Which superhero has the best supporting cast?

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The Romulan Republic
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Which superhero has the best supporting cast?

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-09-27 09:54pm

So, back when I did the "favorite superhero" thread, one thing that came out of it IIRC was the question of who has the strongest supporting cast. After all, while it is good to have a compelling underlying concept for a character (perhaps especially a superhero or supervillain), and to develop them consistently, a large part of what determines a character's development is how they interact with the people around them. So, which superhero has the best supporting cast (including sidekicks, allies, mentors, love interests, rogues gallery, minor characters, etc.)?

For me, again, I've got to say Batman. Robin, the Joker, Alfred, and Catwoman at least are all major cultural icons in their own rights, and the Joker, written well, is simply one of the greatest villains out there. I'm also personally quite fond of the Gordons, both father and daughter, and then there's the whole spectacular array of the rogues gallery. Add in the rest of DC, and the interactions between both Superman and Wonder Woman, and Batman, I find to be quite intriguing. Supes in particular is a great foil for him, and vice-versa.

Expanding the definition of superhero beyond the big comics companies, Buffy the Vampire Slayer has one of the most brilliantly memorable supporting casts in television history, and Doctor Who has assembled quite an impressive entourage through shear longevity, as well.
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Re: Which superhero has the best supporting cast?

Post by Majin Gojira » 2018-09-27 10:44pm

Edit: I completely misread the thread.

Anyway, Spider-Man and Batman have basically the best supporting cast members. Both of which are huge.

And they've had the least "Clean Slatting" among comic book heroes. Ya know, where a new writer comes in, jettisons the old cast completely in favor of a new one only to have the same thing done to that cast, again and again...

It happens way to often.
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Re: Which superhero has the best supporting cast?

Post by Q99 » 2018-09-28 01:45am

Kamala Khan and Jaime Reyes are two modern characters with great supporting casts, cool family and friends and all that.

Black Panther's is quite solid too, Wakanda gives him a much more developed cast than many characters.

Superman's is nothing to sneeze at, with classics like Lois, the Kents, Perry White, Jimmy Olsen, Steel, Lex Luthor, and so on.

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Re: Which superhero has the best supporting cast?

Post by Tribble » 2018-09-28 07:34am

Just to be different, I always found the supporting cast from the Dragonball universe to be pretty diverse and interesting as far as fighting animes go. Bonus points for most of Goku's allies starting off as bitter rivals.
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Re: Which superhero has the best supporting cast?

Post by Solauren » 2018-09-28 05:18pm

Bleach's supporting cast is pretty good as well.

Most of them undergo character development in the Manga. The Anime, even more so.
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Re: Which superhero has the best supporting cast?

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-09-28 05:39pm

Hmmmm... are bad guys included?

Captain America's supporting cast is usually SHIELD in the comics. Occasionally Avengers members. So that's a bit less impressive than that sounded at first, I guess? Apart from Bucky he tends to go it alone for the most part. Depending on whether he's currently geriatric, possessed by HYDRA/the Red Skull, whatever...

Hulk has Rick Jones, Betty Ross, and the classic conflict with General Ross to keep him going. Though by virtue of the overall plot (always running away from Ross) he never quite builds up his cast past a fairly small group of people.

Flash has a good few people on his side, depending on the incarnation. Wally for example had a lot of 90s-era dudes backing him up like Max Mercury and Bart Allen. Even in the TV show he's got a great cast with Cisco, Caitlin Snow, Iris, Joe West, and Harrison Wells in all his various versions. Better than Arrow's, IMO.

Speaking of TV, Legends of Tomorrow IS the supporting cast :P

Hmm... Marvel's heroes don't tend to have large casts, actually. If they do, they're old school, long established single superheroes like Spidey. Groups like the FF and X-Men tend to not have as large a cast given that they have enough main characters to always have a storyline going. DC on the other hand has had enough high profile single heroes doing their own thing for a long enough time that their heroes tend to have a decent cast. Wonder Woman for example has a bunch of Amazons like her mom and her rival Artemis, Etta Candy (god such a horrible name), Steve Trevor etc. Aquaman has Mera, Garth, Vulko, Black Manta, Orm etc.
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Re: Which superhero has the best supporting cast?

