29th April 2022

Welcome, my friends, to The Full Lid, your weekly dose of pop culture enthusiasm, career notes, reviews and anything else that I've enjoyed this week. It's the last Friday of the month! Let's have a little fun.

A quick intro note: it's been been what scientists call A Week on social media. Who knows where all... that... will lead. I doubt even the Husk with More Money than Sense knows right now, to say nothing of the poor sods who'll have to do the due diligence. But you'll always be able to find us here, every Friday at five, with enthusiasm, inclusivity, and a critical focus on fun. Got a friend who needs the same? Now might be an excellent time for them to join us.

And speaking of fun, our interstitials this week celebrate one of our favourite composers and undisputed King of the Dad Joke, Michael Giacchino. Thanks to Friend of the Lid James Swallow for pointing out this particular habit, and we're always here for creatives who find joy in the work.

Know what else we respect? Contents!


The Vampire Slayer
The Constant
Signal Boost
Where You Can Find Us This Week
Department of Received Esoteric Print Goods
If Not For Linear Time...
Signing Off / Playing Out
The Full Lid Header in blue reads 'Comics'

The Vampire Slayer


Editor's note: Spoilers. Content warning for reference to Joss 'This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things' Whedon. 

The front cover to The Vampire Slayer Issue 1 by Sarah Gailey, Michael Shelfer and Valentina Pinto
Anything with the name Sarah Gailey on the masthead is going to be worth your time. Fiercely eloquent activist for good, amazing writer, Friend of the Lid and advocate for radical two-fisted compassion, Gailey is one of the voices of their generation.

Buffy Summers used to be one as well. Then this happened. (That's the last time we'll mention him because in every way that matters, he doesn't.)

Welcome back to Sunnydale. Hope you remembered your running shoes.

Gailey sets up the new status quo via Sunnydale's long dark Enormous Crab of the Soul. As a crab god threatens the town, Gailey serves us a breezy and wicked smart re-pilot. The Slayer still protects us. The Watcher still guides the Slayer. The Scooby gang still help and/or get in the way. The song remain the same, but the arrangement is subtly different and, bluntly, better. This is the concept, the story, cleaned and polished to a shine with none of the accreted structure of canon and expectation. Rather than belittle or bemoan what's come before, Gailey and team set it politely aside and start fresh. This is a story not only about what the slayer is capable of but what they can do. Especially what they can do when they're not carrying the weight of decades of accreted patchwork or, let's say, hypothetically, horrifically toxic and egotistical entitlement.

Anyway! Let's meet the Slayer!
Willow asks Giles for the amulet she need to defeat the giant crab god in The Vampire Slayer Issue 1
Hey, Willow!
Everything this team does brilliantly, in a single frame. Gailey is an exceptional writer of emotional truth, and their Willow the Vampire Slayer is still the hyper-articulate super nerd I wanted to be growing up. And now she's the Slayer, with all the baggage that brings. We get both those sides of the character here, mixed with the determination of a woman holding the line against a war that never ends and changes daily. I'm not saying Willow's plight here is a metaphor for life in 202JESUSWHATNOW but... actually that's exactly what I'm saying.

Then we add in Michael Shelfer's art, which does the near impossible thing of depicting people we know without looking like a series of excited mannequins. His Willow absolutely has Alyson Hannigan's nervous energy but also her own steel. She's more mature, a little more rock and roll and a lot more focused, all elements we see baked into the character design.

It's present in Giles as well. Still the super cool well-read librarian DILF who could End You (who I also secretly wanted to be) but a little uncertain and very much finding his feet with his new slayer. Notice also Ed Dukeshire's lettering and how it maps the rhythm of Buffy dialogue onto the art. Not to mention Valentina Pinto and Riccardo Giardina's colours that tell us who these people are while keeping the scene both atmospheric and resonant with the aesthetic of the original show alongside Gailey's script.

A brilliant, terrified young woman stepping up and aided by her equally brilliant and terrified friends. That concept is as radiant and immutable as it is larger than its originator and my god is it in good hands here. Also anything with an enormous demonic crab deity will always have my heart. And not just mine either.
A panel of Buffy and Xander from The Vampire Slayer Issue 1 showing them looking at a giant crab which is far too close for comfort.
I applauded, buddy.
In this universe, Buffy occupies Willow's prior role, just as Willow occupies Buffy's. Xander, whose new incarnation is gay, adorable and roughly 15000% less burdened with the original show's terrible behaviour, is The Slayer's best friend and Buffy is the adorable klutz who senses that this... may not... be right. There's an interesting dichotomy between the solicitation text and the comic which suggests we're going to dive into that vibe in later issues. If so, then Gailey has found a way to embrace and explore the angst that was always one of Buffy's engines in a way that's as new, as critical, and as helpful as this version of Buffy desperately wants to be,

The Vampire Slayer is a neat magic trick, playing an old tune in a new way, welcoming to both old fans and new. It's manifesto is the purity of its concept, right there on everyone's faces: terrified not-quite-adults, standing against the darkness. Heroism, kindness, humour and love transcend everything from the dimension you're in to the tainted legacy of its source. Fighting evil with something from nothing. That's the gig. That's The Vampire Slayer, and this is a hell of a great start.

