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Mass Effect Graphic Novels #5

Mass Effect: Foundation Volume 1

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The first volume of Mass Effect 2 and 3 lead writer Mac Walters's gripping series Foundation, set during the events of BioWare's smash hit science fiction trilogy! Introducing Rasa, a mysterious agent working behind the scenes for the Illusive Man and his human-survivalist paramilitary group, Cerberus! First, learn how she began her life as a covert operative - then, follow her investigations and witness formative events in the lives of signature characters Urdnot Wrex, Ashley Williams, and Kaidan Alenko!

96 pages, Paperback

First published July 17, 2013

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About the author

Mac Walters

87 books28 followers
Mac Walters is a writer, director, and producer, known for his work on Jade Empire, the Mass Effect series, and Anthem. He's an author of games, novels and comics including the New York Time's bestselling Mass Effect: Redemption series. He was nominated for a Bafta for his writing on Mass Effect 3.

Mac is known for his intricate, deeply detailed futuristic universes populated by memorable characters who find themselves thrust into extraordinary circumstances.

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5 stars
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144 (37%)
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60 (15%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 50 reviews
Profile Image for Kameron Mitchell.
Author 1 book3 followers
December 31, 2017
Just...bad. Someone else mentioned the art was interpretative and that’s really the only word I could use to describe it. The composition of the transition sequences just wasn’t good - in fact, it wasn’t even there. I have to admit I’m not well versed in comics so maybe this is what you get for your money, but more than a few times I felt like I’d been given about half the words in a sentence and was told to repeat back what it meant. I just couldn’t. The hard part now will be to decide if I should go on with them or not. I consider myself a super fan of the franchise, but do I want to put myself through this for the sake of completeness?
Profile Image for Caitlin.
831 reviews66 followers
October 26, 2015
Mass Effect is the videogame that made me fall in love with games in general and the first RPG that I played start to finish so it will always have a special place in my heart. This volume might appeal to fans of the series just because it gives some background on some beloved characters but overall it's not particularly impressive.

Foundation Volume 1 gives us back stories on Urdnot Wrex, Ashley Williams and Kaiden Alenko, all tied together via the viewpoint of a Cerberus agent named Rasa. Rasa has a fairly standard, desperate orphan origin and while her story wasn't bad, it wasn't anything you haven't seen if you've read much science fiction or even fantasy for that matter. I did like getting to see more of what happened to Ashley before she was found by Commander Shepherd on Eden Prime and laughed my ass off getting to see Rasa trying to prevent Wrex from murdering someone before she could get to him. So it's not that this is bad, it's just really not that interesting. Unless you're a Mass Effect superfan, you could probably skip this one.
Profile Image for Crazy for Books (Stephanie).
1,602 reviews221 followers
February 22, 2014
ARC provide by Dark Horse via NetGalley for an honest review. The illustrations were amazing. Really easy to read. I'm would have kept going if it hadn't ended. Looking forward to the next chapter in the story.I think Kaidan has a destiny he's not aware of yet. Can't wait to find out if he's able to do more with his abilities and if his father knows what's in store for him.
May 13, 2021
Mass Effect: Foundation Volume 1 brings us up to the time that Mass Effect 1 starts. It tells the backstories of four of the game's main companions and how those events set them up to eventually be on the Normandy with Commander Shepherd.

There was nothing new or interesting here, and a weird Cerberus agent was front and centre who I really couldn't have cared less about. I do like that we had a brief introduction to Kai Leng, who just sort of appears out of nowhere in Mass Effect 2, but overall, this was a pretty pedestrian lore companion to the games.
Profile Image for Wilde Sky.
Author 16 books34 followers
July 30, 2018
In this graphic Sci-Fi novel a ruthless female agent strives to complete her mission.

This book lost me after a few pages, I read it to the end but overall it I just found it confusing.
Profile Image for Callum Shephard.
324 reviews31 followers
January 18, 2014
Much like the previous Homeworlds series, Mass Effect Foundation serves as a look into the lives of characters prior to joining Commander Shepard in the games. Taking place either mere minutes before their introduction or even years before they were ever encountered, the comic gives some further insight into the lives of Wrex, Ashley, Kaiden and one or two surprise characters. While ultimately treated as an isolated episode or brief moment in the spotlight, every story is connected by an ongoing narrative. Specifically a duo of Cerberus agents who are examining the characters’ histories (or just running into them) and looking into the events behind Eden Prime. While this sounds effective, and it does give some insight into what Cerberus was doing when such a major threat emerged, the results are ultimately hit and miss.

