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Collectors edition Titans collectors comic for collectors.

§ November 29th, 2017 § Filed under advertising, collecting, dc comics, teen titans § 5 Comments

from DC Coming Attractions #81 (August 1983)

Oh, did I say “briefly?”

§ October 27th, 2017 § Filed under dc comics, publishing, teen titans § 6 Comments

So earlier in the year I spent some time talking about DC’s “hardcover/softcover” publishing program for New Teen Titans, Legion of Super-Heroes, etc. (posts 1 and a 2 and a 3). Thus, if you still need an explanation of what it’s all about, please refer to those posts, because I’m gettin’ back into it briefly for today’s entry.

Before I get to my main point, let me present this to you. Despite being reprints of the direct-sales only New Teen Titans title, the newsstand editions didn’t reuse the previously-published covers, but instead had brand new covers commissioned for each issue, which you can see over at the Grand Comics Database. Some of those covers were pretty sharp, and then there was this weird-ass thing Brian Bolland unleashed upon your unsuspecting 7-11s and Stop ‘n’ Go shops:


Imagine being the fella cutting open bundles of the latest periodicals to fill the racks and seeing that staring back at you. “THE KIDS THESE DAYS, WHAT ARE THEY INTO?” you’d clearly be thinking to yourself. I mean, that’s an amazing drawing, and one you won’t soon forget, but hey, it’s Comics Code-approved, so I guess the kids are safe. Oh, Brian Bolland, you’ve done it again!

Anyway, what I really asked you all here for is to talk about the last issue of Tales of the Teen Titans, #91 from 1988:


…with its Justice League #1-inspired cover acknowledged by artists Michael Collins and Romeo Tanghal. What’s particularly interesting is the frankness of the editorial page inside, explaining that while they wanted to keep all Titans fans caught up with their adventures, the sad fact was that this reprint series just wasn’t selling enough to keep it going. The newsstand customers for this comic are then implored to seek out the direct-sales “hardcover” version of New Teen Titans at comic shops or other venues, or to use the subscription ad in the inside back cover to start getting that series in the mail.

And here’s where my question about this comes in. At the end of the book is a back-up story of sorts, with Nightwing and Changeling giving a brief synopsis of the “missing year” between the main story reprinted in this issue, and the events in the current issue of New Teen Titans, so any readers making the jump from newsstand edition to direct sales edition wouldn’t be lost. The story ends with this panel:


…but the ad he’s pointing to on the inside back cover is this:


…which features only Action Comics Weekly, Power of the Atom and The Wanderers. What I was wondering…was there a separate coupon just for New Teen Titans bound into the comic at this point (seems unlikely), or…if you’ll look back at that scan above of issue #91, you’ll see there’s no UPC code. Thus, this was a copy sold through comic shops…despite being published specifically for newsstands, copies were also available through the direct market for those completists or the thrifty, as previously discussed. To finish my thought, what I was wondering was if there were maybe different subscription ads inside the back covers of copies that went to newsstands versus those that went to comic shops. Alas, I don’t have a copy of the newsstand edition on hand, but it definitely exists.

I honestly don’t know the answer. The previous place of employment no longer has copies, else I’d check there, but maybe one of you can check the copy in your collection and let me know. For your effort, you’ll win the prestigious “Hey, That’s My Name in a Progressive Ruin Post!” award, with a cash value of exactly nuthin’.

My initial thought was that they would have changed the subscription ad for comic shops so that they weren’t explicitly telling readers to send money directly to DC instead of spending money at the place where you presumably purchased that copy of #91. But, then again…that’s still a subscription ad, including (I think) the direct-sales only Wanderers. Anyway, I don’t know, but if you know, please let me know. You know? I realize this isn’t the most vital information in the world, but I am curious. And hey, if you’re a Titans completist, maybe now you’re aware there’s kinda sorta a new story in the back of that last issue you need to have.

Speaking of curiosity, I was wondering just what the sales numbers on this comic were near the end there, and luckily for me, I found the yearly Statement of Ownership in the first issue I looked at (#88):


…and if I’m reading the statement correctly, this sales on this series would put it solidly in the top 25 today. Times have certainly changed. And hoo boy, that’s a lotta returns.

Greater than a hecto-villain, but nowhere close to a yotta-villain.

