Ed Piskor points to his highlights of Marvel’s merry mutants!

He’s won multiple awards and plaudits for turning the history of hip hop music into the critically acclaimed series “Hip Hop Family Tree,” but now writer/artist Ed Piskor tackles his first major project at Marvel. Starting with December 20’s X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN #1, he’ll be reframing and remixing the history of the X-Men into one, singularly crafted narrative. It’s a chance to relive the mutants’ greatest hits from the perspective of one brilliant cartoonist who grew up on these stories.

We caught up with Ed to talk about his favorite X-Men stories and what’s changed for him from reading these comics as a youth to recreating them as an accomplished professional.

Marvel.com: The structure and format of X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN is unique. Can you describe the particular restrictions and whether that form was the starting point or something that developed organically?

Ed Piskor: [When I started] I basically said that I have a way to make the first 280 issues of UNCANNY X-MEN into a lean 300 page story. After some deliberation Marvel said “do it in 240 pages, across six issues, three trade collections,” and sent me a contract. But aside from the concession of those extra 60 pages GRAND DESIGN is a completely faithful vision of what I want to do.

Comics-making is way too time intensive to allow them to be compromised in any way. I like restrictions and rules or else I have a tendency to meander. Knowing that I was going to be taking about 8,000 pages of material and whittle them into 240 pages adds a certain storytelling necessity to be brief and not linger. Each issue has to be jam-packed rather than the decompressed method to storytelling that is fashionable with most of today’s comics. Each issue basically covers about 50 issues of the series more or less.

Marvel.com: The mythology of the X-Men is about as rich, dense and diverse as the history of hip hop music. Were there any big challenges in adapting this fictional material versus the historical facts you’re used to chronicling?

Ed Piskor: The major challenge is that there is so much I love about X-Men and it’s wholly impossible to cover it all in the space provided. Also, I’m just a little past the halfway marker so there’s still plenty of room to really hit some challenges. One that is constantly on my mind is figuring out a way to keep Scott Summers a hero after leaving his wife, Madelyne Pryor with child, when Jean Grey comes back to life. That always caused me trouble as a young reader, but I think I have the way to get it to [make] sense.

Marvel.com: Were any eras of X-history easier to tackle than others?

Ed Piskor: The third issue of GRAND DESIGN, I knew, would be the easiest to tackle because it’s the gold-standard stuff that got everybody on board with the original series in such a big way. It covers GIANT SIZE X-MEN #1 through UNCANNY X-MEN #137 or so.

Marvel.com: You’re essentially one man reframing the serialized works of dozens and dozens of writers and artists. Which influences of those prior architects did you find coming out the most?

Ed Piskor: Artistically I’m building the story off of all prior artists whose work I connect to, X-Men, Marvel, or otherwise. I like how John Byrne and Paul Smith stuck to the characters proportions and kept Wolverine a shrimp. I liked the way Rob Liefeld drew hair back in the New Mutants/X-Force days. Steranko’s quirky foreshortening is a pleasure to my eyes. There are direct homages and samples using [Jack] Kirby in there. Neal Adams composition with the Sentinels flying into the sun is untouchable.

X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN is made on the shoulders of giants.

Marvel.com: Who were your favorite X-Men characters growing up and did you find your faves changing as you worked on this project?

Ed Piskor: I confess that I’ve never been the kind of fan who identifies with particular characters or who has favorites. From a very young age—five, maybe six years old—seeing real life names associated with the credits of those who created the actual comic books were always my motivation.

Thinking in those terms, I will answer the question another way. When I was little Jim Lee was the most captivating artist on X-MEN at the time I really decided to become a cartoonist. Then I discovered and adored Byrne and Art Adams and Steranko, and Paul Smith. Kirby and [Marc] Silvestri.

While revisiting the series I have to say that I’m embarrassed that I didn’t give [artist] Rick Leonardi as much credit as he deserves when I first read his issues. Looking at that work now, his chops rival anybody’s and I’ve been digging in the bins for any comics with his name on them.

