Sunday, November 13, 2005

If I ran the zoo - Phase 2!

"Hello. Yes, it's Your Absolute Overlord here again, with the second of two press conferences detailing how I'm going to turn the DC Universe around and you're going to like it. And I know you love it, fanboys!


"So. In Phase One I said we were going to age the characters, giving us more realism, more consequences to their actions, ability to reference current events, a hard look at death in a heroic atmosphere, and more freedom for the writers. And you whined about it. 'Oh, no, Mr. Absolute Overlord - good writing makes good comics! I want my superhero to always be static!' Well, you people need to look up the words 'absolute' and 'overlord' in your dictionaries, but I will address some of your concerns in this press conference. After that, however - it's go time!

"First, the point about referencing political events was just a side note to the aging of the characters. If writers don't want to acknowledge what's going on in the real world, they don't have to. But these days, writers in the DCU are terrified to do it. Why? Because they know the characters are still going to exist exactly as they are 40 years from now and if someone reads a story written today that references current events, they'll think how goofy it is that the same character exists and never aged! Someone said that Magneto had become a stupid one-note villain because of poor writing. Guess what? He was a stupid, one-note villain when Morrison wrote him, and most people would agree that Morrison is a pretty damned good writer. Claremont wrote him brilliantly, because of the Holocaust connection. Now, he's a joke.

"But we're not here to rehash your questions from last time. We're here to discuss more of how I'm going to revamp the tired old DC Universe. First, creative teams. Some commentators railed against a creative team coming onto a title for six issues and wiping out the status quo and then bailing. Well, in the new DC Universe, creative teams will be on a book a minimum of three years. That's THREE YEARS! None of this Jeph Loeb/Jim Lee Batman poaching. You want to write and draw Batman so badly, you better stick with it. You want to do six issues and bail, go work for Marvel. We don't want you. Writing and drawing comics takes a commitment, and we will make sure you honor that commitment. I'm sick and tired of writers and artists jumping around because they get bored on a title. Three years, people. Deal with it. If the comics superstars don't want to do that because they're prima donnas, fine. Go give Joey Q a hummer and he'll let you draw Captain America for four issues and call it a day. I don't want your hummers.

"This leads to the question of deadlines. Listen up, because this might be the most important thing I have to say as Absolute Overlord of DC. You people working on DC comic books? You are not artists. You are corporate wage slaves. I will pay you a very good salary, but in return, I expect you to make your deadlines. I'll repeat: You are not artists. If you want to be an artist, go find a wealthy patron who will feed you maggot-filled gruel for seven years while you lie on your back painting the roof of the Sistine Chapel. If you want to be an artist, throw some elephant dung on a blank canvas, name it 'George W. Bush: A Self-Portrait,' then sell it for three million dollars to MOMA. If you want to be an artist, grow a big black beard and move to Northampton and become a mad-poet-magician-cobnobbler-crank. I don't care. If you work for DC, you are not an artist. Period. That means you make deadlines. You corporate wage slaves in the audience, how often do you get to miss a deadline if you have a big project for work because you wanted it to be aesthetically more pleasing? Yeah, I thought so. Say goodbye to your cushy job. You make deadlines. If you miss one deadline and it's not because your wife got eaten by feral pigs, you're fired. There are a lot of writers and artists out there, people, and they have plenty of talent. A lot of you people are resting on your laurels, and I won't have it. Rest on your laurels in Joey Q's world, where 'monthly' means it might come out in the next year.

" 'But, Absolute Overlord,' you stammer, your mouth filled with Cheet-os, 'does that mean we won't get to see Frank Quitely on Superman?' That's exactly what it means, fanboys, unless Vincent picks up the pace a little bit. I mean, come on, he's a good artist, but he's not Salvador Dali. Why the hell can't he keep up a monthly schedule? Because he's an artist? See my comments above. 'But, Mr. Overlord, sir,' you mumble, 'I won't buy Superman unless Quitely is drawing it.' Again, you people have a disconnect. You don't know what you want. On the one hand, you claim that we need good creative talent and the stories will be good, but on the other hand, you don't want anyone - whether they're good or not - to change your precious little characters that much. Everyone slobbered all over Morrison's version of the X-Men, but the minute he was gone, Joey Q hit the reset button and none of you - none of you - held him accountable. If you like Superman, you'll buy it no matter who's drawing it. If you don't like Superman, you'll be interested in it because of the talent behind it.

