Marvel Character Highlight #36: Gambit

Name: Remy Etienne LeBeau

Alias: Gambit, Horseman of Death

Affiliation: X-Men, Thieves Guild, Excalibur, X-Factor, Marauders, Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Chevaliers, X-Treme Sanctions Executive, Crimson Pirates, Unified Guild of New Orleans

Special abilities: Kinetic “charging” of potential energy in objects/beings, molecular cell acceleration, regenerative healing, master thief, gifted intellect

Background: Remy LeBeau began life on the streets of New Orleans as a thief. He pickpocketed the head of the Thieves Guild and the leader took him into the clan. Over time, he fell in love with the leader’s daughter and planned to marry her. However, her brother objected to the marriage, and Gambit killed him in a self-defense duel. After he was exiled, he found Mr. Sinister and enlisted his help in managing his mutant powers.

Sinister helped but this left Gambit indebted, which Sinister naturally exploited. Sinister then sent Gambit on a mission to the Morlock tunnels, where Gambit learned he was to wipe out the fellow mutants. He resisted and was attacked and left for dead by his fellow Marauder Sabretooth. He did manage to save the future mutant known as Marrow. Once he left the Marauders, he met Storm of the X-Men, who sponsored his team membership. It was also how he met and fell in love with his soulmate Rogue. After a long courtship, the two mutants were married while remaining on the team. Shortly after, the future time-traveling mutant known as Bishop joined the team to warn of a traitor who would destroy the X-Men from within in his timeline. Bishop originally believed the traitor to be Gambit, but eventually it was revealed to be the psionic mutant menace known as Onslaught.

Relationships: Rogue (Anna Marie LeBeau), wife; Mystique (Raven Darkholme), mother-in-law; Destiny (Irene Adler), mother-in-law; Graydon Creed, brother-in-law; Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner), brother-in-law; Belladonna, former fiancée

First Versus appearance: X-Men vs. Street Fighter

Appearances in other media:
Television: X-Men: The Animated Series, X-Men ’97 (planned appearance), Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, X-Men: Evolution, Wolverine and the X-Men

Film: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Video games: Spider-Man/X-Men: Arcade’s Revenge, X-Men (1993), X-Men 2: Clone Wars, X-Men: Gamesmaster’s Legacy, X-Men: Mojo World, X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse, Wolverine: Adamantium Rage, X-Men vs. Street Fighter, Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes, Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes, X-Men: Mutant Academy, X-Men: Mutant Academy 2, X-Men: Next Dimension, X-Men Legends, X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Marvel Super Hero Squad Online, X-Men: Destiny, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Marvel: Avengers Alliance, Marvel Heroes, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, Marvel Puzzle Quest, Marvel: Future Fight, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, Marvel Super War, Fortnite, Marvel Snap

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Anime Lounge: Junjou Romantica 3

Series: Junjou Romantica 3

Episodes: 1-12

Premise: This is the third season of the acclaimed boys’ love series, and things are settling down for the couples in Junjou Romantica, Egoist, Terrorist and new series Mistake. The new season sees the lead couple, Misaki and Akihiko, learning how to adapt to their changing relationship and what it means for Misaki to become a full-fledged adult. Misaki must think about graduating from college and getting a job, and together the duo must figure out how to explain their growing relationship to Takahiro, Misaki’s older brother and Akihiko’s best friend.

Is it worth watching?: Yes. This is, so far, the final season of the series and it’s been a fun ride to see how the couples grow. If you’ve invested in the couples, you’ll want to see how everything shakes out. There are also more rivals for Misaki’s heart, which makes things interesting.

Breakout character: Misaki. Sure, he’s the lead character, but he makes leaps and bounds of growth and comes into his own. He stands out, finally, because he should, and he starts to finally become a fully fleshed-out lead uke.

Where it’s going?: This is the end for the three couples, though some of characters make a few cameos in the spinoff Sekaiichi Hatsukoi.

