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Comic Book / New Mutants

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The New Mutants is a spin-off of the popular X-Men franchise published by Marvel Comics. To date there have been four ongoing series, three of which have featured the same team as main characters.

For the movie of the same name based on the team, see here.

New Mutants
Characters from left to right - Mirage, Cannonball, Wolfsbane, Sunspot and Karma (on the second plan). And Professor X's giant flying head.

The first team of "New Mutants" was created by Chris Claremont (long-time writer of Uncanny X-Men) and artist Bob McLeod, first appearing in 1982's Marvel Graphic Novel #4 and subsequently featuring in their own ongoing series from 1983 until 1991. As their name suggested, they were a new generation of teenage mutants at the Xavier School being taught by Professor X to control and develop their powers – they consisted of invulnerable flier Cannonball, fear-inducing Mirage, werewolf Wolfsbane, mind-possessing Karma (who originated in a Claremont-written "Marvel Team-Up" story) and super-strong Sunspot. Unusually, the teenage heroes were not intended by Professor X to be a team of superheroes at all, but ended up getting caught up in dangerous adventures regardless. The book highlighted interpersonal and group conflict, as well as action and adventure, and featured a large ensemble cast.


Karma was soon written out of the series and several new main characters were introduced, including lava-controlling Magma, Colossus' younger sister-turned-demon-sorceress Magik, Omniglot mutant Cypher, and shape-changing techno-organic alien Warlock. Various stories include the team confronting Dani's fearsome foe the Demon Bear, a confrontation with sorceress Selene in the Roman Republic Lost Colony of Nova Roma in Brazil, a rivalry with the Hellions (a Rival School formed by X-adversary Emma Frost), Karma's reappearance under the possession of the Shadow King, Magneto taking over as Headmaster of the school from Professor X, and a confrontation with Warlock's evil father the Magus. Chris Claremont left the series with issue #54, at which time Karma also left the team again.

Louise Simonson took over as the new writer with issue #55, with her run seeing the characters initially seem to regress in age and maturity; however, her run soon took a dark turn with the death of Cypher. Four new team members were added in the Inferno crossover – earthquake-generating Rictor, time-bomb creator Boom-Boom, pyrokinetic Rusty and forcefield-generator Skids, formerly of X-Factor and the miniseries X-Terminators, both also by Simonson. The team broke from Magneto after his Face–Heel Turn and subsequently became caught up in a long adventure in Asgard.


Rob Liefeld came aboard as the series' new artist with issue #86 and shot some new energy into the book, as his creative energies would quickly overwhelm the pages – there was nothing else like him at the time, and his extreme linework, flashy cyborgs and armoured characters were very unique in the era before the Iron Age Of Comics. The cyborg character named Cable was soon introduced as a new mentor figure for the team, preaching a more militaristic and extreme approach to heroics; Mirage remained behind in Asgard, while Rusty & Skids were brainwashed by the new villain team known as the Mutant Liberation Front.

Louise Simonson's run as writer ended with the crossover X-Tinction Agenda, which saw the death of Warlock and the departure of Wolfsbane to join X-Factor. Rob Liefeld took over plotting duties for the book as of issue #98, with Fabian Nicieza scripting the dialogue. Over the course of those final three issues, Liefeld set about transforming the book into the much more edgy and gritty X-Force, dropping Sunspot and Rictor from the team while adding ex-Hellion member Warpath as well as his original creations of Domino, Shatterstar and Feral. New Mutants ended with issue #100, and X-Force began with issue #1 four months later. For more on that series, see its own page.

New Mutants Vol. 2
Characters clockwise from the bottom: Wind Dancer, Elixir, Surge, Icarus, Prodigy, Wallflower

The second New Mutants series, launched in 2003 and written by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir, featured another group of teenaged mutants - air-controlling Wind Dancer, skill-copying Prodigy, super-fast energetic Surge, healer Elixir, emotion-controlling Wallflower, and flying Icarus - but unlike the original New Mutants, they were only part of a huge cast of students at the Xavier Institute. At first they were notable for their drive to become superheroes, but soon rival groups played a large role in the series. Mirage and Wolfsbane of the original New Mutants had become teachers at Xavier's Institute and had problems coming to terms with the fact they were now the "old guard” in the eyes of the new generation. In 2004 the comic was relaunched as New X-Men: Academy X – for all tropes relating to this incarnation of the team, see that page.

