ALEX ROSS Spotlight: Interpreting SUPERHEROES in the “Real World”

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

It’s been written that seeing an Alex Ross take on a comic book character is like, “finally meeting someone you’d only ever heard about.”

As anyone familiar with his work knows, Ross is truly in a league of his own in terms of making these characters look real, yet keeping that awe-inspiring flamboyance that captured our hearts in the first place.

Ross has talked about at times using specific likenesses (actors, etc.) as the basis for certain characters. He famously used his father to portray Norman McCay in Kingdom Come. In the same book, Gregory Peck was apparently Ross’ inspiration in rendering an older Bruce Wayne. And as he discusses in the video below, his take on Mister Fantastic was at one time based on how Russell Johnson (the Professor) looked on Gilligan’s Island.

But even when drawing in such a realistic style, is that the way to go? As time went on, Ross would change his mind on the matter…

These days, with superhero movies more prevalent than ever, Ross finds himself in a unique position as filmmakers try to literally bring these stories to life on the big screen. While certain liberties are often taken to make them look more real, Ross remains as reverent as ever for the way these characters were originally designed…

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Weekly Comic 100s: EVENT LEVIATHAN, Family Tree, POWER RANGERS

*”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Nothing too in-depth here. Just straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Event Leviathan #6
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS: Alex Maleev, Josh Reed (Letterer)
RELEASED: November 13, 2019

So Leviathan turns out to be [name redacted for spoilers’ sake]…

Who the @#$% is that?

I’m always annoyed when big mystery comics do this. They build the bad guy’s identity up for weeks and weeks and weeks…and then it’s somebody we have to go to Wikipedia to learn about. *head on table*

Event Leviathan was a fun, suspenseful read, with some fun ideas. All the secret organizations (A.R.G.U.S., Task Force X, etc) being shut down, detectives from across the DC Universe coming together. But they really needed to stick the landing here. They didn’t.

TITLE: Superman #17
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS: Kevin Maguire, Paul Mounts (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer). Cover by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Alex Sinclair.
RELEASED: November 13, 2019

I’m always happy to find a Kevin Maguire book in my weekly stack. Though some of the sillier expressions we get here don’t necessarily mesh with the foreboding tone the issue seems to be going for.

The issue is titled “The Truth: Prologue.” They never specifically learn what said truth is. But I’m hoping it’s not what it looks like. If it is, we may be headed toward a rehash of the New Krypton storyline they did about a decade ago. If that’s the case, then I’m leaving Superman on the stands for awhile.

TITLE: Family Tree #1
AUTHOR:
Jeff Lemire
ARTISTS: Phil Hester, Eric Gapstur (Inker), Ryan Cody (Colorist)
RELEASED: November 13, 2019

I imagine the pitch for this must have been simply, “Girl becomes tree.” In the end, that’s all you need, isn’t it? Like “Weekly Comic 100s,” it’s straight and to the point.

But to their credit, Jeff Lemire, Phil Hester, and the Family Tree team got me to care about these characters. I consider that a pretty big achievement, as this premise could have come off comical. I’m not sure if it was enough to hook me for issue #2. But I’m definitely curious…

TITLE: Go Go Power Rangers #25
AUTHORS: Ryan Parrott, Sina Grace
ARTISTS: Francesco Mortarino, Raul Angulo (Colorist), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Cover by J Lou.
RELEASED: November 13, 2019

This “Necessary Evil” storyline between Go Go and the main MMPR book is essentially the BOOM! crew’s take on why Jason, Zack, and Trini really left during season two, and what they were doing. It’s obviously a better story than the show could tell us at that time.

I love the respect this book shows for the show. It takes place during the events of “White Light, Part I.” At one point, it briefly depicts a scene from that episode, and makes a point of using the actual dialogue that’s in the show. Those little details mean so much sometimes…

TITLE: Detective Comics #1015
AUTHOR: Peter Tomasi
ARTISTS: Doug Mahnke, Jose Luis, Christian Alamy (Co-Inker), Keith Champagne (Co-Inker), Mark Irwin (Co-Inker), Matt Santorelli (Co-Inker), David Baron (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer). Cover by Paul Pantalena and Arif Prianto
RELEASED: November 13, 2019

I’m a huge Peter Tomasi fan. But he and Doug Mahnke have had far better outings.

This “Nora Fries becomes evil” story has been done before. All in all, this may be a better story when it comes to the Mr. Freeze/Nora dynamic. But Batman spends most of this issue in the cave with Alfred and Lucius Fox standing in front of computers talking comic book science. Not exactly thrilling reading.

