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Kevin Maguire, artist
|First appearance||Justice League #1 (May 1987)|
|Created by||Keith Giffen
J. M. DeMatteis
|Alter ego||Maxwell Lord IV|
Black Lantern Corps
|Notable aliases||Black King, Lord Havok|
Superhuman physical attributes derived from cyborg body
Maxwell Lord IV is a fictional character appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. He is portrayed as a shrewd and powerful businessman. Lord was very influential in the formation of the Justice League International in the DC Universe.
Fictional character biography
Maxwell Lord IV is the son of Maxwell Lord III, a successful businessman and head of the Chimtech Consortium. Maxwell III set out to be a good example for his son by striving to always do what was right. When Maxwell IV was 16, he came home to find his father dead to an apparent suicide. His father had discovered that his company had produced a highly carcinogenic product, and couldn't bear to live with the guilt and shame that came with the realization.
Maxwell's mother was convinced that her husband's death was the result of a conspiracy from the executives in his company who were unwilling to let his regrets tamper with their power. This led to her telling impressionable Maxwell to distrust figures of higher authority. This instilled a hatred towards powerful people in Max and made him believe that he must have control over all of them.
Maxwell spent the next years training to be more ruthless and powerful than his father was, methodically enacting his revenge against the Chimtech administration board members, but was unable to prevent Lex Luthor from acquiring his former property and adding it to the already immense LexCorp. By observing how Lex earned profits by arming and employing hostile metahumans, Maxwell and his mother decided to bend the rules for themselves, cajoling instead heroic metahumans to give Maxwell Lord a better edge. Thus, he sparked the plans to bring the Justice League, leaderless and broken after the Crisis on Infinite Earths event, under his exclusive control.
Giffen and DeMatteis years
Maxwell Lord IV initially worked behind the scenes to establish the League while under the control of a villainous computer created by Metron (a later retcon would say that this was actually the villainous computer program Kilg%re (pron. Kilgore), which had taken over Metron's machine. The much later, post-Infinite Crisis retcon mitigated the Kilg%re and the New Gods' influence, stating that Maxwell Lord already had plans for taking over the League, and he would have pursued them on his own volition regardless). The computer wanted Max to set up a worldwide peacekeeping organization as part of its plan to dominate the world.
Lord's ruthlessness at this time was illustrated when he set up a disturbed would-be terrorist as a villain for the League to defeat, resulting in the man's death (the would-be terrorist believed he had a bomb connected to his heartbeat, but in fact Max had disconnected it). Later, however, he rebelled against the computer and (seemingly) destroyed it.
Once free of the computer's influence, Lord was portrayed as an amoral businessman, but not a real villain. During the time that Giffen and DeMatteis were writing the Justice League, the character was shown struggling with his conscience and developing heroic qualities, though he would remain a con-artist.
Originally a normal human, Lord was one of many on Earth gifted with superpowers during the Invasion crossover when a Gene Bomb was exploded by alien invaders. This bomb activated the latent metagene present in a small percentage of Earthlings. Lord gained the ability to control the minds of others, albeit at great difficulty. Despite now being a metahuman himself, Lord never felt like one; instead his omnipresent mother pressured him to act for the benefit of non-powered individuals, thus again shifting his never-ending hatred from the generic "authority figures" that caused his father's death to the metahuman community.
After he was shot and placed in a coma at the start of the 15-part JLAmerica/JLEurope crossover Breakdowns, Dreamslayer, a supervillain, who (with the aid of the Extremists) had once destroyed all life on their planet, took over Lord's body and supercharged his power, allowing him to control thousands of minds at once. Using Lord's body and power, he caused the Justice League International to lose its charter and almost forced them to disband. While the possessed Lord forced the JLI to battle itself, the mortally wounded Silver Sorceress managed to contain Dreamslayer and held it within her mind as she died, taking it with her. When Lord was freed, his power was burnt out.
Later, Lord was diagnosed with a brain tumor and seemingly died. Kilg%re, however, had been waiting patiently for the right moment to reactivate its control of Lord and downloads his consciousness into a duplicate of one of the Extremist robots, Lord Havok (in a further retcon the body is said to be a New Genesis-built automaton, which later fell into Checkmate's possession). In this form, he spends some time testing the League for unknown reasons. He also takes control of the secret organization known as the Arcana.
