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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week – October 18, 2017

Greetings comic book fans and welcome to another episode of the Crank File. Every Wednesday is new comic book day and on Tuesdays I like to spotlight some of the stuff I’ll be checking out.

Here’s what I’m reading this week:

The Top of the Pile: Mighty Thor #700

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Jason Aaron
Art: Russell Dauterman

What it is: DEATH OF THE MIGHTY THOR Part 1 The final judgement comes as the Mangog arrives! The War Thor will meet the beast head on. But even the bloodthirst of this Ultimate Thor may pale in comparison to the might of the Mangog! The battle rages as Jane’s cancer takes a turn for the worse, and she might not have to wait for the final judgment at all. The clock is ticking, and no hammer can save her this time. It’s the beginning of the end that will lead to the most dramatic return in the Marvel Universe!! Rated T+

Why we love it: A milestone issue. Jane Foster, the Mighty Thor, will be passing the hammer back to the Odinson. I was personally a big fan of Lady Thor and will be sad to see her go. I hope they give her a hero’s sendoff that is worthy of her.

 The Mainstream One: Incredible Hulk #709

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Greg Pak
Art: Greg Land

What it is: RETURN TO PLANET HULK Part 1 When Amadeus Cho picks up a distress signal from a distant planet he’s shocked to find out it’s from SAKAAR. As the Totally Awesome Hulk, he’s been trying to avert the curse of anger that haunted Bruce Banner. But SAKAAR is a place for warriors and gladiators…a place where the Hulk fought brutally in the Imperial Arena…who is calling Cho for help? Rated T

Why we like it: Greg Pak brings the green skinned one back to Skaar for another round on Planet Hulk. The last time the Hulk came to Skaar, Banner Hulk liberated it (through smashing of course) and brought peace to the war torn world. That’s a tough act to follow but I’m sure Amadeus is up to the challenge. I am a little disappointed that they didn’t bring back the art team from the original planet Hulk. Laaaand!

The Indie One: Realm #2

Publisher: Image
Words: Seth Peck
Art: Jeremy Haun

What it is: Molly and company hit the road, Ben kills stuff, and Johnny Eldritch has a conference call with the Destroyer of Worlds.

Why we like it: Issue #1 was interesting enough to give the #2 a spin. End of the world story with a dungeons and dragons feel.

  The #1 One: Maestros #1

Publisher: Image
Words and Art: Steve Skroce

What it is:  The Maestro and his entire royal family have been murdered. Now, his banished son from Earth will inherit the Wizard King’s throne along with a spell that turns its user into GOD. With enemies everywhere, will this Orlando-born millennial be able to keep his new magic kingdom? From STEVE SKROCE, the storyboard artist of The Matrix trilogy, the artist and co-creator of WE STAND ON GUARD and Doc Frankenstein, the writer / artist of Wolverine, and the artist of Amazing Spider-Man and ALAN MOORE’s YOUNGBLOOD.

Why we like it: Light week for #1’s. Steve Skroce drew amazing artwork for We Stand on Guard, so interested to see what he does with this solo project.

 The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Harley Quinn #30

Publisher: DC
Cover Art: Frank Cho

What it is: ‘Vote Harley’ part four! Harley actually might win this thing…which means Mayor DePerto’s backed in a corner-and there’s nothing more dangerous than that! RATED T+

Why we like it: Happy Harleyween!

 

That’s all I got this week. Until next time, carpe comics!

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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week – August 9, 2017

Greetings comic book fans and welcome to another episode of the Crank File. Every Wednesday is new comic book day and on Tuesdays I like to spotlight some of the stuff I’ll be checking out.

