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Tag Archive: Grant Morrison


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PBS is airing a new documentary series tonight and re-broadcast October 22 focusing on the impact of comic book superheroes on America and American culture, in Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle.  It’s a good history lesson in the creation of the modern comic book and the development since the 1930s of the comic book art form.  Packed with interviews with key creators and industry professionals, and comic book page and TV and movie clips, it tells a history of America as much as the comic book medium.

Not surprisingly the documentary, funded by both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, focuses on U.S. comics and comic stories tied to patriotism across the past 100 years.  Written and directed by Michael Kantor, it covers how changing times is mirrored in comics, but also dictates the stories of comics, from the Great Depression, to World War II, McCarthyism in the 1950s and the Cold War in the 1960s to 1980s, the psychedelic 1960s, drugs in the 1970s, to Watergate and terrorism.

Liev Schreiber hosts Superheroes on PBS

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beware the batman batmobile

If you find typical animated series on Cartoon Network visually boring, this new series is for you.  DC Comics’ DC Nation on Cartoon Network has finally achieved a satisfying blend of eye-grabbing visuals and smart storytelling in its newest animated series, Beware the Batman.   A follow-on to Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Beware the Batman is a fresh take on Batman that opens up possibilities for a long-term animated series with interesting villains of the week similar to those we enjoyed with the 1960s live action Batman series, but skip the camp and humor for some gritty situations and snappy dialogue.

What first will draw viewers to Beware the Batman is the high-resolution, three-dimensional effect of the cutting edge CGI animation itself, similar to the realism we’ve seen in Tron: Uprising, but even more so like the stylish visuals in The Incredibles.  Although the Batman himself may be the least eye-catching of the hundreds of Batman incarnations out there, he has his own style here that may grow on viewers.  But Alfred, the villains, Tatsu Yamashiro, all look incredible.  Wayne Manor is a beautiful mansion on the edge of a cliff, something you’d expect to see from Richard Branson.  Gotham looks like the moody covers to The Dark Knight Returns.  The action sequences are full of explosions and chases offered up in ways you haven’t seen before, too, with realistic and futuristic 3D technology effects like those in Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report.

Alfred and Batman

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We3 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely

Commentary by Jason McClain (@jtorreymcclain)

I think the Internet exists at its core for three basic things: seeing people in various stages of undress to ogle beach bodies, looking at photos that proud parents post of their progeny, and single folk and childless couples with their pictures of pets.

When I watched the pilot of the TV series The New Normal, the choice to adopt a child by two men in a committed relationship hit a snag, so the couple at the core of the story looked at pet adoption.  I can’t call that cliché because that truth exists for a lot of couples and single people out there as pets fill that spot in so many lives of wanting to share unconditional love.  Yes, it is a well-trod joke and yes, as a plot device I wouldn’t call it “fresh”, but that’s because just like crazy in-laws or perceived infidelity, everyone can relate to it.  The key is finding the heart behind that moment and making the situation unique while relatable.  In the case of The New Normal, it was pushing around a baby carriage with a puppy inside.

We3 takes putting a puppy in a man-made object to a completely different level.  I recently finished the trade hardback that compiles all three individual issues of this series (written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Frank Quitely) as it tells the story of a dog, a cat and a rabbit outfitted with cybernetic exoskeletons that enables them to fight and battle with just about any enemy.  (Editor – would that make them Aniborgs?)*  Each animal brings its own specific skills to its cybernetic life and how the scientists created and augmented the animals draws out those natural abilities.  To get feedback in both directions, the animals even have automated speech systems to translate thoughts into words.  Their English communication is rudimentary, as you’d expect, but wonderfully written and the concerns of We3 exhibit how I believe animals would think about home, solitude and food.