New Mutants Vol. 3
Old school is back to kick some butts

The third New Mutants series written by Zeb Wells, reuniting most of the original team, launched in May of 2009. This new series incorporated a few elements from both New X-Men and the limited series X-Infernus, beginning with the return of Magik and the New Mutants being reassigned to help her blend back into mutant community. This was problematic, considering that, after their last two encounters, the youngest generation of X-Men hated her guts. The team roster quickly expanded with addition of Warlock and return of Cypher. After his defeat at their hand, Legion became their supporting character and unofficial member of the team. The series has been focusing on a larger Myth Arc about upcoming threat from Limbo, with occasional tie-ins to various X-overs and one guest-written tie in to Siege.

After Wells' departure, this series was taken first by Mike Carey, as a part of his Age Of X storyline, during which he introduced an alternate reality with a much darker history which was later revealed to be a Lotus-Eater Machine all present had been dragged into by one of Legion's personalities, and later by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. In face of all their accomplishments Cyclops decided to not disband the team (despite three members leaving as Karma lost a leg, Cannonball was traumatized by events from Wells and Carey's runs and Magik had to be restrained after she manipulated her friends and almost got them killed for personal vendetta) and to make their new mission taking care of all the loose ends that remained unresolved after the threats the X-Men faced and making sure they won't come to haunt them again (in other words, he made them a less lethal and more moral version of the third X-Force). This started with the retrieval of Nate Grey, who'd been trapped in the Omega Machine since his encounter with Norman Osborn and was being tortured/used to open portals by Sugar Man. He was rescued, but underwent a significant De-Power that chopped his formerly near cosmic levels of power back to 'residual telekinesis'. Lacking other options, he joined the team. This volume lasted until issue 50 where it was cancelled. Much of the team subsequently became cast members in other series as of the "Marvel NOW!" relaunch.

New Mutants Vol. 4
Old School... IN SPACE!!!
The fourth New Mutants series, written by Jonathan Hickman and Ed Brisson, began in 2019 as part of the Dawn of X relaunch. It features Magik, Sunspot, Cypher (merged with Warlock), Mirage, Karma, Wolfsbane and Cannonball alongside former Generation X members Chamber and Mondo together on a mission in outer space; meanwhile, a parallel story on Earth stars Boom-Boom along with former New X-Men member Armor and others.

For more on this series, see New Mutants (2019)

The series contains examples of:

  • '80s Hair: Lila Cheney and Gosamyr...dear God, Gosamyr...
  • '90s Anti-Hero: X-Force was the signature team for this before Youngblood. Somehow, X-Force actually managed to survive.
  • Aborted Arc:
    • Towards the end of the 1980s, Louise Simonson was building up a plotline involving Selene and the Hellfire Club having dark plans for Magma, plans that ultimately got dropped after the "Inferno" arc.
    • The Externals was another famous aborted arc that got shut down once the thread ran too long and the writers wanted to go in a different direction (this was done so quickly and clumsily that many to this day believe it was due to a threat of lawsuits from the Highlander people for ripping them off) — most Externals were quickly killed off, and Cannonball was Retconned into not being onenote .
  • Aborted Declaration of Love: In the original series, Dani 'Mirage' Moonstar is comforting gal-pal Rahne 'Wolfsbane' Sinclair on a clifftop in Scotland; '—he's an old man, filled up with hate; without you those people would be dead. You're not alone. Moira loves you; and I—' 'I know' says Rahne. '—but that doesn't make me ache any the less.' A follow-up 20 years later is also aborted by a simple interruption.
  • Academy of Evil: Emma Frost used to be headmistress of the Massachusetts Academy — a front for the Hellfire Club that produced the Hellions, rivals to the New Mutants.
  • Aliens Made Them Do It: Empath on Tom and Sharon.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Wolfsbane and Catseye.
  • Apocalypse Maiden: Magik .
  • Arc Words: The "Highlord Ascension" got tossed around a lot in the early years of X-Force.
  • Artifact Title: Though later incarnations establish that the group is officially an X-Men team, the book is still called "New Mutants" decades after the team was first introduced.
  • Bad Future: Illyanna could teleport in time as well in space. When she botched it, she often visited one of these by accident. The latest series even begins by her coming to save Dani and Shan from a Bad Future we never see.
  • Beauty = Goodness: In issue number 47 (entitled "My Heart for the Highlands"), several of the team find themselves in 14th century Scotland and fight on behalf of Robert the Bruce. Afterward, Doug Ramsey has a question, and the answer implies this trope:
    Doug: Pardon my asking sir, but—Aren't you afraid of us? We pop up out of nowhere, wielding fantastic powers. You've only our word that we're not demons or worse.
    Robert the Bruce: True Douglas—But any hadesspawn able to assume so young an innocent, an' noble a seeming deserves our respect rather than our fear—for that demon has become more human than most men.
  • Becoming the Mask: Copycat was sent into the team while impersonating Domino so that she could help Deadpool and Toliver kill the team. But they didn't count on Copycat losing herself in the "role" she was playing, leading to her turning against Deadpool and Toliver and rescuing the real Domino.
  • Big Bad: Selene and Emma Frost.
  • Black Magician Girl: Magik.
  • The Blank: Zero.
  • Braids, Beads and Buckskins: Dani and Warpath are this in spades, though it does get toned down to less offensive levels over time and in Dani's case is somewhat justified, as the Cheyenne tribe did wear this style. Much less excusable are Tom Corsi and Sharon Friedlander, two white people who are permanently transformed into Native Americans by the spell of a Demon Bear. They had no say in this, but it is quite uncomfortable when they choose to start wearing headbands and fringed boots after they change.
  • Break the Cutie:
    • Illyana, with all Belasco did to her in Limbo, followed up by the events of Inferno and then contracting the Legacy Virus.
    • Most of the characters from New X-Men got it in one way or another after Kyle and Yost took over but the crown goes to Pixie, who got part of her soul stolen. TWICE.
  • Butt-Monkey: Nate, initially, in Volume 3 - he joins the team after suffering a spectacular De-Power from 'Reality Warper powerful enough to flatten entire teams of X-Men' to 'spoon bender', is the odd one out amongst a team who've all known each other since they were kids, and has a hard time finding a role and actually making himself useful. A little pep-talk from Roberto, of all people, and some training in how to fight like a normal from Hope Summers helped him with that, and he became the team's expert on time travel, reality warping, and alternate realities.
  • Came Back Strong: Amara's powers as Magma don't manifest until Selene throws her into lava as a sacrifice.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The last panel of the original Marvel Graphic Novel has an oddity in it; Professor Xavier is looking on as the New Mutants team is assembled for the first time. The narration boxes say how proud he is, but Chuck has got an awful evil grin on his face. We find out why a few issues later, when it's revealed that the Brood that was living inside/controlling Professor Xavier at the time had assembled the New Mutants to provide her (it was a queen, after all) with a new set of host bodies.
  • Chick Magnet:
    • Doug Ramsey, who has had a grand total of five love interests even though he was only around for about 50 issues in the original run. Information about the upcoming Age of X crossover suggest he's one even in an alternate reality.