Later, we get a Batman trope that I absolutely loathe: The Dark Knight in some kind of armored/robot suit. Better luck next time, gentlemen.

TITLE: Star Wars #74
AUTHOR:
Greg Pak
ARTISTS: Phil Noto, Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
RELEASED: November 13, 2019

This issue has Stormtroopers riding dinosaurs. That alone might be worth the cover price.

You’d think a Vader vs. Chewbacca fight wouldn’t actually last that long. (Remember the first level in The Force Unleashed?) But this issue actually does a great job selling it. It’s only two pages, mind you. But the right guy wins, and it’s a great character moment for Chewie.

Someone else who gets a character moment? C-3PO. And you can argue his is actually the better of the two. No joke.

TITLE: Collapser #5
AUTHORS:
Mikey Way, Shaun Simon
ARTIST
S: Ilias Kyriazis, Cris Peter (Colorist), Simon Bowland (Letterer)
RELEASED:
November 13, 2019

Firstly, love the hat-tip to Superman #1.

I was contemplating dropping Collapser, as it seemed to be getting away from the main character’s ongoing struggle with anxiety. But in this issue, it re-asserts itself in a big way. So once again, Collapser has my full attention.

One element that’s been consistent, however, is Ilias Kyriazis’ art. This stuff is gloriously trippy and bizarre. I’m always anxious to see what he’s going to pull out of the hat next.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com.

Weekly Comic 100s: Undiscovered Country, Legion of Superheroes

*”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Nothing too in-depth here. Just straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Undiscovered Country #1
AUTHORS: Scott Snyder, Charles Soule
ARTISTS: Daniele Orlandini, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Matt Wilson. Lettering by crank!
RELEASED: November 6, 2019

This is one of those stories that’s just close enough to being possible that it’s…unsettling.

The United States of America walled itself off from the rest of the world 30 years ago, with no foreigners coming in or out. Now, as war and disease ravage the rest of the world, an American representative mysteriously invites diplomats behind the wall. What they see is…unexpected.

While it’s got a lot of the standard exposition you need in a first outing, I highly recommend this one . It’s worth the price alone for that first two-page shot of the border wall…

TITLE: Legion of Superheroes #1
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS: Ryan Sook, Wade Von Grawbadger (Co-Inker), Jordie Bellaire (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer)
RELEASED: November 6, 2019

I’ve never been able to get into the Legion of Superheroes. Long story short: Too many characters to keep track of, and not enough reasons for me to care about any of them.

This first Legion issue is gorgeous, and there are a few cool ideas in it (most notably what’s happened to the Earth). We even have Superboy as our fish-out-of-water main character. But for me, it ultimately suffers the same fate as every other take on this world. They really needed a strong hook with this first issue. I didn’t see one.

TITLE: Young Justice #10
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS: John Timms, Nick Derington, Gabe Eltaeb and Dave Stewart (Colorists), Wes Abbott (Letterer)
RELEASED: November 6, 2019

While Naomi is advertised on the cover, she appears on exactly one page and says nothing. Just sayin’…

Still, Bendis fares much better with this group of teen heroes. Ten issues in, Young Justice is still a lot of fun. This month, Tim Drake gets a new hero name (“Drake”) and costume that the verdict is still out on for me. But at least now he’s got his own identity, independent of his history as Robin.

In addition, our main story is juxtaposed with an origin story for Jinny Hex, which adds a grounded, almost gritty texture to her.

TITLE: Batman #82
AUTHOR: Tom King
ARTISTS: Mikel Janin, Jordie Bellaire (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by David Finch and Alex Sinclair.

This cover has a weird gimmick to it. A thin plastic with the logo and the explosions, with the shot of Bane on the inside page. But said page is just another cover. So…what was even the point?

Thankfully, Mikel Janin is back as Batman and Catwoman take on Bane. It’s got all the quips we’ve come to expect from Tom King at this point. Frankly, it’s gotten too over the top for me.

While ambitious, “City of Bane” is starting to feel padded and drawn out. Keep in mind, we’ve got three issues to go.

TITLE: Lois Lane #5
AUTHOR:Greg Rucka
ARTISTS: Mike Perkins, Gabe Eltaeb (Colorist), Simon Bowland (Letterer)
RELEASED: November 6, 2019

The opening pages of this issue are awesome, as Lois talks to another passenger on a plane. Rucka plays devil’s advocate about “fake news.” Later, he actually dives into what terms like “off the record,” “on background,” and “deep background” mean. As a former journalist, I love that stuff.

While Lois Lane is a great read, I admit I’m having trouble keeping track of what the central mystery actually is. The murder of a journalist sparks Lois and Renee Montoya’s investigation into a high-level government conspiracy. Still, they’ve got me coming back for more, and that’s what matters.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com.