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-09-28 08:44pm

Yeah, bad guys are fine. Any characters generally associated with that hero, be it sidekicks, allies/partners, love interests, mentors, villains, or bit parts.

Again, the full splendor of Batman's rogues gallery is a big part of why I picked him.
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Re: Which superhero has the best supporting cast?

Post by Majin Gojira » 2018-09-28 11:14pm

Q99 wrote:
2018-09-28 01:45am
Kamala Khan and Jaime Reyes are two modern characters with great supporting casts, cool family and friends and all that.
Oddly enough, I mentioned Jaime Reyes in my pre-edited post. He and Kamala really do have some of the best 21st-century casts for new characters. Runaways is in 3rd place.
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Re: Which superhero has the best supporting cast?

Post by Q99 » 2018-09-29 07:43am

Majin Gojira wrote:
2018-09-28 11:14pm
Oddly enough, I mentioned Jaime Reyes in my pre-edited post. He and Kamala really do have some of the best 21st-century casts for new characters. Runaways is in 3rd place.
It strikes me that there's a weird thing where a lot of writers like to get rid of supporting casts, move characters to new places and not use the old, etc... yet two of the big success stories of the last decade are, "Here's some new heroes, they have families. They're all alive. They interact on regular. Friends too. The friends are non-super."


Like, if you assembled all of Wonder Woman's supporting cast it'd be quite a crew... because she has a tremendous history of her old ones being shuffled off and forgotten each run, and her supporting cast in any one run is comparatively small. You could have Steve Trevor, Etta Candy, Julia and Vanessa Kapatelis, Trevor Barnes, Hippolyta, Phillipus (who has been Diana's one-eyed badass mentor in one run), Artemis, Io, a number of other amazons, a band of albino gorilla knights (who once served as her lawyers), Ferdinand the minotaur chef, various gods- not all of them greek- and quite a few more. In reality, her supporting cast side is weaker than Kamala's due to all the shuffling.

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Re: Which superhero has the best supporting cast?

Post by Jub » 2018-09-30 08:45am

I don't really read many comics, but I do read a fair bit of manga which is full of heroes.

Goku has a great supporting cast. They're some of the strongest fighters in their multiverse, have diverse sets of skills in and out of battle, and has access to a lot of resources thanks to Bulma and Hercule. Most teams of heroes would have a very difficult time taking down the Z-fighters or their foes.

Izuku Midoriya has his entire class, though some might be reluctant to help. He also has the support of UAs staff, Gran Torino, and in a pinch likely has some access to the entire pro hero network. Not in the same class as other stronger series MHA's cast would likely do best sticking to the kinds of foes Spiderman or Batman tend to go after.

Negi Springfield has a pretty interesting set of allies in his all-female class. He's a 10-year-old magical prodigy who's the son of one of the most powerful mages his world has seen. His class of 31 students, all of which are granted some ability or another via making temporary pacts with Negi as well as the other friends he meets along the way generally have the skills and abilities needed to tackle most problems. I'd rate them as more powerful than Izuku Midoriya and company but well below a heavy hitter like Superman.

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Re: Which superhero has the best supporting cast?

Post by Q99 » 2018-09-30 09:04am

Jub wrote:
2018-09-30 08:45am
I don't really read many comics, but I do read a fair bit of manga which is full of heroes.

Goku has a great supporting cast. They're some of the strongest fighters in their multiverse, have diverse sets of skills in and out of battle, and has access to a lot of resources thanks to Bulma and Hercule. Most teams of heroes would have a very difficult time taking down the Z-fighters or their foes.
And one of the persistent complains by fans is "Use X more!". X being Tien, Yamcha, etc..

Izuku Midoriya has his entire class, though some might be reluctant to help. He also has the support of UAs staff, Gran Torino, and in a pinch likely has some access to the entire pro hero network. Not in the same class as other stronger series MHA's cast would likely do best sticking to the kinds of foes Spiderman or Batman tend to go after.