    • Hellion is always being described as good looking, and is genuinely charming and charismatic when he wants to be.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: Averted; Xi'an and Roberto are Catholic, but Rahne and Sam are Presbyterian and Baptist respectively.
  • Cosmetic Catastrophe: Employed in the 1990 New Mutants Summer Special where Rahne is given a makeover by one of the residents of Megalopolis to seduce her over to Consumerism. The "mirror" shown to her is a glamor shot. Her actual makeup consists of childish scrawling and a badly fitted wig.
  • Country Mouse: Sam Guthrie a.k.a Cannonball.
  • Darker and Edgier: The entire transformation into X-Force.
  • Dating Catwoman: Pretty much all the female Hellions wanted Doug.
  • Defeat by Modesty: Back when Genosha was a country where mutants were enslaved, the New Mutants were teleported there by a character whose powers didn't affect clothing, then had their powers neutralized. Most of them were a little embarrassed, but Wolfsbane, (a devout Presbyterian) was paralyzed with shame.
  • Delusions of Doghood: Catseye of the Hellions; thought she was an actual cat.
  • Demoted to Extra: The ultimate fate of anyone who's ever been in any of the various incarnations of the New Mutants; even Cannonball, who seemed to have escaped it by joining the X-Men, ended up being cast off into limbo.
  • De-Power: Nate undergoes this during his rescue in Unfinished Business. One moment he's a Reality Warper and nigh cosmic level psychic, the next, he's barely bending spoons with his 'residual telekinesis'. Needless to say, he does not adjust well - though eventually comes to terms with it, managing to develop it into something approximately useful (he can lift himself or someone else, fire off energy blasts, and move things), resurrecting the sarcastic tendencies he had before he became a somewhat strange cosmic All-Loving Hero (albeit of the Good Is Not Soft variety) in the process.
  • Divine Race Lift: Dani Moonstar, a Native American, became a Valkyrie.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything? : Doug and Warlock's fusions are... intimate.
  • Empty Shell: The New Mutants become this at one point during Claremont's run. The Beyonder murders every single member of the team (for once, not hyperbole, the members are each killed as they are trying to escape). He then brings them back to life, complete with memories of their death. The resulting characters are incapable of feeling and only barely interact with the world. The storyline makes the sixth season of Buffy look like Sesame Street, and is considered by many to be the most evil thing Claremont ever did to his characters (which is saying something, considering the Mutant Massacre).
  • Evil Counterpart: The Hellions to the original New Mutants had this going on, though some were more clear than others: Jetstream=Cannonball, Catseye=Wolfsbane, Tarot=Moonstar (illusion-casting), Empath=Karma (mind control), Roulette=Magik (kinda), Thunderbird=Sunspot (super-strength). The trend wasn't continued with the New Mutants' later members, however.
  • Evil Mentor: Cable started out this way, but he got better with character development.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Sunspot, Mirage (though neither stayed evil for long, and Dani's heel turn was retconned as her being undercover for S.H.I.E.L.D), Feral.
  • Fanservice: The original book loved to show the team in their skivvies, particularly during Bret Blevins' run as artist; on top of that, he also seemed very fond of showing the effect of cold weather on girls wearing skintight suits, even when they were surrounded by lava.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Five-Token Band: With Dani Moonstar the Native American, Rahne Sinclair the Scot, Sam Guthrie the Southern coal-miner's boy, Xi'an Coy Manh the Vietnamese immigrant raising her younger siblings, and Roberto da Costa the Brazilian rich boy, it's fairly diverse.
    • The original Hellions also qualify: Thunderbird is Apache; Empath is a Spanish nobleman; Tarot is French; Jetstream is from Morocco; Roulette is American, and Catseye's precise origins are never specified.
  • Future Me Scares Me: Cypher after discovering due to interfacing with a sentient alien computer he will eventually conquer the world and have everyone with techno organic armor that allows him to control them.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: One of the most ludicrous examples. The New Mutants go to Hell in one issue and fight demons. Some of the demon language is translated. If you followed each letter precisely, you can make out them saying words like "Hey dick-breath" and "Fuck nuts". Dead Serious.
  • Hide Your Lesbians: Happened in a big way when Chris Claremont left and Louise Simonson took over. All of the kids were turned boy/girl crazy along strictly heterosexual lines. The most obvious homosexual casualty was the very-nearly-explicit romance between Dani and Rahne, but the more ambiguous Ho Yay relationship developing between Warlock and Cypher was axed too. Likely part of wider Marvel policy at the time, as EIC Jim Shooter was steering creators away from homosexual characters in an unsuccessful bid to avoid controversy. This was later walked back, with Karma being explicitly lesbian, and the Ho Yay between Cypher and Warlock returning.