§ October 9th, 2017 § Filed under dc comics, publishing, swamp thing § 5 Comments

So I was digging through a few boxes of old comics promo materials when I found this, a 16 page black and white book of DC’s publishing plans for 1989-1990 that was given to retailers:


I only scanned half of the “cover” there, but you can see they were pushing the Batman movie pretty hard, as you might imagine. No, no, don’t worry, I’m not doing another round of Bat-talk just yet (though I did find a couple of relevant Bat-items that I may showcase here in the near future), but there are couple of interesting items of note inside.

First ,there’s this blurb for the sadly never-finished Swamp Thing: Deja Vu mini-series that would have reunited Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson:


Wrightson only drew a handful of pages before deciding the project wasn’t for him, and Wein’s attempt to get another artist to complete the book was met with the reaction of “not interested unless Wrightson was doing it” from the powers-that-were. (I believe I read about that particular bit of business in the Swampmen, which is where you can see some of the pages Wrightson did draw for the project.)

And then there was this story on the last page of the booklet:


Games being the Marv Wolfman/George Perez “final hurrah” as a team on the Teen Titans, which didn’t come out in 1990 as planned…and in fact didn’t actually show up until 2011, over twenty years later! Wolfman writes about what happened here.

But what I wanted to talk about was this:


…a big crossover event series planned for this publishing period, which I couldn’t recall ever having heard of. At first glance, I thought maybe it was a working title for some other event, but reading the synopsis, it didn’t sound like any crossover thingie DC had published. (Though, funnily enough, it reminds me a bit of the “children of the Justice League” storyline currently running in, er, Justice League.)

Did a little Googling, and there’s not much on the series to be found, as you might imagine. Turns out, according to Roger Stern, mentioned in the article as one of the writers involved, it never really got too far past “hey, here’s an idea.”

CLICK TO EXPAND MIGHTILY

And this excerpt from American Comic Book Chronicles that turned up on Google Books ties us back yet again to the Bat-Burton film:


And yes, I got screenshots as well as links there, as there’s nothing like sorting out dead links in decade-old blog posts to make one appreciate the mercurial state of the World Wide Web.

Anyway, what I find of interest in this article is how much is promised regarding this series, given that, as Stern says, it didn’t really get that far along in the creative process. A “new mega-villain” is probably a given for a big event like this, and “new characters,” I guess, so that’s a gimme. The format of the series, with increasing page-counts for each subsequent pair of issues, is…a little weird, and I don’t recall that specific idea being implemented any time later. I mean, sure, last issues of crossover comics can be double-sized or whatever, but that’s not exactly the same as what’s being described.

Now I realize what the world probably doesn’t need is yet another superhero crossover event on the books, but I am intrigued enough by this premise, and by the proposed writing team of Stern and John Ostrander utilizing DC’s major characters, and by the new characters that would have come out of it that I wouldn’t have minded seeing it. But it feels just a little weird, to find out now there’s a missing event series, a comics ghost flickering in and out of existence behind all the Batmania.

NOTE: Official stance of this website is that girls are NOT — repeat NOT — yucky.

§ June 26th, 2017 § Filed under advertising, brat finks, dc comics, wonder woman § 9 Comments

So I took in a fairly sizable collection of comics, ranging from the 1960s to the far-flung future of circa 2005, and therein was a copy of Brave and the Bold #63 from 1966:


…which, in the decades I’ve been at this, have only actually seen in person a relative handful of times. On the Twitters, I suggested I’ve seen a copy of this comic only about once a decade, and I don’t think that’s too far off. I’ve seen lots of copies of Brave and the Bold issues around it, but not this specific one. Not sure why…just fewer copies out there in the wild, I guess, at least in our general area. I don’t know if people are just holding onto them in their collections, or maybe the actual issue just didn’t sell well at the time. I mean, maybe some (not all…some) young boys looking at the shelves trying to find something to read would pass on the comic that stars a couple of yucky ol’ girls, so is that a reason for reduced availability now? I’m not sure.

At any rate, I don’t see this issue very often, but I’ve been wanting to read the darn thing for years, so I took it home to peruse prior to putting it back out for sale. Hey, look, I gets my perks where I can. And, as a professional funnybook handler, I can flip through this periodical without any significant reduction in condition or resale value.

