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THE FULL LID
13th May 2022

Welcome friends to The Full Lid, your weekly 5 p.m. dose of pop culture enthusiasm, career notes, reviews and anything else we enjoyed this week. Our aim is always to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative (or at least find a positive angle) and nod respectfully to Mr. Inbetween. 'Email, but good': it's the motto, the plan, and the goal.

This week's interstitials are a salute to George Perez, a colossus of modern western comics who sadly passed away this last week. Perez's work sung with energy and joy and visual wit. He's one of the architects of the best of graphic storytelling in this hemisphere of the world and these four panels will show you why. Thanks, Mr Perez. Thanks also to Screen Rant and CBR for the resources.

Now, time for contents!

Contents

Fourteen
Reviewing The Batman Through The Medium of Lego
Signal Boost
Where You Can Find Me This Week
Department of Received Esoteric Print Goods
Signing Off / Playing Out
The Full Lid banner in blue reads 'Television'
Ncuti Gatwa, the new Doctor Who and Russell T Davies, the returning showrunner

Fourteen


And speaking of time, Ncuti Gatwa has been announced as the 14th Doctor Who!

Like Jodie Whitaker before him, Gatwa -- early frontrunner for the world's best-dressed Scot -- absolutely embodies the elements of what Doctor Who has to be: versatile, mercurial, that elusive combination of familiar and new. Both are performers I would never have thought of in the role, and yet the moment they were announced I couldn't imagine anyone else. That speaks to the role's unique and intoxicating combination of absolute identity and protean inclusivity. The Doctor is for everyone, and that means everyone deserves to see themselves in The Doctor. Because of Gatwa, like Whitaker before him, people who have never had the opportunity to relate viscerally to the character will see themselves reflected in the UK's favourite phone box pilot.

Never cruel or cowardly. Never giving up. Never giving in. Helping where they can. Show me a year in recent memory where that hasn't been desperately needed.

Now, about the amiable Welsh titan whose face he is cupping. Russell T Davies is a complex, righteously angry, vastly sincere, open-hearted voice in modern UK drama. In other words, he knows how to get away with starting some shit, and the best of his previous run on the show had the exact punky, earnestly hard stare that is desperately needed now. Not to say a lot of the 13th Doctor's run hasn't had exactly that, it has. But while writers kill their darlings, fandoms just maim them. The 13th Doctor's re-appraisal will come. Remember this when it does and note how, by then, Davies will have gone from the genius saving the show to the genius murdering it. The Doctor may always change, but the response to that change is so predictable you could set your watch by it.

The Doctor changes, always orbiting those core principles in a new way. I can't WAIT to see his TARDIS. I'm GIDDY at the thought of his wardrobe. I'm thrilled anticipating his companions, his husband, his boyfriend, bring it all on.

To paraphrase the TARDIS' current resident (and WOW do I want 13 and 14 to hang out!), the show's redecorated. And I really, REALLY like it.
George Pérez draws Thanos snapping his fingers and changing the Marvel Universe forever
A Tribute to George Pérez
Thanos' Snap (from The Infinity Gauntlet)

Let's start at the end, with the snap of fingers that echoed across the multiverse into generations of western pop culture.
The Full Lid Banner in white reads 'Movies'
Lego set 76179, Motorcycle pursuit

Reviewing The Batman Through The Medium of Lego

 

Editor's note: spoilers. The Batman (2022) is rated US PG-13 / UK 15 with content warnings for intense violence and profanity.


Meet LEGO set 76179 Motorcycle Pursuit. It's how we're reviewing The Batman.

I've been fascinated with this set ever since seeing the movie because this scene doesn't happen. At all. There's a scene where they're both on motorbikes but it's absolutely not a pursuit, or a chase, or a chain vs grappling hook gun fight. Instead it's a moment of surprising intimacy and actual tragedy, as two damaged people make the best choices for themselves which drive them apart.

Also, not for nothing but Selena actually has her pet cat in the box on the back of her bike and not a stolen gem. Wasted opportunity, LEGO. 

The Batman defied conventions and expectations, and in doing so it strained its merchandising agreements to breaking point. I do not want a 'dash of mystery' in my hot chocolate, Caffe Nero. I do not want vengeance with my sausage roll (vengeance gives me indigestion). Also if the phrase 'Why is there a Batman on my Oreo?' has been asked so often it auto-complete, then late stage capitalism has officially got to the 'photocopying my arse until someone drives me home' stage of things.

