No hen and egg conundrum right here: From the TV Superman of the Fifties to The Boys and The Umbrella Academy of as we speak, when you’re into superhero tales on the small display, there’s in all probability a corresponding comedian e-book someplace within the deeper previous to thank.
Elevating Caped Crusaders and alien invaders to the highest pop-culture billing of the current day may look like a comparatively latest phenomenon, however on TV, the comics have been inspiring sensational serialized tales since all the way in which again within the black and white period. And ever since George Reeves donned the Man of Metal’s cape in 1952’s The Adventures of Superman, there’s just about been no stopping the momentum of TV exhibits primarily based on comedian books.
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That, in fact, brings us to the matter at hand: Grappling with the inconceivable process of cherry-picking those we like greatest. With 70 years’ price of super-powered TV to comb by, narrowing down a listing of our prime comics-inspired exhibits is an ever-changing endeavor; one the place the pecking order appears to shift greater than all of the instances Clark Kent ever ducked right into a cellphone sales space by his total world-saving profession.
However that’s no excuse to not put our greatest foot ahead and check out. In any case, we’ll in all probability by no means all agree on TV’s all-time biggest comedian book-based TV exhibits (heck, we would not even agree with ourselves by tomorrow.) However a minimum of it provides us the prospect to take an illuminating stroll by the hallowed halls of page-to-screen superhero historical past… whereas perhaps even uncovering some new, outdated favorites alongside the way in which.
17. Batman (1966-1968)
Followers of Gotham Metropolis’s shadowy protector might cram a complete lot of Batman historical past with out ever cracking open a comic book e-book, all just by taking within the iconic TV collection that introduced Batman and Robin proper into America’s Nineteen Sixties dwelling rooms. Airing on ABC from 1966 to 1968, Batman turned star Adam West right into a family identify not only for one era, however for legions of Bat-fans proper as much as the current day.
It’s simple to jest just like the Joker about all of the spandex and swingin’ ‘60s kitsch that, in hindsight, dates the collection. so far the collection. However that stylistic alternative has achieved nothing to ding Batman’s fame as a rightful claimant to a spot of prominence in DC’s small-screen pantheon. If something, West and costar Burt Ward (as Robin, aka Dick Grayson) helped reveal simply how sturdy and adaptable Bob Kane’s authentic caped comedian e-book creation would show within the years to come back — on screens each massive and small.
16. The Unimaginable Hulk (1977-1982)
Earlier than Mark Ruffalo and earlier than Edward Norton — lengthy earlier than the MCU model of the Hulk, in actual fact — there was Invoice Bixby. CBS tv’s late-Nineteen Seventies incarnation of Marvel’s anguished inexperienced good man bypassed as we speak’s comedic trappings of Hulk within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, favoring as an alternative a extra brooding and earnest tackle Bixby’s Dr. David Banner. It additionally featured strongman Lou Ferrigno because the raging, car-tossing Hulk, which earned him a faithful fanbase.
Due to the MCU’s recognition, film followers take the Hulk’s backstory as a right once they head to the theater nowadays. However one of many nice issues about The Unimaginable Hulk as a comics-inspired outlier on the late-‘70s TV dial was the way in which the collection didn’t presume that the viewers possessed that very same stage of lore perception. The Unimaginable Hulk aired greater than 80 episodes on CBS between the present’s 1977 premiere and its 1982 finale, placing Bixby’s buttoned-down scientist by limitless permutations of stress and monster-sized transformation. In nearly each one in every of them, the stakes all the time felt super-serious, and the present dove deep inside Banner’s internal turmoil to ensure that viewers knew why.
15. Smallville (2001-2011)
Relying on the day of the week, we would simply as simply put Smallville close to the very prime of this record. Spanning the transition from the outdated WB community to as we speak’s The CW, the small-town adventures of Clark Kent loved an unimaginable ten-year collection run, whereas in some ways perfecting the early TV components that may ultimately launch The CW’s Arrowverse on the trail towards runaway success.