His cyborg body later comes to resemble his original human form. Lord then pulls together several former JLI members, including L-Ron, Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold and Fire as the "Super Buddies", advertised as "Heroes the common man could call." These stories are told in the six-issue miniseries Formerly Known as the Justice League in 2003, and its 2005 sequel, I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League.
During the JLI-era, Doomsday causes the death of Superman among others. Ultimately, due to Mongul's invasion and destruction of Coast City, Maxwell loses his mother, still residing in their Coast City home. This event fuels his hatred and paranoia against the metahumans and leads him to believe that not only can metahumans not be trusted but that their personal battles and scuffles are enough to shatter world safety.
The 2005 80-page one-shot Countdown to Infinite Crisis reveals that Lord is no longer a cyborg and is apparently a criminal mastermind who spent years running the JLI while gathering sensitive information about the world's superheroes, whom he considered a threat to the planet. Simultaneously, he sabotaged JLI efforts in order to render the superhero team as ineffectual as possible. At the end of the prologue special issue, he shoots and kills one-time JLI member, Ted Kord, the second Blue Beetle, when the hero discovers Lord's secret and refuses his offer to join him.
During this time, Alexander Luthor, Jr., the god-like son of Lex Luthor from an alternate Earth, gives Lord control over Batman's Brother Eye, a satellite system Batman created to monitor all superhuman contact. Lord uses Brother Eye to create an army of OMACs (humans infected with a nano-virus that transformed them into cyborgs) programmed to hunt down and kill all superhumans.[volume & issue needed]
Lord also uses his powers to influence Superman's mind, causing him to brutally beat Batman in the belief that he is Brainiac. Lord subsequently sends Superman to attack Wonder Woman after making him believe that she is his old enemy Doomsday, and that she is trying to find Lois Lane in order to kill her. Lord justifies the resulting destruction as proof of his argument about the dangers of superhumans, pointing out the devastation that Wonder Woman and Superman could cause if they fought in a crowded area, and arguing that the fact that Superman can be brought under another's control is evidence that they cannot be relied upon. In the midst of her battle with Superman, Diana realizes that even if she defeats him, he would still remain under Lord's absolute mental control. She creates a diversion lasting long enough for her to race back to Lord's location and demand that he tell her how to free Superman from his control. Bound by her lasso of truth, Lord replies, "Kill me." Wonder Woman then snaps his neck (The OMAC Project, 2005). In response, Brother Eye broadcasts the footage of Wonder Woman killing Lord all over the world, destroying her reputation and her friendship with Batman and Superman who reject her despite the fact that she saved their lives. As the crisis unfolds, the three eventually reconcile as Diana helps Superman talk down his other self and prevents Batman from shooting Alexander Luthor, Jr., accepting that Diana did what she had to do and acknowledging that, for all their differences, they all still want justice.
At the "Crisis Counseling" panel at Wizard World Chicago, Dan DiDio explained DC's reasoning in using Lord's character in Infinite Crisis. After going through several possible characters who could be the "new leader for the offshoot of Checkmate", Maxwell Lord was suggested. Many of the editors thought that the idea made sense, as Lord had been shown to have a mean streak and to have killed previously. The idea was dropped due to the continuity errors, such as him being a cyborg, but they went back to it later after deciding none of the other possible characters were suitable. "We thought about that aspect of the story [where Maxwell was turned into a cyborg] some more," DiDio explained. "And then asked, 'Did anyone read it?' No. 'Did anyone like the idea?' No. So we moved ahead with Max as being a human, and having been a human, and not letting that small part of the past stand in the way of this story. We wanted what was best for Countdown [to Infinite Crisis], and for us, that meant that Max had to be a human."
