Dan Slott did say, prior to the launch of Amazing Spider-Man #700, that he was going to turn into Dark Dan and start using his writing purposes for evil. And as he’s gleefully turned into a pantomime villain the likes of which John Inman can only dream of matching, so Superior Spider-Man has become an intriguing, fascinating piece of work which challenges his writing style and tries something drastically different. Spoilers below.


This week’s issue, in which Doctor Octopus stamps out the last traces of Peter Parker/the hopes of a fanbase underfoot, is a case in point. There are traces of Slott’s prior writing tics still present in much of this issue – a tendency to name-check past stories and characters to the point of distraction, wonderfully silly sight-gags, and so forth – but they compete with a new writing style which has been growing over the last nine issues. From the opening of Slott’s extended run on the Spider-Man franchise, the character has slowly moved away from the more goofy characterisation seen in the early stages through to a more clear-headed and focused perspective.

Ryan Stegman has proven to be an excellent choice of artist for the book and for this issue in particular, as his particular quirks play very well into a storyline like this one. The experimental threads worked on by the creative team are fantastic, and the storytelling is fast and easy. He skews and stretches the perspective in his panels so it feels like Peter is alternately being crushed by his surroundings or isolated from everything – a small touch, but one which works wonders for the story. Edgar Delgado’s colours are fairly subtle and restrained this issue, creating and building the psychological world that this particular issue inhabits.

And Chris Eliopoulos more than matches the more experimental and strange page layouts, creating a cohesive and easy to follow story. The feeling of unease brought about by the story would immediately disintegrate without strong, smart collaborators to keep Slott’s story in check and fill in the missing details. On the basis of their work so far, the artistic side of the comic have matched the writing, but also pushed it forward, and out of Dan Slott’s comfort zone. That’s rather fascinating, and keeps the book on an uneven, unpredictable keel.

And it all comes from a storyline where Peter Parker is dead – mostly – and Doctor Octopus is now the main character in the series. But working the Spider-Man legacy from a new angle is paying dividends for the series, taking the everyman Peter Parker and giving us reasons to miss him in his absence. Issue #9 does at times push too hard on the melodrama – Peter seeing his friends and family literally being murdered in front of his eyes isn’t the most subtle of story points. If you look back to the way Slott used to write villains, however, you’ll see that his work in Superior Spider-Man is far more grounded than beforehand. The villains don’t monologue blindly anymore, but rather make short bursts of attack which catch Peter Parker where it hurts and digs into the wounds.

The writing’s far crueller than I’m used to seeing in Spider-Man, taking an all-age franchise and making it into something darker and more brutal than before. I’m not sure the series is doing a particularly good job at playing to a younger audience (this issue gets bleak and scary very quickly, and doesn’t let up – it’s quite full-on). I know Dan Slott is a fan of Dr Who, and there’s a comparison to be made between how the two franchises have recently grown up, and whether that’s for better or worse. Yet whilst the book may be isolating parts of the fanbase, it’s still providing a tightly-written storyline, with real stakes, where each moment comes back to haunt readers down the line. Story isn’t wasted, and a lot happens in each issue. Superior Spider-Man is a twice-monthly ongoing event comic, with each new issue a must-read.

The book also rewards people who follow the controversy, adding a further layer to proceedings. If you keep track of Slott’s twitter feed or track down Wacker’s witheringly wry comments online, then you can see moments in the book which speak directly to you as a reader. They’re not going so far as to openly mock the readers – but the narrative builds doubly in tension and suspense if you know the sort of plans and threats that the creative team have been delightedly making online. The promises that this issue would frustrate fans deliver, mainly because fans have read Dan Slott say that the issue will upset them, and are prepared in advance for the tipping moment to occur at any moment.


Whether you believe he’s genuinely gone over to the Dark Side, or whether you feel he’s got tongue firmly in cheek throughout — Superior Spider-Man has proven itself to be a rather riveting, genuinely moving and interesting new direction for his writing, and for the franchise as a whole. It’s a creative move where many people are swept away by hype and speculation and worry prior to each new issue, but the creative team have managed to match that wave of attention every single time.