There’s no manner in Krypton to summarize all of Smallville’s superlatives, however one in every of its key achievements was the way in which it actually humanized Clark Kent (Tom Welling) and, for all his near-omnipotence, made Superman’s Earth-stranded predicament really feel private and actual. Christopher Reeve and director Richard Donner had perpetually cemented a vivid picture of Superman’s iconic and idealized goodness in moviegoers’ minds with the traditional Superman movies of the Nineteen Seventies, but it surely was Smallville that reworked Clark Kent’s superhero aloofness on the large display into an accessible and human persona; one that also resonates with followers as we speak, simply as a lot as when the final episode aired in 2010.
14. Arrow (2012-2020)
What are you able to say in regards to the collection that lifted a DC comics character out of relative obscurity and into a whole prolonged TV universe — one which’ll perpetually bear its hero’s identify? Arrow firmly established The CW because the TV place to be when you’re a DC Comics fan, whereas signaling the beginning of co-creator Greg Berlanti’s lengthy and productive tenure because the inventive steward for all the next Arrowverse superhero collection that we nonetheless can’t get sufficient of to this present day.
As Oliver Queen (aka the Inexperienced Arrow), Stephen Amell introduced Bruce Wayne ranges of vigilante dedication to righting wrongs, whether or not private or in any other case, in his personal west-coast Gotham of Star Metropolis. Over its eight sprawling seasons, Arrow proved that comics-based TV fare might aspire to cinematic measures of set piece motion and storytelling, and it did it with respect for its ever-growing viewers.
There’s a motive that Marvel is increasing the MCU into Disney+ TV territory, and a few key clues will be discovered within the Arrowverse’s profitable components. In revolutionary methods, Arrow struck a novel new small-screen stability, creating its personal in-series mixture of complicated characters and deep lore whereas sustaining a powerful nod towards the comedian books for longtime Inexperienced Arrow followers. Within the course of, it ended up carving a path for the largest, most formidable comedian e-book universe — make that Arrowverse — that the small-screen has ever seen.
13. Legends of Tomorrow (2016-present)
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is the primary present on this record that’s nonetheless on the air, which suggests it’s powerful to border it in static, frozen-in-time phrases. However that’s a testomony to the whole lot it’s gotten proper by its first seven seasons.
Assembling its time-traveling solid out of characters from an array of DC comics (and introducing others as Arrowverse first-timers) has lent Legends its personal distinctive, go-anywhere vibe; one which stands aside from exhibits that owe their origins to comedian books. With no single comics franchise to encourage the collection’ story beats, its creators are unfettered to take the Waverider just about wherever their inventive impulse leads — and that’s precisely what they’ve achieved by the present’s first seven seasons.
We’ve come a great distance from Rip Hunter’s Season 1 quest to avenge his household’s homicide, making it simple for even longtime followers to neglect that Legends — which debuted because the fourth Arrowverse collection in 2016 — is technically a derivative from Arrow and The Flash. Consider it as an alternative because the sort of comedian e-book present that’s in a position to craft its personal, brand-new time-hopping lore with each new episode — and a playfully brave TV tackle the very concept of what superheroes and villains actually rise up to once they’re not busy saving (or scheming in opposition to) the universe.
12. Marvel’s Brokers of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013-2020)
Now we’re moving into that zone the place you don’t even need to be a comics or sci-fi fan to get utterly engrossed: Marvel’s Brokers of S.H.I.E.L.D. is simply that good.
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Agent Phil Coulson’s cool, competent presence on the periphery of the MCU’s massive display all the time prompt that Coulson (Clark Gregg) had extra tales that wanted telling, however by seven seasons at ABC, S.H.I.E.L.D. transcended his supporting function (in addition to his obvious dying in 2012’s The Avengers) to create a Hydra-fighting power that is aware of how you can carry a narrative all by itself.
Till S.H.I.E.L.D., most Marvel-connected collection, together with the then-concurrent Netflix exhibits like Daredevil, merely acknowledged the MCU with out going out of their approach to be part of it. Marvel’s Brokers of S.H.I.E.L.D. took the alternative method. Not solely did the ABC collection react to seismic plot developments hatched by films like Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but it surely additionally cast new ones that made their very own ripples within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (Nick Fury even confirmed up for a key episode early within the collection’ action-packed run). S.H.I.E.L.D. didn’t simply owe its shared Marvel DNA, or its success, to having a co-creator (Joss Whedon) who’d directed an MCU film or two: It glad a rising fan starvation for increasing the MCU past the large display, whereas delivering a grasp class in how slow-boiling episodic tv might discover deeper Marvel territory than a film ever might.