Before we even get into the story we need to talk about the art. While this is something usually left to a paragraph or so in the latter point of these reviews, the structuring and their quality vary considerably from page to page.

While the actual art itself resembles the style of Frank Quitely in many respects, mostly sans absurd faces, it seems like a less refined version of his work. There seem to be problems handling certain details and poses on characters, as while the environments and more physically solid items look great, the characters in movement themselves all too often look like ragdolls. While an armoured figure like Jasox or Ashley looks fine, and unlike Genesis Wrex is consistently decently drawn, athletic figures or those without too many details to latch onto visibly suffer. You’ll see this repeatedly with the first character introduced as she serves to forward the tale’s framing device.

While the above flaws would be acceptable on their own, the problems come with the story being so oddly planned out. While it’s nice to see a tale avoiding the massive padding decompressed storytelling has become an excuse for, this one has the opposite problem. Too many times the sequential art is lost to the point where the comic seems to be teleporting from one place to the next. At many points the movement of the characters seems lost and you’re just left wondering how they managed to get from point A to point B.

Also the combat is left to extremely short bursts and is barely shown. It’s often limited to short bursts of combat and has this habit of turning every biotic attack and shot from a gun into a massive blast of all consuming light. This is especially obvious when concentrated fire from geth looks as if a character is taking cover from a Kamehameha wave. These combat sequences in particular is when the story starts to get a little strange, and they feel both underdone and oddly over the top at the same time. It’s only moving away from such events that the story truly begin to show some quality behind the work.

Learning more about the characters or an event that they had spoken of in the video games is something to be appreciated, at least when it’s done right. Along with the sense of the characters and universe being fleshed out, they allow the story to feel more complete and less as if you have missed something crucial. Here this is the case for the most part. While not always something which successfully gives further insight into people, seeing what they spoke of is something which gives insights into their personalities.

A number of tales are told through flashbacks with Kaiden and one other surprise character both displaying events which took place in their early lives. These are ultimately the ones which work the best as they show exactly what shaped them into the figures they become or followed their life’s path. In the case of Kaiden it displays the previously spoken events on Gagarin Station, and show the lengths he was driven to strike out at the turian commander there. It displays the much more pressing nature of their trials and just what life was like onboard the station, giving some groundwork for his attitude towards aliens and use of violence. It’s interesting to see the characters at such a point and does for the most part work in their favour as, even when the story is repeating previously known information, seeing the events are much more effective than just hearing of them.

The other major flashbacks, covering the events of Eden Prime, are better interwoven in the tale. They originate from the Cerberus’ agents efforts to piece together what happened and gather data, highlighting their differences in approach as well as the characters involved. We see some of what made Ashley such a promising figure within the military but how her family’s history repeatedly came back to bite her. While hardly handled in the best way, mostly coming down to one person and one decision, it’s better displayed here than it ever was in the first game. Actually having a degree of impact in her life rather than being mentioned but never built upon.

As for Wrex, it’s what you’d expect. There’s nothing really furthering his character, just some decent bounty hunting and a couple of humorous moments. Nothing especially bad, but beyond showing you what he did to get C-Sec to take him by force in the first game it doesn’t add much to the overall universe.

The stories in of themselves are hardly bad. There is a good deal of talent displayed in how they are linked together, and unlike other tie-ins we’ve seen each one does not waste time in getting to the point, but it’s hard to appreciate given the mistakes with the storytelling structure. It will likely take more than one reading for people to get past some of the problems, and they really are ones which a franchise so famed as Mass Effect should have been able to avoid. It doesn’t help that most feel as if they could have been better told if these were a fictional novel or episodic video games.