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Batman Inc logo

On the heels of the wind up of the “Death of the Family” story arc in Issue #17 of the monthly Batman comic book series a few days ago, it’s ironic that Grant Morrison is making news today with his own Batman series creation Batman, Incorporated.  The Batman “Death of the Family” story had some readers thinking one of the key Batman related characters was going to meet his end–probably not Batman, Catwoman, Batgirl, or Dick Grayson/Nightwing, but maybe Alfred or Batman’s son Damian Wayne (the current Robin) or even the original Robin killed off in the comics, Jason Todd, since resurrected into the Red Hood.  Some readers were disappointed in the finale issue of the “Death of the Family” story even after re-reading the story title which never actual implied a death “in” the family.  No one died but the family was left in turmoil.  And that was that.

Today a major shift occurs in the DC Universe with the release of Batman, Incorporated Issue #8.  Below is a five-page preview followed by spoilers, including the telling cover, after the break.  Don’t read on if you haven’t already seen the content in other press but make sure you grab today’s issue.  It’s a sure bet Batman, Incorporated Issue #8 will be sold out everywhere early today as this will be one of those issues that makes the mainstream press, causing the masses to flock to stores to buy up extra collecting copies.

Batman Inc Issue 8 preview page 1

Batman Inc Issue 8 preview pages 2 and 3

Batman Inc Issue 8 preview pages 4

Batman Inc Issue 8 preview page 5

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It takes a lot for me to flat out not like something as I tend to try to be open-minded about new ideas and new ways of thinking.  This is one of those books that flat-out didn’t work at all for me.  It’s hard to say which I liked least, Grant Morrison’s impenetrable story or Chris Burnham’s cartoony art style that changes from page to page to the point of lacking continuity of design.

Batman, Incorporated #1 was released last week.  Actually another Batman, Incorporated #1 was issued as recently as November 2011, but with the reboot of the New 52 somehow this series has maneuvered around the other Bat-titles and earned another shot at ongoing series.  So many Batman titles… and now with this new series at DC Comics they have finally made the line bloated.  At some point you have to give new readers context.  Why should I care about this new story?  Where does it fit in the rest of the DC universe?

Issue #1 follows Batman and Robin, this time Robin is Damian Wayne, son of Bruce Wayne and Talia Al Ghul.  Now keep in mind there is already a Batman and Robin series.  And these characters appear in the main Batman series.  And the villain of the book is a guy wearing a ghost mask called Goatboy.  Yep, Goatboy.  It’s a character like that that makes me think Grant Morrison is putting us on.  Basically there is a bounty on the dynamic duo and a down and out father is determined to kill Robin and by the last panel seems to be successful.  That’s the whole story.  There’s also a lot of inexplicable gruesome gore that does not appear to relate to anything.  Like this panel.  The sound effects “Pok!” are supposed to illustrate… who knows?

I hate to even re-print such an image, but you should know what you’re getting if this one is on your buy list.  In the end, it’s just gross and pointless.

The story is really driven forward by Damian/Robin.  He is feisty and argumentative, but he is also skilled at taking out the criminal set.  Unfortunately, he reminds you of a rugrat–one of those kids that annoy you in real life and are hard to care about in any story, comic book or not.  Batman is revealed in story and art as a pretty one-note caricature.  The dialogue is clunky.  The scenes have no transitional flow.  There’s not really not much that can be said by way of character building.  Perhaps the reader is expected to have read last  to be told in last year’s Batman, Incorporated series?

Again, in Batman, the series, these characters exist and carry on an ongoing storyline.  What makes us need this story to be told in tandem?  Unfortunately Issue #1 was enough to tell me I don’t care enough to find out what happens next.

By C.J. Bunce

Comic-Con International just announced its nominations for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards 2012 and we’re ecstatic two borg.com favorites were nominated:  Terry Moore was nominated for his new dark series Rachel Rising as Best Continuing Series and the coveted Best Writer/Artist Award, and Mike Norton was nominated for his Battlepug book for Best Digital Comic.