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Otaku Corner: High School of the Dead

High School of the Dead relives the goriest of days

During the Covid-19 pandemic, I prohibited myself from games such as Yakuza: Dead Souls and horror-based anime like Hellsing to keep myself from needlessly doing harm to my mental health. Now that society is opening again, I’m reviewing an anime series that reflected Covid-19’s fearful grip on our world: High School of the Dead.
Based on the manga of the same name by the late Daisuke Saito and illustrated by Shoji Sato, HOTD tells the story of high-schooler Takashi Komuro and his classmates along with their high school’s nurse who struggles to survive a deadly pandemic known as the “outbreak,” which turns healthy humans into zombies. As the outbreak reaches across the world, Takashi and the others attempt to find their families while fending off zombies and uninfected survivors with mental trauma during the outbreak’s conquest of Japan.
HOTD is a far cry from the typical school and horror anime genres. In the first half, Takashi started out as a usual teenager caring about himself but begins to grow into a leader of zombie survivors. He saves Rei Miyamoto and their friend Hisashi, who is gravely wounded by zombies, forcing Takashi to kill him with a blow to the head. Takashi and Rei meet other classmates, Saya Takagi, Kohta Hirano, Saeko Busujima and their school nurse Shizuka Marikawa who advises using the school’s club bus to leave the campus. Despite finding other survivors and escaping the school, the group is briefly separated by the actions of their surviving teacher Koichi Shido and a bus carrying zombies crashing while on the streets of Tokonosu City. After reuniting and battling zombies on Onbesu Bridge, Shizuka suggests staying at her friend’s home briefly to recover and replenish supplies.
The second half introduces two new members of Takashi’s group: Alice Maresato, whose father was killed by crazed survivors trying to find shelter; and, Zeke, a small puppy who protected Alice from zombies before Takashi arrived. The group continues their quest to find their families, agreeing to go to Saya’s home first. While en route, they come under attack by zombies and are saved by firefighters led by Saya’s mother. However, Takashi and Saeko are forced to lure the other zombies from their comrades. A day later, the group is reunited at Saya’s heavily fortified mansion where they rest and get repairs for their equipment and vehicle, but soon the debate of staying with adults versus continuing their journey begins.
At this juncture, Shido and his students arrive at Saya’s home, forcing Rei to use her rifle to kill Shido for injustice to her father. After Takashi’s encouragement of Rei to remember her honor, she backs down, resulting in Saya’s father banishing Shido students. At the end of the series, the succeeding U.S. president ordered use of nuclear weapons to end the zombie outbreak and deter America’s adversaries. The final episode starts as the U.S. and Japanese militaries shoot down nuclear missiles from China. However, a missile got through the defenses, resulting in an electro-magnetic pulse that renders all unprotected electronics useless. During this event, zombies attack the Takagi mansion, killing various survivors. Learning of another safe area, Saya’s parents instruct their employees and remaining survivors to fight to gain access to it. The group, with Saya’s parents’ blessing, take Saya and heads out of the mansion with their vehicle. After battling with a zombie mob that left their vehicle seriously damaged, the group makes its way to a local mall by foot, optimistic for their future.
I can honestly say that this series is one that I’ve heavily invested my time in watching. HOTD is well written and has the usual selling points of a good anime series and also touched on issues such as mental health and societal pressure on affluent individuals like Saya. Saito-san showcased each character with various issues and, at certain times, allowed them to have moments of happiness while the world was crumbling apart. I’m also applauding Saito-san for doing research on various weapons, vehicles, and groups such as Japan’s special assault team officers who are battling the zombies.
The music in HOTD is spectacular, as the opening theme by Kishida Kyoudan and the Akeboshi Rockets is upbeat, making you feel as if you, too, are fighting the zombies. The animation is polished in high definition and directed by the well-known Tetsuro Araki (Death Note, Attack on Titan). Sentai Filmworks did an awesome job on the English dub with Steven Foster and Kaoru Bertand handling English adaption, direction and translation duties. The voice cast, led by Monica Rial as Shizuka and Leraldo Anzaldua as Takashi, performed excellently in each episode, which enhances the appeal of the anime adaptation.
The only downside I had was the overreach of the near hentai-level fan service with close ups on the female characters’ breasts and panty shots. It was almost too much and nearly caused the series to be a Dumpster fire. Thankfully, HOTD sticks to the horror/school life anime genre and nothing else.
High School of the Dead is indisputably a new classic. Although I wanted to watch Takashi and company continue their quest in a new normal, I cannot because of the death of Saito-san. However, I offer some advice to prevent a similar event: Wash your hands and practice good hygiene, wear a mask, and stay home from work, school and cons if you’re sick. Your fellow geeks will thank you.