If you’re a diehard fan of the universe or want to see more of the characters involved, give this one a look. If you’re more interested in bigger scale stories or comics with better artwork, try one of the other Mass Effect comics.
Profile Image for Ben Brown.
391 reviews123 followers
December 30, 2022
The first new comic series released post-Mass Effect 3 (and its HUGELY controversial ending), “Foundation” is, at first glance, an interesting series, balancing an anthological issue-by-issue structure with an ongoing story thread that slowly but surely develops across the course of the series. Not everything here works, at least not in this first volume – a few of the plot beats feel a bit slight, and there’s a tad too much repetition in the issues’ story structures (especially in issues #2, #3, and #4). Still, though: for fans who finished ME3 and are craving a little extra Mass Effect goodness in their lives, “Foundation” should hit the spot (just so long as you don’t go in expecting anything…well, new).
Profile Image for Brendan.
1,197 reviews55 followers
May 30, 2018
Finished this one a few days ago but forgot to mark it. The comics are generally the weaker aspects of the Mass Effect universe, the games and the books are normally the bench mark with the comics taking a backseat. The issue is normally the isolated story arcs and the one note characters, the art isn't a high standard either. I'm a huge fan of the series and I enjoyed this book but it isn't flawless, just adequate to fill the void left by Bioware.
Profile Image for Logan.
986 reviews33 followers
December 21, 2017
A little disappointing! So this series is written by some of the writers from the second and third game; but for the most part this was pretty boring! There are some brief cameos from some of the companion characters from the games along with some short stories about them, I liked that aspect, but for the most part the story focuses on other random boring characters I didn't care about. I also didn't really care for the artwork too much.
Profile Image for Daniel Macgregor.
142 reviews
July 12, 2020
Why does this exist? The comic provides a look into the backstory of four Mass Effect characters, three teammate characters, Kaiden, Ashley, Wrex, and Rasa (the last of which is only a character from a DLC in the third game). Rasa’s arc is the only one with a little depth, and the other arcs are just her going through Saturday Cartoon like cameos with the other more notable characters going through minor plot points right before or during the first Mass Effect game.
Wrex’s is the only one that provides a little details not known by those who played the first game, as we him trying to kill Fist, a agent for the main bad in Mass Effect One, which is the reason in game the main character runs into him. Also, Rasa is trying to stall him so she can steal some data from Fist, which is the only time after this there is conflict and stakes in the entire comic.
Ashley’s arc is simply her retelling a disguised Rasa her experience on Eden Prime before the big bad attacks, which expect for a few minor details was covered well enough in the game.
Kaiden’s is only a flash back sparked by Rasa looking at his dossier from his time on Gagarin station, a story that was explained in vivid detail in the first game, and only provides some more details.
The only significant contribution to the overall story is that is shows has Cerberus, the terrorist organisation Rasa works for, was involved in the game before they became major players in Mass Effect 2.
If you’re a serious fan the comic will provide some extra details for major characters and will provide a thorough backstory for Rasa for those who liked her and wanted more screen time from her. But if you are unfamiliar with the Mass Effect games, do not read this, just play the games and if you want more afterwards come back.
From an art stand point … meh, I never really liked the gritty and messy comic book style but it is good enough to get along the details.
Profile Image for zxvasdf.
537 reviews41 followers
January 14, 2014
I probably couldn't appreciate this book as much since I haven't had the opportunity to play Mass Effect, about which I've heard so many good things. That's probably why I can't seem to get attached to any of the characters in Foundation. Despite the excellent art, I keep getting people mixed up, and I went away slightly confused with a headache.

But I sure as hell appreciated the beginning. It was so well done it took me by surprise, and probably will anyone not familiar with the Mass Effect Universe.

Profile Image for David.
466 reviews23 followers
February 19, 2014
I should be asleep but I was hoping that if I finished the book I would understand what was going on. This is not the case. There's some science fiction action involving sinister things and aliens and telekinesis.

None of it really means anything and I don't know who anyone is.

I've never played the game. Pretty sure this is a game.
Profile Image for Ron.
3,496 reviews9 followers
February 6, 2014
An almost typical science fiction trope, a dystopian space station opens the book with young person trying to survive. Time passes, she is now an agent of an illusive cartel. Plenty of action, interesting situations, and of course unresolved plot threads leading into the next volume.
Profile Image for 47Time.
2,544 reviews74 followers
May 21, 2021
The first issue starts explosively. Every single page keeps you on the edge of your seat. It's one of the coolest character introductions I've seen. It's almost a shame that several artists contribute to this volume. Then again, their artwork is pretty good. The volume features relatively independent chapters in Rasa's mission to follow the Normandy crew. I hope it will have a more focused plot in the next volumes.

