociopath, but I can't help but wonder if things are more ambiguous (she's involved, but still terrified, for example), but Matt's anger over her having Karen's scent has biased him in the other direction. The way the story is written, where you don't know what to trust, it feels a bit relieving when Lilly is put in a no-win situation and comes clean and Matt believes everything. Of course, we don't know what is revealed, but it's good to see things changing.

That being said, I don't think this issue revealed much. I guess that the scent thing works on everyone and isn't a Karen scent is new, but it feels we're just locking down what was figured out. Overall, it was fun even if it just moved things forward, but I'm going four stars.
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2020 11:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 2 #92 - The Devil Takes a Ride Part 4

Quote:
Matt Murdock finally comes face-to-face with the person who’s been manipulating his life since he was thrown in jail, and you’ll be stunned by the revelation!


Due 5/10
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Dimetre
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2020 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So I have a mixed reaction to this comic.

It's fantastically written, serving as prime evidence why Ed Brubaker is my favourite writer working in comics today. The entire chess angle is a stroke of genius, giving us another lesson to view Wilson Fisk's relationship with not only Matt, but Vanessa. Making her the best chess player out of the three of them was a great choice, and I liked how she correctly predicted all of Matt's movements from when he was in Rykers to this very moment. Her blaming of Matt is irrational from where I sit, but intelligence and cunning isn't the same thing as self-awareness.

I love how Matt's reaction to Lily's perfume proves that he's still in love with Karen. From the moment she died, I always said that he hadn't properly worked through his grief. He never really learned how to truly live with the loss of her. As cool as Maya Lopez, Kate Vinokur and Milla Donovan are, it always seems like he's just setting them up for disappointment when the inner demons with which he has refused to deal come home to roost and shatter whatever good thing he has going on. Unfortunately, this revelation about the perfume really didn't end up setting Matt out on a journey of self-discovery as far as I recall.

As always, Michael Lark did a great job with his art, surrounding Vanessa in shadows. I'd love to see him work with Brubaker again, because he's great at depicting the noir atmosphere at which Brubaker excels.

However, I can't help but resent where this issue had to go with Vanessa Fisk. As most regular users of this website are aware, I am not a fan of Brian Michael Bendis' acclaimed run on Daredevil. If you want to know why, Mike Murdock, myself and a few others have reviewed every single issue of his run (except for "Wake Up" and "Ninja") through the Book Club, so have fun combing through the Message Board archives. I have always viewed Vanessa's murder of her son as wildly out-of-character, and as a sign that Bendis made absolutely no attempt to understand who Vanessa was before he wrote that. Now here we are, years after "Underboss," and Brubaker has to somehow justify how that murder fits in with Vanessa's character.
Amazingly, he does a better job than I could have ever hoped. This version of Vanessa says she was certain that killing Richard was the right thing, but she is paying the price for that. It may not match up at all with what we had known about Vanessa before Bendis got his grubby mitts on her, but it makes her a fascinating character. This is an incredibly intelligent woman who loves her troubled husband beyond reason, and is willing to accept her end for her principles. As if I could respect Brubaker more, but I can't imagine anybody doing a better cleanup job of what I view as Bendis' mess. Still, I don't like that he had to do this.

There are still more signs of a hardening of Daredevil's character. He's enjoying the sound of shattering bones, meaning his rage is out of control. I'm looking forward to seeing one of Daredevil's friends call him out on that.

The opening scene with the FBI director is an odd choice. It's only two pages, but it doesn't link up with anything else in the issue. I would rather this issue have dealt with Matt in Zurich from cover to cover. Having finished reading the issue, throwing in that scene with the FBI director feels like an arbitrary and bizarre choice.