Issue 1 of The Vampire Slayer is out now. Your local comic shop is hereMine is hereIf you must, Comixology is here -- go with your god(s). Oh and check out Sarah's excellent newsletter, Stone Soup.
King of the Dad Jokes: World's Worst Parking Valet
from Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Video description: Michael Giacchino's track 'World's Worst Parking Valet' from the Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol Soundtrack
The Full Lid Header in grey reads 'Television'
Actor Sope Dirisu

The Constant

John Constantine has been the success story no one saw coming, which is exactly how he wanted it. A near constant in DC comics for decades, Constantine stepped across to TV for a one season show and then... just... never left. Played with glorious shabby aplomb by Matt Ryan he's been a mainstay of strong contender for Most Fun TV Show Ever, Legends of Tomorrow. Recently, Constantine left, although Ryan stayed as a different character.

The reason why appears to be the new Constantine series in active development at HBO Max.  It's being written by Guy Bolton, looking to skew darker than the characters' most recent appearances in tone and seems to be designed to build on the model Peacemaker has brought to the fore. 

Things got interesting last week when it was announced through a couple of sites that HBO Max were close to signing their lead; Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù. That's him up top. He's a fantastic actor, a man who owns the screen in the terrifying His House and who is a vital part of Gareth Evans' bone-crunching face-breaking Gangs of London. He has incredibly physicality and even more incredible presence. 

He's also a brilliant, complex choice for John Constantine. A Lot of people will say that it'd be better to build up an iconic new property with a POC lead rather than cast an iconic existing one with a POC lead.  A sound point, with a provable test case in a very similar genre. Idris Elba built a good chunk of his career, including the groundswell of folks who wanted him to be Bond, on his work as DCI John Luther.
Nothing but respect for the big man in a big coat.  Luther is available on multiple streaming platforms, including iPlayer. 
Video description: DCI John Luther's unique problem solving skills in action
Should Elba be James Bond? Absolutely. But he IS Luther and the fact the movie version of that glorious, 'London Batman descends into hell' odyssey has just wrapped speaks to its longevity and his success. Elba himself has addressed this, expressly stating that he views Luther as filling the space Bond would occupy in his career.

Similar arguments can and should absolutely be applied to Constantine. But the thing is, they haven't worked. Far from it in fact and John Constantine being who he is, well... the bastard's noticed.
John Constantine. All of him.
It is criminal this run, which re-centres the character in the furious supernatural liminal spaces he's so at him in, wasn't given a chance to continue.
This is from Marks of Woe, the first collection of Si Spurrier's extraordinary recent run with Aaron CampbellMatías Bergara, and Marcio Takara. Not only do we have John aware of the fact he exists in multiple timelines but also who he is in those timelines. Yes that's Keanu Reeves, yes that's Matt Ryan, and yes this is a fictional character being written as self-aware not only of his various incarnations but of the editorial mandates that birthed them.

Somewhere The Doctor and Grant Morrison just high fived.

My theory? It's in the name. Constantine. A constant presence, a constant force, changed and re-defined by each appearance, each application of that force. It's why in the end, three things always happen to John Constantine: he gets people he loves killed, he survives, and he returns to London.

Which brings us to Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù and to 2022.
Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù
Constantine is a character defined by politically charged rage. One of his earliest appearances sees him fighting demonically sculpted skinheads as the Tories win their 8000th victory in the 1980s. A later appearance sees him destitute and homeless, the rag-wrapped fist of the forgotten literally pissing on the King of the Vampires as he burns to death from drinking John's demon-tainted blood.

He's performed an exorcism on a demonically possessed member of the Royal Family and faced the anthropomorphic personification of football violence. More recently in Spurrier's extraordinary 'Quiet', John helps the denizens of a hospital ward whose personal horrors are the horrors of the country. It's an astonishing piece of work, furious and sad and kind and essential Constantine. In all these stories, Constantine is the voice of a country simultaneously exhausted by decades of polite upper class pseudo-fascism, and nearly incapable of believing anything will ever change.

A contemporary Constant, crying out for its Constantine.

Casting a black actor in the role, especially one with the emotional intelligence and presence of Dìrísù, is a deeply powerful and desperately overdue statement. If ever there was a time we needed John Constantine to personify contemporary Brittan, it's now, in the Windrush, Partygate Neo-Conservative dystopia of 2022. Not just because all fiction is political, but because Constantine is a genius punk asshole scene stealing Londoner to his very tattered soul. 

In the hellspace we're trapped in, the Constant has to change. London's calling, and it's time for a new John Constantine to answer.


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King of the Dad Jokes: World's Worst Friendly Neighbour
from Spider-Man: No Way Home
Video description: Michael Gicacchino's track 'World's Worst Friendly Neighbour' from the Spider-Man: No Way Home Soundtrack

Signal Boost



  • Friend of the Lid Andy Haigh says 'It's already funded, but this is one of the best on-going indie books around and more people need to know about it. Big Xena Warrior Princess vibes but in a retro sci-fi setting.'