Marvel.com: The X-Men, more so than any other corner of the Marvel Universe, tend to function as their own world, rarely needing to intersect with the other heroes. Why do you think they work so well as a self-contained soap opera?

Ed Piskor: We have [longtime UNCANNY X-MEN writer] Chris Claremont to thank for that. Having one guy write the series for almost 20 years creates an unparalleled consistency in mainstream comics that I’ve not seen matched. He fleshed those characters out in ways that made readers really care. Listen to Chris speak about the work and he acknowledges his characters as people. Not words on a page or lines on paper.

Marvel.com: Were there any moments you found yourself more excited by when you got to them than you previously expected you would be?

Ed Piskor: Every aspect of this project is a blast. There isn’t a wasted panel in the whole thing. No particular moments are more important to me over others. I have to keep the big picture in mind at all times with this story.

Marvel.com: What’s surprised you the most about this process?

Ed Piskor: X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN, to date, is a completely uncompromised vision. The editors were great so far all the way up the line. The sales guys were mindful the whole time. The folks handling the book collections are amazing and very helpful. Unless you guys are lying to me there’s going to be some special considerations with the printing of the books and trade in terms of paper stock and design. In a universe of corporate properties I appreciate that I’ve been given complete trust and respect to get my vision across. It’s going to yield an amazing product. I think my enthusiasm is clearly evident on every page and the hope is that the fans absorb that energy while reading.

Check out the first installment of this unprecedented undertaking in X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN #1, from Ed Piskor, on December 20, followed fast by issue #2 on January 3!

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See how the Lethal Legion members made their debut!

Every Friday we use the powers of Marvel Unlimited to look back at the very first appearance of a major character, place, or object that made waves this week.

A collection of the greatest super heroes on Earth have found themselves facing a monumental challenge in the pages of AVENGERS: NO SURRENDER. With the Grandmaster and the Challenger stealing Earth and utilizing the Lethal Legion and Black Order to enact their cosmic schemes, readers have been introduced—and reintroduced—to a variety of super villains. Two of these baddies have been around for longer than most; the Blood Brothers first premiered in 1973’s IRON MAN #55.

Now members of the Lethal Legion, the pair originally appeared as Thanos’ lackeys in an issue that also introduced Drax and gave an early look at the Mad Titan. The Brothers showed up, knocked Tony Stark out, loaded him onto their ship, and took him to their master’s secret Earthly lair. It was then revealed that Drax actually warned Stark about the oncoming threat before it occurred; to protect himself, he donned the armor just as the Blood brothers entered Stark Industries. Further warning Iron Man about the villains’ presence, Drax telepathically filled the hero’s mind with images of Titan, Mentor, Eros, and Thanos. These warnings, however, proved to be too late.

Iron Man (1968) #55

Iron Man (1968) #55

  • Published: February 10, 1973
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 05, 2008
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Upon regaining his senses inside Thanos’ base, Iron Man blasted the Blood Brothers with his repulsors before escaping to free Drax. The Blood Brothers managed to recover in time, though, and attacked the Armored Avenger once more. Though with the help of the Mentor, Iron Man prevailed again, allowing him to free his newfound friend, Drax.

Iron Man and the Destroyer then teamed up to face the Blood Brothers and bested them with ease. The duo then turned their attention toward Thanos, but the villain fled instead of staying to fight. The alien brutes survived, though, and would go on to menace Iron Man again along with the likes of the Thing, Daredevil, Quasar, and now—in the pages of AVENGERS: NO SURRENDER—the entire Earth!

Flash Forward

Between their early days and their current status as members of the Lethal Legion, the Blood Brothers have encountered some wild events during their stay on Earth. After crashing to the planet on an alien spaceship, the duo managed to enslave a small Alaskan town, fight Drax again, and evade death. After one of the Brothers supposedly died, the other was sent to space jail, which he broke out of before becoming fixture in large criminal gatherings like The Hood’s syndicate, the Siege on Asgard, Mr. Knife’s Slaughter Lords, and even Pleasant Hill, where his long-lost brother was mysteriously revived.