One Year Later
Lord reappeared in 2007 in the first two story arcs of the new Booster Gold series by Geoff Johns and Dan Jurgens. At the end of the 52 Pick-Up story arc, Booster Gold and Blue Beetles from the past, present and future, go back in time to Countdown to Infinite Crisis and prevent Lord from killing Ted Kord. In the subsequent Blue and Gold story arc, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold discover that in saving Ted Kord they have created a new timeline where Lord was never killed by Wonder Woman and his OMAC's and a mind-controlled Superman have turned the entire planet into a police state. Lord reveals that he had been returned to human form after dozens of clandestine operations and that he learned the importance of control during that time. When Booster Gold and Blue Beetle, having assembled their old JLI teammates, storm Brother Eye, Lord is killed by Dr. Light when she blasts a hole through his chest. Ted Kord realizes that his death is the only way to fix the timestream and leaves the battle, seemingly to return to the past and accept his death. Next, Max makes an appearance in the Trinity maxi-series (2008-9). Lord's skull is stolen by a group called the Dreambound and brought to Morgaine Le Fey for use in a spell, which requires an item connected to Wonder Woman.
During the Blackest Night (2009–10) storyline, Maxwell Lord is identified as one of the deceased entombed below the Hall of Justice. Lord's corpse is revived as a Black Lantern during the event. Targeting Wonder Woman, he lures her to Arlington National Cemetery with a trail of slaughtered bodies. When Wonder Woman arrives, he springs a trap, using black rings to revive the bodies of fallen soldiers. Wonder Woman uses her lasso to reduce Lord and the soldiers to dust. However, as she leaves, the dust begins to regenerate. Some time later, Lord resumes his attack on Wonder Woman, who has recently been deputized into the Star Sapphires. Wonder Woman encases Lord's body in a violet crystal, then shatters it to pieces. However, Lord still continues to taunt her, his mouth talking out of a piece of crystal. He is later brought back to life by the power of the White Light. Though Guy Gardner attempts to restrain him, Lord uses his mind control abilities to "convince" Guy to let him leave.
Lord is among the other resurrected heroes/villains featured in the Brightest Day (2010) series. He is first seen attempting to push his mind control powers further than ever, but severely injures himself in the attempt, despite his meticulous preparations which include a constant blood supply and an ice pool. Later, Deadman's white power ring shows a vision where Lord is shown shaking hands with Jaime Reyes, the third Blue Beetle, but Lord is hiding a gun behind his back, implying that he is planning to kill him just as he killed Jaime's predecessor, Ted Kord.
In the first issue of Justice League: Generation Lost, Lord is the subject of an unprecedented international manhunt. He is found hiding in the old Justice League International embassy by Booster Gold, whom Lord is able to defeat. Lord then uses a device to amplify his mind control powers to unprecedented levels. With this he erases the world's memory of his existence. Initially it appears that only his former Justice League colleagues Booster Gold, Ice, Fire, and Captain Atom remember Max. It is later revealed in Brightest Day #8 that Deadman also remembers his existence. Lord uses his powers to disgrace the team, having Fire ousted from Checkmate, Captain Atom turned in as a fugitive for betraying the U.S. Army, and Ice isolated from Guy Gardner, who Lord causes to believe she tried to kill him. He also influences the superhero community into believing Ted Kord committed suicide, which enrages Booster Gold. He then sends OMACs after the current Blue Beetle, Jaime Reyes, who calls Booster Gold and the others for help. In the meantime, Lord discovers that his resurrection has come with a side effect: some of his efforts to control others' minds transform his targets into cadavers wearing Black Lantern uniforms. Contacting his former colleagues through a fallen Rocket Red's armor, Lord reveals that he intentionally exempted them from the worldwide mindwipe and that he wants them to protect the world as they did in the old days. He then warns the group not to come looking for him, unaware that Blue Beetle had located his transmission signal.
Captain Atom then tells the others that an explosion, seen in the first issue, propelled him briefly into the 24th century where he saw a world reduced to a pre-industrial state by a metahuman war instigated by Lord. The team resolve to try to prevent Lord from bringing about this dystopia. Maxwell Lord is at one point contacted by the Entity who tells him to stop Magog from plunging the world into war. Lord then sees a vision of himself killing a distraught Magog, who begs for mercy, with Magog's own staff. The Entity gives Lord a vision of a future when Magog's team attacks Parasite. Parasite's absorption of Captain Atom causes an explosion that destroys everything within a large radius and annihilates over a million people (similar to the Kingdom Come future). Power Girl witnesses her new villain C.R.A.S.H. confronting Lord before heading towards the teleporter. When the team next encounter Lord, after mind-controlling first Fire and then Booster Gold to prevent them from stopping him, he teleports from the old JLI embassy back to Checkmate where he attempts to enlist Magog to kill Captain Atom. Lord uses technology to upgrade Magog's staff into emitting energy blasts. Meanwhile, Lord asks Professor Ivo to reprogram the Metal Men. Then he asks Doctor Sivana to create a genetically engineered humanoid clone of Power Girl.