11. Legion (2017-2019)
Like its distant X-Males film cousin Logan, Legion isn’t for everyone; it’s only for comedian e-book followers who take pleasure in a high-concept character exploration of probably the most attention-grabbing mutants in Charles Xavier’s sphere of telepathic affect. The short-lived collection solely ran for 3 seasons on FX, however that was greater than sufficient time to reveal simply how distinctive and convention-breaking a serial comedian e-book TV collection could possibly be.
With collection creator and showrunner Noah Hawley on the helm, Legion set out from the begin to craft a special sort of darkish sci-fi fantasy for David Haller (aka Legion, performed by Dan Stevens), and anybody who adopted the present on its schizophrenic experience obtained to look by a reality-skewed kaleidoscope into a completely new wing of Marvel’s X-Males universe. It’s arduous to convey the total affect of Legion’s trippy visuals, or its revolutionary tackle how fragile psychological well being can have an effect on even the supernaturally gifted. However extra than simply about every other collection we are able to consider, Legion invitations followers to ponder what it should actually really feel prefer to view the world by a mutant’s eyes…after which it completely nails the reply.
10. Daredevil (2015-2018)
Three years after its Netflix run ended, followers are nonetheless clamoring for Daredevil to return with actor Charlie Cox behind the blindfold — that’s how a lot of an affect the short-lived Marvel collection made, even with out the advantage of Disney’s newer small-screen linkup with the broader MCU.
Daredevil didn’t want a lot of an MCU help to weave its personal gripping narrative of corruption contained in the seedy legal underworld of Hell’s Kitchen. As a substitute, it obtained an enormous enhance from its stellar solid, which surrounded Matt Murdock with killer assist from best-bud regulation accomplice Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson), intrepid novice sleuth Karen Web page (Deborah Ann Woll), and Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) — the evening nurse of alternative for vigilantes in New York’s shadowy, hidden warfare of fine versus evil.
The villains (and almost-villains) have been simply as nice, too. Vincent D’Onofrio took demented crime lord Wilson Fisk (aka Kingpin) past his comics-based dangerous man origins, whereas Jon Bernthal’s antihero The Punisher and Élodie Yung’s sociopathic Elektra held up sobering mirrors that mirrored the extra sinister facet of Matt Murdock’s tightly-wound, extra-legal vigilante code. Daredevil stays an amazing Netflix binge, even for individuals who aren’t into superhero tales.
9. The Strolling Lifeless (2010-present)
How do you even start to summarize a collection as massive as The Strolling Lifeless? Comics creator Robert Kirkman’s zombie saga took on a sensational lifetime of its personal as a graphic novel earlier than AMC turned it into appointment tv for horror followers. And for all of the collection’ twists and turns, it stays probably the most influential crossovers ever to seem on the small display.
Even because the flagship present winds down with a sprawling, three-part last season, the bigger Strolling Lifeless universe continues to develop at AMC, with Worry the Strolling Lifeless and two-season newcomer The Strolling Lifeless: World Past. Followers will all the time wage neverending verbal skirmishes over the relative high quality of every of the primary collection’ eleven seasons, however because the critically-favored World Past and up to date installments of FTWD present, there appears to be loads of inventive life left in The Strolling Lifeless’s prolonged exploration of post-apocalypse America. There’s additionally a much bigger image: Common Photos is engaged on a film trilogy that follows the adventures of fan favourite Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), whereas two extra AMC spinoff collection — one that includes Daryl and Carol (Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride, respectively) — have been introduced as followup AMC arrivals within the wake of The Strolling Lifeless’s 2022 collection finale.
8. Marvel’s Jessica Jones (2015-2019)
Like Daredevil, Marvel’s Jessica Jones principally held its MCU connections at a Netflix-appropriate arm’s size. However, like Daredevil, that didn’t detract from collection creator Melissa Rosenberg’s adaptation of a comic book e-book hero who was significantly due for some small-screen appreciation.