  • Internalized Categorism: In Marvel Universe, it is a social stigma to be a mutant. That is, to have superpowers. One issue of New Mutants had a boy hanging himself in shame of being able to create beautiful sculptures of light.
    • Well, those anonymous threats to sic mutant-hunters on him that some other kids kept sending his way as a prank — while blissfully unaware that he actually was a mutant themselves — might have had a little something to do with it, too.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Julian Keller lives this trope - he will act like a horrible person to everybody, but can be really sweet to people he cares about and is willing to go to insane lengths to protect them.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind:
    • Legion has the habit of absorbing people into his mindscape. Which is... crowded.
    • Nate helps Doug with one of these.
  • Legacy Character: Right after Thunderbird died, the mantle was taken up by his brother Warpath. Since then, Warpath has grown from this trope into a character all his own.
  • Likes Older Women:
    • Cannonball towards Lila Cheney, and later to Rogue.
    • Briefly, Cypher to Psylocke.
  • Mechanical Abomination: Warlock's race, the Technarchs, is composed of giant amorphous shapeshifting machines any one of whom would destroy a planet with minimal effort. Warlock himself is a baby Technarch, not nearly as powerful as his monstrous progenitor the Magus. Even so, it's worth noting that (even if it was all in fun), he was able to fight the Impossible Man to a standstill, and silly as he is, Impy is danged near unstoppable when he wants to be.
  • Messianic Archetype: Sam Guthrie a.k.a Cannonball was destined to lead the Mutant race by combining Magneto, Xavier and Cable's dreams into something better. It didn't take once the "External/High Lord" thing ran its course and got tired during a change in the creative team.
  • Metamorphosis Monster: Gosamyr's race. At first, they're cute, delicate, winged creatures (although with the annoying ability to empathically — and involuntarily — cause conflicts among male humans), but then they enter the cocoon phase (which lasts centuries) which turns them into their adult form: gargantuan abominations.
  • Mind Rape: Used by Empath on Magma and pretty much anyone who comes across him.
  • The Mole: Copycat pretending to be Domino.
  • Ms. Fanservice:
    • Pretty much the whole purpose of the Gosamyr character, both in-universe and out.
    • Sometimes Surge and X-23 would be this, depending on the artist.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Empath, in revenge against Emma Frost for binding his powers and knowing that she had plans to corrupt the New Mutants, spitefully arranged for Roberto and Amara to be kidnapped and inducted into the Gladiators, a deadly arena game run by a shadowy crime boss. Had he left well enough alone, the team would never have discovered that said boss was their old teammate Karma (possessed by the Shadow King) and rescued her, ultimately making the New Mutants even stronger and close-knit than ever and scuppering whatever scheme Emma had been cooking up.
  • Not So Different: While some of the Hellions were right bastards, most of the team were generally nice people who just so happened to be working for the bad guys.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: Issue #6 of volume 1 ends with a cliffhanger when Viper detonates a bomb on a clifftop that sends the team hurtling toward the ocean, and the next issue cuts to the aftermath of that fall, with all the team having made it out in one piece except for Karma, who had disappeared and was presumed dead. It's not until issue #32 that we get to see what actually happened to the team during that fall and what became of Karma afterwards.
  • Opposing Sports Team: The original Hellions came across as very much this trope — a bunch of prep school kids whose fights with the New Mutants were usually fueled by school rivalry more than anything else. In their first appearance, Sam even compares the New Mutants (and their opponents by extension) to "high school varsity".
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Rahne. She's a genetic mutant who can shapeshift from human to wolf. Eventually, she gained the ability to take on a variety of "transitional" half & half states, and during the 90s she spent some time unable to change fully back to humans. Eventually, she was retconned as having a Healing Factor, and after her pregnancy with Tier, she gained Nigh-Invulnerability and Super Strength.
  • Psycho Rangers: The Hellions.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Shatterstar from Mojoworld.
  • Race Lift: In-universe; Tom Corsi and Sharon Friedlander, a cop and a nurse, were unlucky enough to be caught by the Demon Bear as it hunted Dani. Part of its magic transformed the two of them, both white, into Native Americans, and unlike the rest of the Bear's magic this is not undone when it is defeated. It takes quite some time for the two of them to come to terms with suddenly being entirely different people.