"That's what I'm trying to do with the new DC. We have far too many good characters and good creative talent that aren't allowed to fulfill their potential because of this idiotic notion that everything needs to stay the same. As Absolute Overlord, I need to keep track of what's going on in other companies. I have been reading The Iron Ghost, and Chuck Dixon is writing a nifty little story there. When he wrote Batman, he was a hack. Why is that? Has he gotten better? Maybe, but I think part of the reason why he was a hack was because he wasn't allowed to really cut loose. He was writing a character that could not change, and that hamstrings everybody. All the great runs on comics that we remember - the characters changed somehow. The reason they were allowed to change was either because of the clout of the writers who worked on them or because the sales sucked and nobody cared if the writers screwed with things. Once they became popular again, they weren't allowed to change any more. Under the new regime, writers will be allowed more leeway.

"You say you won't buy our product. I say fine. We don't need you, because you're stuck in the past. I say you'll buy the same titles anyway when you realize that even Larry Hama can write a good story if you take the reins off of him. I'm trying to grow the audience, people, not cling to the few scraps we have in a desperate attempt to reclaim the glory days. One reason why it's difficult to get new people into comics? People remember comics from when they were kids. They remember Bruce Wayne as Batman and Clark Kent as Superman. Now they're 35 and those two are still Batman and Superman. Instantly they are transported back to their childhood, and while they might feel nostalgic, they're not going to go buy comics based on that. Poor Phil up in the frozen wastelands of Labrador - when Your Absolute Overlord talked about his visit to Comic Riot! Phil mentioned he feels infantile when he tells people he reads comics. Now, that might be something Phil has to work out for himself, but let me tell you - superheroes are infantile. They're little wish-fulfillment figures for people. They are something we should grow out of, but some of us don't. Even the greatest comic book writers of our time can't make them less infantile. Batman is almost painfully childish in The Killing Joke, and that was written by the God Of The Comics Medium. You people who want to keep them infantile - we don't need you. And I still bet you'll keep reading them, even if - horrors! - there's no Batman anymore.

"Your Absolute Overlord promises that the quality of the stories will improve. Writers and artists are dying to flex their creative juices on these characters. Sure, there might be some missteps, but there are plenty of those right now. We will have creative teams that are committed to the title. We will have an audience invested in the fate of the characters, because you never know what's going to happen. Seriously, here's a Batman comic right now: Horrific crime occurs, Batman beats people up, Batman captures the bad guy, bad guy goes to prison or Arkham Asylum. Blech. We can do better.

"As some of you snotty fans pointed out in the comments, once I die, everything will revert to normal. Well, first of all, I don't plan on dying - just like Julie Schwartz in that Ambush Bug Special! - but I'll make a deal with you. If, in ten years, you want boring old superheroes back, I'll hit the reset button. I swear. That's what they're doing right now, right? That's what DC and Marvel do all the time, right?

"I love you fans. You'll buy books from the new DC - your nerdish instincts will kick in! You won't be able to stop yourself! Bwah-ha-ha-ha! And those of you who oppose me - Iron Lungfish, Eli, T., the Rebel Alliance (among others) - I'll find you! This I swear! You dared to debate the Absolute Overlord!

"Any questions? And remember - I have several hungry feral pigs in my backyard, so be careful what you ask."

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17 Comments:

Anonymous Iron Lungfish said...

If you took the comments of myself and others in the previous thread to be a demand for "static" characters, then you either have terrible reading comprehension or are willfully misreading your critics.

As I said then and am forced to repeat now: aging characters is not the panacea you seem to think it is. Aging characters will not make them more well-developed; it will make them, at best, more wrinkly. You imagine that Bruce Wayne will start "feeling his age" once he starts pushing fifty or sixty. Says who? Wildcat is pushing, what, eighty now? He doesn't even seem to cramp up while dispatching squads of ninjas over in "Birds of Prey," so you'll excuse me if I find the "aging superhero" shtick to be so much bloviation.