Other notable nominees include DC New 52 writer Jeff Lemire, who had a big year with several comics, including Animal Man, Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown, Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E., and Sweet Tooth.  Also, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely were nominated for Best Graphic Album – Reprint for their stunning story of bionic animals: WE3: The Deluxe Edition. Francesco Francavilla was nominated as Best Cover Artist for his Black Panther, Lone Ranger, Lone Ranger/Zorro, Dark Shadows, Warlord of Mars, and Archie Meets Kiss.

Here, Best Publication for Young Adults nominees Gene Yang and Vera Brosgol sign books along with borg.com writer Elizabeth C. Bunce after the Diversity in Young Adult Books panel at Comic-Con last summer:

Congratulations to all the nominees!

Best Short Story
“A Brief History of the Art Form Known as Hortisculpture,” by Adrian Tomine, in Optic Nerve #12 (Drawn & Quarterly)
“Harvest of Fear,” by Jim Woodring, in The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror #17 (Bongo)
“The Phototaker,” by Guy Davis, in Metal Hurlant vol. 2 (Humanoids)
“The Seventh,” by Darwyn Cooke, in Richard Stark’s Parker: The Martini Edition (IDW)
“The Speaker,” by Brandon Graham, in Dark Horse Presents #7 (Dark Horse)

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot)
Daredevil #7, by Mark Waid, Paolo Rivera, and Joe Rivera (Marvel)
Ganges #4, by Kevin Huizenga (Fantagraphics)
Locke & Key: Guide to the Known Keys, by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
Princeless #3, by Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin (Action Lab)
The Unwritten #24: “Stairway to Heaven” by Mike Carey, Peter Gross, and Al Davison (Vertigo/DC)

Best Continuing Series
Daredevil, by Mark Waid, Marcos Martin, Paolo Rivera, and Joe Rivera (Marvel)
Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys, by Naoki Urasawa (VIZ Media)
Rachel Rising, by Terry Moore (Abstract Studio)
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli (Marvel)
Usagi Yojimbo, by Stan Sakai (Dark Horse)

Best Limited Series
Atomic Robo and the Ghost of Station X, by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener (Red 5)
Criminal: The Last of the Innocent, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Marvel Icon)
Flashpoint: Batman – Knight of Vengeance, by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso (Vertigo/DC)
The New York Five, by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly (Vertigo/DC)
Who Is Jake Ellis? by Nathan Edmondson & Tonci Zonjic (Image)

Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 7)
Beauty and the Squat Bears, by Émile Bravo (Yen Press)
Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking, by Philippe Coudray (Candlewick/Toon Books)
Dragon Puncher Island, by James Kochalka (Top Shelf)
Nursery Rhyme Comics, edited by Chris Duffy (First Second)
Patrick in a Teddy Bear’s Picnic, by Geoffrey Hayes (Candlewick/Toon Books)

Best Publication for Kids (ages 8-12)
The All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold, by Sholly Fisch, Rick Burchett, and Dan Davis (DC)
Amelia Rules: The Meaning of Life … And Other Stuff, by Jimmy Gownley (Atheneum)
The Ferret’s a Foot, by Colleen AF Venable and Stephanie Yue (Graphic Universe/Lerner)
Princeless, by Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin (Action Lab)
Snarked, by Roger Langridge (kaboom!)
Zita the Space Girl, by Ben Hatke (First Second)

Best Publication for Young Adults (Ages 12-17)
Anya’s Ghost, by Vera Brosgol (First Second)
Around the World, by Matt Phelan (Candlewick)
Level Up, by Gene Yang and Thien Pham (First Second)
Life with Archie, by Paul Kupperberg, Fernando Ruiz, Pat & Tim Kennedy, Norm Breyfogle et al. (Archie)
Mystic, by G. Willow Wilson and David Lopez (Marvel)