 

Here’s what I’m reading this week:

The Top of the Pile: Mister Miracle #1

Publisher: DC
Words: Tom King
Art: Mitch Gerads

What it is: From the team behind THE SHERIFF OF BABYLON and the Hugo Award-nominated writer of Vision comes a unique new take on one of Jack Kirby’s most beloved New Gods. Scott Free is the greatest escape artist that ever lived. So great that he escaped Granny Goodness’ gruesome orphanage and the dangers of Apokolips to travel across galaxies and set up a new life on Earth with his wife, the former female fury known as Big Barda. Using the stage alter ego of Mister Miracle, he has made a career for himself showing off his acrobatic escape techniques. He even caught the attention of the Justice League, which counted him among its ranks. You might say Scott Free has everything…so why isn’t it enough? Mister Miracle has mastered every illusion, achieved every stunt, pulled off every trick-except one. He has never escaped death. Is it even possible? Our hero is going to have to kill himself if he wants to find out. Written by Tom King (BATMAN) and illustrated by Mitch Gerads (The Punisher), this is a MISTER MIRACLE unlike any you’ve read before.

Why we love it: Tom King took one of Marvel’s more oddball heroes and with artist Gabriel Walta, turned the Vision into a 12 issue post-modern masterpiece that won a freaking Eisner. Mister Miracle will be a 12 issue mini that deconstructs one of Jack The King Kirby’s strangest creations. It’s King on King action!

 

The Mainstream One: Secret Empire #8

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Nick Spencer
Art: Daniel Acuna

What it is: UNITED WE STAND – against the SECRET EMPIRE! Rated T+

Why we like it: Still good. Still on time. Still loving this event.

 

The Indie One: Low #19

Publisher: Image
Words: Rick Remender
Art: Greg Tocchini

What it is: END OF STORY ARC ‘OUTER ASPECTS OF INNER ATTITUDES,’ Conclusion Death comes to the drowning city as Tajo and her crew fight to inspire the citizens of Salus to not go gentle into that good night.

Why we like it: It’s the end to another glorious Low arc and as usual, things aren’t going so great for our main characters. One of the recurring themes of Low has been finding hope when things are at their darkest moment but it has been pretty grim since Stel’s story came to a grisly end in issue #15. I’m looking for something in this week’s issue to keep my spirits buoyed.

 

The #1 One: Generations Phoenix & Jean Grey #1

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Aaron A
Art: R. B. Silva

What it is: Teenage Jean Grey is willing to do whatever it takes to avoid the fate that befell her predecessor. But when Jean is cast through time and comes face-to-face with the newly possessed Phoenix, will she find the key to saving herself or learn that her fate is sealed? Rated T+

Why we like it: Jean Grey was one of my first crushes, so the prospect of having two Jean Greys at the same time is something of a dream come true. It looks like we’re gonna be doing some time-traveling here, so prepare for things to get convoluted. Like with Generations Hulk, there will be a beautiful Mattina second print cover, but the Stephanie Hans regular cover is just too good to pass on.

The One I’m Buying for the Cover: DC Cover B’s

Publisher: DC
Cover Artists: Frank Cho, Artgerm, Renato Guedes

Why we like it: I was having a hard time choosing the best cover this week so here’s three amazing DC cover B’s. These are all spectacular and can all be had for cover price.

 

That’s all I got this week. Until next time, carpe comics!

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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week – July 19, 2017

Greetings comic book fans and welcome to another episode of the Crank File. We experienced a glitch in the Matrix which is why this week’s entry is a day late. But we’re back online, just in time for new comic book day. Every Wednesday is new comic book day and on Tuesdays I like to spotlight some of the stuff that I will be checking out.

Here’s what I’m reading this week.

 

The Top of the Pile: Secret Empire #6

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Nick Spencer
Art: Leinil Francis Yu

What it is: The unworthy, the untrusted, the unstable – this is their day! BEWARE THE SECRET EMPIRE! Rated T+

Why we love it: Secret Empire continues to rule the top spot. It’s no secret that we’re big fans of this series at the Crank File. Last issue was absolutely jam packed with crazy reveals and new mysteries, and the stage is set for what will be a memorable second half. Love this Thor cover too, some of Mark Brook’s finest work.