I think this is a great issue, and I realize my hangups about Bendis' mischaracterization of Vanessa are my own. I'm giving this a four out of five.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2020 7:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought this was a very fun beginning. The plot has moved dramatically from the beginning of Brubaker's run, with the death of the FBI guy and the reveal that Vanessa Fisk is behind everything. If we were to go with the Vanessa from Miller's run (or the Spider-Man stories that came before), this would feel out of left field. But this is the Vanessa that followed Bendis's run, so I'm willing to accept the change. That run was very much a parallel to Michael Corleone from the Godfather. Things are different so she had to adapt. Additionally, I think it's important that Brubaker acknowledges that history and addresses it.

That being said, this is a very talky issue. Some of it is interesting. A lot of it is just consolidation of what we knew to make sure we're all on the same page. The deal with the devil aspect has some interesting aspects to it, but it's over very quickly. Matt is triumphant. He doesn't tarnish his soul. It's interesting how much this issue goes for a re-set. It very easily could have been a situation where the identity thing goes back into the bottle without the need for magic, much as it had been done in the past.

I'm going Four Stars. There are some interesting moments, but it's also very dialogue-heavy.
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2020 8:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 2 #93 - The Devil Takes a Ride: Conclusion

Quote:
Harvey Award-Winning Best Writer Ed Brubaker and Eisner Award-Winning Artist Michael Lark bring their first year on Daredevil full circle -- and it ends with a bang! Matt Murdock returns to the streets of New York, to Hell's Kitchen, to whatever is left of his life, and to face whatever he must to try to get it back. What is Matt's future? What has happened in his absence, and what part does Kingpin play in all this? The only place you'll find those answers is in the stunning conclusion to "The Devil Takes a Ride!"


Due 5/17
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Dimetre
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2020 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love this issue. I love the bittersweet nature of it. Vanessa is giving Matt everything he wants, but he knows why she's doing it, and that taints it. As he muses, "...all I can think about is how sweet Matt Murdock's life can be... and who I owe it to."

I love how much of a relief it is to see Foggy and Matt reunited. I love that Becky Blake is invited to join the firm. I love how Matt's license to practise law is reinstated.

But most of all I love how noble Matt is during his meeting with Wilson Fisk. I love how he takes partial ownership for the way Vanessa ended up. I love how he successfully appeals to Wilson's emotions, and makes him agree to revoke his U.S. citizenship and leave the country.

I love that Matt expresses regret for how much lying he has had to do recently, including to the press at the beginning of this issue.

I love how Brubaker confronts what, to me, is an elephant in the room -- Matt hasn't worked through his grief for Karen. As cool as I think Milla is, Matt's unresolved issues when it comes to Karen are bound to get in the way of his marriage. This is something I hope Matt confronts soon, but I don't remember that happening.

I didn't love Matt making up that story about the Punisher to the press. I understand that telling the truth wasn't an option, but it only reminded me that he helped the Punisher break out of Rykers, and Matt should believe that Frank Castle has no business breaking out of Rykers.

A great issue. I'm pretty sure "The Devil Takes a Ride" was the peak of Brubaker's run for me, and this was a great way to end it. 4.5 out of 5 from me.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2020 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The issue starts with a very cathartic "this is finally over" feel. Everything seems to come full circle. Then, suddenly, Brubaker throws in a bit of a gut punch as someone still accuses Matt of being Daredevil. It's an effective way to point out that the toothpaste can never go back into the tube. The genie is staying out of that bottle. Insert your metaphor here. Things are much closer to normal, but things can't go back to the way they were before. Still, overall, there's a wonderfully sweet tone as things fall back into place. This sweetness even extends to his release of the Kingpin. It's possible to think the story has gone full circle and there's no need for anything more. There's a redemption of Vanessa and, to a degree, Fisk through her, that feels wonderfully earned. Of course, it won't last. But it's good for this story. Actually, come to think of it, I can't remember if there's actually any build up for his return or if this ending is more or less ignored.

The story does just what it needs to do. It hints at the future story with Lilly (that's been left unresolved), but doesn't try to do more there. It's really just the perfect catharsis this whole story needed (starting with The Devil in Cell Block D, if not all the way from Underboss). Five Stars.
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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