Best Anthology
Dark Horse Presents, edited by Mike Richardson (Dark Horse)
Nelson, edited by Rob Davis and Woodrow Phoenix (Blank Slate)
Nursery Rhyme Comics, edited by Chris Duffy (First Second)
The Someday Funnies, edited by Michel Choquette (Abrams ComicArts)
Yiddishkeit: Jewish Vernacular and the New Land, edited by Harvey Pekar and Paul Buhle (Abrams ComicArts)

Best Humor Publication
The Art of Doug Sneyd: A Collection of Playboy Cartoons (Dark Horse Books)
Chimichanga, by Eric Powell (Dark Horse)
Coffee: It’s What’s for Dinner, by Dave Kellett (Small Fish)
Kinky & Cosy, by Nix (NBM)
Milk & Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad, by Evan Dorkin (Dark Horse Books)

Best Digital Comic
Bahrain, by Josh Neufeld, www.cartoonmovement.com/comic/24
Battlepug, by Mike Norton, www.battlepug.com
Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, by Tony Cliff, www.delilahdirk.com
Outfoxed, by Dylan Meconis, www.dylanmeconis.com/outfoxed
Sarah and the Seed, by Ryan Andrews, www.ryan-a.com/comics/sarahandtheseed01.htm

Best Reality-Based Work
Around the World, by Matt Phelan (Candlewick)
Green River Killer: A True Detective Story, by Jeff Jensen and Jonathan Case (Dark Horse Books)
Marzi: A Memoir, by Marzena Sowa and Sylvain Savoia (Vertigo/DC)
Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, by Shigeru Mizuki (Drawn & Quarterly)
Vietnamerica, by GB Tran (Villard)

Best Graphic Album – New
Bubbles & Gondola, by Renaud Dillies (NBM)
Freeway, by Mark Kalesniko (Fantagraphics)
Habibi, by Craig Thompson (Pantheon)
Ivy, by Sarah Olekysk (Oni)
Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand, adapted by Ramón K. Pérez (Archaia)
One Soul, by Ray Fawkes (Oni)

Best Graphic Album – Reprint
Big Questions, by Anders Nilsen (Drawn & Quarterly)
The Death Ray, by Dan Clowes (Drawn & Quarterly)
Richard Stark’s Parker: The Martini Edition, by Darwyn Cooke (IDW)
WE3: The Deluxe Edition, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (Vertigo/DC)
Zahra’s Paradise, by Amir and Khalil (First Second)

Best Archival Collection/Project – Strips
Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim, by Alex Raymond and Don Moore, edited by Dean Mullaney (IDW/Library of American Comics)
Forgotten Fantasy: Sunday Comics 1900-1915, edited by Peter Maresca (Sunday Press)
Prince Valiant vols. 3-4, by Hal Foster, edited by Kim Thompson (Fantagraphics)
Tarpé Mills’s Miss Fury Sensational Sundays, 1944-1949, edited by Trina Robbins (IDW/Library of American Comics)
Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse vols. 1-2, by Floyd Gottfredson, edited by David Gerstein and Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)

Best Archival Collection/Project – Comic Books
Government Issue: Comics for the People: 1940s-2000s, edited by Richard L. Graham (Abrams ComicArts)
The MAD Fold-In Collection, by Al Jaffee (Chronicle)
PS Magazine: The Best of Preventive Maintenance Monthly, by Will Eisner (Abrams ComicArts)
The Sugar and Spike Archives, vol. 1, by Sheldon Mayer (DC)
Walt Simonson’s The Mighty Thor Artist’s Edition (IDW)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material
Bubbles & Gondola, by Renaud Dillies (NBM)
Isle of 100,000 Graves, by Fabien Vehlmann and Jason (Fantagraphics)
Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot, by Jacques Tardi and Jean-Patrick Manchette (Fantagraphics)
The Manara Library, vol. 1: Indian Summer and Other Stories, by Milo Manara with Hugo Pratt (Dark Horse Books)
Night Animals: A Diptych About What Rushes Through the Bushes, by Brecht Evens (Top Shelf)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material – Asia
A Bride’s Story, by Kaoru Mori (Yen Press)
Drops of God, by Tadashi Agi and Shu Okimoto (Vertical)
Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, by Shigeru Mizuki (Drawn & Quarterly)
Saturn Apartments, vols. 3-4, by Hisae Iwaoka (VIZ Media)
Stargazing Dog, by Takashi Murakami (NBM)
Wandering Son, vol. 1, by Shimura Takako (Fantagraphics)