Negi Springfield has a pretty interesting set of allies in his all-female class. He's a 10-year-old magical prodigy who's the son of one of the most powerful mages his world has seen. His class of 31 students, all of which are granted some ability or another via making temporary pacts with Negi as well as the other friends he meets along the way generally have the skills and abilities needed to tackle most problems. I'd rate them as more powerful than Izuku Midoriya and company but well below a heavy hitter like Superman.
Ooh, you're talking about the physical strength of the cast rather than the narrative strength ^^ Yea, they're pretty strong, but they're also just good casts where it's easy to keep track of everyone and root for pretty much any classmember in each.

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Re: Which superhero has the best supporting cast?

Post by Jub » 2018-09-30 09:32am

Q99 wrote:
2018-09-30 09:04am
And one of the persistent complains by fans is "Use X more!". X being Tien, Yamcha, etc..
Tien was used in the tournament of power in Super as were Roshi, Krillin, 17 and 18. Yamacha was lampshaded but is ultimately too much of a vain coward and general weakling to be of much use these days. Bulma, Trunks (Future), Trunks (Kid), Goten, Chi-chi, Hercule, Buu, King Kai, and many others also got a fair share of screen time.

Fans will always want more of their favorite side character, that doesn't mean that, at least as of Super, those characters are being utilized where appropriate. Yeah, it could still be better but in terms of both character, strength, and skill the Z-fighters are useful and interesting and work well in allowing the main cast of Goku, Vegeta, and to a lesser extent Piccolo to shine.
Izuku Midoriya has his entire class, though some might be reluctant to help. He also has the support of UAs staff, Gran Torino, and in a pinch likely has some access to the entire pro hero network. Not in the same class as other stronger series MHA's cast would likely do best sticking to the kinds of foes Spiderman or Batman tend to go after.

Negi Springfield has a pretty interesting set of allies in his all-female class. He's a 10-year-old magical prodigy who's the son of one of the most powerful mages his world has seen. His class of 31 students, all of which are granted some ability or another via making temporary pacts with Negi as well as the other friends he meets along the way generally have the skills and abilities needed to tackle most problems. I'd rate them as more powerful than Izuku Midoriya and company but well below a heavy hitter like Superman.
Ooh, you're talking about the physical strength of the cast rather than the narrative strength ^^ Yea, they're pretty strong, but they're also just good casts where it's easy to keep track of everyone and root for pretty much any classmember in each.
[/quote]

Not really I mostly just didn't want to spoil an ongoing anime/manga or a reasonably obscure series that people may have missed. I also didn't feel like writing about each of Negi's 31 students plus his other handful of rivals turned friends, mentors, ect. The same goes for Midoriya's classmates, All Might, etc.

It's easy enough to look them up on Wikipedia, read a manga chapter online, or catch an anime episode for any of the series I mentioned and I'd rather people do that than spoil something for a potential fan.

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Re: Which superhero has the best supporting cast?

Post by Civil War Man » 2018-10-04 12:08pm

The strength of the supporting cast can also vary depending on the medium and specific adaptation. DC heroes that typically have a strong stable in the comics or animated features are much more of a mixed bag when you look at the live action movies, particularly the most recent ones.

Looking specifically at the movies, I'd say the biggest contenders (in no particular order) are:
1. Black Panther. He's only got one solo movie so far, but he got off to a really strong start with one of the most interesting MCU main villains with Killmonger, an interesting supporting villain with Klawe, and a strong support cast with Shuri, Nakia, Okoye, M'Baku, and Everett Ross.
2. Ant Man. He's had a weaker villain stable so far, but compensates by having a good support cast with Hope, Hank, his family, and, of course, the Wombats.
3. Captain America. He cheats a little bit by having a lot of the Avengers who haven't gotten their own standalone movie (ie Black Widow, Hawkeye, Falcon, Scarlet Witch) end up under his banner, and having a lot of SHIELD connections. In my opinion, he also has the highest average villain quality of the OG MCU Avengers.