Rasa is a child slave on a mining operation with no future until a skilled assassin and infiltrator shows up. The assassin aquires information by hiding in plain sight when possible and kicking behind when not. She uses Rasa to proceed in her mission and ultimately helps the child escape captivity. Though, trying to leave Rasa behind is fatal for her. Damn, that shot in the back was spectacular. Later we see Rasa join Cerberus.

November 6, 2016
A loosely connected series of stories, covering a number of companions from the Mass Effect games as The Illusive Man’s agents try to collect more information of the crew of the Normandy.

I have been deep into Mass Effect 3 recently (I know I’m a few years late here) and quite enjoyed the first two games in the series. Hoping for a little more from this interesting universe I decided to give this book a go, sadly it didn’t deliver at all.

While none of the stories really captured me, they were bad, they weren't particularly interesting either, my biggest disappointment is that this book is that it didn’t add anything to the universe. With a tie-in book like this I expect to get more details on characters and the universe that I already love, this book fails on that on that front.
June 21, 2021
Mass Effect has a well-deserved reputation for its plot and dialogue, so it's pretty surprising that the lead writer from Mass Effect 2 & 3 churned out this terrible comic. The plot ping-pongs around to the point of being non-existent. The dialogue is stunted and often non sequitur. It's sometimes unclear who or what is speaking. And the art is a muddled mess, at times appearing to be rendered 3D models and in other instances looking laughably goofy (I'm looking at you, panel 3, page 56).
You know what's also heavily present in ME and completely absent from the comics? Lore. You would think the medium lends itself to more exposition.
Also, the comic kinda feels like a low-effort reskin of some failed Dark Horse Star Wars comic script. They publish both, after all.
Profile Image for Jess ✩.
458 reviews37 followers
April 6, 2023
*I love the game, so I've been trying to read all the graphic novels so I can get background on the world.*

This was quite interesting! Still don't like Rasa . I don't really care how hard her life was, she's still horrible. Her obsession with the clone was... odd. I don't get why she thought she would be getting out of it or what her plan was, especially since she died in the end and decided she didn't care for the clone Afterall.

I did appreciate the insight into Cerberus thought.
Profile Image for Stacie.
244 reviews33 followers
March 18, 2018
It's not an abomination, but it's not good either. It doesn't look like Mass Effect and it doesn't feel like Mass Effect and the stories do nothing to add dimension to the characters you met in the games. The covers are beautiful, but the interior art is muddled.
Profile Image for Derek.
43 reviews6 followers
May 22, 2019
Answered questions I didn't know I had

This is a collection of stories that happen before (or during) the events of the first Mass Effect game. The story about Ashley Williams answers questions that I didn't know I had until the details were fleshed out.
Profile Image for Sweatdropp.
31 reviews
January 4, 2017
Lets you see the back story to some of the characters. So, if you love Mass Effect, it's an automatic 5 star.
Profile Image for Joe Davies.
74 reviews
May 27, 2022
Nice back stories to Ash and Kaiden.