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Check out the bite-sized podcast preview of this week's new Marvel Comics!

Sweet Christmas! It’s Marvel’s The Pull List!

In this episode, Ryan and Tucker preview February 21’s new releases, including LUKE CAGEAMAZING SPIDER-MAN, the BLACK PANTHER ANNUAL, DOCTOR STRANGE: DAMNATION, STAR WARS: DOCTOR APHRA, and all the other books that will be waiting for you in stores tomorrow!

Here’s the full list of what’s available from Marvel this week:

MARVEL PRINT COMICS

  • AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #796
  • ASTONISHING X-MEN #8
  • AVENGERS #681
  • BLACK PANTHER ANNUAL #1
  • DAREDEVIL #599
  • DEADPOOL VS. OLD MAN LOGAN #5
  • DEFENDERS #10
  • DOCTOR STRANGE: DAMNATION #1
  • GENERATION X #87
  • INCREDIBLE HULK #713
  • INFINITY COUNTDOWN PRIME #1
  • LUKE CAGE #170
  • MIGHTY THOR #704
  • MONSTERS UNLEASHED #11
  • STAR WARS: DOCTOR APHRA #17
  • TALES OF SUSPENSE #102
  • VENOM #162
  • X-MEN: GOLD #22

COLLECTIONS

  • ALL-NEW WOLVERINE VOL. 5: ORPHANS OF X
  • ASTONISHING X-MEN BY CHARLES SOULE VOL. 1: LIFE OF X
  • CABLE & X-FORCE: ONSLAUGHT RISING
  • EXCALIBUR EPIC COLLECTION: THE CROSS-TIME CAPER
  • INVINCIBLE IRON MAN IRONHEART VOL. 1 RIRI WILLIAMS TP
  • MARVEL LEGACY HC
  • SECRET WARRIORS VOL. 2: IF TROUBLE MUST COME

DIGITAL COMICS

  • PUNISHER: THE PLATOON #6

ALSO ON SALE ON THE MARVEL APP

  • AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: EXTRA (2009) #1-3
  • CAPTAIN AMERICA: WHAT PRICE GLORY (2003) #1-4
  • DEADLY FOES OF SPIDER-MAN (1991) #1-4
  • X-FORCE (1991) #49-55

DIGITAL COLLECTIONS 

  • SPIDER-MAN: DEADLY FOES OF SPIDER-MAN

FRESHLY DIGITIZED COMICS ON MARVEL UNLIMITED

  • ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN AMERICA #1-4
  • CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE 1940S NEWSPAPER STRIP #1-3
  • GENERATIONS: WOLVERINE & ALL-NEW WOLVERINE #1
  • ULTIMATES 2 #100

Download episode 7 of The Pull List from Marvel.com, check out Marvel Podcast Central, grab the This Week in Marvel RSS feed, and subscribe to This Week in Marvel for The Pull List updates on iTunes! Then head over to our Soundcloud hub to listen to more from Marvel!

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Jason Aaron and Donny Cates pen the new number ones!

Make Mine Marvel this May!

Jump on board as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and the Venom symbiote get fresh creative teams and ground shaking new adventures! AVENGERS #1, written by Jason Aaron with art by Ed McGuinness, launches on May 2! And VENOM #1, by writer Donny Cates and artist Ryan Stegman, kicks off on May 9!

Art by Jim Cheung

“Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be rolling out new beginnings for a few of our key franchises—new creative teams, new starting points, new storylines—all the big stuff that we’ve been building towards since Marvel Legacy began. This isn’t a clearing of the slate—while these new starts will kick off with new #1s, we’ll be maintaining the classic Legacy issue counts as dual numbering on these titles as well,” says SVP and Executive Editor Tom Brevoort. “Oh, and don’t read anything into not seeing a character on the Jim Cheung piece…we can only squeeze so many characters in there without killing poor Jim!”