Okay, I’m writing this post instead of reading the comic, but I’ll get to it. I did flip through it long enough to find the thesis statement for this visual essay:


…so I’m looking forward to what is almost certainly going to be a whirlwind experience. At the very least, let’s look at that cover…I love how huge and eye-catching those logos for Supergirl and Wonder Woman are, even with their disembodied, worried-looking faces hanging out at the edges there. This must have been something else to see brand new on the rack, which that shiny red background behind the logos glaring out at you.

The issue was also filled with those quarter-to-half page house ads for DC Comics, including one for the very comic we’re looking at right here:


…and boy, did 1960s DC like the word “chicks.” And the phrasing that they’re teamed up in “the super-est romance of all time” — well, “Suffering Sappho!” I guess.

Here’s an ad for Jimmy Olsen getting up to his usual weird-ass stuff in his own comic:


Was James Bond really known for being boastful? Sardonic, maybe, but I never thought he was that much of a braggart. But then it does say Jimmy is more boastful, so I guess Bond doesn’t really have to be so much.

I don’t really have much to say about this ad except it’s for Ultra the Multi-Alien, who is, of course, awesome:


…and well-played on the “you’ll be drawn to his magnetic force!” blurb.

There’s a lot going on in this Fox and the Crow ad, ballyhooing the debut of Stanley and His Monster:


and if you want to learn more about the Brat Finks, why friends, you find yourself on probably the only comics blog in the world with a “brat finks” category you can click on and enjoy.

“I remember you…!”

§ June 14th, 2017 § Filed under dc comics § 4 Comments

So I’ve been hanging onto this “Zero Month” promo video tape for years:

…with the intention over the last decade or so of digitizing the content and uploading to the Yootletubers for all to enjoy.

We didn’t have a TV in the store back in 1994, but all of us traded the tape around and got a kick out of it, seeing interviews with DC Comics folks (like Mike Carlin, Johanna‘s husband KC, Denny O’Neil, the apparently-ageless Dan Jurgens, and many others), all hosted by Evil Hal Jordan. I remember searching YouTube before to see if anyone had uploaded it and not finding it, but I guess it’s been a while since I did so as someone did put it up a few years back. So, here it is, in all its amazing glory:

About 16 minutes after I posted the link to this on my Twitter, it popped up on Metafilter, so you may have already seen this, but I had to have this on my site. I love this ol’ VHS tape.

Now I just need to digitize this Hero Illustrated promo tape I’ve got sitting around….

Of reprints and Patreons.

§ April 26th, 2017 § Filed under dc comics, legion of super-heroes, publishing, self-promotion § 6 Comments

So a while back on the Twitterers I complained that a joke I had planned for an End of Civilization post was undone by the fact the publisher actually didn’t mess up something I thought they had messed up. I’ve been meaning to get around to telling the one or two of you who might remember that and still care just what I was talking about. And what I was talking about was the Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes hardcover volume one, as solicited in the March 2017 Diamond Previews:


That’s the image they’re using to solicit the collection, but obviously not the actual, final cover since that’s a pic of the Legion treasury edition the book will be including.

Anyway, my assumption is that there were going to be some issues skipped between the last of the DC Archives reprintings of the Legion of Super-Heroes and this volume, which picks up in the 1970s. However, to my surprise, this new book picks up exactly where the Archive editions left off, so for those of us depending on DC’s reprint program to gather up all those classic Legion stories in chronological order, like I know I was, that’s good news. Of course, this new format won’t have as many stories per volume, but also it won’t be $75 like that Archives generally were near the end there, so at least there’s that.

Like I mentioned, the treasury edition, featuring the wedding of Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad (hey, stop snickering, this is a big deal) is in this book, and I was greatly anticipating its appearance in the never-forthcoming Legion Archives Volume 14. At some point, around, I don’t know, 2008, I even passed up on a copy of the treasury because I figured I would eventually get that story in the archive series. Well, took a little longer than expected, but it’s finally on its way. Hopefully. Assuming it isn’t cancelled or postponed.

Now if we can get DC to pick up reprinting Sugar and Spike where that last archive edition left off….

• • •

And now, for a brief commercial message…as mentioned just the other day, plans are continuing apace for the Swamp Thing-a-Thon, my attempt at reviewing every Swamp Thing comic, that will be an exclusive, at least for a time, for Patreon supporters. I finally updated my Patreon page to include that reward tier in the sidebar.