 

The Mainstream One: Batman #27

Publisher: DC
Words: Tom King
Art: Davide Gianfelice 

What it is: ‘THE WAR OF THE JOKES AND RIDDLES’ part three! The war has spread to every corner of Gotham City, and while Batman battles back the forces of Joker and Riddler, an unlikely criminal becomes the pivotal key to its potential resolution, but it could cost him everything.

Why we like it: Tom King is the master of taking offbeat characters and casting them in a twisted light. Last year he did it with Vision, last month it was Elmer Fudd, and this week it’s D-lister Kite Man. If you’re wondering who Kite Man is, you are not alone. The Silver Age was a weird time for Bat-villains. The same period that gave us memorable characters like Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, and the modern Clayface also spawned oddities like Calendar Man, Crazy Quilt, and Kite Man. I don’t know much about Kite Man other than the Charlie Brown reference, but I can guarantee this will be the greatest Kite Man story ever told. Which isn’t saying much, but I’m also willing to bet it’s going to be a great read.

 

The Indie One: Spencer and Locke #4

Publisher: Action Lab
Words: David Pepose
Art: Jr. Santiago

What it is: The end is nigh, as Spencer and Locke square off against Locke’s crime lord father, Augustus, with a child’s life hanging in the balance! Can Locke survive against these overwhelming odds? Does he even want to? And who killed Sophie Jenkins? Find out here in this explosive finale!

Why we like it: I really wanted to like this series better. The detective noir angle was well executed and I enjoyed the Calvin and Hobbes callbacks, but the dark tone keeps this series from being a spiritual successor to my favorite childhood comic. Still, I hung on for three issues and I’m pretty much committed to reading the finale, but I won’t love it. Mr. Watterson, if you’re reading this, please let us have more Calvin and Hobbes.

 

The #1 One: Astonishing X-Men #1

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Charles Soule
Art: Jim Cheung

What it is: ONLY THE X-MEN CAN SAVE US! An ancient evil is attacking the world’s most powerful minds. It will have them by the time you finish this sentence, and a moment later, it will have us all. A band of X-MEN discovers the truth behind the threat, but there is no time left. PSYLOCKE, OLD MAN LOGAN, BISHOP, ARCHANGEL, FANTOMEX, ROGUE and GAMBIT will attempt to save a world that hates and fears them. Why? BECAUSE THEY ARE THE X-MEN. From blockbuster writer CHARLES SOULE and joined by a roster of superstar artists beginning with JIM CHEUNG. ASTONISHING X-MEN. It’s the X-book you need. Rated T+

Why we like it: Love the cast of characters, love the creative team. This could be the X book I’ve been needing since Extraordinary ended. Naturally, with this being a Marvel book, Astonishing is being released with a ton of variants. There’s a couple of good looking ones, I like the Artgerm and Jim Lee covers but they are 1:100 and 1:1000 incentive variants that will set you back $100 and $1000 respectively.

  

The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Harley Quinn #24

Publisher: DC
Words: Amanda Conner
Art: John Timms
Cover Art: Frank Cho

What it is: ‘THE PARENT TRAP’! Harley has faced every challenge even she could possibly imagine, but can she survive?a visit from her parents?! And in ‘Harley Loves Joker’ part eight, the duo’s new headquarters comes with some unforeseen complications!

Why we like it: Tough call this week. DC has two cover B’s that could have made it here. Cho gets the nod for the insane amount of detail in the line work. This cover is part one of a two-part connecting cover, with the second part revealed on the next issue. The other cover B that didn’t make the cut was a gorgeous Joshua Middleton piece for Aquaman #26. You’ll know it if you see it. And if you see it, I’d advise you to grab it as well.

 

That’s all I got this week. Until next time, carpe comics!