In AVENGERS, the Big Three are reunited at last! Thor Odinson, Steve Rogers, and Tony Stark join forces once again to save the world from total annihilation at the hands of their most powerful enemies yet: the 2000-foot-tall space gods known as Celestials! And as teased throughout the pages of recent Marvel Comics, the Final Host will arrive…

Joining Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man in the new iteration of the team will be an unexpected, unprecedented collection of super heroes! Get a peek at Ed McGuinness’ art for AVENGERS #1 here!

And while Earth’s Mightiest Heroes fight the good fight on a cosmic scale, an inky symbiote will stretch across the streets of New York City and beyond in writer Donny Cates and artist Ryan Stegman’s VENOM!

In the wake of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s collapse, a primordial evil has been awakened beneath the streets of NYC, and with it, something equally evil has awakened in that most Wicked of Webslingers. This never-before-seen threat could force Venom to relinquish everything it holds dear…including Eddie Brock!

Get ready for a Venom adventure 1000 years in the making…And catch a glimpse of Ryan Stegman’s VENOM #1 art below!

Read AVENGERS #1, by Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness, on May 2! Then catch VENOM #1, by Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman, on May 9!

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Old Man Hawkeye writer Ethan Sacks joins the podcast!

Kick your big Marvel weekend off right with a brand-new episode of This Week in Marvel!

In this installment, Tucker yells, Alex invents a reason to go to Hong Kong, and Ryan doesn’t like rollercoasters. Then, OLD MAN HAWKEYE writer Ethan Sacks drops by to talk about the future of the series and how he got his start in comics.

Download the episode from Marvel.com, check out Marvel Podcast Centralgrab the TWiM RSS feed, and subscribe to This Week in Marvel on iTunes so you never miss an episode! Then head over to our Soundcloud hub to listen to the entire run of the show!

With new episodes every Friday, This Week in Marvel delivers all the latest Marvel discussion and news about comics, TV, movies, games, toys, and beyond! TWiM is hosted by Marvel Creative Executive Ryan “Agent M” Penagos, Marvel.com Assistant Editor Tucker Markus, and Assistant Manager of Social Media Alex Lopez. We want your feedback—as well as questions for us to answer on future episodes—so tweet your questions and comments about the show to @AgentM, @tuckermarkus, @alexl0pez_, or @Marvel with the hashtag #ThisWeekinMarvel!

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Dan Slott nears the end of his AMAZING run with a milestone issue on May 30.

After 10 years, Dan Slott’s epic run on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN is nearing its end in a big way with the “Go Down Swinging” arc, and AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #800 will be an appropriately huge issue in more ways than one.

Slott and artist Stuart Immonen will unveil what’s being touted as the biggest Peter Parker and Norman Osborn story of all time, joined by Humberto Ramos, Giuseppe Camuncoli and Jim Cheung. AMAZING #800 will mark the first Marvel comic to ever hit 800 issues, and will feature 80 pages of brand-new story from Slott, who has written more issues of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN than any creator.

Slott’s time on AMAZING – before he moves over to IRON MAN – will wrap up in #801, but first “Go Down Swinging” is giving fans one of the most exciting stories in Spider-Man lore, culminating with Spider-Man facing his most evil villain yet.

Said editor Nick Lowe, “AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #800 is the biggest single-issue story I’ve ever worked on. It’s 80-pages of story! And Dan and Stuart are being joined by some very important past AMAZING SPIDER-MAN artists to bring it to you in the coolest way possible! Everything you’ve loved about Dan Slott’s run on this book is on full display in this monumental issue that will have you shivering, crying, cheering, laughing and wishing it would never end!”

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #800
GO DOWN SWINGING
Written by Dan Slott
Art by Stuart Immonen, Humberto Ramos, Giuseppe Camuncoli
Cover by Alex Ross
On-Sale 5/30/18

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Kelly Thompson and Marc Guggenheim unite! Chris Claremont returns!

