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Hawkman: Wanted

This entry covers the entire “Hawkman: Wanted” crossover, in this order:

  • Savage Hawkman issues 13 and 14
  • Deathstroke Vol.2 issue 14
  • Savage Hawkman issues 15 – 16

Plot by Rob Liefeld; Script by Frank Tieri in Hawkman and by Josh Williamson in Deathstroke

Wildstorm concepts:   Pike WildCATS - Daemonites

All-star WesternThis little crossover picks up where we left off in Hawkman, with Hawkman’s ex, Shayera having captured Carter and being about to bring him into her ship. She also holds Carter’s current girlfriend, Emma captive, simply because Carter cares for her. When they’re about to enter the ship, they’re surprised by the sudden appearance of supervillain Xerxes, who wants the NTH metal. Both Shayera’s and his army start fighting for the captive, but Xerxes is a bit more powerful and knocks Shayera out. In the middle of all the chaos, Pike feels things have gotten too messy for him and starts escaping, but Emma sneaks into his ship and holds him at gunpoint. Seems there was more to her than being a damsel in distress! Meanwhile, Carter starts fighting Xerxes and proves the superiority of the NTH metal by beating him once again. In the end, Emma and Carter tie up all of their enemies (Shayera, Pike and Xerxes) and line them up to decide what to do with them. Carter displays his usual intelligence and decides to leave them there, throwing their ships into a lake to keep them stranded. As they fly away, their enemies predictably decide to team up and resume hunting Hawkman. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, et cetera. The adventure continues in “Green Arrow”, but no Wildstorm characters appear in that one, so we can skip it.

The following chapter begins in Seattle, where Hawkman has teamed up with Green Arrow to fight off the Thanagar warriors going after him. He wants to find Shayera to see if she’ll restore the missing gaps in his memory, and perhaps he will be able to use that to prove he didn’t kill Corsair and end this hunt. Man, didn’t Pike say this was about Helspont attacking Thanagar? Did we forget about that? Oh, well. After defeating some winged warriors in a warehouse, our heroes notice they have portals connected to Thanagar with which they bring weaponry into Earth. Clearly there are more Thanagarians on Earth than they thought, and it can’t be all about Hawkman. Interrogating a Thanagarian, he admits they’re using Earth as a neutral ground for their war against the daemonites. Our heroes steal a phone device from the Thanagarians and track its signal to New York; that’s their new objective.

Little do they know, Shayera is staying in Aeria, the royal mobile castle-city of Thanagar, which remains cloaked in Earth’s upper stratosphere. Some soldiers need to report to their emperor… Corsar! It seems he wasn’t killed by Carter after all.

As it turns out, Thanagar’s scientists managed to keep Corsar alive by replacing much of his body with machinery. He opted to remain hidden though, knowing the charges against Hawkman were his best bet at getting Carter caught so that he could extract the NTH metal from him. Even after all this time, he’s still obsessed with the metal.

Corsar is reported that Hawkman hasn’t been captured yet, so he orders to open up a bounty to Earth bounty hunters. Pike is back, baby! But he’s not the only one who wants to take that prize. Hawkman must face Deathstroke first. Slade picks the job because he feels he needs to fix his reputation after he left Deadborn escape, but he won’t kill Hawkman. He only accepted because of the NTH metal involved; Slade’s armour is built of NTH too, and he’s always wondered where it comes from.

Hawkman doesn’t want help, though. The two of them fight for a while until Deathstroke forces Hawkman to tell him everything he knows about the metal. Slade doesn’t learn much beyond learning it’s of alien origin, but that’s enough for him. When he’s about to leave, the two of them are ambushed by Pike and Xerxes’ agents. Deathstroke is mad that Pike doesn’t know who he is, feeling his reputation should have preceded him, so the two mercenaries start fighting it out. Meanwhile, Hawkman handles Xerxes and his men. At some point, Carter decides to stop holding back – if they’re going to keep treating him as a murderer, maybe that’s what he’ll be. He starts slaughtering Xerxes’ forces, together with Slade, and he actually enjoys it. Hawkman embraces that he was built for battle and that it’s only in battle that he’s truly himself.