Since I have the reward tier set at the lowest level (I mean, I don’t think you can contribute less than a dollar a month, can you?), anyone who supports my Patreon at any level will get access to the Swamp Thing-a-Thon posts. If you’re already a supporter, you’ll get access. If you click the “Become a Patreon” button and donate that generous $150 a month I know you want to, you’ll get access. You don’t have to click on that $1 Reward button to get access, that just makes it easier for you to chip in. If you’re contributing at all, you’re in.

Like I’ve said…the content there will make it over to this site eventually, but not for a while. If you can provide support, that’s great, but if you can’t or don’t want to, that’s perfectly okay too, and you’ll get to see that stuff anyway, if you don’t mind waiting a bit.

Thanks to you folks out there who still read this “comics” “blog” after all this time. I appreciate all the support and readership you’ve given me for so many years.

When Dr. Manhattan does finally appear, he’s totally going to be wearing pants.

§ April 21st, 2017 § Filed under batman, buttons, dc comics, retailing, this week's comics, watchmen § 4 Comments

[Some minor SPOILERS for Batman #21 ahead.]

The lentincular covers are back on the shelves this week, thanks to DC’s first installment in the “We’re Finally Getting Around to That Whole Watchmen Thing” storyline running through Batman and Flash for the next few issues. Ah, the long-missed “zzzzzip-zzzzzip” sounds of those covers sliding against each other as customers pull their copies off the rack. Actually, I’m surprised it took DC this long to get back to doing these fancy movin’ picture covers, since they certainly grab attention (even if they’re hard to stack on the rack in any sizable quantity if you don’t have anything at the front of the shelf to keep them from toppling over and falling off, since they don’t exactly lay flat). I mean, I can understand why they don’t, given the extra lead time it takes to get these printed after taking in orders, so saving them for special occasions like this, where it’s worth the extra hassle, makes sense.

However, I will note that I’m getting lots of requests for the non-lenticular variants on this issue, as compared to the newsstand editions of the lenticular covers the last time we did this which mostly just kinda sat there and stared back at me from the rack with their sad little eyes.

Of course, none of this has anything to do with the actual content, which is the first storyline to actually revolve around the connection between the DC Universe and the Watchmen since that DC Universe Rebirth special from last year. Yes, there have been references here and there to “something bigger” going on behind the various reality-changing shenanigans going on, most notably in the recent “Superman Reborn” series of comics, as well as the occasional mention in Flash and either Titans or Teen Titans or maybe both…I’m specifically thinking of whatever one had the old Flash villain Abra Kadabra. The whole “Dr. Oz” thing that’s been in the Superman books had been assumed by some folks to be Ozymandias from Watchmen, though that seems a little too on-the-nose and obvious (which doesn’t rule it out, I do realize). He is involved somehow in the whole Watchmen event, but I feel like there’ll be a different reveal than “Gasp! It’s Ozymandias!” Maybe it’s Bubastis. Or an in-his-fightin’-trim Seymour.

Anyway, we don’t get a whole lot regarding any actual Watchmen characters yet, aside from what we can assume is an off-screen Dr. Manhattan doing away with the villain. There’s also a bit of business where the Comedian’s button reacts to the Psycho Pirate’s mask…a reference to (and likely a plot point based on) the conclusion of the now-30-year-old Crisis on Infinite Earths, which left Psycho Pirate as the one character who remembered the pre-Crisis multiverse…well, aside from everyone else who remembered it. (That situation was more-or-less twisted back into its original intent later in Animal Man.) And on top of all that, the comic is laid out in the 9-panel-grid in which Watchmen was largely presented.

I’m not 100% convinced we’re going to see any Watchmen characters in this particular story, honestly, beyond maybe a fleeting glimpse…I mean, we’ll find out within the next three weeks, of course. There’s more to come, too…the Batman issue I just placed orders for is already following up on the events in this storyline, so my guess is whatever big reveal we’re getting now is going to be “huh, there’s a multiverse and this button is from another universe and someone from said universe is futzing around with us.” Okay, I think the characters knew most of that already, but my point is that the full-on “Naked Blue Man Versus the DC Universe” is waiting for a Big Event Crossover Thingie down the line, and not happening in this Batman/Flash crossover that’s running now. Like I said, we’ll find out how right or wrong I am soon enough.