When Captain Atom and Magog battle in the heart of Chicago, Captain Atom is able to convince Magog that he's being used and Magog remembers Lord. Watching, Lord uses his powers to force Magog to kill himself and then makes everyone believe they watched Captain Atom murder him. The Entity proclaims Lord has completed his task, and his life is restored to him. After briefly receiving a White Ring, the recently returned Bruce Wayne seems to now be aware of Max Lord's resurrection. When Captain Atom absorbs the energy from Magog's spear he is propelled forward through time 112 years in the future, where Lord, while long dead, has plunged humanity into a massive metahuman war ruled by OMACs. Captain Atom is eventually returned to the present but not before a dying Power Girl tells him that the catalyst for all this was Wonder Woman's death by Lord's hand and Batman (Damian Wayne) tells him how to stop Lord's ultimate plans. However, Lord is struck with the ironic discovery that (with the exception of the original four ex-JLIers) no one in the world remembers Wonder Woman.
Later, when the Creature Commandos attack the JLI embassy, Lord poses as a member and captures Jaime Reyes heading towards the teleporter with him, while the others are unable to stop him. Lord regains his abilities to transform his targets into cadaver OMACs and he tortures the Blue Beetle while in captivity. Lord's mindwipes feed off psychic energy so the more people who are around, the faster some will forget. In issue 19, the rest of the team locate Lord's secret facility in a submersible below the Sea of Japan. Seconds before the team reach him, and as predicted by the White Ring, Lord shoots Jaime in the head (echoing his execution of Jaime's predecessor, Ted Kord). The JLI arrives and attack Lord, but he then escapes from the JLI in one of his headquarters' escape pods and the headquarters vanishes.
While the JLI learned Jaime is alive, the team also learned that Lord not only manipulated them, but also wanted the JLI to chase him to distract Checkmate. Later, Lord uses a device to enhance his mental powers, turning people around the world into OMACs to attack Wonder Woman and the JLI. Before the device activates, Lord sends the OMAC Prime that he controls to attack the heroes. Booster Gold manages to locate Lord's flying headquarters, attacking it to confront him face-to-face. Lord gains the upper hand with his mental powers but Captain Atom grabs him, after having become overloaded with quantum energy in the fight with OMAC Prime and about to be pulled into the timestream. He threatens to take Lord with him unless he undoes the global mindwipe and a desperate Lord complies. Captain Atom is pulled away and Lord teleports to escape the heroes. Later, he posts an online video where he blames Professor Ivo for Magog's rampage and says that he only wants to protect the world from the metahuman threat and he will continue to do so in secret.
In the recent relaunch of DC Comics continuum Max Lord still runs Checkmate as the Black King but now has leadership seniority over Cadmus and its various programs. He'd successfully captured Batman's superpower monitoring satellite Brother Eye for his own purposes, but it ended up creating an agent with which it would act through seeking vengeance. Lord ended up getting into heated battle with an all new OMAC created from one of the projects employee's.
Still the running head of Checkmate, Lord assembles together a team consisting of Doctor Polaris, Emerald Empress, Johnny Sorrow, Rustam, and Lobo to assist him in his efforts to take down Amanda Waller, having chosen these five as they were the 'original' incarnation of the Suicide Squad and hence have experience working as a team, prompting Waller to capture the Justice League to ask for their help against Lord. While most of the heroes and villains do not recognize Lord, the displaced pre-Flashpoint Superman shows awareness of him, reflecting his past contact with Lord before reality was reset. Although the combined forces of the League and the Squad are able to defeat Lord's allies, they are unable to prevent Lord achieving his goal; with the aid of a controlled Killer Frost, Lord acquires the Heart of Darkness from a vault, using it to enhance his powers to take control of the League. Using the infected Justice League (apart from Batman, who he did not infect), Lord uses them to achieve 'peace' across America and has Waller kidnapped and taken before him. However, despite believing that he had taken precautions to control the Heart, Lord is forced by Waller to recognize that it is manipulating his perceptions, using Lord's powers to spread chaos and evil across the world, and twist Lord's perception of what is transpiring. When Waller is able to bring him to his senses, Lord tries to remove the Heart of Darkness but it consumes and transforms him into Eclipso. Eclipso is driven out when Killer Frost is able to user her powers to create a prism of ice that channels Superman's heat vision at just the right frequency to disrupt his hold on his slaves, with Lord being subsequently immobilized by Killer Frost. He awakens in a cell specially designed to hold him, with injectors pumping so much blood thinner into him that he would bleed to death if he even attempts to access his powers. He mockingly asks Waller if she set this whole thing up just to 'justify' the Squad to the League, but Waller declines to reply, and simply informs him that he is to prepare himself for service on 'Task Force XI'.