Once the killing is over, Slade notices a trail of blood left by Pike and Xerxes when they ran off. The heroes go separate ways, as Slade decides to go after the trail and Carter flies away to meet Emma in their safehouse. However, the place has been compromised. Carter enters to find Emma taken hostage by Thanagarian warriors, and Shayera waiting to ambush him. He gets captured, but when Shayera is about to make him board her ship, they receive a surprise visit: Corsar. Shayera is outraged that his brother wouldn’t tell her that he was alive, and now that it’s been proven Carter is innocent of his murder charges he wants to let him go. Corsar won’t have that though. They fly to Aerie, the royal city, which changes locations from Earth’s stratosphere to the sun’s orbit.

None of the experiments to pluck the NTH metal from Carter’s body work; Corsar is driven so mad that he turns against his sister, and starts choking her. When Hawkman tries to help her, he’s stopped by Thraxas, one of the great wise old men of Thanagar which acts as advisor to the emperor. He’s been the mastermind behind Corsar’s descent into madness. He suggests teleporting the NTH metal from Carter’s body directly into Corsar’s, a dangerous experiment which could risk both of their lives. No one in the room dares disagree, though.

When they begin the experiment, they neglected to notice Shayera had sabotaged the machinery, so the whole thing gets interrupted. Having switched to Carter’s side, she helps him and Emma escape. Regrettably, the sabotage also caused the mobile city to lose stability, so it starts falling into the sun. As their doom gets closer, Shayera decides to sacrifice herself and throw Carter and Emma into an escape pod. Our heroes can’t do anything but to watch as Aerie gets consumed by the sun’s flames, while their pod heads to Earth.

So that’s it for this story. Sadly, we never see if Deathstroke finds Pike, but I suppose it’s safe to guess he never did.

Next: “Ravagers” issues 5 – 7, written by Howard Mackie.

Savage Hawkman issues 10 – 12 and 0

Plot by Rob Liefeld; dialogue by Rob Liefeld and Mark Poulton

Wildstorm Concepts:     Pike WildCATS - Helspont WildCATS - Daemonites

All-star WesternWhen Rob Liefeld takes over a book, you can bet Daemonites or Kherubims will soon show up. This story shows us as Hawkman gets chased by a powerful mercenary… none other than Pike!

We start off in the middle of an arc not related to anything Wildstorm but important for later, with villain Xerxes having trapped our hero Hawkman, Carter Hall, throwing him in the middle of some gladiator games to show off the Metal NTH of Hawkman’s armor to potential buyers. This metal is especially rare, coming from Hawkman’s homeworld and being apparently unbreakable. It has recently fused with his very body, allowing him to turn his costume on and off with a thought and to be extra powerful. Hawkman disposes of everyone in the arena with little trouble, and afterward beats up Xerxes too, saving his damsel in distress, Emma. While they fly away, someone among the public isn’t happy… he was hoping he could buy the NTH metal from the gladiator arena, you know, “the civilized way.” Now he’ll resort to hiring the “kherubim mongrel.” Pike is on!

This version of Pike keeps his old backstory of being a crossbreed, presumably born from the Kherubim slaves who fell to Earth from Lobo’s ship. He features something new, though; he’s a joker. He keeps cracking good quips, and he’s overall more entertaining and superior than his old shallow WSU persona, in my opinion. He travels in his Spartan cycle; a Kherubim flying vehicle very much like Lobo’s motorbike. The Spartan has a mind of its own and can speak, using a female voice to constantly flirt with Pike (is the name Spartan coincidental? Hmm). This Pike is also experienced with the Bleed, having traveled it to obtain all kinds of bleeding edge technology.

In any case, Carter decides to visit Rome to see if an old historian reverend can help him shed some light on the origin of his NTH armour, because he’s lost his memories. Reverend Thomas has a bit of a radical reputation, though. Carter shows him some old scrolls depicting ancient arrivals of Thanagarians on Earth – aliens from Thanagar, where Carter comes from. The blasphemous suggestion that the ancient mentions of angels might have been referring to aliens makes something snap in the reverend, who summons a protector for his church: a crazy masked man called Saint Bastion who swears to kill all the blasphemers. Carter wastes no time to suit up into Hawkman.