Krysten Ritter slipped on the black leather-based jacket to play the tough-as-nails facet of Jessica Jones’ post-heroic profession as a hard-living, hard-drinking New York P.I. Brutally life like in regards to the sorry state of the world (in addition to her personal internal demons), Jessica Jones on Netflix served up simply the sort of world-weary, noir-ish hero that the city warrens of Hell’s Kitchen known as for. Followers might not comprehend it, however Jessica Jones obtained loads of love from critics over the course of its three-season run, incomes an Emmy (for its title theme music) alongside a slew of different awards for standout performances (together with a Hugo for Season 1 finale “AKA Smile,” which wove Luke Cage and evening nurse Claire Temple right into a climactic standoff with David Tennant’s Kilgrave.)
Like the opposite Marvel collection that ran their course at Netflix, Jessica Jones has retained a loyal legion of followers who maintain out hope that the character may sometime reemerge, with Ritter as soon as once more within the function, in a future MCU storyline. Solely Marvel and Disney know whether or not that’s half of the particular plan, but it surely doesn’t diminish what’s already there: Jessica Jones stays out there at Netflix as a part of the streamer’s Marvel Assortment.
7. Tales From the Crypt (1989-1996)
HBO struck early style gold when it determined to mine the distant comedian e-book previous for a horror anthology collection that also stands out as one of many edgiest TV diversifications, particularly for its time. Based mostly on EC Comics’ corpse-strewn terror tales from the1950s, the TV model of Tales From the Crypt combined the comics’ pulpy page-turning shock issue with the rising prospects supplied by an evolving visible results business. Collectively, they made for a seven-season sensation whose pleasant dives into grotesque imagery and archetypal plot twists have resonated with followers (and a brand new era of scary storytellers) to this present day.
Alongside Miami Vice, Tales From the Crypt at HBO holds the distinctive TV distinction of that includes an unbelievably enormous all-star class of visitor actors, who every took their flip enjoying an element within the collection’ evil vignettes. From its begin in 1989 to the British-produced last season in 1996, Tales From the Crypt welcomed a rotating visitor solid that included Brad Pitt, Christopher Reeve, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ewan McGregor, Tom Hanks, Steve Buscemi, Brooke Shields, Demi Moore, Kirk Douglas, Teri Hatcher, and Lea Thompson — simply to call a choose few.
If there’s a draw back to a lot creepy creativity, it’s that Tales From the Crypt can’t at the moment be discovered on HBO Max or every other streaming platform. Repeated makes an attempt to revisit the Tales franchise have fizzled within the years because the collection ended, together with discuss of a proposed TV revival, again in 2016, from M. Night time Shyamalan. In the meanwhile a minimum of, it seems to be as if the Crypt Keeper has put the collection underneath a gravely gripping curse.
6. Lucifer (2016-2021)
Who knew the satan could possibly be redeemed? When Netflix stepped in to rescue Lucifer from cancellation purgatory at Fox, it did greater than revive an already-great collection. With star Tom Ellis within the titular function, the Neil Gaiman-created character raised recent hell at its new streaming residence, unleashed finally with a less-censored free rein for the Prince of Darkness to stay his greatest everlasting life right here on Earth.
The setup’s fairly candy: Bored along with his interminable existence because the Lord of Hell, Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis) throws all of it away to go meddling round with the affairs of people, selecting Los Angeles because the debauched backdrop for his prolonged earthly stay-cation. Issues get delightfully sophisticated from there, each on the mortal and immortal fronts, with L.A.’s cynical denizens proving the best human foils for a demon who takes devilish enjoyment of stirring issues up.
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With the total six-season collection not too long ago concluded at Netflix, Devil’s full physique of labor is now behind us for good. What stays, although, is a Lucifer legacy that exhibits the character, initially launched in Gaiman’s iconic The Sandman comics, proved endlessly adaptable within the lengthy journey from web page to display. Lucifer expanded into its personal heavily-populated story-verse on the small display, mixing lowbrow comedy and high-concept fantasy into an addictively pulpy stew of soul-stealing enjoyable. It’s a collection worthy of Outdated Scratch himself, and we’re eternally grateful that it discovered salvation at Netflix.