  1. Wow…that cover is really poor. Is it an attempt at doing what Matt Kindt did on the cover of Mind MGMT #1? Whatever it is, it should have been redrawn. It looks like Spidey’s nose was sucked in between his eyes and his chest is on the same plane as his shoulders. The proportions of the skull are all sorts of weird. You don’t have to be a great illustrator or have a mastery of human anatomy, but maybe giving a little effort wouldn’t hurt?

    I already thought Rich Johnston sounded like an idiot when he compared a Marvel comic to Acme Novelty Library, but this cover is beyond terrible. Maybe Marvel should double check to see if they have any old Ditko covers laying around?

  2. I’m double thinking my comment….maybe it was a bit harsh. I don’t blame the artist…it’s hard to have an idea in your head and execute it perfectly. The editor really should have caught this, though….

  3. I feel the exact opposite way. I love this cover. I don’t read this book but the cover makes me what to check it out.

  4. “And it all comes from a storyline where Peter Parker is dead – mostly – and Doctor Octopus is now the main character in the series.”

    If that’s the only way a writer can think of to make Spidey interesting for themselves maybe it’s just time to move on.

    Wake me when Peter is back and we can put this on the same pile as Clone Saga and The Other.

  5. The only opinion I have on Superior Spider-man is that I wish it would be contained in like a month of MU time (regardless of how many issues Slott wants it to go) so that it wouldn’t get in the way of what Hickman is doing in Avengers.

    Pretty much the same way I felt when the Superman office’s electric blue powers storyline got in the way of like half of Grant Morrison’s JLA run.

  6. I agree whole heartedly with MattComix…its crap like this and the inevitable “death” of Wolverine we will have to put up with that makes comics less and less enjoyable.
    Everything is about “trying to be EPIC in scale” and not solid storytelling. If you tell solid and well written compelling stories you don’t have to “kill” off a character (and inevitably resurrect him or her), change the main character to a villain or a minority character, or cross over with dozens of other books to sell comics…..
    How hard is it to come up with an idea like this? Honestly…its the weakest form of comic storytelling….
    Hey…let’s switch Spiderman with his arch enemy…..hey….let’s have Wolverine lose his healing factor so we can kill him….hey…let’s have Superman become a bad guy for a few months….let’s have Batman have his secret identity learned by everyone….
    All of the above ideas have been overdone and are cop outs….its what you do when you really don’t want to try to tell original stories anymore….

    Is Superior Spiderman well written? Sure…but it has to be to make the basic mistakes in the formula work.

    See…that’s the part that is so frustrating….Slott is obviously a GOOD writer….so why is he writing a formula based piece of garbage like this?

  7. To finalize and prove my point….I will ask this question with the most obvious of answers….

    Does anyone really believe that Peter Parker will not, one day, sooner than later, return as Spiderman????

    That’s all you have to ask yourself “Will Peter Parker return as Spiderman”?

    The answer is ABSOLUTELY YES….NO DOUBT WHATSOEVER…PETER PARKER will be back as Spiderman one day.

    With that in mind….We all know THE END OF THE STORY!!!! We know how it ends, Pete comes back, Ock is defeated…etc,etc.

    If the reader knows the end of the story before the story ends, the writer has failed somewhere along the line.

    Its a basic fundamental part of storytelling….

  8. Is that Slott’s fault, or is it a failing of a medium where the status quo has to be restored every year or so?

  9. Jeremy,

    You may have a point….with the constant reboot for sales, shock for sales, do anything for sales mentality of the Big Two mixed in with front office style editorial hand holding that essentially “tells” the writer how and what to write….Slott might be just a pawn in the sales game.

    But honestly, if he is a pawn, he seems to really be enjoying the ride….lol.

    I got a five spot says by June or July of next year (just in time for Amazing Spiderman 2 to hit the theaters), Superior Spiderman will be cancelled, and Peter Parker will return in a brand spanking new Amazing Spiderman # 1…..any takers?

  10. I’m still torn about superior. I like the concept of the book but at the same time I am also getting bored and want peter parker stories back.

    To say Peter Parker has run out of good stories to tell is a straight up lie. One story arc that I thought was the best Spider-man story was issue 678-679 where Spider-man has a day to figure out how to save new york from being destroyed. It also used time travel in a very fun way.

    I actually wish the villain in a superhero’s body is actually a strong enough concept to be it’s own original comic book series using an original character instead of spider-man. But then again if marvel just made a brand new character based on that concept the comic would probably not have sold as well or generated press.