If you want real change in these comics, make a real change on a fundamental level. Discard inter-title continuity and let each book go off on its own direction. Let the writers of "Action Comics" do whatever they want with Superman - they can kill him off if they want, they can tell weird, crazy Silver Age stories. If some readers don't like it, they can read a different team's take over in "Adventures of Superman." As long as it's good, let them do it. Quality should be the only thing that matters; putting wrinkles under Batman's mask is a cosmetic gimmick.

And really, looking back on the way you wrote this post? "Cheetos?" "Mumbling?" Even given the fact that this is ostensibly an essay about how best to handle characters who run around rooftops dressed in their underway, it's pretty childish writing.

11/13/2005 05:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Eli said...

If writers don't want to acknowledge what's going on in the real world, they don't have to. But these days, writers in the DCU are terrified to do it. Why? Because they know the characters are still going to exist exactly as they are 40 years from now and if someone reads a story written today that references current events, they'll think how goofy it is that the same character exists and never aged!

I don't think that's right at all. There wouldn't even be a modern fanbase for an Ollie Queen Green Arrow if it hadn't been for a series of political stories that seem dated now. Most writers and editors know that. And the truth is that old stories seem dated regardless. I have worn the corners off my Essential Ant-Man, but if I had the disposition you seem to think so many people have, I'd spend the whole time thinking "Why is Janet so dumb? How can I, feminism-positive modern reader that I am, ever respect such a total pushover and caricature? She's only a few years older now!" Comics are going to seem dated, no matter what. The artificiality of the timelines is going to stand out, and most people are going to accept that and move on.

It seems pretty obvious to me that the reason books aren't filled to the brim with political content is that they just don't want to alienate readers. It's hard, in fact, for me to imagine why that is blatantly clear to anyone who has read the comments of our own beloved T. T.'s an insightful guy, but I'll be honest: political content he disagrees with in a comic makes him shit enough bricks to build the Great Wall of Blogistan. People in America right now are obsessed with definining themselves by their political allegiances, and it would just be terrible business to turn Superman into a Republican book or Wonder Woman into a Democratic book. And it'd just be cheap to make every character a Mitchell Hundred-style Maverick. Lungfish is absolutely right - aging just doesn't have anything to do with this.

11/13/2005 06:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Eli said...

Also, I hate to say it, but you're starting to sound like Paty Cockrum on your Morrison Magneto stuff. During the Planet X storyline, Magneto was suffering from a drug problem - that's why he was overdramatic, often incompetent, and unstable. Magneto the struggling and overwhelmed dictator seemed like an interesting character to me - at least as original and interesting as Magneto the guy who reminds you he was in the Holocaust every three seconds.

11/13/2005 06:48:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Damn you, Eli: I forgot about Magneto's drug-addled state. Your Absolute Overlord stands corrected. I am not infallible, after all, just Absolute.

You guys are missing the point. Aging = change. Change = good. Aging the characters is just shorthand. Cronin has been gushing over Wagner's upcoming Batman series (as is Your Absolute Overlord). Instead of setting it in the "early days" of Batman, can you imagine Wagner let loose for three years on the regular title with very little restraints on what he can do? Your Absolute Overlord will give that to you. And you will love it!

You kind of make my point for me, Eli. There wouldn't even be a modern fanbase for an Ollie Queen Green Arrow if it hadn't been for a series of political stories that seem dated now. Precisely - they seem dated, but we recognize the time period they were written in, and fans ate. it. up. Good stories, good political debate, an appreciation that this was a convulsive time period in our history - and those are classics. Is "Archer's Quest" going to be a classic in 20 years? The Absolute Overlord doubts it.

11/13/2005 07:31:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

You people working on DC comic books? You are not artists. You are corporate wage slaves. I will pay you a very good salary, but in return, I expect you to make your deadlines.
I wish this attitude existed in the real world, especially for talented but lazy people like Joe Madureira. The rampant celebration at his return to comics makes me sick.

Why the hell can't [Frank Quitely] keep up a monthly schedule? Because he's an artist? See my comments above.
Apparently, Quitely does go off to be a "proper" artist, which is exactly why his comics are so late. It's not that he takes a long time to draw them, but that comics are a fun but unimportant sideline to him.