Best Writer
Cullen Bunn, The Sixth Gun (Oni)
Mike Carey, The Unwritten (Vertigo/DC)
Jeff Jensen, Green River Killer: A True Detective Story (Dark Horse Books)
Jeff Lemire, Animal Man, Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown, Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. (DC); Sweet Tooth (Vertigo/DC)
Mark Waid, Irredeemable, Incorruptible (BOOM!); Daredevil (Marvel)

Best Writer/Artist
Rick Geary, The Lives of Sacco and Vanzetti (NBM)
Terry Moore, Rachel Rising (Abstract Studio)
Sarah Oleksyk, Ivy (Oni)
Craig Thompson, Habibi (Pantheon)
Jim Woodring, Congress of the Animals (Fantagraphics), “Harvest of Fear,” in The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror #17 (Bongo)

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team
Michael Allred, iZombie (Vertigo/DC); Madman All-New Giant-Size Super-Ginchy Special (Image)
Ramón K. Pérez, Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand (Archaia)
Chris Samnee, Captain America and Bucky, Ultimate Spider-Man #155 (Marvel)
Marcos Martin, Daredevil (Marvel)
Paolo Rivera/Joe Rivera, Daredevil (Marvel)

Best Cover Artist
Michael Allred, iZombie (Vertigo/DC)
Francesco Francavilla, Black Panther (Marvel); Lone Ranger, Lone Ranger/Zorro, Dark Shadows, Warlord of Mars (Dynamite); Archie Meets Kiss (Archie)
Victor Kalvachev, Blue Estate (Image)
Marcos Martin, Daredevil, Amazing Spider-Man (Marvel)
Sean Phillips, Criminal: The Last of the Innocent (Marvel Icon)
Yuko Shimizu, The Unwritten (Vertigo/DC)

Best Coloring
Laura Allred, iZombie (Vertigo/DC); Madman All-New Giant-Size Super-Ginchy Special (Image)
Bill Crabtree, The Sixth Gun (Oni)
Ian Herring and Ramón K. Pérez, Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand (Archaia)
Victor Kalvachev, Blue Estate (Image)
Cris Peter, Casanova: Avaritia, Casanova: Gula (Marvel Icon)

Best Lettering
Deron Bennett, Billy Fog, Jim Henson’s Dark Crystal, Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand, Mr. Murder Is Dead (Archaia); Helldorado, Puss N Boots, Richie Rich (APE Entertainment)
Jimmy Gownley, Amelia Rules! The Meaning of Life … And Other Stuff (Atheneum)
Laura Lee Gulledge, Page by Paige (Amulet Books/Abrams)
Tom Orzechowski, Manara Library, with L. Lois Buholis (Dark Horse); Manga Man (Houghton Mifflin); Savage Dragon (Image)
Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo (Dark Horse)

Best Comics-Related Journalism
The AV Club Comics Panel, by Noel Murray, Oliver Sava et al., www.avclub.com/features/comics-panel/
The Beat, produced by Heidi MacDonald et al., www.comicsbeat.com
The Comics Journal, edited by Gary Groth, and The Comics Journal website, www.tcj.com, edited by Timothy Hodler and Dan Nadel (Fantagraphics)
The Comics Reporter, produced by Tom Spurgeon, www.comicsreporter.com
TwoMorrows Publications: Alter Ego edited by Roy Thomas, Back Issue edited by Michael Eury, Draw edited by Mike Manley, and Jack Kirby Collector edited by John Morrow