    I guess my main problem with superior is that I hate doc ock as spider-man but at the same time it has been a good read. I feel betrayed and every page I read I get more angry but I can’t stop reading. Hopefully the dark spider-man story does not get old too fast (which I kind of feel it is).

    So yeah bottom line: mixed feelings.

  11. Thomas Wayne,
    You just made an argument against all serialized fiction. Maybe you should just give up on superhero comics.

  12. With that in mind….We all know THE END OF THE STORY!!!! We know how it ends, Pete comes back, Ock is defeated…etc,etc.

    If the reader knows the end of the story before the story ends, the writer has failed somewhere along the line.

    You’re approaching this with a lack of perspective. There was a time when you were younger that you believed anything could happen in super-hero comics. Eventually you got older and after reading for years learned that they stick to a status quo because the characters are primarily franchises/corporate IP.

    This is because the super-hero comics were created and continue to be for a specific age group of young males. When you finally become the puppet that can see the strings it is time to leave super-hero comics behind if knowing it all gets reversed makes the stories meaningless to you.

    If this is hard to do then you have way too much emotion invested in fictional characters. I suggest making the move to other genres if you still like the comic book medium but DC/Marvel doesn’t do it for you anymore. There’s a lot of stuff to choose from out there. I personally recommend the manga Gantz, possibly the greatest comic in the world that is still being published (though its story is set to end soon).

  13. RJT,
    I’m not really sure how I “made an argument against all serialized fiction”….I made a basic and true observation…we all know Peter Parker will be back.

    My point remain the same, you don’t have to take outrageous “it has to be epic in scale” plot lines to tell a good story. Same as you don’t have to use the same tired old story and re-hash it (see the “death” of insert character here) to tell a good story. This is all done for the sake of sales, not storytelling…there is a difference.

    Ever read Starman by James Robinson? Or Peter David’s run on the Hulk? Great stories, all a part of a large run, that took original approach’s to those characters and they are well worth reading and re-reading.

    Claremont’s run on Xmen and Wolfman’s run on Teen Titans back in the l80’s were hugely popular and they didn’t follow any super hero formula…they were new original takes on the super team genre and we ALL ATE IT UP LIKE PUDDING…cause it was so so good.

    Replacing Spidey with Ock is no different than replacing him with Ben Reilly or any other clone…..its a replacement Spidey only biding his time until the original returns…..BORING….BEEN THERE….DONE THAT…..

    I’d like original….not last decades leftovers.

  14. @ Thomas – as long as the story has importance for Ock and Pete down the line and is entertaining, what’s the problem? We understand as superhero fans that the status quo gets reset every now and then. But if the stories are good, isn’t that the point?

  15. This is because the super-hero comics were created and continue to be for a specific age group of young males. When you finally become the puppet that can see the strings it is time to leave super-hero comics behind if knowing it all gets reversed makes the stories meaningless to you.

    Yes, the Marvel and DC superheroes were created as characters in stories for youngsters. That’s shown in the genre conventions, such as the non-aging of characters, the technology gap between the heroes and the civilians, stories as morality plays, etc. The current audience isn’t comprised of youngsters, though.

    The problem isn’t that the characters can’t support stories that are entertaining for adults; the problem is that many of the writers and editors don’t work to entertain adults. Whether they consciously write the stories to appeal to character fetishists, or they’d like to appeal to adults but are never given the opportunity (marketing $$$) to try to reach them, the gap between the potential storytelling and the actual storytelling has been existing since the ’90s, at least.

    There wouldn’t be any conflict between the potential and actual storytelling if the stories were written for children, but Marvel and DC can’t survive on sales to children.

    Short of buttonholing individual writers and editors and asking them, “Do you think that _____ can be written for adults, or is he inherently suited for juvenilia?” and citing examples of current and recent series that do entertain adults, there’s no way to know what one of them actually thinks. All we can go on is what they produce.

    Readers can’t be blamed when they complain about a lack of creativity or imagination in the stories. That’s what being creators entails.


  16. I agree with Thomas Wayne that Peter Parker will eventually be back as the real Spider-Man.

    Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the ride Dan Slott is taking us on.