The DC Comics Hardcover/Softcover Plan: The End of the Thrillogy.

§ March 22nd, 2017 § Filed under dc comics, publishing, retailing § 3 Comments

Okay, it’s the third post regarding this particular publishing plan of DC’s from waaaay back in the ancient times of the 1980s. If you’re just joining us, you can read just exactly what the hardcover/softcover thing is in these two posts. If you’ve been here for the whole exciting saga, you’ll be glad to know that, as promised, I did ask my old boss Ralph about sales on the New Teen Titans and Legion of Super-Heroes comics during that period.

As it turns out, sales in Ralph’s shop were pretty much as you’d expect. The new printing-on-fancy-Baxter-paper direct sales only series sold great, and their newsstand counterparts still sold quite well as long as they continued presenting new stories. Once the newsstand versions started to reprint the stories from the new direct-sales series, sales on the newsstand series plummeted. They did still sell a handful of copies, so either someone was still following the series in the cheaper format, or just completing the run, or it was simply random, non-consistent purchases from walk-ins not necessarily following the comics but just wanted something to read.

Ralph didn’t recall if there were any holdouts who didn’t want to spring for the extra cost of the newer series, but instead waited for those stories to be reprinted in the less-expensive partner series. However, some readers left comments saying they did just that, based on wanting to get the maximum comics bang for their bucks with the limited amount of financial resources at hand. So, you know, I would guess that this particular buying strategy was a tad more common than I assumed.

I also asked Ralph if there was any grumbling from his regulars about now having to buy two series of, say, New Teen Titans a month, instead of the normal one. He didn’t really recall any, as it seemed to him at the time customers were excited about the new higher-quality Baxter-format comics, even at the higher price. Plus, DC picked a couple of series with strong enough fanbases that the prospect of more material available each month was generally welcome. …Man, that was a long time ago.

Personally, I dutifully bought both versions of New Teen Titans and Legion of Super-Heroes, up until the newsstand books went into reprints (except for the initial Titans one, since that reprinted the first appearance, which I didn’t have at the time, and a story from a DC digest which I did already have, but didn’t mind having in the full-sized format). I suspect, for readers who had the scratch and were within hopping, skipping and/or jumping distance of a devoted funnybook store, that was usually, but not always, the case.

Reader Michael likened this to Marvel’s 1990s experiment with direct sales/newsstand editions of some of their books, like X-Men and Wolverine. However, the wait time between releases was only a couple of weeks or so, and the pricier, fancier version came out first, with the less expensive version on the less fancy paper coming afterwards. As I recall, the plan was to see which format would sell better in the direct market, and, as Michael notes, of course the fancier one sold better because people didn’t want to wait even that short of a time to keep up with these particular titles. My main memory of these was, when restocking the back issue bins, having to keep track which issue numbers of which titles had the two different formats, and making sure both were represented in the old comics boxes.

…This all seems so quaint, compared to the modern practice of “here’s a new number #1 for a character/franchise that’s already had multiple new #1s in recent memory, some of which are still going.” I often thought at the time that future price guides and collectors would have a hard time puzzling out the different permutations Titans, Legion and Outsiders went through trying to satisfy two different retail markets. Little did I know what was coming.

Showing their true metal.

§ August 17th, 2016 § Filed under dc comics § 2 Comments

Speaking of the Metal Men comics I received at my shop recently, I noticed something on them that I don’t think I’d paid much attention to before:

metalmenartcredita

metalmenartcreditb
I hadn’t noticed signatures on DC’s Silver Age books before with an affixed “ART:” or “ART BY” credit. These particular examples are from Metal Men #2 (1963) and #11 (1964/5), telling one and all that these swell cartoon robots were delineated by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. Just seemed a little odd to me, though perhaps inspired by the increased realization of the marketability of specific creators as the Silver Age progressed, particularly with Marvel’s “we’re all your pals here!” editorial emphasis and cutesy nicknames, making sure you knew which comics were by “King” Kirby and “Jazzy” John Romita.

Anyway, whatever the reason, these sure look neat blown up nice an’ big like that.

In other Metal Men news, I continue this current semi-obsession in asking a related question of the War Rocket Ajax fellas, at around the 1 hour 22 minute mark, more or less.