Intro to Rasa the Cerberus Agent is jarring at first, but required to set the story
Profile Image for João  Jorge.
128 reviews22 followers
February 24, 2014
The first volume of "Mass Effect: Foundation" is unfortunately a disappointment. Its soulless and feels more like exploitation of the brand than a "real" effort in expanding the universe and producing a meaningful story.
The stories follow Rasa, a "Cerberus" operative who, to avoid spoilers, you may also know from the "Citadel" DLC from "Mass Effect 3". The first story is sort of an "origin" of Rasa, and while somewhat interesting, it falls a bit flat because the plot is predictable and the story has no real importance to the game's story arc. Rasa is never really developed in any way beyond this first story and since her appearance in the DLC also gave her little personality, she is more of an "empty" avatar through which the reader experiences some key moments in the ME trilogy. What I enjoyed more in this volume was how it was deeply rooted in the original game, for me, still my favorite. The second story, and the best, is about Wrex and his "hit" on Fist. There's lots of fun here. Wrex is wonderfully written, perfectly matching his in game character, there are some great lines and there's some effort in providing an interesting and different insight into a situation that comes to an end in the game we love.
The third story deals with Ashley Williams and the battle on Eden Prime that claimed her entire platoon. This story had the most potential, since its the exact moment before the first game begins, a key event in the trilogy but unfortunately its mostly wasted. Ashley was never the most compelling character and the spotlight here does nothing for her. There's a small bit about how she is "punished" in the "Alliance" for her "family name", something she later mentions in the game, a few moments with her squad that fail to make any connection and a few pages about the attack which fail to impress. And that's it. Its over. It felt pointless and even a bit boring.
The final story is about Kaidan Alenko and his time at Gagarin Station. This depicts events Kaidan also mentions later to Shepard in the game. We get to see a young Kaidan, Rahna and the turian instructor Vyrnnus. If you've played the game, you know what happens here and that's also the problem. The story is too short to show more of a connection between Kaidan and Rahna, Vyrnnus shows up just to be evil and the confrontation is surprisingly flat, maybe because we already knew the outcome.
The art in all stories is decent, with good color, nice details, like Ashley's armor from the game for instance, but the faces of the characters from the game could have used more effort. I thought Ashley looked nothing like "her", not even close in fact, and neither did Kaidan. Although Kaidan was obviously younger here, there was almost no resemblance to his "game" design. Wrex, on the other hand was perfectly drawn and Rasa and Kai Leng were decent enough. Oh yeah there's a bit of Kai Leng in "Foundation" for "all" his fans! There must be someone out there... right...?
Anyway, this is still a very cool comic for "Mass Effect" addicts, like me. Just Wrex is enough to make it worth the price. But this is also the weakest and I'd say laziest ME comic yet. It was too much "by the numbers", with just enough fan service to keep us happy and not much ambition. There's nothing new, nothing added to these events, just moments we heard about in the game, drawn in the pages, with not much creativity, to be honest. More than ever, this is recommended to only the really hardcore fans, needing their ME fix. The others wont be missing anything.
Profile Image for Chris Comerford.
Author 1 book20 followers
February 3, 2014
This review is courtesy of an Advance Review Copy through the good folks at NetGalley.

While I'm not usually a reader of tie-in comics, preferring to read prose novels from existing properties instead, I did enjoy Foundation. It feels almost like an anthology title linked by the character of Rasa, and seeing favourite characters from the game turn up was good.

The twist at the end of the book's first chapter is definitely unexpected, helped along by the breakneck pace the issue moves with. Each other chapter feels like a standalone instalment read either on its own or with the others, and each one is driven by the actions of an existing Mass Effect protagonist (Wrex, Ash and Kaidan, respectively) with Rasa and Kai Leng in the background. It's great seeing these characters fleshed out a bit more through background stuff we mightn't have seen in the game, and there's a strong sense of character development driving the plot of each story.

The artwork is also marvellous. The opening pages before the story proper (I presume they're the single-issue covers) look beautiful enough to be framed, and the illustrations of the narrative are full-lipped and riveting. I've always felt environs like the Citadel would be hard to do justice in a comic book since the visuals of it in the game are so dense (and rightly so), but Parker and Francia just knock it out. Great stuff.

After the first issue concludes, the pace slows considerably. This isn't entirely a bad thing, but I think it's a little incongruous to stick a swift-moving opening onto a narrative that moves at less than a quarter of the beginning pace. It makes the transition to the main story a little clunky.

Dialogue is ok, but a little stock. There are moments when the characters' voices from the game can be heard in the scripting (Wrex especially) and it seems like Walters has tapped into the performances they gave, but other time it feels like words that almost any character could be speaking. Also, Rasa is something of a nothing protagonist; she's less the driving force of the narrative and more a thread linking everything. If that' the intent then it works, but I get the feeling we're also supposed to be focusing on the framing story of her activities within Cerberus. This is especially true since the first chapter is basically her origin story.