5. The Flash (2014-Current)
If Arrow gave The CW a reputation for its prolonged DC comics universe, it’s The Flash that in some ways proved to be the sturdy tentpole that also sustains the bigger Arrowverse from one season to the subsequent. Barry Allen (aka The Flash, performed by Grant Gustin) is charging by his eighth season at the same time as we converse, although there’s no phrase but from the community on when, and even whether or not, a Season 9 is on the way in which.
Within the meantime, it’s inconceivable to not admire what collection creators Greg Berlanti, Geoff Johns, and Andrew Kreisberg have left within the present’s speedy wake. The Flash is about as shut because it will get to excellent comic-book tv, serving up precisely the suitable stability of popcorn-munching sci-fi heroics and plot-heavy melodrama that, not like loads of exhibits on this record, persistently pays recognizable homage to the deep DC Comics lore that’s impressed it.
Within the course of, it’s additionally launched us to a constellation of superior characters who’ve gained fervent fan bases of their very own — from Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker) to Vibe (Carlos Valdes), to the plain outdated people who anchor (and typically complicate) Barry’s double-identity life. After nearly a decade on the air and a half-dozen crossover occasion collection, Barry Allen might not fairly be the Arrowverse’s model of the MCU’s Captain America. However The Flash has matured right into a legit small-screen superhero chief, and it’s arduous to ascertain an Arrowverse that doesn’t have him someplace close to its very middle.
4. Loki (2021-Current)
Section 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe remains to be in its early days, and it’ll be a very long time earlier than we arrive on the sort of “aha!” payoff moments whose foundations are little doubt being laid in Disney+ exhibits like Loki. However we don’t have to know the place the breadcrumbs will result in marvel (pun supposed) at what’s already there: Loki is so good, you’d higher clear your schedule earlier than you dive in — as a result of when you begin, it’s arduous to not binge the complete restricted collection prefer it’s an prolonged five-hour film.
We’d have welcomed any excuse to place Owen Wilson (Agent Mobius) and Tom Hiddleston (Loki) collectively on the identical display, however Loki manages to wrest the perfect from every actor’s distinctive items. As Kang the Conqueror, Jonathan Majors chews the surroundings with a splendidly offbeat efficiency that captures the ennui that comes with being a literal know-it-all. And Sophia Di Martino (Sylvie) brings a killer Asgardian edge to her function as a variant model of Loki. She serves as a sort of mirror for the God of Mischief to glimpse his personal nature, and if he looks like a bona fide good man by the point the credit roll, that’s in all probability as a result of her ice-cold cruelty is starting to scare him straight.
The place WandaVision toyed with format and magnificence to shake issues up from one installment to the subsequent, Loki goes straight for continuity in its six absorbing episodes, weaving an audacious story of time manipulation that factors the way in which towards some really epic MCU conflicts within the not-too-distant future. Even when the finale leaves us with tons of questions on how the Time Variance Authority (TVA) can worm-hole its manner out of the temporal mess that Kang’s created, there’s no questioning the Marvel-ness of all of it… and we imply that in the very best manner.
3. Agent Carter (2015-2016)
Avengers: Endgame put a last, bittersweet bow on the decades-long romance between Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter, within the course of giving followers of ABC’s short-lived Agent Carter a complete new motive to revisit one of many coolest comics-based exhibits there’s ever been.
Although it solely lasted for 2 seasons, Agent Carter took probably the most attention-grabbing characters within the MCU, and positioned her story on the shoulders of one in every of its most gifted actors. Hayley Atwell already had received followers’ hearts because the surviving half of one of many MCU’s most sweeping love tales after the occasions of 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger. However the place the large display solely hinted on the resourceful Brit’s dedication to stopping evils each earthly and extraterrestrial, Agent Carter gave Atwell loads of room to discover Peggy Carter’s backstory as a post-war operative amid Howard Stark’s world-changing technological improvements within the dawning atomic age.