Everyone slobbered all over Morrison's version of the X-Men, but the minute he was gone, Joey Q hit the reset button and none of you - none of you - held him accountable.
I did, and still do. As do many others. Problem is, they ignore us.

All the great runs on comics that we remember - the characters changed somehow.
Too right. Change is key. Not necessarily real-time aging (although I'd like to see that in some cases, Batman especially), but some sort of lasting change. With all due respect to The Lungfish, I don't think "going wild" is necessarily the solution either (although I'd like to see some of that too), because there has to be some stability for change to be meaningful; what is the point of Batman learning a lesson or changing in some other way if the next issue features a completely different version of the character? Continuity (by which I mean issue-to-issue continuity, not inter-title continuity) plus real change is the way, I think.

11/13/2005 08:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Eli said...

And yet, neither Hal nor Ollie aged in real time after that. So aging in real time isn't necessary for writers to write politically-charged stories. That was my point.

If we reduce your argument to the idea that writers should have some freedom to change the status quo, I certainly agree with you, and I have trouble seeing who wouldn't. Of course, aging in real time would be a major from-the-top constraint on the freedom of writers, which is one reason to resist it.

I second Kelvin's statement that I, for one, do hold Joe Quesada responsible for undoing everything Morrison did. I don't read a lot of Marvel these days, to be honest. I didn't storm off in a fanboy huff or anything, but I lost interest, which is just about the only accountability mechanism I have.

11/13/2005 08:34:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

"T.'s an insightful guy, but I'll be honest: political content he disagrees with in a comic makes him shit enough bricks to build the Great Wall of Blogistan."

Not true, actually. I've read and enjoyed plenty of far-left stuff in Authority, Invisibles, Green Arrow and Ex Machina, and if it fits the characters, that's fine. But when writers try to shoehorn heavy-handed preachy liberal messages into everything it just gets tiresome and intellectually lazy, i.e. Denny O'Neil making Ditko's question a hippie, Englehart turning apolitical Cap into a progressive sounding board and the constant right-wing government conspiracies that have been used in comics over and over and again as recently as Checkmate in Infinite Crisis. And don't get me started on Judd Winick.

Like I've said before, I think it'd be just as intellectually lazy and terrible if 90% of comics had a strong conservative voice, and I think Silver Age DC backs the claim that nonpstop optimistic conservative comics can be just as terribly one-note as cynical liberal ones. My complaints are more about balance.

And besides, how do you know you wouldn't shit out bricks if a vast majority of what you read directly or indirectly mocked your belief system? If you lean left politically, I doubt you encounter comics and movies that demonize your viewpoints to the same extent I do. For example, I know liberals who complain that I'm intolerant of opposing political views, yet they can't even stomach 5 minutes of Fox News! ;-)

11/13/2005 09:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Eli said...

And besides, how do you know you wouldn't shit out bricks if a vast majority of what you read directly or indirectly mocked your belief system?

That's exactly my point. I don't know if I would personally shit a brick, but I know that plenty of people would, and I tend to agree with you that it's a perfectly natural and understandable reaction. Is it a little cowardly for publishers to avoid that at all costs? Sure. But I just wanted to suggest that that's the reason they tend to keep the political stories in marginal or out-of-continuity titles, not because it's somehow impossible to write such stories without real-time aging.

And I certainly didn't mean to suggest that you're incapable of reading titles with more of a lefty bent - I was just using you as an example of the fact that people often respond very passionately to the presence of politics in comics, which you certainly, at times, have. Politics and belief systems should be important to people, so the reaction's no surprise and nothing I'd fault anyone for.

11/13/2005 10:19:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

See, you still misunderstand me. Political exploration is okay in comics. I am not against it per se. But I don't like turning iconcs into political Mary Sues, where you take a character that had no previous stance on the environment, abortion, gun control, etc. and use him as a platform to preach your own views in a heavy-handed manner. If you create your own character to do so, fine. Conservatives can create Liberality For ALL and liberals can create. Aaron McGruder of Boondocks and Brian Wood often portray conservatives as racists and buffoons, but their writing is usually good and smart so I don't mind, and most importantly they're using their own characters to espouse these views.