Powers and abilities
In his original depictions, Maxwell Lord had no abilities, but later became a metahuman as a result of the Dominators' invasion of Earth. Lord's powers allowed him to telepathically influence people's minds, typically in the form of pushing a subconscious suggestion to others. Using his power causes Max to exhibit nose bleeds, and requires great mental strain, but over time however, Lord's powers grew to the point where he could take full control of other beings, even Superman. His powers made him such a threat to global security that Wonder Woman was forced to snap his neck. When the character was resurrected following Blackest Night, in the story Justice League: Generation Lost, he prepared to erase the world's memories of his past criminal actions; in order to survive the trauma to his brain, he placed his body in a large tub of ice and hooked himself up to a blood transfusion machine.
Following a company-wide reboot, Lord reintroduced as part of the DC Rebirth publishing event as having been a metahuman since his youth. His primary power is tweaked to a form of powerful psychic persuasion which works best when paired with a vocal command. In this later depiction, his powers work by exploiting and promoting people's underlying desires and inhibitions to make them do his bidding. He also exhibits low-level mind reading[disambiguation needed] abilities.
In other media
- Maxwell Lord appears in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Ultimatum" voiced by Tim Matheson. He is shown as a normal human with no special powers. He acts as the manager of the Ultimen, a superhero team that works independently of the Justice League. It turns out, however, that the Ultimen are a series of artificial life forms cloned and given false memories while interacting with actors portraying their parents. The team was developed with the assistance of Project Cadmus as part of an ongoing project to protect the Earth from the Justice League. As the clones (which are imperfect) die, they are replaced until one generation of the clones learns the truth and escapes. Maxwell is told by Amanda Waller to get them back or she will call in the "squad" to take them down. The Ultimen ended up attacking Maxwell Lord, demanding answers. He told them that they were created to be a better superhero team than the Justice League. When he offers to help them when their lifespan ends, they deny his plea and head back to the building to look for Amanda Waller and their as-yet-unactivated clones. After four of the Ultimen are subdued by the Justice League and apprehended by the authorities, Maxwell Lord and Amanda Waller arrived with some Cadmus soldiers and take them into their custody to be there for when their lifespan end.
- Maxwell Lord appears in the Smallville Season 9 episode "Charade", portrayed by Gil Bellows. In this incarnation, he's the Black King of the organization known as Checkmate and had the ability to extract memories from others which he used to try to reveal the identity of "The Blur" (a.k.a. Clark Kent). He was thwarted by Clark but managed to escape, only to be apprehended by the mysterious Red Queen. She then has him interrogate Tess in a mental illusion to try to find the Book of Rao. However, she purposely gives him incorrect information that causes Tess to see through the illusion and escape, knowing that the first thing she will then do is go and move the book to a new hiding place.
- Maxwell Lord appears in Supergirl, portrayed by Peter Facinelli. In this series, Lord is the founder of Lord Technologies and is the son of scientists who were killed due to safety conditions, making him distrusting of all government agencies. As J'onn notes, Lord has a "God complex". To summarize his role, Lord's basically Supergirl's "Lex Luthor". He also has an agenda to expose Supergirl's identity at any cost, making Kara suspicious. He discovers that Agent Danvers and Supergirl are sisters in episode 11 "Strange visitor from another planet". Maxwell Lord creates a female Bizarro Frankenstein style in the 12th episode of the season. He is captured by Alex Danvers and imprisoned in the DEO in the same episode and is not released until episode 14, in repayment for his help in freeing Supergirl from the Black Mercy in episode 13. At this point, he ceases hostilities with Supergirl and the DEO, instead working with them on occasion; however, in the season one finale, he is seen giving General Lane some of his Kryptonite bombs in a secret deal.