  17. Zach,
    If I thought the story was good I would agree…but I don’t. I think its well written…but well written crap. Its a case of (I believe this….I’m sure others don’t, which is cool) we don’t have any better ideas so we went with the old switcheroo….just a little more extreme as far as switcheroo’s go.
    Marvel is going to “kill” Wolverine later this year……YAWN…..do we really need that? As a comic community…fans, writers, artists, collectors…..do we really need another death that isn’t a death for the sake of a sales bump?
    Its not that its poor storytelling….its LAZY storytelling.

    Comic fans deserve better at 3.99 a pop. This is why books like EAST OF WEST, SAGA, and JUPITERS LEGACY have caught peoples attention and have people talking….innovative storytelling. Original storytelling. Not the same old thing.
    All it takes is a little creativity to do the same thing with the OLD heroes we’ ve grown accustomed to.

  18. Do NOT call Jupiter’s Legacy “innovative”. 2nd generation superheroes were done with Infinity Inc, Kingdom Come, etc etc etc…

    Re Superior Spider-Man.
    I don’t like the theme. I’m not interested in the comic. BUT, to call it “lazy writing” is a joke. Slott is doing something crazy with the book that very few people would be willing to try. So kudos for that.

    What I find funny (and others here stated the same thing) is Thomas’ comments are essentially the same fanboy rant that is stated over and over:
    “Nothing ever changes…”
    (and then a writer tries to change something…)
    “I hate it. Change it back.”


  19. Readers can’t be blamed when they complain about a lack of creativity or imagination in the stories. That’s what being creators entails.

    You didn’t understand a thing I wrote, did you?

    Also, “young males” can refer to any male who is young, from kids to teenagers to young adults, not just little children, or “youngsters” as you put it.

  20. You didn’t understand a thing I wrote, did you?

    You apparently didn’t understand Wayne’s complaint.

    The problem with the SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN storyline lies in the plot mechanics. Ock only took over Parker’s body. Because of that, it’s impossible for Slott to apparently eliminate any possibility of Parker regaining control and then surprise the reader with a solution to Parker’s plight. The solution–Parker’s spirit regaining control–is always there, no matter how Slott tries to conceal it or to complicate the situation.

    An example of a superhero story written for adults that has surprises was Englehart’s VISION & SCARLET WITCH #9. The story had the Enchantress controlling Vizh and telling him to steal a jewel. He complied with the command, and tried to steal the jewel from the hotel safe it was in, but he couldn’t, because the jewel had already been stolen by someone else. The “someone else” were Vizh and Wanda’s best friends, Glamor and Illusion. The illusionists were also jewel thieves.

    So, the story had Vizh, the hero, failing to heroically resist mind control (there were some other wrinkles in the situation) and a couple who, in spite of being good people in a bunch of ways, had the slight character flaws of being jewel thieves. How bad were those flaws?

    Right there, from 1986, is an example of how to write a superhero story for adults. Provide surprises in the plot, write the heroes as possessing significant flaws, and create multifaceted situations with conflicts that can’t easily be resolved.


  21. I loved Slott’s Amazing Spider-Man, I’m loving Slott’s Superior Spider-Man, and I will one day again love Slott’s Amazing Spider-Man.

    He’s telling a Spider-Man story in which everything seems lost for Peter Parker, and the reader can’t imagine how Pete’s going to get out of this jam. That’s how you’re supposed to do it, folks.

  22. “Nothing ever changes…”
    (and then a writer tries to change something…)
    “I hate it. Change it back.”

    But doesn’t that pre-suppose that any and all change is good just because it’s change? With no care or credence lent to if or not said change is actually a good idea? It’s not a matter of being anti-change so much as the ideas for change superhero writers in the big two come up with are often needless and more than a little dumb.

    Using a body swap plot to make the villain the protag for a year or more, really? Because Peter being the protag is what was dragging down sales?

    With many of these changes at best there’s no sense or respect for history and at worse they are often either ideas that would be typical in bad fanfiction or feeling as though a writer is wedging what he would rather be working on into whatever his paying gig is. The question should be “Can I write good Spider-Man stories?” not “Can I use Spider-Man to tell MY stories?”

    Also I’m gonna say it. Superhero comics were better as a young readers genre that was well done enough for adults to get something out of it to. Now they exist in some weird adults only limbo off to the side of horror movies and porn even while incarnations in other media engage a broader audience.