Honorable mentions go to MCU Spiderman (Strong villain, cheats a bit by having Iron Man as a mentor figure), Wonder Woman (really one of the only competitors of the DCEU side, since Superman's the only other hero with a DCEU solo movie so far), Nolan Batman (though I thought the support cast was weaker than it could have been given Batman's pedigree), and Thor (the changes in Ragnarok makes me award him "most improved" in this contest).

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Re: Which superhero has the best supporting cast?

Post by Vendetta » 2018-10-04 05:10pm

Jub wrote:
2018-09-30 09:32am
Not really I mostly just didn't want to spoil an ongoing anime/manga or a reasonably obscure series that people may have missed. I also didn't feel like writing about each of Negi's 31 students plus his other handful of rivals turned friends, mentors, ect. The same goes for Midoriya's classmates, All Might, etc.
You don't have to go into specifics to discuss the general strengths of a cast and how they enhance a narrative. Because you did misread the thread and thought it was a "who's the strongest" thread not "who's the most dramatically interesting" thread and assessed comparative fighting strengths.

Look, I'll do you an example:

The supporting cast of My Hero Academia are a memorable supporting cast because the concept of the series (superhero school) lets them all go through significant growth because they are growing and learning as people. The series finds time for many of the side characters to get their own time in the spotlight, particularly in the "school" arcs even though the core cast and Midoriya particularly are the focus of the "villain" arcs. The varied nature of the characters lets them make a lot of different points about the nature of the world and how it views heroes, and the setting makes it natural for them to keep interacting.

See, nothing got spoiled, just a brief discussion of the dramatic merits of the cast.



I do think Manga has a bit of an advantage because it's limited serial nature means that characters are more deliberately designed for the story they are in, and growth and development of characters isn't invariably undone by some later writer, probably called Geoff Johns, deciding it all needs to be like it was when he was growing up.

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Re: Which superhero has the best supporting cast?

Post by Jub » 2018-10-04 07:11pm

Vendetta wrote:
2018-10-04 05:10pm
You don't have to go into specifics to discuss the general strengths of a cast and how they enhance a narrative. Because you did misread the thread and thought it was a "who's the strongest" thread not "who's the most dramatically interesting" thread and assessed comparative fighting strengths.
Nah, I didn't do that at all. I was just lazy and assumed that people knew the cast of two of the most popular animes/mangas in recent years. I had less of an excuse for Negima which I don't expect most people to know but if anybody was interested I'd have elaborated. If I was going for raw strength I wouldn't have even mentioned MHA or Negima in the same breath as DBZ.

As for why I mentioned strength in terms of in-universe feats, that's actually pretty important to gauging how interesting a team is. What threat levels can be written for them, what problems would be their downfall, etc. I'll admit that once again I generalized rather broadly and expected the reader to have some knowledge of the property, but again that was laziness on my part.

Anyway, since you called me out I'll do a rundown of Dragon Ball. I was going to do all three but I started typing for just DBS and realized that it's going to be a small essay.

Dragon Ball

I'm going with the cast as of the end of Dragon Ball Super and excluding any Heroes information because I doubt that show is canon. I'll start with Goku and work down the team in terms of their in-universe power level because let's face it, weaker characters have been getting less screen time since around the Saiyan Saga in DBZ.

Goku is a pure character in the Japanese sense of the term. He's single-mindedly focused on improving his own level of martial skill and raw power because he sees life as a series of challenges to overcome. He cares for his friends and often rushes to their aid when they're in trouble but his nature and naivety often causes the very danger he's saving them from. He's not very well educated, often shown as needing to count on his fingers for basic math or admitting that he doesn't know what kissing is but he's not stupid. With his areas of skill, he's often shown as being the first to master a new technique or figure out a weakness in an opponent's fighting style. He shows mercy to his foes going out of his way to give every opponent a chance to repent and turning those foes which can be redeemed into strong allies.