Brandon Beatty is editor-at-large of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at

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Top 5 List: X-Men Villains edition

1. Magneto: Professor Xavier’s best friend-turned-arch nemesis is the quintessential arch villain. Magneto is always a threat, no matter where he is on Earth or in the universe. You can count on him to oppose the X-Men on general principle, even when he has to team up with them. And yet, there are arcs where he is the leader of the mutants, and others where he and Charles combine to become the malevolent near-omnipotent Onslaught.

2. Mr. Sinister: Sinister wreaks havoc solely because he’s obsessed with the Summers-Grey bloodline. He’s a weirdo, but he’s powerful and generally involved when he is least needed. His involvement has led to the creation of Cable, the Legacy Virus, and the death of Madelyne Pryor among other things. Never underestimate the power of weird when Mr. Sinister is involved.

3. Cassandra Nova: A mummudrai who is the twin sister of Charles Xavier, Cassandra Nova is behind a lot of the foolishness seen in later X-Men arcs where Xavier dies. She has a hatred of Charles because he won their battle in the womb. She’s gained sentience and a body and generally means to wipe out humanity at large, starting with the massacre of mutants on Genosha.

4. Stryfe: The time-traveling terrorist clone of Cable is terrifying for several reasons, starting with the Legacy Virus. In X-ecutioner’s Song, Stryfe created the Legacy Virus which started out affecting only mutants and then moved on to regular humans, too. The fact that he looks like Cable and that no one can tell them apart is a problem. Having the same processes as the Omega-level mutant is an even bigger problem.

5. Apocalypse: No list featuring X-Men baddies would be complete without mention of the greatest and first mutant, En Sabah Nur. Apocalypse has destroyed entire realities and been one of the most, if not the most, oppressive threats the X-Men has ever faced. Apocalypse’s intellect and capacity for creation and destruction is beyond comprehension, and he is the gold standard for most X-Men villains to look up to.

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Marvel Character Highlight #35: Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze)

Name: Johnathan Blaze

Alias: Johnny, Bonehead, Matchstick, Skullhead, Brimstone Avenger, Brother Blaze, The Burning Man, Spirit of Vengeance, Brimstone Biker

Affiliation: Midnight Sons, Quentin Carnival, Thunderbolts, The Nine, Defenders, The Champions, Avengers of the Supernatural, Savage Avengers, Legion of Monsters, Savage Avengers

Special abilities: Ghost Rider transformation, superhuman strength, stamina, durability and agility, regenerative healing factor, supernatural awareness, hellfire manipulation, soul manipulation, sin manipulation, ride symbiosis, dimensional travel, demon magic manipulation, mystical chain projection, Penance Stare, self-size alteration, exorcism, expert stunt riding skills, skilled hand-to-hand combatant, knowledge of the occult

Background: Johnny Blaze is the son of Barton Blaze, a stunt performer who died during a stunt; and, Naomi Kale, a woman whose maternal line was cursed to be bound to the demon Zarathos. The curse affected the first-born child of the line to become the Spirit of Vengeance. The curse made its way to Johnny through his mother and after his father died, Johnny was adopted by family friend Crash Simpson. Kale and Simpson made separate deals with the demon Mephisto to save Johnny from the life of a Ghost Rider and to cure Simpson of cancer, respectively, but each deal turned out to be a fool’s bargain. Johnny then made a deal with Mephisto to save Simpson from cancer, but Simpson was cured and then immediately died in a crash while attempting to set a world record. It was after the death of Simpson that Blaze transformed into the Ghost Rider for the first time.