This situation is silly to the point of being ridiculous, and the following pointless fight ends with the church in flames and both villains knocked out. Our heroes leave flying, leaving the bad guys “to a fate of their own choosing”. Woah, did they just let them get burned to death? Hardcore. Carter and Emma land in a roof and start discussing that they might have been recommended to that crazy reverend on purpose, to lead them into a trap. Pike chooses that moment to make himself know, shooting Carter straight through the chest.

Pike knows the NTH metal provides a healing factor; he’s counting on it. After all, his boss wants Hawkman alive. They start fighting and Pike hops onto his Spartan ship. Still, the vehicle is of no help for Pike, who gets overpowered by Hawkman. Him and Emma tie him up and track one of his devices to his base, a huge spaceship. Defeated, Pike reveals why he was hired: Planet Thanagar is victim of a daemonite attack, so the royal family needs their prince more than ever. That’s right, Hawkman is a prince! Pike had been hired by Hawkman’s Thanagarian lover, from his past life. Pike explains Helspont has moved to attack Thanagar after his stay in Earth, so the Thanagarians need Hawkman’s NTH metal.

Activating a trap within his ship, Pike releases a toxic gas and knocks out our heroes. The moment they stepped inside the ship, a calling beacon was sent out to his boss, who arrives in majestic ships. Hawkman witnesses as his old love steps out from the ships – and all his lost memories come back to him. He remembers how his real name was Katar Hol; how the Daemonites poisoned Thanagar and killed its king, throwing their planet into a state of war. They led their newly elected king, Corsar, crazy from all the pressures. He was Katar’s brother, and he became paranoid and obsessed with finding the legendary NTH metal that could help Thanagar become the most powerful empire in space. When the metal bonded with Katar instead, Corsar lost it and started attacking him; he ended up getting himself killed. When they found Corsar’s body, Katar became a fugitive. As he escaped from the planet, his ship received heavy fire; the damages caused him to crash on Earth and to lose his memories.

So that’s why his old lover, Shayera, has come hunting him. Corsar was her brother. Now begins “Hawkman: Wanted.”

Next: The entire “Hawkman: Wanted” crossover, including “Savage Hawkman” issues #13 – 16 and “Deathstroke” Vol.2 issue #14, written by Rob Liefeld, Frank Tieri and Josh Williamson.

Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol.1 issues 12 – 14

Written by Scott Lobdell

Wildstorm Concepts: WildCATS - Helspont WildCATS - Daemonites

All-star WesternThis is another of the remnants that were left of the big story the Wildstorm books were leading to before the crossover was cancelled. While the first two issues don’t have anything to do with Wildstorm and focus on some unrelated cosmic story, they make mention of the upcoming threat of “The Thirteen.” These are the Thirteen Scions of Salvation, the cosmic council that Helspont hopes to assemble. Basically, these issues show us that many galactic civilizations are getting notice of Helspont’s efforts.

Issue #14 picks up right after the “Superman Annual”. Worried about his meeting with Helspont, Superman visits Starfire, wanting to know if Helspont tried to enlist her too. They’re both aliens residing on Earth, after all. She admits he did, as we could see on the Annual. However, Starfire and her team are less than willing to cooperate with Superman. They don’t like his massive power levels, distrusting him. Besides, they’re outlaws, so they can’t feel comfortable around a member of the Justice League. In the end, they can’t offer any help to Superman, besides promising that they’ll contact him if they hear of any developments. It’s a pretty pointless issue, and it fills most of its pages with pointless fights as the characters think Superman has come to fight with them instead of to talk. Once the misunderstanding is over, there are about two pages of plot.

Not to worry, however. Helspont’s hanging thread will be solved in Part 5.

Next: A new chapter for the WSU in Teen Titans Vol.4 issues 1 – 2, also written by Scott Lobdell.


Spotlight on the Daemonites

The daemonites in this universe are pretty different than those in Wildstorm. Their appearance has more links to Lovecraft than to green lizards. Even though originally their species looked just like humans, generations of race mixing with aliens turned them into monsters.