But when a writer starts using Captain America as a mouthpiece to suggest that Americans have some type of moral equivalency or starts using Spider-Man to suggest during 9/11 that America's reaping what it sowed, I think it's poor use of these icons. It's like how over a decade ago the cartoonist in charge of the Popeye newspaper strip was fired for doing a pro-choice strip where Popeye and Olive are espousing the cartoonist's views. I doubt the guy had any ideas what views Popeye creator Segar had on abortion, and regardless, it was hardly the appropriate venue to peach about such issues.

I think if you want to explore political issues in superhero comics, you should attach the viewpoints to supporting characters (preferably ones you create yourself), and try to keep the iconic characters as above the fray and impartial as you can.

11/13/2005 11:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Eli said...

T., it seems like you've made my point for me. I said that you were a good example of why mainstream, major comic characters aren't ascribed views the way Mitchell Hundred is. And your response is - well, apparently I misunderstand your position, which is that mainstream, major comic characters shouldn't be ascribed views the way Mitchell Hundred is. Got it.

That said, I'll point out again that it was an example. As shocking as it may seem to you, I am not nor have I ever been terribly interested in sussing out your personal fury at the storylines you're referring to (and it's hard for me to imagine a commenter here who hasn't heard it all a thousand times by now, to be honest). I just used that fury as an example of what I expect is the major motivating factor for specific editorial decisions - that people get pissed off when an established book appears to suddenly be "liberal" or "conservative" in its content. The specific contours of your reaction aren't really relevant to my point.

11/14/2005 12:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Daniel Apodaca said...

Just wanted to raise my hand as another person who held Joey Q accountable for the reset. They just don't care.

11/14/2005 05:59:00 AM  
Blogger Chad said...

Two things:

1) Michaelangelo was a corporate wage slave. The Church was the corporation and the Pope was his editor. And Mikey was the Joe Mad of his time.

2) Demanding a three year commitment won't neccesarily improve anything. What matters isn't the number of issues but the quality of the story. If Grant Morrison and Art Adams came to you and said "We've got a really interesting Batman arc with some cool ass character development and dinosaurs!" Your first response shouldn't be "Well, I hope it's either three years worth of story or you have more planned because I'm not interested in anything less than a three year commitment." And what if you unkknowingly hired Chuck Austen and were stuck with his lame ass for three years?

Oh, and about Morrison's Magento: not only did he have a drug problem, he was also possesed by an insanely evil entity that was using Mganeto to instigate exactly the kind of human response that Magento had always been afraid would happen. Had Marvel chosen to examine that with their magically revived Mganeto it could have been classic. Instead they made it "not Magneto". Fuck Marvel.

11/14/2005 06:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Iron Lungfish said...

In a further defense of Morrison's Magneto, I'd point out that his burnt-out revolutionary was a remarkably refreshing take given decades of the same old Claremont-style "victim of genocide turned supporter of genocide" shtick. How many times can you see Professor X say, "But Magnus! You were a victim of racism and exterminationism! Now... you embrace them?" Oh, the Comic Book Irony!

The key to Morrison's portrayal wasn't just that Magneto was crazy or huffing drugs - it was that someone like Magneto is more valuable as a symbol for change than as the actual leader of an actually, bloody revolution, and even his would-be followers have realized this. He's more effective as a t-shirt than a dictator.

(And I stopped buying X-Men with "Reload," to say nothing of House of Wha? But the loss of my three bucks a month somehow hasn't been enough to dissuade Joey Q.)

11/14/2005 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger T. said...

I find "fury" to be a little too strong a word, but I digress...

Anyhoo, Morrison's Magneto was a major let-down for me. Another example of "I want the final word on this character, screw whoever comes after me on this title." Editorial interference always gets blamed for every bad story outcome, but this is one where a little more interference would be better.

As far as the 3-year rule goes, I don't think anything that extreme is needed. I think if people want to do 3-month, 6-mont, 1-year arcs, all that's fine. But if you are going to make a major earth-shattering change to the status-quo, then I'd require long-term commitments.

11/14/2005 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger T. said...

"The specific contours of your reaction aren't really relevant to my point."

With all due respect, Eli, the specific contours of my reactions were relevant to your point. Your original point was that politics shouldn't be in comics because they alienate readers like me who "shit bricks" when they read a viewpoint that disagrees with their own. You actually brought up the specifics of my reaction, which is why I wanted to clarify it. You and I both agree about the conclusion of no political views espoused by superhero icons, but for totally different reasons.