  23. Jonboy,
    Maybe I’m wrong, but nobody in Infinity Inc or Kingdom Come sat around drinking at a club while waiting to talk to an agent or PR rep about a public appearance. I don’t remember any of them acting as if having super hero parents were a burden either.

    Second generation super hero stuff…yeah. Done differently through ONE ISSUE…also yeah.

    As far as my fanboy rantings….I love change….change is great….but change for the sake of change is STUPID and LAZY…its like saying…I’m out of all the original creative thought, so let’s go with what worked over here.
    How many times has Spidey been switched out for another Spidey? At least two or three times…and that’s just in the last couple of decades.

    All I’m saying is work toward innovation…try to come up with something that hasn’t been done on some level or another before. It can be done, its being done right now…look at the current run of Aquaman…the character works well when written well….when not written well he’s the butt of super hero pop culture jokes all over the place.
    I don’t like what Azzarello has done with Wonder Woman, but you can’t say his take on the character has ever been done before.

    I’ve been a comic book reader for about 33 years….and I’ve read tons of great stories and tons of poor stories….but good or bad I know something different when I read it.
    Slott’ take on Spidey isn’t different…its old and tired.

  24. This book is pretty terrible, and now it’s even worse. There seems to be a disconnect- we’re not in this because we like only Spider Man… we’re in this because we like Parker in addition to liking Spider Man. No Peter Parker… no Spider Man.

    Clone Sage, Sentry Fiasco, The Other. Now we can add Superior Spider Man to the bunch. It’s garbage.

  25. @ TWayne:
    The Kingdom Offspring is a perfect example of a 2nd generation hero that found their parent as a burden. And that’s the first issue the lept to mind. Give me some time, and I can come up with 30 more instances. (And that’s just with DC comics.)

    I’ve been reading comics for 30+ years as well. There’s a big difference between “old and tired” and “I don’t like it”

  26. Thomas Wayne;
    Stop trying to pretend your personal opinions are quantifiable objective. You don’t like Superior Spider-man. Fine.
    I’ve probably read a good majority of published Spider-Man stories and I’ve never read one where Dr. Octopus took over Spider-man’s body and then tried to prove he could be a better Spider-man. That’s no comment on this story’s relative merits, but saying that this is an old and tired story and Aquaman fighting sea monsters is not is applying a crazy double standard to comics you like and against those you don’t.

  27. RJT,

    How is it you miss the point of what I was saying???

    And I’m not pretending that my opinions are anything more than my opinions…that’s all they are. Have you noticed the spot right above where you place your name and email for the talk back posts it reads in large black letters…..SPEAK YOUR MIND….that’s all any of us are doing.

    So speak yours loudly and proudly and by all means disagree with me if you disagree with me, but please come back with something more than “stop trying to pretend”….its just shy of “my dad can beat up your dad or my mom is prettier than your mom”…

    Okay…that’s one part of it…found parents a burden…..what about the rest. The modern day I don’t care unless my agent tells me to care attitude?

    Tell ya what…I’ll concede the point…Jupiters Legacy might fall into the same category as Superior Spidey…but that leaves East of West…Saga and dozens of others.

    Like I said earlier…I don’t like what Azzarello has done with Wonder Woman…but it is certainly far from re-treaded old storytelling.

  28. firstly Slott’s take on spider-man is great finally spider-man has been made modern. i love amazing spider-man don’t get me wrong (i own all 700+issues) but he was getting old as hell and needed to change.What slott is doing is great and really wish parker don’t come back and this NEW better spider-man is here to stay.

  29. Excellent review Steve. I have to agree that Stegman’s artwork and Delgado’s colors gave this issue the ‘dark’ overtone it needed. Slott, as always, succeeded at pulling at the heartstrings. He sometimes fails (like the storyline with the little girl, which was slightly predictable) but not here.

  30. “firstly Slott’s take on spider-man is great finally spider-man has been made modern. i love amazing spider-man don’t get me wrong (i own all 700+issues) but he was getting old as hell and needed to change”

    So the best away to adapt Spidey to the modern era is to have one of his villains take over the book? Well gee why don’t we just do away with all superheroes and turn everything over to the villains so as to make mainlining the nihilism that much easier.