  • Only the oldest daemonites look human [1] [2]. The rest are mostly blue and glowing, except when they aren’t:
  • The daemonite lords [3] have pink marks over their blue bodies.
  • We’re told red-colored daemonites are warrior class, elite [4]; however, normal units also turn red when they’re firing their weapons [5], and the Black Curate, one of their leaders, also looks red [6]. Furthermore, there’s mention of elite units from thousands of years ago who looked pink, purple and other variations [7].
  • The dead city daemonites, cannibals, turned orange after years of eating their own kind [8].
  • Human-daemonite hybrids look green, like Voodoo [9].
  • Daemonites which possess power from the “blue flame” are capable of turning their bodies into actual flame, like Helspont. [2]
  • Helspont counts with the Ebonite Blackguards, black daemonites which seem specialized in infiltration. [2]

The daemonites from this timeline also seem able to shapeshift, as they pull weapons from their bodies. In “Grifter”, Myev enters Max Cash’s body because his blood manages to touch Max, so this seems to support their bodies are very malleable. However, the hybrids in “Voodoo” need a particle generator to change their shape.

Another aspect which is highlighted more than ever before is their shared consciousness; these daemonites communicate telepathically all the time. They also take the secrecy of their invasion more seriously than the daemonites in Wildstorm: these ones spend almost all of their time in their human shells.

“Superman” reveals daemonites possess some kind of tentacle-bugs that crawl inside of their younglings and cause a low-grade cerebral shunt; daemonites use this method to educate themselves. The bugs grow on the young, acting for disciplinary control.

The only other thing we know about their culture is they used robots called Seekers to do the building for them; these automatons were not held together by any power source but by magic.

Their new background is rich and complex:

The daemonites share their old origin, having been harvested by the Kherubim to serve them. The daemonites rebelled and what followed was a war that became the stuff of legend; it was so huge that it created myths of angels and demons all the way to Earth. That’s right, the daemonites inspired the bible. Unlike the old WSU, though, the daemonites won this war, and most Kherubim were wiped away. Afterwards, the daemonites became the new reigning force in their galaxy. These first daemonites looked human-like; as they were created from the Kherubim, it makes sense.

After defeating the Kherubim the daemonites moved to a three-way war between the Thanagarians and Czarnians. The daemonites allied with Thanagar and helped them win against the Czarnians, but it was just a ploy. Mere months after, when the Thanagarians were ready to announce peace, the daemonite gifted them with food tributes to celebrate the victory. But these were disease ridden, and the plague spread all over the planet, killing millions. This threw the planet back into a posture of war, degenerating its civilization… the daemonites had won again.

We never had a clear origin for the original Helspont, even though Grant Morrison suggested he was the manifestation of the daemonite’s people’s will. In the New52 Helspont is simply the son of daemonite overcast “Helspire”; he’s the preeminent overlord of the daemonite empire and “high skyr of the second dominion.” Helspont looked human at first, just as his family, the royal family of the House of Daem. His original name was prince Artus. He was concerned that as their empire grew they were commingling their DNA with too many cultures, weakening the daemonite race. 3600 years ago from the present, he saw his worst fears realized when his own wife died trying to give childbirth. This pushes him to rebel against his mother. She orders her guards, Salsu and Quon, to take Artus outside; he’s cast out, renounced forevermore. But Artus promises to restore the daemonites’ genetic birthright and restore their proper place as conquerors of the universe, even if it takes him thousands of years.

Artus starts amassing an armada for centuries, first through piracy, then outright conquest. He obtains the power of the blue flame, which turns him from Artus into the terrifying Helspont. He even shares the power with his most faithful followers, which turn them unbeatable. Helspont’s powers are off the charts;

  • psychic abilities
  • telekinesis
  • flying
  • shooting a beam of fire from his head
  • setting things on fire with his mind
  • super-hearing
  • super-vision
  • super-strength
  • “the Blue Light of Truth,” a barrier against mind-reading
  • casting illusions
  • putting a spell on people to control them
  • projecting enough energy to power an entire ship
  • teleporting
  • creating his own atmosphere

However, Helspont doesn’t get a chance to return to his homeworld. While exploring how to travel faster than the speed of light to reach new galaxies to be conquered, some Elite daemonites used the graviton particle. This attracted the parasites known as Gravity Miners to our dimension. These creatures, which the daemonites called “Chrszy-rr”, destroy one third of their galaxy before they’re stopped.

Helspont decides to send his army out as scouts, pilgrims in search of fertile land to replace their lost homeworld. Entire star systems fall beneath his heel. Helspont uses the Chrszy-rr tragedy to justify his conquests and the rising position of the daemonites in the hierarchy of the universe. In his head Helspont is just doing what he promised to do; fighting to save his people.