- In the unproduced Justice League film entitled Justice League: Mortal, Lord was to be the primary antagonist, and was set to be portrayed by Jay Baruchel.
- "Maxwell Lord (Character) - Comic Vine". Comic Vine. Retrieved 2016-12-15.
- Justice League: Generation Lost #20 (February 2011)
- Flash vol. 2 #51 (1991)
- Kirk, Jason (2010-06-13). "Who is Maxwell Lord? – Part I: Origin | the Captain's JLA blog". League.jmkprime.org. Archived from the original on January 26, 2012. Retrieved 2011-04-25.
- Kirk, Jason (2010-06-15). "Who is Maxwell Lord? – Part II: The JLI | the Captain's JLA blog". League.jmkprime.org. Archived from the original on July 13, 2010. Retrieved 2011-04-25.
- Kirk, Jason (2010-06-19). "Who is Maxwell Lord? – Part III: The Fall | the Captain's JLA blog". League.jmkprime.org. Archived from the original on January 26, 2012. Retrieved 2011-04-25.
- Kirk, Jason (2010-06-27). "Who is Maxwell Lord? – Part IV: The Super Buddies | the Captain's JLA blog". League.jmkprime.org. Archived from the original on January 26, 2012. Retrieved 2011-04-25.
- Kirk, Jason (2010-07-06). "Who is Maxwell Lord? – Part V: Checkmate | the Captain's JLA blog". League.jmkprime.org. Archived from the original on January 26, 2012. Retrieved 2011-04-25.
- "WWC: DAY 2 – DC CRISIS COUNSELING PANEL – NEWSARAMA". newsarama.com. Archived from the original on 6 February 2009.
- Trinity #14 (September 2008)
- Blackest Night #1 (September 2009)
- Blackest Night #3 (November 2009)
- Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #1 (February 2010)
- Blackest Night: Wonder Woman#3 (April 2010)
- Blackest Night #8 (May 2010)
- Brightest Day #0 (April 2010)
- Justice League: Generation Lost #1 (May 2010)
- Justice League: Generation Lost #2 (May 2010)
- Justice League: Generation Lost #4 (June 2010)
- Justice League: Generation Lost #5 (July 2010)
- Justice League: Generation Lost #6 (July 2010)
- Brightest Day #7 (August 2010)
- Justice League: Generation Lost #7 (August 2010)
- Justice League: Generation Lost #10 (September 2010)
- Power Girl #15 (August 2010)
- Justice League: Generation Lost #8 (August 2010)
- Justice League: Generation Lost #9 (September 2010)
- Power Girl #18 (November 2010)
- Justice League: Generation Lost #13 (November 2010)
- Brightest Day #14 (November 2010)
- Justice League: Generation Lost #14 (November 2010)
- Justice League: Generation Lost #15 (December 2010)
- Justice League: Generation Lost #16 (December 2010)
- Justice League: Generation Lost #17 (January 2011)
- Justice League: Generation Lost #18 (January 2011)
- Justice League: Generation Lost #19 (February 2011)
- Justice League: Generation Lost #22 (March 2011)
- Justice League: Generation Lost #23 (April 2011)
- Justice League: Generation Lost #24 (April 2011)
- O.M.A.C. #1 - Office Management Amidst Chaos
- Justice League VS Suicide Squad #1
- Justice League VS Suicide Squad #3
- Justice League VS Suicide Squad #4
- Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #5
- Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #6
- "KryptonSite Scoop: Maxwell Lord Is Coming To Smallville!". Kryptonsite.com. Retrieved 2011-04-25.
- Anthony D'Alessandro. "Supergirl Finds Her Maxwell Lord: Peter Facinelli Joins CBS Show – Deadline". Deadline.
- "Supergirl Recap: Episode 112, Bizarro". SuperHeroHype.
- "EXCLUSIVE: Leaked 'Justice League: Mortal' Script Review ~ Superhero Movie News – Comic Book Movie News 24/7". superheromoviesnews.com.