In terms of raw power, he's a galaxy or universe level threat who has ranged and melee offense covered in spades. Assuming the foes he faces have a power level he can sense he can find them over galaxy or even universe level distances and teleport to them near instantly. His weaknesses are that he often starts slow and draws out battles needlessly and that he doesn't take most fights as anything more serious than a martial arts contest even when the stakes are life and death.

Vegeta is the next strongest Z fighter and the only other character that is a proper rival for Goku at this point in the series. He's one of the last surviving members of the Saiyan race and is, in fact, their prince or king if he chose to take such a title. He's a prideful and arrogant character who's quick to assert his strength even when a more wait and see approach might be advised. For his flaws, he'll play the reluctant hero or even take on a mentoring role if the mood strikes him. He's second only to Goku in terms of his ability to learn new techniques and find weaknesses in his opponents but unlike Goku, he's far more knowledgeable about the world and is far less prone to taking people at face value.

He's roughly as powerful as Goku though he lacks the ability to teleport. As of the end of Super, he may be stronger than Goku as he can access a more powerful version of super Saiyan blue while Goku doesn't have access to his ultra instinct form.

Piccolo is arguably the next strongest of the group. He's taken a supporting role often used as the setup character to show just how strong a threat is. He's helped raise both of Goku's sons and is currently helping raise Gohan's daughter. This Namekian is the wise one of the group usually offering advice that Goku and Vegeta are apt to miss in their haste to dive into combat. He fights in a different style than the others do and lacks their raw power but this often leads to him being more of a team player than either Goku or Vegeta which is to the group's benefit.

In terms of power, he's a large step below Goku and Vegeta in terms of raw strength and speed, but he has techniques that allow him to threaten foes near their level. That said most foes don't stand a chance against him which is why he gets used as the character who goes down to show the level of threat the Z fighters are facing.

Gohan is Goku's eldest son and is around the same level as Piccolo in terms of raw strength. He's the reluctant warrior of the group the having taken time off for schooling at a career at his mother Chi-chi's insistence. In the tournament of power, he was the captain of the Z-fighters and coordinated things until the later stages of the battle when that became impossible. He's among the most worldly of the top tier fighters of the group and is the ablest to function with society as well as in super-powered combat.

In terms of power he should, in theory, rival Goku and Vegeta but he doesn't. This disappoints some fans given that DBZ poised him as on the cusp of taking Goku's role as the strongest warrior in the group. Still, he's as strong or stronger than Piccolo and an intelligent fighter who works well with his allies to defeat foes that would otherwise threaten the team.

Android 17 takes the next spot. He's a former foe turned park ranger who almost didn't join the Z-fighters. It was interesting to see him at all as we've seen nothing of him since he and 18 went their own ways after the Cell arc. He has a family and very strong personal convictions, but we don't know that much about him with lends him an air of mystery that no other character in the series has.

In terms of power he's close to Piccolo and Gohan. He, much like 18, has an Android Battery which means he doesn't tire the way most fighters do though he can still be injured. He's fast and his barrier technique is tougher than a warrior within his weight class should have access to.

Android 18 is the wife of Krillin and another foe turned ally. She's profit-driven and comes off as cold but it's also clear that she loves her husband and their daughter Marron. She's also the sarcastic member of the group often making comments about how oblivious a character like Goku is being. There are hints at her being a real softy underneath her cool shell and she's even been shown as curious and impatient though such moments are rare.

She's just weaker than her younger brother 17 in terms of power but she shares all the same advantages he does. It's likely that she's weaker due to being a stay at home mother while 18 actively protects a large island from aggressive poachers.

18's husband Krillin is the next character on this list. He's the strongest human character but is a large step below characters in the Piccolo, Gohan, and Android's tier. He's died many times and is often visibly afraid in fights but when it counts he stands up for what's right. Post DBZ he took up a job as a police officer and gave up martial arts because he knew he couldn't hope to keep up with the top level characters no matter how hard he tried. This has likely changed after he was needed both in Ressurection of F and the Universe Survival tournament. He's Goku's best friend and his death at the hand's of Frieza in DBZ was the catalyst for Goku's first Super Saiyan transformation.