Relationships: Roxanne Simpson, foster sister/wife; Craig Blaze, son; Emma Blaze, daughter

First Versus appearance: Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3

Appearances in other media:
Television: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.

Film: Ghost Rider, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Video games: Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, Ghost Rider, LittleBigPlanet (costume), Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (cameo), Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, Marvel Heroes, Marvel: Future Fight, Marvel Puzzle Quest, Marvel: Contest of Champions, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, Marvel Strike Force, Marvel’s Midnight Suns

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Property Review: Night Warriors – Darkstalkers’ Revenge (The Animated Series)

Night Warriors: Darkstalkers’ Revenge
Madhouse Studios, 1997-1998

Darkstalkers OVA scares up thrills

Forget for a moment that you know anything about the Vampire series from Capcom. Yes, forget about the games and the god-awful USA Network animated series. You’re learning, for the first time, about the monsters and darkness that is Capcom’s side fighting game franchise, and you love anime, as well. Your introduction is this OVA of four episodes. Congratulations, you’ve gotten the best there is to offer in the animated series category that is Vampire/Darkstalkers. It’s time to get you educated.
Darkstalkers’ Revenge takes everything you could possibly love about the fighting game series and makes it digestible in anime form. The titular Darkstalkers are all here from the first and second game: Morrigan and Demitri are leading the charge as the faces of the franchise. Other favorites such as Felicia, Jon Talbain and Lord Raptor are here, too. You even get Donovan and Hsein-Ko in major roles. And that’s part of the joy of the story: You’re getting the full Darkstalkers experience without having to play the games. Sure, it’s preferable that you do play the series enough to know who’s who and what their motivation is, but it’s not necessary and this OVA does a great job of informing.
This isn’t necessarily your typical shonen anime, though. Demitri is an anti-hero here as he is in the games and Morrigan is as well. They fight each other for supremacy, however, and it’s only after the overall big bad Pyron is introduced that they stop for a moment to assess whether to get involved. Along the way, all of the other Darkstalkers are introduced and given some type of screen time, either as main characters or as cameos. The story is good as it follows the games very well, making more sense of the plot of the games than those properties actually do. The only gripe is that the ending is rushed and makes zero sense in the grand scheme of things. The ending is the only time where things jump off the rails as far as faithfulness to the games is concerned. The animation is smooth and fluid, the voicework is fantastic in the sub and mostly good in the dub, and the overall package holds up for a critiqued release 25 years later.
As a lover of all things Vampire/Darkstalkers – it should be obvious in this issue by now – we can highly recommend this OVA as a gateway to the drug that is the fright fight fest. It’s got fast-paced action, recognizable characters and is an excellent adaptation to a good series. Sharpen your fangs, this is only the beginning if you’re ready to delve into the world of myths and monsters of the dark.

Like the games?: 9
Voice work: 10
Animation: 10

Total score: 29/30 or 9.6

We score the properties in three categories: Casting (or voice acting in cases of animated), plot and similarities to its source material. Each category receives points out of the maximum of 10 per category and 30 overall. The percentage is the final score.