Weekly Comic 100s: TMNT, Star Wars, Batman Annual

*”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Nothing too in-depth here. Just straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #99
AUTHORS:
Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
ARTISTS:
Dave Wachter, Ronda Pattison (Colorist),
RELEASED:
 October 30, 2019

This damn thing cost $7.99. I’ve been following this main TMNT series since the beginning. But damn. That hurts.

But devil’s advocate: They jam a lot in here. Dozens of heroes and villains battle, with the fate of New York City at stake. Not to mention the lives of various mutants, and even children.

It all culminates in…well, I can’t say I knew for sure they were going in this direction. But after issue #50, I had a pretty good feeling a certain character would be on his way back by now.

TITLE: Star Wars: Allegiance #4
AUTHOR: Ethan Sacks
ARTISTS: Luke Ross, Lee Loughrige (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by Marco Checchetto.
RELEASED: October 30, 2019

Again, no Kylo Ren in this issue. Not even a closing shot of him in the last few pages. Lame. Sauce.

On the way to The Rise of Skywalker, Allegiance basically tells us two things: What the Resistance has been doing since the Battle of Crait, and how they obtained some of the resources they’ll undoubtedly have in the movie. It’s not the most fun Star Wars book you’ll ever read, and I doubt it’ll hold up to repeat readings. But as a little appetizer for the release of Episode IX, it works fine.

TITLE: Batman Annual #4
AUTHOR: Tom King
ARTISTS: Jorge Fornes, Mike Norton, Dave Stewart (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
RELEASED: October 30, 2019

This issue quick-fires a bunch of mini-stories at us, narrated via Alfred’s journal. “Everyday” moves day by day from April 7 to April 24.

I’d like to think these are a bunch of cooky ideas Tom King had while brainstorming for his Batman run, but couldn’t squeeze in. Based on what we’ve seen, some of these ideas really feel like his. Batman fights a dragon, takes on an MMA fighter for charity, solves a whodunnit, etc.

Mike Norton tags in for Jorge Fornes for several pages. So we got from a David Mazzuchelli, Year One-ish look to something more akin to Michael Lark.

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A WWE Crown Jewel Preview – A Saudi Curse?

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Why did they use this name again? Crown Jewel, that is. There was so much bad press over last year’s Crown Jewel event, what with the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, that they still can’t even say “Saudi Arabia” on television. They have to dance around it to avoid reminding people that’s where this show is being held, even though everyone knows anyway.

Sadly, these Saudi shows have become synonymous with embarrassing matches. Whether you’re talking about Undertaker vs. Goldberg earlier this year, or the Brothers of Destruction against DX last year, we’re not exactly looking at a great track record. Hopefully this one won’t give us anything along those lines. But from where I’m sitting, the card looks pretty weak.

By and large, wrestling fans either don’t like or don’t care about athletes from other sports getting in the ring. So you’ve got to make them care. They haven’t done that with either Cain Velasquez or Tyson Fury. Which is a damn shame, especially in Velasquez’s case.

More on that later, though. For now, let’s dive in…

Cesaro vs. Mansoor
Don’t remember who Mansoor is? Don’t worry. After this match, you probably won’t see much of him until the next Saudi show.

You’ll recall that at Super Show-Down earlier this year, Mansoor won a 51-man battle royal. He’s been mostly absent from WWE television ever since. But because he’s from Saudi Arabia, they plucked him out of the toy box to get a few home-country hero pops. Cesaro, of course, is here to make sure the match doesn’t suck. Of course, Mansoor gets the feel-good win for the Saudi crowd.

PREDICTION: Mansoor

20-Man Battle Royal:
Winner wrestles AJ Styles for the US Title later in the night.

It’s tough to call this one, as I don’t think a single name has been announced for this thing. I would hope they’d all be names from the Raw roster that are otherwise unoccupied. Given what we’ve seen on Raw recently, Kevin Owens comes to mind right away. But if I’m not mistaken, he’s historically opted out of these Saudi shows. So who else do we have…?

Buddy Murphy would be a cool name to throw in there. Newer faces to Raw, like Ricochet and Cedric Alexander, have benefited a lot from sharing the ring with him. They made a point of putting him over on Monday. I’m not quite sure if he’s supposed to be a heel or a babyface. But what the hell? Let’s throw him a bone. Give him the battle royal, with Styles retaining later in the evening. Murphy won’t win the title, but the exhaustion factor will mean the loss doesn’t really hurt him.