Krillin has to fight a more tricky and technical style against the sort of foes Goku regularly faces but he has the tools to do so. His Destructo Disk can cut through even very strong foes unless the actively counter it and his Solar Flare technique can blind even the strongest of foes allowing for escape or counter-attack.

Tien is the next character on the list. He's another former foe of Goku's from back in Dragon Ball. He's a three-eyed monk who was trained in the Crane style as opposed to Goku and Krillin's Turtle style. He's less interesting than some of the other characters lacking a strong gimmick like other characters who get his level of screen time, though he does at least have his own martial arts school as of Super. If Piccolo didn't exist I'd expect Tien to have taken on much of his role.

Tien's main technique is the Tri-Beam or Neo Tri-Beam attack which hammers down on a foe with rapid crushing bursts of energy. Unlike many techniques, this technique is highly draining and often leaves Tier on the edge of unconsciousness or death after heavy use. His other technique of note is the Four Witches Technique which allows him to grow an extra set of arms.

Master Roshi is the last of the main cast that can be considered an ally of Goku's who also participates in serious combat. He's a human who's well over 300 years old and is the primary teacher of Goku and Krillin. He invented the famous Kamehameha technique that later becomes Goku's signature move. He's a good if often unmotivated teacher but is often used as a gag character due to his extreme level of perversion and lechery. This was worked on in Super but one must question how deep is reform goes.

Roshi is in the same tier as Tien and a step below Krillin and like those two often needs to go all out to even have a hope of harming foes that Goku would defeat easily. Thankfully his age gives wisdom and experience and he has a full bag of tricks including the Mafuba which can seal a foe inside a specially prepared jar.

Frieza is a rarity in that he's a villain that stayed evil and yet still fought at Goku's side. He's well above Piccolo's level of strength and may even have a hope of challenging Goku and Vegeta. Frieza is vicious, self-centered, and evil to the core only brought back from literal Hell because the team needed a 10th fighter for the Universe Survival Tournament and Buu was asleep and Yamcha is a joke.

Beyond the main fighters are a rich cast of supporting characters who get various amount of screen time.

Future Trunks is a tragic character from an alternate timeline. He's an adult version of Vegeta's eldest son and only shows up when his universe is getting wrecked by something and time travel is his only option to get help. In spite of all that he's lost he tends to be a hopeful character. By raw strength, he's below the Android but well above Krillin.

Buu is a strong fighter but has an even simpler mind than Goku to the point where he was held out of both the Tournament of Power against Universe 6 but was asleep for the Universe Survival tournament. If he could be relied upon he would likely be at or above Piccolo in terms of raw strength but as it stands he's a fun comedic side character who can take a punch and literally laugh it off.

Chi-chi is Goku's very stubborn and uptight wife. She's something of a stereotypical Asian mom but this is because she's also a pumpkin and is trying her best to have a happy and healthy family. She's one of the few things Goku is afraid of.

Bulma is Vegeta's wife, a brilliant inventor, and a very strong-willed character. She can be vain, petty, and short-tempered but has a good heart and rarely hesitates to help out when called upon. She's also unimaginably rich and not afraid to show it often throwing lavish parties with extravagent giveaways. In Dragon Ball she adventured with Goku on their quest for the Dragon Balls.

Hercule Satan is the 'World Strongest Martial Artist' and is often used as a vain comic relief character who, while strong by normal human standards is weak compared to any of the Z-fighters. He's also rich and is the father of Videl who is Gohan's wife.

Videl is Gohan's wife and a former almost Z-fighter. She can fly and probably still shoot a ki blast but after getting beaten by Spopovich she realized she'd never been strong enough to matter and has seemingly stopped training. She's interesting in that she was a fairly normal character who learned some techniques that are extraordinary.

There are more characters like King Kai, Dende, Baba, Yamcha, Korin, Popo, Beerus, Whis that I could get into but frankly the fact that there are so many characters I'm skipping a a half dozen ought to sell you both the fighting power and strength of story telling potential the the Z-fighters have.

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