It’s almost time for Kitty Pryde and Colossus to tie the knot…but a Marvel Wedding is never a simple affair!

This May, take part in epic and adventurous stories written by Kelly Thompson and Marc Guggenheim! Plus, a wedding gift all on its own in the form of a brand-new Kitty Pryde story from legendary writer Chris Claremont, who returns to the X-Men just in time for the celebrations! But remember, when super heroes get together, mayhem ensues…and the X-Men are no exception.

“X-Men Weddings are always a big deal, if only because they’re so rare,” teases Thompson. “I think you probably have to go all the way back to X-MEN #30 in 1994—the wedding of Jean Grey and Cyclops—to get a wedding as potentially big as the wedding of Kitty Pryde and Colossus: two X-Men who’ve been around (and on again/off again) for literal decades.”

In this essential companion to the X-MEN: GOLD storyline “‘Til Death Do Us Part,” get a glimpse at Kitty and Peter’s march toward wedded bliss! It’s a celebration, Marvel style, with all the action, adventure, and surprises that we’ve come to know and love from Marvel’s merry mutants—and it’s only in comic shops this May!

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Preview the director and the writer's exclusive conversation!

The time has come…Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” is in theaters now!

Travel to Wakanda, meet the King, and explore his world. But when the movie ends, you can continue to journey alongside the Black Panther in writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and artist Leonard Kirk’s BLACK PANTHER. The series, which “Black Panther” executive producer Nate Moore has described as one of the “most inspirational” for the movie, sees T’Challa battling Ulysses Klaue, teaming up with Nakia, Shuri, and Ayo, and handling the responsibilities of the throne.

And on February 28, aside from the action and political intrigue of the story, issue #170 will debut an exclusive conversation between series writer, acclaimed novelist Ta-Nehisi Coates and Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler! The two creators explore each other’s thoughts on the character, the new film, and the cultural impact of Black Panther.

Here’s a quick snippet of their talk:

Ta-Nehisi Coates: So how do you feel now, after the premiere the other night? Is the weight still on your shoulders? Are you feeling like you did something? Are you happy yet? How you feeling?

Ryan Coogler: At premieres, you got a room full of people who want the film to work, you know what I’m saying? Everybody here wants the film to work. They want to watch a good movie. They want to see something that is going to make them proud. It makes you incredibly nervous, man, and you don’t know if the response is real or not. But I’ll tell you now that that night, the Panther premiere, that experience…Man, that’s one I’m going to remember for the rest of my life. I’m still trying to process it now.

Read the full conversation only in BLACK PANTHER #170 on February 28!

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The Panther encounters the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man and more!

For more than 50 years, the Black Panther has stood at the forefront on the Marvel Universe. With T’Challa appearing on the big screen again this year in both Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War,” take a look back at over five decades worth of comic book adventures for the King of Wakanda!

The Black Panther found himself psychically forced to attend a gathering of heroes at Avengers Mansion in AVENGERS #211. There, he discovered a membership drive of sorts taking place, driven by the mental powers of Moondragon to bolsters the team’s ranks. When fights broke out among those gathered, T’Challa resisted Moondragon’s challenge and any offer of Avengers membership for the time being.

After being among the many heroes present for the tragic events in THE DEATH OF CAPTAIN MARVEL, T’Challa welcomed his friends the Fantastic Four to his African nation of Wakanda in FANTASTIC FOUR #241, and learned that the famous family sought a strange energy signature within the country’s borders. T’Challa disguised himself as one of his warriors to keep an eye on his friends, but when they stumbled upon a man using an ancient alien power to set himself up as a Roman emperor, he moved in to help them bring him down.

Fantastic Four (1961) #241

Fantastic Four (1961) #241

  • Published: April 10, 1982
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: August 08, 2008
  • Cover Artist: John Byrne
What is Marvel Unlimited?

