What I thought of Providence #7

Thoughts about #1#2#3,#4#5 and #6.

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Alan Moore and artist Jacen Burrows journey through H.P Lovecraft’s world saw the last issue end with protagonist Robert Black being violated both mentally and physically which was culmination of the story that was taking Black into some dark places.For Black that means having to confront the possibility that he’s losing his mind and that in fact, he did something terrible.

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Arriving in Boston during a riot thanks to a police strike, Black is searching out a photographer named Pitman, and thanks to a striking policeman by the name of Eamon O’Brien. Upon arriving at Pitman’s house, Black is given a bed  to catch up with some much needed sleep. The next morning Pitman gives Black an explanation as to what possibly happened to him.

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Befriending Black, Pitman explains that the people he’s been meeting in previous issues can affects dreams so they can affect people when they’re conscious, which tied into the secret societies and occultism Black has been researching makes Black think he’s just hallucinating. Pitman though explains that everything isn’t as he thinks as there’s a world between ours and the underworld that some can access, and even bring people from other realities into ours. Something he proves to Black by introducing him to one of these beings.

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This issue isn’t as shocking or horrifying as last issue as Moore goes back to the slow burn of previous issues, but that cloying feeling of impending dread hangs over this issue like a black cloud. Black is pulled back from the hysteria of his situation, but now he feels he’s hallucinating or being hypnotised one feels that the truth of what is going on will destroy what is basically a decent man.

Moore and Burrows aren’t taking easy shocks here, outwith one of the few appearances of a monstrous creature who seems more of a force of nature than evil. With five issues to go, it feels like Moore’s setting Black up for an almighty fall that is going to shock us, and if it’s anything like the previous issue of this splendid horror comic then it’ll be something dreadful indeed.

What I thought of Crossed +100 #13

Thoughts about #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8#9,#10#11 and #12.

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At the end of Si Spurrier’s first arc of Crossed +100 humanity had started taking the fight to the Crossed. This new arc picks the story up five years later with Future Taylor back to being an archivist, and Bailey (the stranger that led the fightback against the Crossed) now a captain in the survivors army, going from settlement to settlement clearing out not just the Crossed, but those humans that have become slaves of the Crossed.

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The settlement being liberated is Kingstenn, the same one that tried to offer Future up as a tithe to the Crossed, and they’re destroying the Infected’s archive.

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Finding a shrine to Salt (one of the first intelligent Crossed from the initial outbreak a century ago) Taylor and her apprentice are shown what else the Crossed have left behind: an infected child.

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Also discovered is a coded journal left by the Crossed that Future can’t translate when she’s back at Mursfreeboro which has become an armed stronghold since we last saw it. Though it is safe, and Future’s lover Mustafa is still there so for now it’s somewhere that’s free of the Crossed yet there’s a secret to be revealed…

This is simply about placing all our characters in the context of five years later. There’s a lot of exposition but Spurrier makes it easy to get through, even though much of it is just people standing around talking  and filling in the gaps. There’s not much in the way of character development, but this is a plot issue and as for the final page it’s setting up a very, very interesting second arc from Si Spurrier which if it’s as good as his first post-Alan Moore arc, will be very good indeed.

What I thought of Crossed +100 #12

Thoughts about #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8#9,#10 and #11.

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At the end of this first arc by Si Spurrier the settlement of Murfreeboro is threatened by the Crossed unless they give up people for them to rape, torture and mutilate, or are they looking to do something else with these people they’re getting from towns? Fortunately Future Taylor has some totally unexpected allies in the shape of refugees she presumed to be Crossed disguised as normal people.

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Sadly the Imam is set upon a peaceful settlement so calls upon people to pray which is not going to stop the Crossed from cutting your balls off and wearing them for earrings. Sadly after a coup upon the Imam’s regime (aided by Future) it blows up in her face as her fellow insurgents aren’t going to take the fight to the Crossed, but instead give them what they want.

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After seeing Cautious escape in the balloon Future loses much hope of the future, and for the first time in this series, we’re made to fear for the fate of someone that’s become essentially a hero in the world of the Crossed. Especially when Spurrier has her drop the narrative Alan Moore established in his first issue.

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From here on in it’s about survival as the Crossed come to take their ransom.