Finally, the book is way too damn short. This is a problem I had with "Mass Effect: Redemption" too, though that was a more self-contained narrative versus this story, which I presume will be going for a little longer. I'd probably wait for a larger trade or hardcover collecting more issues to read in one go, since it's over too quickly.

On the whole, it's still a damn good read and it's great to see more background info on characters we know and love. Very keen to see who Volume 2 follows next.
Profile Image for Rinn.
292 reviews217 followers
January 27, 2015
I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Also posted on my book blog, Rinn Reads.

If you know me, you know the Mass Effect series of video games is one of my favourite things. You may also know that I’ve been slowly working my way through all related books and graphic novels, and so far have been sadly disappointed. So it is with great delight that I proclaim this particular volume my favourite Mass Effect related book so far!

This is, in a similar way to Mass Effect: Homeworlds, an origin story. Whereas Homeworlds focused on Tali, Garrus and James Vega, Foundation takes a look at the original companions of Commander Shepard: Ashley Williams and Kaidan Alenko, as well as featuring other well known figures such as Kai Leng, the Illusive Man and Wrex (Wrex, I’m so sorry…). Continuing Mass Effect‘s brilliant streak of tough, bad-ass female figures, Foundation opens with a mysterious red-head (yay!) who is not quite as she seems – but neither is her young companion. A shocking and surprising first chapter sets up the rest of the book.

One thing I really liked about Foundation was how it tied into the first Mass Effect game. Remember the very first mission on Eden Prime, where you find Ashley? On the way you encounter some of her team – well here you find out exactly how they managed to get themselves into that situation. It was really fun recognising all these minor characters and tying the plot pieces together. The artwork was generally of a great quality, although there were a couple of frames where I had to wonder whether the artist had really considered the angle – the character faces looked a bit odd. Ashley didn’t look quite like her virtual counterpart, although admittedly her image does change a little between games – but she was wearing her classic pink and white armour! The full pages at the beginning of the book were absolutely gorgeous, wonderfully dark and fitting for the series – and to me the characters even looked like they could be a variety of Commander Shepards (for all that have not played Mass Effect: you can customise Commander Shepard to look how you want. Also, for all that have not played Mass Effect: do it NOW!).

Overall, definitely a recommended read for fans of the Mass Effect series. I always love reading origin stories, and Kaidan’s even made me feel a little sorry for him – and normally he’s one of the characters I don’t really care about all that much. The artwork was generally of a very high standard, with some really standout pieces and perfect colour scheme.
Profile Image for Tabby-cat053.
4 reviews22 followers
January 2, 2015

I thought the first issue of foundation was great with a surprise ending to it. It gave us a backstory to our main character, and it didn't have the luxury like ME: Evolution to tell it all in one Volume to do so. and I thought it did a great job on it. I hate her in the DLC actually but I gotta admit that I felt sympathy for her.

Sadly though the next three issues were lacking for me. They revolve around our ME1 companions Wrex, Ashley, and Kaidan.

Each issue gets kind of pointless. Especially Kaidan's which was a real disappointment. Considering that I romanced him and is one of my favorite ME characters. And I know that I'm not the only Kaidan romancer that said that.

The art was all right but the faces could look a little silly at times. Like Kaidan's baby face XD but he was only seventeen in the 4th issue so I'll give it a pass. But Kai-leng's face just looked really weird at some points. I actually started to laugh when I saw his face at Page 93.

I'm pretty sure though that the whole point of Foundation is to get a few extra bucks from the ME fans which is fine as long as they deliver on the story. Which sadly they did not on this one. All in all though I'm still a big Mass Effect fan and will be picking up the second volume. Hopefully I'll enjoy a bit better than this one.

I heard some people on the internet upset with Rasa's disguise on issue #3 saying that she was white washed or whatever they said. I just want to state that I don't think that's the case. In the ME book Revelation. On Page 192 Kahlee Sanders has to disguise herself. She takes a handful of these pigment pills so her skin pigment changes. She also dyes her hair and puts in shaded contact lenses. So I don't think Rasa's disguise should be taken as a big deal. In the end I'd be more upset of Ashley if they kept her appearance the same and Ashley didn't notice her in the Citadel DLC.

Displaying 1 - 30 of 50 reviews

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