Hashtags and Shenanigans

  • You know how sometimes you see a video captioned with 'WAIT FOR IIIIIT' and it's always disappointing? This really isn't.
  • Want to read or re-read Dracula in real time as it unfolds over the period of time between May 3rd and November 10th? There's a free substack for that!


  • Friends of the Lid Al Kennedy and Shelfdust say 'A wee shout out for @shelfdustsite Presents: The War Effort ... All episodes are listed on the site here or can be found on spotify, apple, etc!'. The War Effort is a podcast where a top class crew of comics critics and podcasters review each issue of the epochal Secret Wars miniseries and it's GREAT.
  • Paul Stephenson says 'Hi Alasdair, the first episode in my spooky new podcast @bleakwood_pod has just dropped:'


  • Friends of the Lid MacGuffin & Co. are funding their latest, Pitcrawler, an over-the-top 2 player fantasy RPG inspired by old-school adventure gamebooks.
  • V. Astor Solomon says 'I have a Ko-fi and a Patreon, offering different things, as well as a newsletter I've started and another Twitter for tiny stories and just generally exist on the internet as a creative creature. Here's the linktree to round up everyone in one go.'
  • Jason Beam says 'I have a blog (and Patreon and Kofi) that I write poetry for! Check it out.' 
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.
King of the Dad Jokes: World's Worst Bedtime Storyteller
from Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Video description: Michael Gicacchino's track 'World's Worst Bedtime Storyteller'

Where You Can Find Us This Week


Accents For Fun and Profit


  • So it turns out that gas giant? NOT A GAS GIANT. Outer Wilds continues to be fantastic.

Podcast Land


PseudoPod 807: The Bleak Communion of Abandoned Things

King of the Dad Jokes: World's Worst Translator
from The Batman

Video description: Michael Gicacchino's track 'World's Worst Translator' from The Batman Soundtrack

Department of Received
Esoteric Print Goods

The special edition of The Guest, featuring art cards, reproductions of the posters from the movie's final scene, the soundtrack and a book of essays.
Downton Stabbey represent! Dan Stevens' finest work (which is saying a lot) and one of my favourite movies this century. It's a great edition and will sit nicely next to my copy of Censor from the same company. And nothing else.

*Checks website. Sees The VVitch, which I've never seen. And Dog Soldiers.*

The cover to The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah
The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah, sounds BIG fun:

Loulie al-Nazari is the Midnight Merchant: a criminal who, with the help of her jinn bodyguard, hunts and sells illegal magic. When she saves the life of a cowardly prince, she draws the attention of his powerful father, the sultan, who blackmails her into finding an ancient lamp...

If Not For Linear Time...

This year I'm open to commissions! Here's a quick recap:
  • $400 / roughly £300 for an article. That represents research, writing, and editing time.
  • Once this amount is hit I'll pick a topic and write it up.
  • You'll receive the article in your inbox as a special bonus issue of TFL.
  • Then the donation resets, and we do it all again.
  • Though I'm going to limit these to once a month, because that's a time commitment I can meet.
But ah, I hear you ask, what if I, an intrepid, well-funded reader and/or group of readers want to pick the topic? Thank you emerging from your money vault, Scrooge McDuck - for you, only the very finest of bespoke commissions:
  • If you (collective) donate this much in one chunk, you get to pick the article.
  • One month turn-around time
  • Special TFL issue sent to everyone
  • No more than one a month
As of today I've received $200 in donations via Ko-fi since January 1st. Whoo hoo, half way there! Once that number hits $400, whenever that is, I'll pick a piece and you'll get to read it. Simple! To get us started, here's a smattering of articles I would have written this month if not for linear time, grist for your commissioning mills

The Great Game's Last Act

Ethan Hunt, James Bond and Jackson Lamb walk into a bar and have a blazing argument about why espionage fiction is into its second decade of existential crisis.

Ed and Chris

With The Orville about to make its long overdue return and Strange New Worlds looking just ridiculously charming, it's time to take a look at the connective tissue between Ed Mercer and Christopher Pike.


Hudson Hawk is the oddest movie Bruce Willis ever made. It makes no sense. It features David Caruso as a statue. There is a secret agent nun, microwave sushi, and an evil dog. I love it so.

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're hydrated and doing okay. This one was a Lot, folks. Please rest. You're all needed on mission.

TFL returns next week. Check my Carrd for all the places you can find me, including the Twitters, where photo evidence emerged this week of this man stealing the Moon. Presumably before the world's richest man bought it to fill that heart-shaped aching void in his chest.

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

Playing us out this week is Blake Robinson with 'Following Stanley' (the 10 hour version because you're welcome is why) from The Stanley Parable whose Ultra Deluxe Edition released this week and I AM VERY EXCITED.


And this?
is a Full Lid.
Video description: A ten hour loop of 'Following Stanley' from The Stanley Parable
Copyright Alasdair Stuart © 2022 -- All rights reserved

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Agathon Towers · Cheapside Road · Reading, Berkshire RG1 7AG · United Kingdom

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