  • Rape as Backstory: Xi'an and her mother were both raped while escaping from Vietnam. Claremont was careful to only make vague allusions to an "assault" for several years, as the established timeline would have made Xi'an 12 or 13 when it happened.
  • Rescue Romance: Of a sort with Nate and Dani. She led the team that rescued him and beat up Sugar Man, who had imprisoned him. That said, the actual romance aspect didn't kick off for a while.
  • Ret-Gone: In one storyline, the New Mutants were Ret Goned by the Beyonder. The only one to remember their existence was Kitty Pryde, who had a magical connection to Illyana that even the Beyonder's godlike powers couldn't erase.
  • Sapient Ship: The shapeshifting Warlock often turned himself into a starship to transport the New Mutants around.
  • Sci Fi LGBT
  • Shout-Out:
    • On one very memorable occasion, Warlock turned into the starship Enterprise.
    • Mephisto is drawn suspiciously like David Tennant when he goes on a date with Magma, complete with the Tenth Doctor's outfit.
    • Magik's main henchdemon in Limbo is named S'ym, and shares many qualities with Dave Sim's Cerebus the Aardvark.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Feral, replacing Wolfsbane (later, her older sister Thornn briefly served as this for her) and Douglock for Warlock and Cypher.
  • Taking the Bullet: Doug died doing this for Rahne (who didn't even realize what had happened until the fight was over).
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman:
    • In the first annual, Cypher, whose superpower was the ability to learn languages really really fast, ends up saving the solar system because he's the only one who can read an alien instruction manual.
    • With his recent resurrection, Cypher has turned this into Heart Is an Awesome Power, in addition to vindicating numerous fan theories about how his powers would work in the age of modern computers.
  • To Hell and Back: Magik rules her own region of Hell called Limbo and all of her teleportation disks have to pass through Limbo in order to reach a different destination on Earth, meaning she and her teammates technically go to Hell and back at least once an issue.
  • Token Religious Teammate:
    • Wolfsbane. Cannonball and Karma are regularly shown talking about their faith as well, but it comes up much more often with Rahne due to how badly it conflicts with her identity as a mutant.
    • In the second series, there is Dust, a devout Muslim who still observes niqab.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl:
    • Boom Boom and Siryn. Rahne and Danielle Moonstar.
    • Kitty Pryde and Magik were a subversion. Both were kick-butt girly girls.
  • Touch of Death: Wither, whose power was decaying any living (or once-living) thing he came into contact with. He eventually left the institute and fell in love with Selene, who was immortal and couldn't be affected by his power.
  • Tragic Dropout: In the original New Mutants Graphic Novel, Sam Guthrie was obliged to quit high school and give up his hopes for college to work in the local coal mine after his father died of black lung. His first day on the job was marked by being caught in a cave in, his powers kicking in, and the owner of the mines finding another use for him.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway??:
    • Poor Cypher had the mutant power to understand languages. This made him useless in battle, forcing Chris Claremont to have to come up with the plot point of Cypher being able to safely merge with Warlock to get him involved in fight scenes.
      • Not so much now in the new run of New Mutants since he seems to have had a decent boost in the scope of his powers.
    • Subverted with Domino. Originally a generic gun-carrying Action Girl, she had the uber-generic "luck" power that no one ever mentioned until 1996's Amalgam Universe comic X-Patrol, which used Domino's luck powers alongside Elasti-Girl and The Wasp to reinvent her as an uber-lucky super-heroine. Years passed again and it took Matt Fraction coming up with the idea of her being an UBER-lucky Action Girl, capable of always showing up by chance when evil is going down, let alone always able to make her shots no matter how hard they are, to make her powers useful.
      • Actually, she was always implied to have it by her "ability to make things fall in her favor" (hence the name "Domino," get it?), Fraction just turned it up to "11."
    • Shatterstar's energy blast power, used once and required so much power-up time he may as well have been a Super-Saiyan.
  • You Are Not Alone: Danielle Moonstar to Rahne Sinclair after a battle alongside her: "Without you those policemen would have died. You're not alone. Moira loves you, and I..."
  • Your Heart's Desire: Rare heroic example: Danielle Moonstar, AKA Mirage, could create a mental illusion of your worst fear, or your heart's desire. She could choose which emotion to interface with, but her powers didn't extend to giving her a preview of what her target's fear or desire was, leading to several instances of her revealing things about people's deepest thoughts that should really have been left well enough alone.


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