The tension between capitalism, expectation and story is Gotham City levels of high, and  hence these LEGO sets. The Penguin Chase is pretty accurate, although they crank the dystopian up to eleven by giving the world's angriest Batmobile missiles and turning it into a vehicle versus pedestrian chase. Batcave: The Riddler Face-Off depicts a beat in the movie that in absolutely no way shape or form happens. Motorcycle Pursuit take a movie scene but completely re-contextualizes it because somehow they have to work to sell black and grey pieces in a Batman series, oh and emotion has no place in brick-based crime fighting. It's deeply weird, the two bikes jumping directly into to the gulf between what the movie has been marketed as and what was released.

And speaking of Selina Kyle:
Kravitz's performance is great, playing with elements of the Catwomen who've come before her, especially Ann Hathaway and Eartha Kitt. Her scenes with Pattinson have a furious joie de vivre. The skintone of this piece was ... a choice.
LEGO Selina Kyle, everyone!

Played with scene-stealing aplomb by Zoë Kravitz, The Batman's take on the not-quite-Catwoman-yet is nearly its strongest element. Kravitz has managed to find a way to take on feline qualities that don't feel cheesy. She moves, and stills, like a cat. She portrays constant awareness and the same steel that means your local four legged trash gremlin will absolutely hold eye contact with you as they push your favourite ornament off the shelf.

She and the movie's stunt team leaned into this, combining various martial arts styles and her size relative to her opponents with studies of how cats move and fight. This Selina is FUN and furious and the middle hour of the movie exploring her character is arguably its best section. She grounds Batman in the same way he grounds her: two traumatized, grieving survivors helping each other realize they're better, and larger, than their trauma. That's why the ending hits so hard, and why turning it into a chase seems so weird.

There is of course a problem and its exactly the one you might expect. The usual people bleated the usual nonsense about Catwoman being black (Eartha Kitt says hello). The character's canonical bisexuality fared worse. It's so barely there Reeves has been deeply, annoyingly coy about whether it's present at all while Kravitz has openly talked about how she played the role with Selina's bisexuality in mind. Art is interpreted differently by everyone, of course, but when you work ambiguously, no one can see themselves in focus. The Batman is released on disc during Pride Month. I wish it had more. 
Pattinson's Bruce is the first in ages to be written as an actual detective. There's a lot of Thinking in this movie and Pattinson, who's always excelled at showing his internal processes, nails it.
This figure comes with two heads. One is the usual LEGO Batman head which has a white band above the eyes to line up with the eyeholes in the mask. It also hilariously makes Batman look like he's wearing a sweatband. Which let's face it, he would.

The other is a Pattinson-esque LEGO head. The interesting thing is, when you put that head on, the eyebrows actually do the same job as the sweatband. It feels more human, more grounded and it's an entirely accidental building choice that mimics Pattinson's excellent performance.

His Bruce is brand new, and you see it in every choice made. His magnificent, near-steroidal wildebeest of a Batmobile is absolutely the manifestation of rage and grief that a gifted young gearhead with money and a self destructive streak would build. His floppy hair, the makeup he wears under the cowl, all of it speaks to a young man in seething pain, trying to punch his way out. Which is the exact point where most Batman movies stop. The Batman starts here and builds, evolving both as a movie and an exploration of its core character. Through his relationship with Selina and his discovery of how closely the Riddler is connected to his family, Bruce's journey is one literally out of darkness into light. It's a flickering, barely functional sodium light, but hey, this is Gotham.

The movie opens with Batman hiding in the shadows, terrifying people. It ends with him in broad daylight, helping people. Not just by assisting them either but by being present, mentally as well as physically. Gotham has always been the circle of a hell with a New York area code but the city has rarely been more damaged. Yes, Bane was his name and he came to bring the pain, but his showy stadium violence social experiment was more about pounding his chest than making a point. The Riddler's maiming of the city is meant to be so he can watch it bleed to death from his cell. Instead, he gets to watch Batman stitch it together as the sun rises. 

The man leading that urban triage is mortal, inexperienced. A favourite action beat shows him almost killed because of the cape. In another he apparently uses Venom to get over an injury. A deleted scene sees him visit the Joker in Arkham Asylum for advice. In my favourite exchange in the entire movie, Selina jokingly asks if he wears the mask because he's hideously scarred, Pattinson's hesitant '...yes' could so easily be overwrought. Instead it's an angry little boy in his violence suit, looking at someone with a similar background and realizing they can see him.

The Batman doesn't hit every mark. The mystifying decision to put Colin Farrell in a fat suit rather than actually hire a person of size who is also a good actor is mystifying and dangerously close to Harkonnen levels of nonsense. Greig Fraser's cinematography is fantastic but he and director Matt Reeves take things a heartbeat away from None More Black and keep them there. But even then, the movie impresses. its a detective story that walks like a superhero film, an exploration of grief and kindness and the pragmatism of healing versus rage. It means the LEGO playsets don't make much sense but honestly, that's a price worth paying.