  31. I dont like the fact that Slott knows hes going to piss readers off and does it. Stories do need a little bit of refreshing as sometimes I pick up an issue and put it right back down because I know its going to be boring and a waste of 4 dollars. I think Marvel and DC should stop trying to kill this character and that character and come up with a new VILLAIN! How great would it be if a villian so effin berserk would be constructed that it would become legendary like The Joker or Bane to Batman or Venom to Spidey. Its the antagonist and conflicts that need refreshing not the actual protagonist itself.

  32. think the octopus in the spider suit is an insult to the fans of this book. We now have a character that we want to die. Octopus is one of my favorite creatures it is inteligent and can accually die of bordom. This is not a good reason for reading a book. I first thought that Doc Oct would bring some worth to the table but every time he has a chance he is just aragant selfish and belitling al thoughs around him. He gets to steel a life he has no right to. He promises to use this as a beterment but he is still Dr. Oct a man who had a chance to do great things and through it all away. Now he may do some good but much to little to late. Mucillini got the trains in italy to run on time Hittler did some good at first and the both of them thought they were doing the right thing but hittler will always be hittler. The last 9 books provided possibilities some parts of the octopuse did appear to be an improvement but the things that kept me coming back to the book are now completely removed I can oly hope the goblin jsut puts this spider on a stick and watches it burn. Its the rewad for steeling a life not what I want to read about a octopus in a spider suit.

  33. It’s frustrating when two sides keep trying their damnbest to force their ideals and opinions on others while they try to conceal it with excuses and no-brained excuses. Bottom line for me is: (and I’ll be very blunt and direct) I hate the concept of Superior Spiderman where the Peter Parker I grew up with who’s lasted for half a century is killed off by some fat jackass while he gets killed in some stupid memory wipe. Dan Slott has done nothing but roll back Peter’s life for him to be “hip”with the new kids. A very bad mistake was every assigning him to write Spiderman. Like I said, I’m biased and I don’t plan to pick up another comic from marvel till I hear some happy news. Don’t bother saying “you won’t be missed” because I already know I won’t be.

  34. Where’s the moral justice in Spiderman being killed while the villain who’s lived longer than he ever warranted walks off scot-free for the murders he’s done. Nice writing team, I couldn’t have done such exemplary writing better myself. i.e. “less awl twern spoidermen ento awr prsnal plygrnd.” At any rate, I know it’s an investment to buy the comics but I regret ever spending money on the hundreds of comics I have. But more than the money spent was my time wasted, which washed up when they decided to make it all meaningless and give me some new superhero under false pretense, a lazy renaming and new identity. I’m not slandering Dan Slott but his plot developments seem to upset me for the most part.

  35. Ok We’re supposed to believe Otto has had a change of heart and is a hero now thanks to Peter……..only for the reformed villain to completely “kill” him off, I say “kill because we all know he’ll be back. Wouldn’t a better reaction to realizing Peter’s still alive be try and correct what he did? Since issue number 1 I knew he’d be back and figure I’ll just enjoy the ride but after this………yea Slott’s a hack. So what’s the longest amount of time Peter’s not been in the comics?

  36. Its as if Slott writes for his own enjoyment and not the fans. If it pleases him, he simply doesn’t care. He has essentially given every die-hard Spidey fan the finger and told them to fuck off. I will make sure not to read anymore Superior Spider-man as… well… it is not Spider-man. Wake me when they return it to its former glory and not this mess. This is starting to match the Clone Saga in the category of “What the fuck have you done”.

  37. Color me intrigued by what’s going on. I haven’t been this excited for spidey since the early days of ultimate spidey.
    It’s crazy to see how divided people are about this. On the one hand, there’s the people who dismiss it as a stunt and put it up there with the Clone Saga for dreck, and there are those falling over themselves to give it plaudits.
    I personally thought this issue was a bit predictable and more pedestrian, and far too quick a read, but I’m really intrigued by the long game that Slott is playing and am happy to stick with it, and I’ll vote with my wallet. I can understand some of the criticisms, but the one that annoys me is “he’ll be back, so why read it?” We knew the human torch would be back, but the way it was done and the story it was told in is my favorite FF story ever (EVAR!), similarly as a longtime x-men reader, death doesn’t even make me yawn anymore, but I can still enjoy it when it’s used well, cause it can be good (torch) or bad (nightcrawler).

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