If I were in charge of DC, those characters would absolutely appear in Scooby-Doo Team-Up.

§ June 3rd, 2016 § Filed under dc comics, retailing § 7 Comments

So when I’m not answering your questions, foolin’ around on Twitter, or allowing comic creators to vent in my comments, I’m running a comic shop, and of late I’ve been worrying about sales on the whole DC Rebirth thing.

batrebirthMy initial thought was that, like Marvel’s multiple reboots/restarts on their titles, the number of sales I can expect to receive on yet another round of first issues was not necessarily going to be very much. This wasn’t going to be like the New 52 relaunch from five years ago, where it was a month full of new #1s in a newly-formed (and, frankly, not quite done cooking) continuity all thrown at us at once, and the sheer novelty of it translated to big sales, even for the titles that traditionally didn’t do very well. Of course, sales atrophied on the New 52 eventually, with Batman and Justice League still doing respectable numbers, but everything else mostly just slowly fading.

DC’s “Rebirth,” by contrast, was going to be spread out over several months, with most titles effectively getting two first issues (a “Rebirth” one-shot, to sort of reestablish the characters vis-à-vis where they left off prior to the start of the “Rebirth” event, and an actual #1 to kick off the new thread of adventures, presumably). Add to the fact that most people weren’t 100% clear on what “Rebirth” was actually going to be (most of my customers seemed to assume it was another full-on reboot)…well, I had a hard time figuring how this was going to sell.

To DC’s credit, they probably assumed everyone was going to feel that way, so the early issues are returnable, which eases the burden on poor ol’ retailers like me a bit. That doesn’t mean, of course, that I’m going to order a thousand of everything to make darned sure I have enough to go around…I still have a budget, I still have other comics to order, and I don’t really want to tie up that much money in product for, likely, months while I wait for the go-ahead to send ’em back. So I ordered about what I estimated what I thought I could sell, plus a little more for good measure, and hoped for the best.

And then the DC Universe: Rebirth came out a couple of weeks ago.

Now, on that book, the 80-page, bargain priced one shot that was kicking off the whole thing, I ordered a ton. I ordered numbers on that book specifically so that I’d have it around for the next couple of months, as all the new “Rebirth”-branded relaunched books came out and people asked “so what’s this all about, hah?” I could hand them a copy of the 80-pagers and tell them “all the answers you seek are in here, my son.”

It, of course, sold out by the weekend.

Now, a second printing and a third printing have been announced, with the 2nd print due in stores next week (and at the more reasonable-for-the-publisher price of $5.99). That part didn’t worry me…I figured another printing would be rushed out. What did worry me was how many of those I sold, and how quickly. The first wave of new Rebirth comics were coming next week, Mike of Last Week thought, and judging by demand for that one-shot, does that mean I’m going to have crazy demand for all the Rebirth comics? Maybe I ordered too low! Can I get reorders in on time? Am I panicking? IS THIS THE END OF MIKE?

garebirthI worried mostly for naught, because for the four Rebirth titles that launched this week, I appear to have ordered more or less correctly. I probably could have used more Batman, but that wasn’t entirely my fault, as a portion of the order arrived damaged, with replacements hopefully arriving next Wednesday (and more copies heading my way, thanks to an early reorder). But even still, I appear to have had enough to meet demand. This wasn’t a New 52-scale epic rush on the stands to grab handfuls of books, but what I sold was certainly far above what I’d been selling on these titles…even Batman, which had been a strong seller prior to this Rebirth hoohar. Now that I have an idea of how Rebirth will be received, that helps me judge orders for future weeks, and it’s certainly a load off my mind after worrying about how these were going to do.

One question I’ve been getting since last week’s DC Universe Rebirth one-shot came out was “where are the plot threads introduced in that book going to play out?” I think everyone was expecting “BATMAN VS. [REDACTED]” in his first issue, or that there would be some central “Rebirth” mini-series where that stuff would be addressed. From what I understand, we’ll be seeing elements from that one-shot in the DC books over the next couple of years, but if it doesn’t culminate in a series of “DC Character Versus [REDACTED] Character” one-shots, followed by a big DC Universe Rebirth: Omega giant-size special to wrap it all up, I’ll be terribly disappointed.

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