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Strip Talk #37: No equal for Henry Cavill as Superman

Old folks usually say you don’t miss someone until they’re gone. Henry Cavill hasn’t been Superman for a number of years and was ousted from the role approximately five minutes ago and I miss him.
You know, if there were a viable alternative, I could stomach this ridiculous decision. Cavill stepped into the role after the massive disappointment of Brandon Routh, and we let it slide because we were already familiar with Cavill and what he could bring to the table. Sure, he was Mr. Charles Brandon in the Tudors on Showtime and Edmund Dantes’ son in The Count of Monte Cristo, but there was something there, even if he’s British. Yes, I admit I can now wrap my head around a British Superman. But he had something that Routh did not: Charisma. Cavill brings a certain something to the role that was all but shaped by the venerable late Christopher Reeve, and it wasn’t hard to see that Cavill loved the work and wanted to do the memory of Reeve right without also pretending to be him. Routh tried and failed to do this, and it was a sad sight to witness.
So, forgive me if I’m a little bitter about the foolishness that James Gunn and Peter What’s His Name are peddling by getting rid of Cavill. It seems petty, ignorant, and simpleminded in execution and dumb at the highest level of thought. Why get rid of something and someone who worked? Cavill is a fan of the comics, knows the material and gives everything in the role every time he’s sucked into a nonsensical story that needs remakes to straighten out – see Justice League. He’s donned the tights and cape with aplomb, but his considerable talents have been wasted and now thrown out with baby and the bath water. Call me a cynic, but I don’t have the time or attention for whatever Gunn and Peter What’s His Name are cooking, selling, crafting, or scheming. I want no parts of whoever they’ve got stepping into the role, and I’ll simply acknowledge Cavill as this generation’s best choice alongside Reeve as my generation’s best choice. Gunn and Peter What’s His Name can keep that bargain-bin Kryptonite they’re selling as the next choice for Superman.

Lyndsey Beatty is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at

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Anime Lounge: Afro Samurai Resurrection

Series: Afro Samurai Resurrection

Episodes: 1

Premise: The Afro Samurai is revealed as the wielder of the No. 1 Headband and has retired, not having fought for years. He encounters his old friend Jinno, who was turned into an emotionless cyborg; and Jinno’s sister, Lady Sio, who intends to resurrect Afro’s father as a servant. Sio succeeds and Afro deals with the onslaught from the three that follows.

Is it worth watching?: If you loved the original Afro Samurai, watch the follow-up. It’s not nearly as good as the original, but it’s serviceable because of the all-star voice cast and the RZA’s soundtrack. Just be forewarned that it isn’t on the level of the original in terms of story.

Breakout character: Jinno. Though he was in the original, he shines in Resurrection. You understand why he’d go to the lengths he goes to fight Afro and seek his revenge, and you can sympathize with his plight. Sometimes, there are fates worse than death.

Where it’s going?: This is the end, though it was hinted that there could be more to come with the reappearance of Afro’s old foe Justice. However, nothing else has come to fruition since it aired in 2009.

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Marvel Character Highlight #34: She-Hulk

Name: Jennifer Susan Walters

Alias: She-Hulk, Savage She-Hulk, Sensational She-Hulk, Agent Walters

Affiliation: Avengers, Ancient Order of the Shield, A-Force, Defenders, Fantastic Force, Fantastic Four, Future Foundation, Heroes for Hire, Hulkbusters, The Initiative, Lady Liberators, Mighty Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D., Seven Brides of Set

Special abilities: Fourth wall awareness, superhuman strength, stamina, durability, speed and leaping, healing factor, gamma manipulation, energy absorption, emotion empowerment

Background: Jennifer Walters, the cousin of Dr. Bruce Banner, was shot and seriously injured by operatives of crime lord Nicholas Trask. Because Bruce was there to tell her about his Hulk transformation, he was the only blood donor available. Receiving his blood enabled a Hulk-like transformation of her own. After learning to deal with her transformation, she was transported to the Beyonder’s Battleworld to participate in the Secret Wars. After returning to Earth, she temporarily joined the Fantastic Four in the place of the Thing. After preventing a radiation leak, she permanently transformed into She-Hulk, though she retained her intelligence and developed less monster-like features.