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The Female Perspective: Harley Quinn v. Wonder Woman

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc


I’ll preface this blog by saying I have not read any comics with Harley Quinn. I’ve done some looking into her backstory and watched a Justice League movie awhile back, but I am by no means a HQ expert, so I ask those that are experts to be kind and offer up some corrections if I do get anything incorrect here. This blog is entirely based on my opinions, nothing more. I don’t presume to be spouting facts!

That being said…

Like many folks, I am looking forward to the Suicide Squad movie with baited breath. Unlike many, I have enjoyed the Superman movies that have come out as late so my expectations are not as low for Suicide Squad as many others. I think this looks fun and I don’t give one great big hoot about the reviews that have come out stating otherwise, I don’t trust reviewers and like to experience a movie for myself.

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I have heard of a few of the characters and one in particular, Harley Quinn, is one I’ve seen in cosplay form a lot at various cons.  She’s a popular one, in all her various iterations and I’ve always wondered why. From the research I’ve done and from what I’ve seen, I am not overly impressed with her character. She’s in love with The Joker (we’ve all made bad choices in love, so that I am okay with) and eventually goes crazy from that and becomes a villain, and eventually more of an anti-hero. All right, all of that I can deal with. What I don’t like and what really irritates the holy heck out of me is the weird, totally dysfunctional and abusive relationship she has with The Joker. He shoved her in a vat of acid and yet, she still loves him. There is literally nothing he can do that would make her not love him. It bothers me, and I thought about the reasons why it bothers me. It’s just a comic book right? It’s not real life. But the fact is, young girls do look up to these heroes and villains, they do emulate them and I have seen many young women wearing Harley Quinn costumes and I think, why her? What is it about her that makes you want to be her in some way? I may have to ask a few HQ’s at the next con I attend because I am honestly curious.

wonder-woman-435

I’ve always been a huge fan of Wonder Woman. Her strength, beauty and smarts are compelling and inspiring. While she may have fallen in love from time to time, it never seemed to be the thing that defined her as a character. She was defined by her power, her mission and her fairness. Of course, she’s the polar opposite of HQ because one is a hero and the other a villain, so of course they’re going to have different stories. I know this and yet, I do not get why anyone would want to be HQ. She’s abused, she’s mis-treated and she’s debased by The Joker time and time again and yet, she comes back for more.

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I think for me, her backstory rubs me the wrong way because I’ve been in an emotionally abusive relationship so watching anyone (fictional or otherwise) go through that pushes my buttons.  It’s a personal thing, sure it is, but isn’t that the beauty of good art? It triggers you (for good or bad), it makes you feel one way or the other. I guess the creators of HQ did a good job with her if I feel so strongly anti-Harley Quinn and so very pro-Wonder Woman. As I said on the outset, I don’t presume to know everything about Harley Quinn so if I’m off the mark, let me know, please. I’d love to learn what makes her so popular!

For me WW represents everything I wanted to be as a kid. Not a super hero so much as a woman with integrity, morals, bravery and strength. For me, watching HQ just makes me feel ill-at-ease. I want her to shove the Joker in a vat of acid and walk away, never to speak to or think about him again. I want her to be emotionally stronger than she seems to be. I guess what I’m saying is I want her to be a hero.  Which I realize may be a ridiculous wish to have for a comic book character.

HARLEY-QUINN-WONDER-WOMAN

What do you think? Who’s your favorite between the two?

Wonder Woman or Harley Quinn? Or is it someone else?

Why? Sound off in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: Superhero Toys For Girls Are Here!

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.


I’ve written before about the lack of superhero toys for girls. The almost complete absence of Black Widow merchandise for the last few Captain America and Avengers movies has been insulting to say the least. That seems to be changing for the better, thank goodness!

After a fairly big backlash against Hasbro for not having Rey toys from the newest Star Wars film (which they rectified asap after giving us all the lame excuse that it would give away plot secrets, puh-leese) we have recently been made aware that they will FINALLY have Black Widow toys to align with the Captain America: Civil War and I am pleased as punch.