BATTLE ROYAL PREDICTION: Buddy Murphy
TITLE MATCH PREDICTION:
 AJ Styles

TAG TEAM TURMOIL MATCH:
The Viking Raiders vs. The Revival vs. The New Day vs. Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler vs. The OC vs. Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder vs. Heavy Machinery vs. the Lucha House Party vs. The B-Team

Hmmmm. You know what they could do here? Put the Authors of Pain in here as surprise entrants, and have them demolish whatever teams are left at that point. You’ve got to believe a Viking Raiders vs. AOP program is in our future.

Expect the New Day to play a big role in the story here. With Xavier Woods now out with an injury, along with Kofi Kingston’s humiliating loss to Brock Lesnar, they’re really down on their luck. So there’ll be that much more pressure on them to win this thing. I expect them to lose in a heel team in a heartbreaker.

As for who wins…I’m going to say the Viking Raiders. The whole “World Cup” aspect of this thing seems better suited for a heel team. But I can’t see them giving it to the Revival, the OC, or Roode and Ziggler. So let the Raw tag champs bring it home. For whatever it’s worth.

PREDICTION: The Viking Raiders

TEAM HOGAN vs. TEAM FLAIR:
Roman Reigns, Rusev, Ricochet, Shorty G, & Ali vs. Randy Orton, Shinsuke Nakamura, Drew McIntyre, Baron Corbin, & Bobby Lashley

My goodness. What an…assortment of names we have here.

Ultimately, this match is just a meaningless attraction. An excuse to put Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair on the show in non-wrestling roles.

Has Flair ever beaten Hogan? Not just in the ring. But anywhere. At anything. I don’t think so. Why change that now? Give it to the babyfaces.

PREDICTION: Team Hogan

FALLS COUNT ANYWHERE MATCH FOR WWE UNIVERSAL HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE:
Seth Rollins (c) vs. Bray Wyatt

Obviously, the putrid finish to their Hell in a Cell match left a stink on both these guys. So they’re probably hoping to wash some of that off here. I’ll admit, out of everything on this card, this match has the best chance to steal the show.

This whole program was ill-conceived from the start. They just wanted an excuse to use Bray’s spooky gimmick on an October pay per view. So they rushed him into a title match, in the Cell no less, and have been paying for it ever since.

If they were going to put the Fiend character in this situation, given his momentum and popularity, you’d think they’ have him win the title. The best comparison I can think of right now is Brock Lesnar facing the Rock for the WWE Championship in 2002. That was a career defining night for Brock. But imagine if they’d not only had Brock lose, but lose in two consecutive pay per view title matches.

I can only assume that’s the fate that awaits Bray Wyatt here. Because it’s Falls Count Anywhere, they can obviously mess with the finish, i.e. have Rollins trap him under a forklift, or some pallets or something. Regardless, Rollins is leaving Saudi Arabia with that title, if for no other reason than Bray is a Smackdown guy now. And just like at Hell in a Cell, that’s not going to do Rollins any favors in terms of popularity. This guy is supposed to be Raw’s top babyface. But he keeps getting shot in the foot, whether it’s bad booking or bad tweets.

PREDICTION: Seth Rollins

Braun Strowman vs. Tyson Fury

Who the hell is Tyson Fury?

Okay, he’s a boxer. I get it. But why should I care? Tyson Fury in 2019 is not Mike Tyson in 1998, that’s for damn sure.

Either way, they didn’t bring him in to lose. So he’s either going to beat Strowman, or they’ll do some kind of no-contest finish. Someone could cost Strowman the match, but I’m not sure who that would be…

Either way, the smart bet is they give the win to their “celebrity” guest, as they always do.

PREDICTION: Tyson Fury

WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Cain Velasquez

This could have been, and perhaps still will be, a Wrestlemania match.

There’s a great long-term story they could tell with these two. I don’t know much about Cain Velasquez. But unlike Tyson Fury, I at least know why I should care. Not only is this the guy Brock lost the UFC Championship to, but Velasquez legitimately put a scar on Lesnar’s face. Now he’s come to WWE to derail Brock again.

As I understand it, Velasquez has only had a match or two, wrestling for AAA in Mexico. He apparently impressed people. But he has yet to impress the WWE audience. His working punches alone have caused concern about how this match is going to turn out.

Despite having reportedly signed a multi-year deal with WWE, I would be shocked if they put the title on Velasquez so quickly. I don’t think you want either of these two gaining a decisive victory over the other at this point. I don’t think this needs to be anything more than a preview for a future, higher profile match. Sadly, that likely means this will end in a DQ or a no contest. This won’t be a great show in terms of definitive finishes.