300 years ago Helspont reaches Earth. His leading genetist, Skugardt, discovers that of all the beings in the universe, only the humans have the ability to manipulate themselves into superhumans. However, by this point Helspont had become so powerful that his own troops decided to imprison him. To do this, they start taking humans and experimenting on fusing them with daemonites to create metahumans soldiers. Although none of these prototype hybrids develops super-powers, this rebellion movement manages to take Helspont out. Only one of the hybrids survives: Warick. He ends up on Earth, while Helspont ends up imprisoned in a ship that is captured by StormWatch to become their Eye of the Storm.

Without him the agents he had left on Earth grow feckless, eventually dividing into several factions. They’re divided because of an ancient prophecy that states a Chosen One will appear and destroy them, although this event can also be read as one of evolution. While the daemonites agree that key to their species’ future lies on Earth, “evolving” through the metagen, the rest of the prophecy is interpreted in different ways. Some refuse to let go of their old ways and think they should wipe out the humans, while other daemonites believe the key lies in bonding with them, creating human-daemonite hybrids.

All the while, Warick feels Helspont will one day escape from his prison, so he begins attempting to create a resistance movement on Earth to prepare it for an invasion. This proves difficult, as his stories are dismissed as the ravings of a madman and he ends up in mental asylums several times. He’s forced to spread the word in secret, building his resistance as more of a cult. That’s the current situation at the start of the New52.

Next: “All-Star Western”, Vol.3 issues 17 – 21, by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti

Sources:
[1] “Grifter”, Vol.3 issue #10.
[2] “Superman Vol.3 Annual”, issue #1.
[3] “Voodoo”, Vol.2 issue #6.
[4] “Grifter”, Vol.3 issue #9.
[5] “Grifter”, Vol.3 issue #5.
[6] “Grifter”, Vol.3 issue #6.
[7] “StormWatch”, Vol.3 issue #8.
[8] “Voodoo”, Vol.2 issue #10.
[9] “Voodoo”, Vol.2 issue #1.

Spotlight on StormWatch

I thought I’d make an individual post detailing the new features of StormWatch in the New52, considering it’s one of the most developed concepts, next to the daemonites.

StormWatch is very different to its Wildstorm counterpart, being much more similar to Authority and Planetary. In the New52, they’re a secret group that deals with the hidden history of the world, ending threats that people never hear about. They first formed in the 11th century, aided by the mage Merlin after he had a vision of the coming threat of the daemonites. When they heard this warning the group misheard the words “daemonites”, and used them to call themselves the Demon Knights.

The team had various incarnations and names across the centuries, but there are always constants. They are ruled by mysterious people who call themselves the Shadow Cabinet, four beings from the Island of Avalon, the island from mythology where heroes go rest after they die; it is located within the Bleed. These people are never seen but they pay StormWatch’s enormous paychecks and erase the member’s identities from the public records; they even guided Merlin to create the first team in the Dark Ages. They created StormWatch to accomplish a secret purpose: prepare Earth for the coming of the dark god Brainiac, the “storm” they need to watch for. Another constant is all of the team’s line-ups include passing roles: like Engineers, century babies, Eminences of Blades, Kings of the Cities and others.

StormWatch across history:

The century baby from the 11th century, who joined the Demon Knights, was called Princess Janeen. She used the energy from her time; geometry and solid algebra. This group also included the first Engineer, Al Jabr. This team had to bring back Merlin from the Island of Avalon after he was killed by a daemonite, and they clashed with the aliens again when the Demon Knights recovered the Holy Grail the daemonites had hidden.

In the 12th century the century baby was Countess Jeannie. In this age of crusades and atrocities, Jeannie slaughtered both moors and Christians; for money, for glory, just to pass the time. Her vices led the Shadow Lords to dispose of her, teaching her an important lesson of controlling yourself.

In the 14th century the century baby was Sister J, a nurse who engaged in an affair with Merlin. The magician aged backwards, so he witnesses all the StormWatch teams. It was during this time that the event known as the Night of Walpurgis happened, when the daemonites did their first known arrival. The group learned to watch the skies for the red clouds in which the aliens traveled, and because of this they were the first team to call themselves StormWatch.