One of the few Rey toys released prior to the film. (Courtesy of Erik Kain from Forbes.com/http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2016/01/25/excluding-rey-from-star-wars-the-force-awakens-toys-is-really-dumb/#37119cb55c1a)
One of the few Rey toys released prior to the film. (Courtesy of Erik Kain from Forbes.com/http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2016/01/25/excluding-rey-from-star-wars-the-force-awakens-toys-is-really-dumb/#37119cb55c1a)

I remember when I was a kid being sorely disappointed in the lack of superhero toys for girls. I had every single Princess Leia figure there was (wish I still had them!) and one lone Boba Fett, but my brother had all the other characters so we managed to make it work (when we were getting along), but I struggle to remember any other toys that I could have played with as a child, sure there was She-Ra, female Thundercats characters and the like, but I spent a lot of time playing with My Little Pony and Barbie toys, I just made them into superheroes. They rocked some pretty awesome ensembles, except for JEM because darn her, she was twice the size of Barbie so they couldn’t share their clothes! Ahh the trials and tribulations of a small child…

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make here is that I am REALLY happy to see the growing hoard of positive superhero toys for girls, but more than that, Black Widow is finally getting her due. Is this because of the upcoming appearance of Wonder Woman in the Batman/Superman movie? Does Marvel finally see that DC might have the beat in terms of movie merchandise? Because DC hasn’t had much of an issue with making sure WW makes her presence known in toy aisles. Of course, WW is a much more well-known and established character in the minds of young girls/grown woman. Hard to say, but regardless, accordion to Movieweb.com Black Widow will be “dominating” the toy markets with the release of the newest Marvel movie monster.

Leading up to the release of last summer’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, a controversy started brewing when none of Marvel’s merchandise for the movie featured Scarlett Johansson’s popular character Black Widow. The studioseems to have learned from its past mistakes, with Entertainment Weekly unveiling a slew of new products for the upcoming Captain America: Civil War, which prominently feature this beloved character. These items even correct a few mistakes from the Avengers: Age of Ultron merchandise. –Movieweb.com

YAY! The first time I saw Black Widow I was impressed with her general bad-assery and I was totally confused by her lack of presence for toys. Newsflash world, little girls like to play with toys based on their role models! Sure, I enjoyed playing with the “boy” toys all the time, Han Solo was one of my fave’s from Star Wars and I preferred some He-Man characters over my She-Ra dolls (but She-Ra toys really did rock, again, where did those go???? I’d almost kill to have them back!). I don’t believe that toys need to be segregated into boy and girl toys, I think they should just be TOYS. Some girls like to play with cars and swords, some boys like to play with Barbie, nothing should be taboo and it would be great to see all stores adopt the toy aisle idea, rather than splitting them between the sexes.

Black Widow will feature prominently in the toy marketing of "Captain America: Civil War", a big change after Marvel received a lot of complaints for her lack of presence in previous movies toy marketing campaigns.
Black Widow will feature prominently in the toy marketing of “Captain America: Civil War”, a big change after Marvel received a lot of complaints for her lack of presence in previous movies toy marketing campaigns.

Regardless, I am also impressed with Target’s newest line of toys, from DC Comics we have a pretty awesome line of female superhero toys. They range from Batgirl to Harley Quinn but I have ONE issue with them, in every description it says, “DC Hero Girls Action Figure” – leave off the girls and it would be perfection I say, but even that’s nit-picking. These toys are kind of amazing and I would totally want these if I was a kid (I kind of want them as an “adult)!

Target's newest line of Superhero toys is pretty awesome and girl-centric!
Target’s newest line of Superhero toys is pretty awesome and girl-centric!

I am happy to see that even in the short time I’ve been writing this blog, that positive changes like this are happening in the toy world. Those marketing people are starting to see that woman/girls/ladies do in fact like toys, they buy them, they collect them and it is more then appropriate that they become a part of the marketing machine of the big comic blockbusters coming up this year.

Change is slow but it IS happening.

Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to go play with my toys.

Did you have a favorite toy as a child? What do you think of Target’s new line of Superhero toys? Sound off about toys in the comments section!

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The Female Perspective: Suicide Squad, Superman v. Batman and Ant Man! Oh My!

Welcome! This is a twice-weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.


Unless you live under a rock, you know that San Diego Comic Con was last week. While I did not attend SDCC I, like so many others, got to reap some of the benefits as trailers were “dropped” for some of the biggest upcoming releases for next year. The two that got me REALLY excited were Superman v. Batman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. My little geek heart leapt with joy when I got to watch these trailers and finally see a little bit more of what Zach Snyder is doing with S v. B and what the heck Jared Leto is going to look like as the Joker (I’ve seen stills but I wanted to see him talking and walking)!

I was not disappointed.

So much Yes. SO MUCH!
So much Yes. SO MUCH!

First, let’s talk about Superman v. Batman: Dawn of Justice. There’s been a lot of debate about how much destruction Superman caused at the end of Man Of Steel and how it goes against his character. It seemed to offend a lot of people and while I agree to a certain extent, I was also willing to wait and see what the sequel held for us before deciding that Zach Snyder did Superman a terrible disservice by not having him held accountable for the lives and building damage he caused.

My patience has been rewarded.

You can tell within seconds that people are not as enamored of Superman as in previous films. He is in trouble for what he did to save them and he is in trouble for the pain and suffering he caused while trying to save the world. He has also managed to pretty royally piss off an aging Batman (played by Ben Affleck).

I’m not going to lie, I am pretty psyched to see this movie. First off, The Dark Knight is one of the finest comics ever written (in my humble opinion) in the Batman Universe and to be able to see the battle between Superman and Batman on the big screen is pretty freaking exciting for me. Not to mention, we get to see a little bit of Wonder Woman (played by Gal Gadot)  in this trailer and while I’m not quite sure what her part is in all of this, I am excited to see that she seems to have some serious power. It appears at one point that she locks her wrist gauntlets together and emits a pretty powerful charge. I can’t wait to see what else she can do.

While Snyder has a hit or miss track record with films, he shines the brightest when he is adapting other material. He also does a good job of cultivating strong and powerful female characters. I have a lot of hope for this incarnation of Supe and the Bat and I can’t wait till 2016 to see it on the big screen!

The Suicide Squad
The Suicide Squad

Now, onto Suicide Squad. I’ll admit that I don’t know a ton about their origins. I’ve seen some of the characters on Arrow and I’ve watched an animated show with my boyfriend that I very much enjoyed but that’s about it. That being said, I’m all sorts of excited when it comes to Harley Quinn, the Joker and really, any other misfit from the comic universe. I’ve always been a sucker for the bad guys.

After the trailer “leaked” from SDCC, we finally get a look of this merry gang of misfits and I am pretty psyched for this film. I think it’ll be a lot of fun and a lot of action. I can even get on board with having Will Smith in it since he’s a pretty solid actor and can pull of surly toughness fairly well. But what really gets me jazzed?

This guy:

Jared Leto as The Joker
Jared Leto as The Joker

Yep. I’ve been a sucker for the Joker since I was a kid. Something about his misfit look and sick sense of humor really appeals to my dark little heart. At the same time, I find Jared Leto to be a really decent actor, his work in Dallas Buyers Club blew me away. I think he is a perfect choice to fill the shoes vacated by Heath Ledger and his few seconds in the above trailer gave me chills. That laugh that echoes before you see him, then his smile as he threatens… damn that’s some good stuff.

Finally, I’m excited to be going to see Ant Man this Friday and I hope to do a review next week for it. In the meantime, check out the trailer and tell me YOUR thoughts about these and any other films you’re excited about. Did the SDCC trailers leave you cold? Get you psyched for some good stuff from DC Comics? Or are you looking forward to a different film in 2015 or 2016? Sound off in the comments!