Regardless, Brock will leave Saudi Arabia with the title. So for the sake of making a prediction, I’ll say Lesnar retains.

PREDICTION: Brock Lesnar

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com.

Weekly Comic 100s: Star Wars Stuff, Batman/Superman,

*”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Nothing too in-depth here. Just straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Tacked an extra one down on the end here. The most recent issue of Superman. But of course, in the spirit of the Rise of Skywalker hype, we begin with Allegiance

TITLE: Star Wars: Allegiance #3
AUTHOR: Ethan Sacks
ARTISTS:
Luke Ross, Lee Loughridge (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by Marco Checchetto.
RELEASED:
October 23, 2019

Leia, Rey, and some of the Resistance are still on Mon Cala in this issue. Because it’s largely an underwater planet, Leia has to wear the equivalent of a scuba suit. Imagining an older Carrie Fisher in an outfit like that is…weird.

The “B story” in Allegiance has been about Finn, Poe, and BB-8 stealing weapons for the Resistance. Sacks writes their chemistry very well. Well enough, in fact, that I felt a pang of sadness that they didn’t end up being romantically involved. Yeah, I was on that team.

No Kylo Ren in this issue. Bummer.

TITLE: Star Wars #73
AUTHOR: Greg Pak
ARTISTS: Phil Noto, Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
RELEASED: October 16, 2019

This volume of Star Wars is going out strong as we head toward its issue #75 finale. Greg Pak knows how to weave the multi-strand rip-roaring adventure, as all of our main heroes fight for their lives.

But for yours truly, the star of this “Rebels and Rogues” storyline has been Phil Noto. He’s been one of my favorite Star Wars artists dating back to the build-up to The Force Awakens. His “sketchy” style is a lot of fun, and he nails all the likenesses. As far as I’m concerned, he’s welcome in this galaxy any time.

TITLE: Batman/Superman #3
AUTHOR: Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS: David Marquez, Alejandro Sanchez (Colorist), John J. Hill (Letterer)
RELEASED: October 23, 2019

Unlike many, I’m not really into the Batman Who Laughs, or much of the Metal stuff. But the premise of that character “infecting” six characters across the DCU, and our two heroes having to solve the mystery of who they are was enough to draw me in.

But the way Williamson has executed it thus far, it’s not so much a mystery as it is them happening upon each victim. It’s still a cool idea. I just wish they’d dig a little deeper into it. On the upside, it’s great to see Marquez drawing the World’s Finest.

TITLE: Action Comics #1016
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS: Szymon Kudranski, Brad Anderson (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer). Cover by Jamal Campbell.
RELEASED: October 23, 2019

I absolutely adore the framing device for this issue. A Daily Planet reporter does man-on-the-street interviews to recap a fight between Superman and the Red Cloud. Bendis is as good as almost anyone at playing up the journalism element in Superman’s world.

A Szymon Kudranski comic that’s this colorful takes some getting used to. There’s nothing wrong with it. But his M.O. is typically on the dark and gritty side. Type his name into Google Images. You’ll see what I mean.

TITLE: Superman #16
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS:
David LaFuente, Paul Mounts (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer). Cover by Ivan Reis.
RELEASED:
October 9, 2019

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Superman look quite so…blocky. I know LaFuente’s style is more on the cartoonish side, and generally I like what he turns in. But the Superman we see here looks more like a Superman action figure than the Man of Steel himself.

This issue gives us the inevitable reunion between Superboy and Robin after Jon Kent’s trip into space, which aged him a few years older than Damian. Bendis gives us what you’d hope to see here. The initial awkwardness, some hijinks and a feel-good exit. A strong issue, blockiness notwithstanding.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com.

Alex Ross Spotlight: Why is the Joker So Skinny?

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

A friend of mine recently introduced me to Quora, which is a fun little way to kill time.

I recently came across the simple question of, “Why is the Joker so skinny?” No doubt, it was inspired by how Joaquin Phoenix’s body looked in Joker.

But it certainly didn’t start there. More often than not, the Joker we see in the comics is drawn as a skinny dude. In that sense, if not many others, Joker followed its source material.

I’ve previously mentioned what I refer to as the Alex Ross Theory of the Joker. I base it on a quote I plucked from Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross. On the very same page as that quote comes this bit of insight into Ross’ take on the character, which he tries to keep somewhat consistent with the original Bob Kane/Jerry Robinson version (shown below).

“…he didn’t start off in the comics as this stick-thin anorexic guy – I wanted to give him the appearance of being long and lean, but also physically powerful, not underweight. He was originally based on Conrad Veidt in the 1928 silent film The Man Who Laughs, and that’s what I’m seeing to capture – the true face of Joker.”

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