In the 15th century the team went by the name Veiled Sect; in that time they met in a secret chamber under the Vatican, and the Shadow Lords called themselves the Dark Lords. One of the team’s members was the Vitruvian Man, who fell in love with his teammate Isabella. This went against the Dark Lords’ rules, so they responded by killing the woman. Knowing they would kill him too, Vitruvian Man went into hiding, mourning Isabella through the years and up to the present day.

In the 16th century one of the four Shadow Lords mysteriously disappeared from the Island of Avalon, leaving three of them.

In the 18th century the group debated whether it was moral to be so furtive, but when they went public the different countries started arguing about where StormWatch loyalties laid with. This escalated into what became known as the Seven Years’ War, aka the French and Indian War. It took StormWatch thirty years to change remembered history and erase all traces that they existed. After this, they learned their lesson about remaining in secret.

In the 19th century the century baby was called Jenny Freedom, who escaped from a slave plantation. She fought with the energy of her age: light and steam. The StormWatch of this time had to face the Hidden People: they are regular enemies of all the group’s incarnations, descendants from the Neanderthals who want their kind to become the dominant species. They seek to build “devolver” machines to destroy the Homo sapiens. The StormWatch of this time disbanded temporarily for unknown reasons, until Adam One (Merlin’s real name) brought them back together to find the Three Skulls of Boundless Rule. These objects could alter reality to grant any wish, so they had to make sure they wouldn’t fall in the wrong hands. A team was assembled: Jenny Freedom, Doctor 13, Master Gunfighter and Adam, and they faced Mircalla Nosferata, a vampire who wanted to exterminate humanity.

In the 20th century the century baby was our old friend Jenny Sparks, who embodied the anarchic and electric spirit of her time. StormWatch faced the Hidden People again, but this time their foes managed to build a Devolver. The StormWatch from this time was promptly killed, including their Engineer, Archie Trundle.

The current incarnation witnesses the arrival of the superheroes. Until then StormWatch had had a clear field, they’d been the sole authority. The heroes change everything; they are the sign that this is the group’s final century. It is prophesised that StormWatch will be finished in a catastrophic battle, with the team turning on itself. It is also in this age that StormWatch will fulfil its function of facing Brainiac… This group travels in Eye of the Storm, a giant ship they stole from the daemonites and which remains hidden from any detection thanks to travelling at lightspeed on a circle around the planet, inside hyperspace. It’s pretty much their version of the Carrier, and it can even create teleporting Doors. Unlike the Wildstorm ones, though, these doors can be summoned non-verbally.

What lies in the future for this team? We shall find out in “StormWatch”, vol.3.

Next: Spotlight on the daemonites

Introduction

With a new Wildstorm universe about to be created, as Warren Ellis announced the “Wild Storm” to be released in February, it seems like the right time to analyse what came before. Many people consider the “real” Wildstorm universe died in 2011, when the imprint was closed and DC rebooted everything. But the characters were far from gone.

As it turns out, the DC and Wildstorm characters had always belonged together! But a terrible villain split the universe, creating the DC Universe and the Wildstorm Universe as separate things. Now that they’re finally together again, their real stories can be told, and dozens of Wildstorm concepts get reintroduced in brand new and unexpected ways. It’s fun for old and new readers alike! That’s my take on it, anyway. It took a while for the “New 52” relaunch to find its footing and produce stories worth reading, and by that point most of the old Wildstorm readers had jumped ship.

My hope with this blog is to show all the Wildstorm stories produced after 2011 tell one cohesive story hidden among the several DC titles, and they develop the characters in ways we hadn’t seen before. I believe they are worth reading, and they just needed a fan to put the spotlight in them. For example, a big point of concern was the Wildstorm characters wouldn’t get to kill anymore, given that the DC heroes are a lot tender. Luckily, this didn’t happen at all; there’s plenty of bloodshed ahead.

Following the example of that great blog, Weathering Wildstorm, I’ll be reviewing several issues at a time, usually by story arc, going through every DC book which features a Wildstorm concept. I’ll try make things chronological, giving it a definite reading order for those who want to pick up where 2011 left off.

Next: Wildstorm in Flashpoint (or How The New Wildstorm Universe Was Born) – by Geoff Johns, Jimmy Palmiotti, Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Rex Ogle.