The Batman is available to rent now, and will be released for purchase and streaming services from June 13th.
The Flash dies trying to save the multiverse as drawn by George Pérez
A Tribute to George Pérez
The Flash Dies (from Crisis on Infinite Earths)

Crisis on Infinite Earths was a victim of its own success. The combination of meta-fictional housecleaning and apocalyptic storyline is a well returned to so often DC heroes now refer to events as 'Crises'. But what I love from this image is how Perez maps what happens to how your eyes move across the page. The motion becomes the story, a perfect reflection of The Flash.

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The Avengers and the JLA team up as drawn by George Pérez
A Tribute to George Pérez
JLA vs The Avengers (currently unavailable)


A panel you can actually hear. I especially love Superman holding Cap's shield.

Signal Boost

 

Featured Boost

Books

Hashtags and Shenanigans

Women's Reproductive Rights

  • There's an excellent bundle on DrivethruyRPG, the proceeds from which will go to the NNAF.

TV

  • Friend of the Lid and fellow Roguemaker cast member Bonnie Calderwood Aspinall says 'the Disney+ reboot of cult LARP-style fantasy competition show, The Quest (2014) drops today, and my brother is playing a key role! The team includes producers from Lord of the Rings(!!!)'

Podcasting

  • Friends of the Lid 4Rats Productions say 'Our casting for Ankorr 643, our Post-Apocalyptic Podcast, closes on Friday! It's a paid opportunity, we've got a Patreon running and we'd love any extra support we can get! Plus, we're only two followers away from hitting 100, which is very exciting.'
  • The Tin Dog Podcast is here for your Doctor Who needs.
  • Friend of the Lid Karim Kronfli says 'Hi Alasdair ... @Electromancypod are crowdfinding season 2.'
  • Friend of the Lid Tim Niederriter says 'My Patreon is starting to host daily content in the form of a mini-podcast called The Warm Up and my raw dictation.'
  • Strangerghostss says 'My podcast Technostress is starting our voice acting auditions starting tomorrow (5/12)! Auditions are going to be open from May 12th until June 7th and all of the information can be found on our twitter and instagram tomorrow(5/12), both using the handle @TechnostressPod !!! This is going to be a paid position by the way!!'

Crowdfunding

That's this week's Signal Boost! If you have a project you'd like to see here get in touch or check Twitter for my weekly call.
The Avengers want a WORD with Ultron
A Tribute to George Pérez
Thor Has Notes (from Ultron Unlimited, 2004)


Thor 'We Would have Words with thee' 'd so Captain America could 'Son? Just don't.'

Where You Can Find Us This Week

 

 

Accents for Fun and Profit

  • This week on Caring into the Void, Brock talks the heartbeat of the universe and I continue to be interested by spores, molds, and fungus.
  • It's Enthusigasm time! I'm delighted to be back on the show, hosted by the amazing Helen as Sasha , Katie and I talk Star Wars

Award'y Whatnot

  • For all you award voters out there, we've made The Full Lid's Hugo packet selection available over on my website. Happy reading, and thanks for your consideration!
  • Review packets are starting to go public and we'll be rounding them up in a special Signal Boost section in a future issue.

Podcast Land

  
PseudoPod 809 : A Pearl as Red as Sin
A tribute image from two generations of artists, featuring many of Pérez's characters
A Tribute to George Pérez

This is the mark Perez left on the world, both real and the fictional ones he helped create. This who's who of multiple generations of artists, all paying tribute to an all-time great. Find all the contributors to the image here.

Department of Received
Esoteric Print Goods

Eve by Una is the exact sort of character driven exploration of dystopia and hope I am very much here for. Can't wait to dig into it.
A newspaper clipping, polaroid and business card that tell a chilling story of a predatory house by Jordan Shiveley
Jordan Shiveley! King of Graphic Designers! Two fisted podcaster! Author par excellence and, via his Patreon, sender of delightful weirdmail. I LOVE stories told through physical ephemera.

Find me on The Online

A drawing of Alasdair Stuart trailing pop culture wherever he goes
Image by the multi-talented Jen Williams
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Signing Off / Playing Out


Thanks for reading, folks!  I hope the week was good and you got to see a multiverse movie or two!

TFL returns next week. Check my Carrd for all the places you can find me, including the Twitters, where we're all running into the weekend with the same defiant, mildly slappy energy of this glorious marathon running duck.

TFL is a free weekly newsletter. Here's how you can support it and me: And thank you!

Playing us out this week is Professor Emeritus of Worried Over Articulate Brit Studies at OH GOD WHAT NOW University, John Oliver, who takes us to Food Court.

He speaks no lies. And this?
is a Full Lid.

Video description: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert segment 'Food Court' starring John Oliver
Copyright Alasdair Stuart © 2022 -- All rights reserved

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