Relationships: Bruce Banner (The Hulk), cousin; Luke Cage, partner; Wally Wingfoot, partner; John Jameson III, husband; Skaar, cousin; Lyra, cousin

First Versus appearance: Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds

Appearances in other media:
Television: The Incredible Hulk (1982), Fantastic Four (1994), The Incredible Hulk (1996), Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest Heroes, The Super Hero Squad Show, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., Ultimate Spider-Man, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

Video games: Fantastic Four (1997), Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet, Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Marvel Super Hero Squad Online, Marvel Avengers Alliance, Marvel Heroes, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, Marvel Pinball, Marvel Avengers Alliance Tactics, Marvel: Avengers Alliance 2, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, Marvel Future Fight, Marvel Contest of Champions, Marvel Avengers Academy, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2, Marvel Puzzle Quest, Fortnite Battle Royale, Marvel Snap

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Property Review: Thor (2011)

Photos courtesy of

Marvel Studios, 2011

Thor’s initial outing lightning in a bottle for Marvel superhero

Thor has always been a fan favorite in Marvel circles. Whether it’s the pseudo-Shakespearean vibes of Asgard or Thor and Loki’s relationship, there’s something about Thor that entices. And, it does well to keep you entertained in the first outing for the God of Thunder.
Thor sets up the story of the titular god (played by Chris Hemsworth) and his quest to rule Asgard as his birthright. Thor’s father, Odin, previously battled the Frost Giants of Jotunheim, defeated them and took their prized possession – the Casket of Ancient Winters. During this time, Odin also found and spirited away an infant Loki, raising the abandoned Frost Giant child as his own. The Frost Giants attempt to retake the Casket, after secretly being allowed in by Loki. They are repelled but Thor decides to take the fight to them, against his father’s wishes. After Odin intervenes to save Thor and his group, he exiles the wayward and brash prince to Earth without his godly power and his beloved hammer, Mjolnir, which is protected by an enchantment that only one worthy may lift it.
Once we get into the meat of Thor is where it gets fun. Thor, as a character, is fun. You already know Thor is a hero. You can see it as soon as you get a glimpse of him. However, it’s the journey of him learning to be worthy that makes this film more than just a passing fancy. It’s your usual “the power was inside of you all along” kind of tale, but what makes this a good origin story are the characters. Thor is the hero and shines brightly – weird blond eyebrows and all – and the supporting cast has fun riffs and moments that make you glad Thor has support among his friends in Lady Sif, Jane Foster, Eric Selvig, Darcy Lewis and the Warriors Three. Chris Hemsworth is sublime as Thor, and not only has the brawn required for the role, but also the range required to play the character as more than a meathead with a heart. The support is great as well, with Natalie Portman doing a serviceable job as Thor’s love interest in Foster.
But let us get to the real breakout star here: Loki. So much has been said about his development from beginning – here – to end – Infinity War – that it’s almost a waste to retread it. But we cannot talk about the first Thor film without mentioning the scene-stealing brute force of nature that is Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal of the God of Mischief. Hiddleston glides in and finesses the movie away in his favor in every scene he’s in, whether he’s the focus or not. It’s an effortless, quiet theft whether he’s brooding or plotting or both that takes you by surprise and delights. This was Hiddleston’s role of a lifetime – as evidenced by the fact that he’s still playing the character – and he knows it.
Thor’s origin story in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has all of the right ingredients and still shines 12 years later. There’s been more Thor stories since and nearly every character has gone on to other things or Valhalla, but this was a great way to get the Asgardian god started. This particular version of Thor showed his brand was deemed worthy of more to come.

Like the comics: 8.5
Acting: 8.5
Story: 8.5
Total: 25.5/30 or 8.5

We score the properties in three categories: Casting (or voice acting in cases of animated), plot and similarities to its source material. Each category receives points out of the maximum of 10 per category and 30 overall. The percentage is the final score.

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