Best Educational/Academic Work
Alan Moore: Conversations, ed. by Eric Berlatsky (University Press of Mississippi)
Cartooning: Philosophy & Practice, by Ivan Brunetti (Yale University Press)
Critical Approaches to Comics: Theories and Methods, edited by Matthew J. Smith and Randy Duncan (Routledge)
Hand of Fire: The Comics Art of Jack Kirby, by Charles Hatfield (University Press of Mississippi)
Projections: Comics and the History of 21st Century Storytelling, by Jared Gardner (Stanford University Press)

Best Comics-Related Book
Archie: A Celebration of America’s Favorite Teenagers, edited by Craig Yoe (IDW/Yoe Books)
Caniff: A Visual Biography, edited by Dean Mullaney (IDW/Library of American Comics)
Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising, edited by Rick Marschall and Warren Bernard (Fantagraphics/Marschall Books)
Genius Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth, designed by Dean Mullaney (IDW/Library of American Comics)
MetaMaus, by Art Spiegelman (Pantheon)

Best Publication Design
Genius Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth, designed by Dean Mullaney (IDW/Library of American Comics)
Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand, designed by Eric Skillman (Archaia)
Kinky & Cosy, designed by Nix (NBM)
The MAD Fold-In Collection, designed by Michael Morris (Chronicle)
Richard Stark’s Parker: The Martini Edition, designed by Darwyn Cooke (IDW)

Review by C.J. Bunce

As much as I am a fan of Rags Morales’s art style, Grant Morrison’s reboot story of Superman in the flagship title Action Comics for the DCU is really pretty ho-hum, if not plain disjointed, and ultimately hits the floor with a thud.  The excitement, energy, and portrayal of the great power of Superman of the past is non-existent here.

Much has been said about Superman’s new costume–shirt and cape are not all that different, but he is wearing jeans and no red boots–and ultimately that doesn’t matter.  Morrison’s writing is just…odd.  Even read by someone with an extensive vocabulary, from seeing the use of the archaic and out-of-place word “teetotal” on page one to a character named “Mrs. Nyxly,” you get the feeling that someone is putting us on here.  A key story element about a problem with a train comes out of nowhere.  Can this Superman see the future?  Doesn’t seem to be what is happening here.  There are just elements here that don’t jibe.  And why does Superman have these strange gold, shining eyes?  At first I thought this was meant to convey a Bizarro appearance, which could have been fun, but on re-read that’s not the case.

In one scene Superman captures a baddie named “Glenmorgan” for using “illegal cheap labor, no safety standards” which echoes a bit of what we’d expect from a 1970s Green Arrow, so maybe this new Superman will be pursuing non-obvious villains down the road.  But unfortunately we only get this in a singular image of the book.

OK, I’ll say it.  Superman with jeans and some form of brown dress shoe looks, well, just plain silly.  What’s the point, and does it say anything about the character we care about?  Wearing jeans makes him modern?  Who in the USA in 2011 wears brown dress shoes with jeans rolled up at the cuff?  There’s nothing cool about this look.  Dorky, yes.  Cool, no.

The standard cast of Superman is here as well, evil-without-explanation Lex Luthor, goofy Jimmy at the paper and sassy looking Lois Lane.  In this brief intro they appear as mere caricatures.

Strangely enough the best parts of Action Comics #1 are four entire pages of entirely visual content with no words.  The value in this first issue is Rags Morales’s renderings, not Morrison’s story.  What appears to be happening here is a Smallville sequel, a boy of steel instead of a man of steel.  Isn’t that what Superboy is for?

Stepping back from the story and art, other than Justice League, all the rest of the New 52 appears to be priced at $2.99.  Inexplicably this is a $3.99 book.  Unfortunately it doesn’t offer enough to keep anyone reading except maybe the diehard Superman loyalist.  With all the solid books introduced this past month featuring Batman, other Justice League characters and the unexpectedly refreshing non-A list titles, this title won’t make the cut for anyone looking to end up with only a few titles for the long haul.

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