The cosmic Grandmaster summoned every known hero on Earth to compete in a grandiose game in CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS #1, and the Black Panther learned of the being’s desire to resurrect his brother the Collector should he win. Placed on a team alongside the X-Men’s Angel and the Russian hero Vanguard, T’Challa traveled to a city in Japan in CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS #3 to battle the Thing, Wolverine, and Peregrine. The Wakandan monarch’s team ultimately lost the challenge.

T’Challa next traveled to Washington D.C. to support the Hulk’s plea for amnesty from the President of the United States in INCREDIBLE HULK #278. When a supposed alien attack broke out, the Black Panther fought alongside the green giant to stop it, and then later raised his voice in triumph as the Hulk stood hailed as a hero.

Iron Man Annual (1970) #5

Iron Man Annual (1970) #5

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Tony Stark visited some holdings in Wakanda in IRON MAN ANNUAL #5, but ran face first into a gambit by Madame Slay to kill T’Challa. The Panther’s old foe Erik Killmonger then claimed the heroic mantle while Iron Man helped T’Challa behind the scenes to root out the true villain of the piece: The Mandarin.

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Dive into the Marvel library with Erik Killmonger!

Before Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” hits the big screen this weekend, we decided to look back at the comic book history of a few of T’Challa’s greatest nemeses. Part One covered the life and times of Ulysses Klaue, and today we’ll review the Black Panther’s other archenemy: N’Jadaka, A.K.A. Erik Killmonger!

Forced into servitude by the evil Ulysses Klaue, N’Jadaka’s father was forced to help the mastermind steal vibrantium from Wakanda. The heist culminated in Klaue’s murder of King T’Chaka before the villain went on a rampage, killing N’Jadaka’s entire family before taking him captive.

Jungle Action (1973) #6

Jungle Action (1973) #6

What is Marvel Unlimited?

After escaping Klaue’s clutches, N’Jadaka ended up in Harlem, New York. There, the young man developed a deep hatred for T’Chaka, believing that his weak leadership was responsible for the death of his family. In return for these perceived failures, N’Jadaka vowed to take revenge on T’Chaka’s son, T’Challa. During his time in Harlem, N’Jadaka changed his name to Erik Killmonger and dedicated his life to avenging his family’s murder.

Erik cultivated his combat skills, and eventually got his Doctorate in engineering, before contacting T’Challa himself for permission to return to Wakanda. His request was granted, and once in the country, the villain began working to overthrow the King. After wreaking havoc on several small villages, Killmonger lured The Black Panther into coming to help. Then, using his trained leopard, Preyy, as well as a number of his followers, the man formerly known as N’Jadaka attacked. After being defeated in his initial run-in, Killmonger returned again with the aid of fellow baddies Sombre and King Cadaver. After another battle, T’Challa prevailed again, this time killing his foe in the process.

Black Panther (1998) #16

Black Panther (1998) #16

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Killmonger was resurrected by his followers and, in a meeting of villainous minds, teamed up with Klaue to take down T’Challa. This time, however, he succeeded, defeating T’Challa and taking control of Wakanda. Though, when Killmonger tried to consume the Heart-Shaped Herb to undergo the full process of becoming The Black Panther, the Herb turned out to be poisonous to those not of the royal bloodline. After recovering from being poisoned, Erik learned that T’Challa had retaken his place on the throne, but had not resumed his duties as The Black Panther—a New York cop named Kaspar Cole had taken over the mantle instead. Killmonger created a synthetic version of the Heart-Shaped Herb and came to New York City for a rendezvous with Cole, and attempted to woo him into revolting against T’Challa to no avail.

Recently, since T’Challa resumed his position as The Black Panther, Killmonger was the despotic ruler of Wakanda’s neighbor country, Niganda. After capturing T’Challa’s sister, Shuri, Wakanda invaded in retaliation and, in the chaos, Erik Killmonger was killed again.

Black Panther (2005) #35

Black Panther (2005) #35

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Meet Erik Killmonger, Ulysses Klaue, and the rest of the characters in Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” on February 16!

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