The primary Captain America movie stood out for wrapping its sci-fi story within the extra idealistic and culturally earnest zeitgeist of World Struggle II. Agent Carter developed that spirit of uneasy optimism with a late-Nineteen Forties setting (first in New York, earlier than a Season 2 transfer to Los Angeles) that framed Peggy Carter as a noir-ish good gal whose sixth sense for espionage didn’t detract from her willingness to step into the function of a full-scale motion hero. It’s a disgrace that the collection jarred to a halt with a cliffhanger Season 2 ending — however even with out the love of her life at her facet, it stays the one “L” that Peggy Carter ever took.
2. WandaVision (2021)
WandaVision is sheer audacity. The whole lot about this collection from head author Jan Schaeffer and director Matt Shakman — the primary of the MCU’s small-screen rollout at Disney+ — feels authentic and unpredictable, increasing by leaps and bounds what longtime Marvel film followers thought they may comfortably anticipate from the acquainted mega-franchise.
Coming after a pandemic-induced dearth of theatrical Marvel films, WandaVision additionally arrived simply when followers have been primed for brand spanking new characters, catchphrases, and beautiful visuals to fulfill their uncared for MCU urge for food. On that entrance, WandaVision served up too many home-run moments to rely, from breakout star Kathryn Hahn’s musical reveal as Agatha Harkness to Easter eggs aplenty as every new episode paid sensible homage to iconic sitcoms and their tropes — from the black-and-white TV period all the way in which to the current day. Better of all, it provided beneficiant perception into the heartaches and emotional trauma on the root of two star-crossed MCU heroes. Paul Bettany (Imaginative and prescient) and Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda, AKA the Scarlet Witch) appeared equally at residence on the set of a Depart it to Beaver-era lounge as they did hovering above the trapped townsfolk of tiny Westview, New Jersey.
Beginning with the Fifties sitcom trappings of its very first episode and warping by a long time’ price of pop-culture detritus that swirled close to the fringes of Wanda’s grief-stricken thoughts, WandaVision basically reinvented itself with each new episode, all whereas slowly encroaching on the top of Wanda’s suppressed story that she merely could not convey herself to complete. If the “partitions closing in” metaphor ever wanted a visible textbook illustration, WandaVision supplied it in methods no Marvel film ever might; and it even allow us to snort a bit alongside the way in which.
1. Batman: The Animated Collection (1992-1995)
In the case of films and TV, all people’s obtained their favourite Batman. What’s superb is simply what number of agree on the one which belongs at (or very close to) the highest: The grown-up animated model of the Caped Crusader that artist Bruce Timm and author Paul Dini dropped at life within the early Nineteen Nineties with Batman: The Animated Collection.
By the course of its 85-episode run, Batman: The Animated Collection achieved the exceptional feat of enjoying out like a shifting comedian e-book, leaning closely right into a noir-ish, artwork deco-infused fashion that vividly evoked each the subtle and the sinister sides of Gotham Metropolis. With limitless syndication within the years following its authentic community run at Fox Children, it additionally cemented Bruce Wayne’s square-jawed Caped Crusader (voiced by Kevin Conroy) because the definitive animated model of Batman for a whole era of followers.
Regardless that it was created with a younger viewers in thoughts, the collection’ themes have been gritty sufficient to earn it an enthusiastic grownup following. The character-first writing and the core voice solid elevated Batman: The Animated Collection to one thing comics-savvy grown-ups might admire on their very own phrases, and the large solid of high-profile visitor actors — highlighted, in fact, by Mark Hamill’s well-known recurring flip because the Joker — populated Gotham with a plausible crew of allies and threats who stayed true to their comedian e-book roots.
In a late-breaking little bit of bonus Bat-news, members of the unique Emmy-winning solid are reportedly reuniting to proceed the story — this time in podcast type. Through The Hollywood Reporter, collection author Alan Burnett is creating an audio drama that goals to choose up the place the present left off in 1995, roping in Conroy and The Riddler voice actor John Glover to reprise their authentic roles. A few of the present’s voice actors are additionally reported to be within the combine, in addition to Batman ’89 composer Danny Elfman.
There’s no early phrase on when the podcast may debut, however that simply provides us extra time to bone up on one of many brightest moments in all of Caped Crusader historical past. Batman: The Animated Collection continues to stay on at HBO Max, alongside Batman: Masks of the Illusion, the 1993 animated film primarily based on the collection, that includes the identical inventive group and solid.
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