Whether the politics of the main character agree with me or disagree with me is irrelevant. I think that using characters like Superman or Spider-Man or Captain America to espouse your viewpoints is simply dirty pool because as icons they carry so much more weight than other characters and usually have the role of presumptive moral authority. If Captain America, the living embodiment of the American spirit can't verbally defend the principles of America to a terrorist accusing America of being equally evil, it makes a hell of a bigger statement than using a minor character you created yourself to make the same point. If you use Superman, the ultimate paragon of virtue, to explicitly condemn abortion as evil, that's dirty pool too because he's entrenched in the mind of Americans as the ultimate fictional representation of steadfast morality. It's as intellectually lazy as saying "I'm right because God agrees with me," which many conservatives are guilty of.

It has nothing to do with whether the viewpoints oppose my own. It only seems that I just hate opposing viewpoints because those are the only recent examples I have. If you have any examples of recent superhero comics by the big 2 bludgeoning readers over the head with conservative viewpoints by an iconic figure, please point them out to me and I'll comment on that too.

So you say no political viewpoints because you may alienate readers with opposing views. I say you can put political viewpoints, but (a) don't put them in the mouths of iconic characters' whose moral stature automatically trump the moral stature of every other character in the book and (b) be as balanced as possible and try not to demonize the other side (unless it's satire of course).

11/14/2005 12:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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3/28/2014 01:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will love to share my testimony with all my viewersin the worldwide because i never thought i would have another chance with my boyfriend, the man i wanted to marry left me for another woman, and when i called him, he never picked my calls,he deleted me on his Facebook account and then set the status to having a girlfriend with the other chick. I was devastated. I went to three spell casters before doctor and i had really lost hope. i lost a lot of money with them and got no results. so when i came to hector i was really leery of him and didn’t think he could help me. i though it is too good to be true, because all the other spell casters were supposedly good and none of them helped me. i saw the testimonials and read the other testimonials and decided to get the consultation. he said he could help me, but my chances of getting my ex were very low and he didn’t recommend it at all. But i insisted that he at least give me the chance to work with him and try and if it didn’t work, i wouldn’t be upset and i would move on with my life. He agreed. Since he is in jersey and im in nyc, i decided i would go in person to have my spells cast. he is a really sweet and gentle man, when i met him i was really surprised. he looks very young, and i had my doubts whether or not he would be able to help me. But i figured i came all that way and i said i would try so i tried it. He called a spirit to talk with me and do the work, it was a woman spirit and when it came it totally transformed hector’s face. that is when i thought to myself that it might just work. the spirit gave me some advice and did the spells. i had a separation spell and a reunion spell done. the spirit said it would take a while for my ex to leave his new girl but once he did, he would come to me very quickly. She gave me some things to take home and do. I did them, but i was really nervous. i think i messed up a few times and i told t and she said just keep going and i would be fine. so i did. it was like 6 or 7 weeks later and i saw that my ex unblocked me from Facebook. I saw he had changed his status again to single. so i was super excited because i took this to mean that he had split up with the other girl. about 10 days after that my ex called me. At first, it was weird between us. he wanted to see me. so i went to meet up with him. he didn’t ask me back then. i got very anxious and told t, and she said to stay calm and everything would turn out okay. So i did the best i could although i was still worried. We met up a few more times after that, and still he didn’t ask me back out. so i got a consultation with hector and he said to expect my ex to ask me back out within two weeks from the consultation. i listened, but i wasn’t sure it would happen. then it was almost 2 weeks later, and i though, damn, hector was wrong. But the next day (there was like 2 days left from it being 2 weeks) my ex called and we got together. He asked me if i would be willing to try our relationship again, which of course i said yes. that was about 3 weeks ago, and so far we have been doing okay, we still have a lot of things to work out, but i am very happy. doctor is the real deal and i am so glad that i found him and i recommend him to anyone who needs help. thank you so much doctor you saved my life! allmightbazulartemple@gmail.com
Reply ?you can as we contact her email
allmightbazulartemple@gmail.com

3/28/2014 01:31:00 AM  

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