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Though things don’t go as expected as Spurrier plays with expectations, so the end of this arc doesn’t end as expected, In fact, it’s horrible and hopeful at the same time as humanity may just have found a way to take the fight to the Crossed rather than let them come to us.

I’ve found Spurrier’s first arc after Alan Moore a little bit harder to get into, but it’s hit a head of steam outwith of the dodgy art in the last couple of issues, but I’m happy to say Fernando Heinz is back for half this issue as I feel he suits Spurrier’s story well, plus his vision of the Crossed is vastly different from any previous version I’ve seen.

All in all this is a vastly satisfying final issue of this arc that promises more from the next one. Spurrier’s really getting into his stride and I hope this quality continues next issue.

 

What I thought of Providence #6

Thoughts about #1#2#3,#4 and #5.

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Last issue left Robert in the home of Hector, Alan Moore’s clear analogous version of Herbert West, and things are not as safe for Robert as he thinks, especially as Hector makes him a proposition over breakfast.

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It turns out that James and Hector have to move on as their, behaviour and experiments have been uncovered by the university, so they leave Robert to get ready to move on as he continues to research his book.

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After some conversation Robert finally get’s his hands on a copy of Hali’s Book.

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Moore’s built up this book over the course of Providence so at the series halfway point we finally get what’s been the subject of Robert’s quest, and one of the things that’s been lurking in the background quietly creating a feeling of dread in that this book is a terrible, terrible thing.

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After reading the book, Robert is confused to say the least, He’s got no idea what the date is, or how long he’s been in Manchester, or why the university’s youngest student Elspeth is taking such an interest in him. Meanwhile the slow sense of disquiet Moore’s built up starts to turn to unease as Black isn’t a bad man, far from it. He’s a good man, but I can’t help feeling that something quite terrible is going to come for him as some point in this story.

And it’s in Elspeth’s lodgings that something terrible happens.

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And Moore doesn’t let up as to what happens, and it’s not easy to read as that terrible thing that’s been building up happening to Robert happens and it’s horrible. Really horrible, It’s also going to set off Moore’s critics but all is not as it seems here and did I say that Moore makes it completely horrible?

It’s brilliantly written, but it’s Jacen Burrows splendid art that brings home the horror. There’s little moments of subtlety in all the grotesque depictions of events that confirms Burrows as a fine comic artist that should be getting as much praise as Moore is for this series, because without a good artist this issue, and the final pages especially, wouldn’t work.

The slow burn in Providence pays off here and with another six issues to go things can’t get worse for poor Robert can they?

What I thought of Crossed +100 #11

Thoughts about #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8#9 and #10.

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At the end of last issue things were looking pretty crap for our gang of survivors, and this issue starts off with Future Taylor taking a bollocking from the Imam.

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It turns out that refugees are pouring into Murfreesboro as the Crossed aggressively tear across the formerly growing human communities with the same demands for sacrifices of people, and it’s always seven women and three men every year.

The other problem is that Future has serious doubts over some of the refugees, thinking that they may be Crossed that have learned how to act more human and less Crossed in order to infiltrate communities like Murfreesboro.

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After an argument with Musta about the refugees, and indeed, who might or might not be Crossed, it should start dawning upon people that this is Si Spurrier commenting upon the current refugee crisis in Europe, and the idea (spread mainly by the hard right parties like UKIP) that in among the refugees are ISIS terrorists, so here’s a little horror comic making a nice point as both Musta (who thinks they should show mercy and compassion to all the refugees) and Future (who thinks some of the refugees are suspicious) both have valid points.

But to make any progress Future has to convince the Imam..

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The Imam doesn’t listen believing that peaceful means are the way forward, then all of it falls apart as the Crossed finally arrive at Murfreesboro with the same offer they’ve given other settlements.

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Everything Future warned might happen is happening, and the settlement now has a week to decide to go along with the Crossed plans or die.

This issue consists mainly of people talking but it’s a fantastic issue because it’s dealing with the different moralities in the new world, and there’s simply no room for mercy or religion, as if the Imam had listened to Future earlier they could have mobilised the other human settlements to make a stand against the Crossed, or even taken the fight to them.

They didn’t, and now they’re trapped in a situation that could see them wiped out. It’s a stark ending to Spurrier’s best issue yet which is let down only by Rafa Ortiz’s art. In places it’s dreadful and coming after the marvelous work of Andrande and the more cartoony, but interesting work of Heinz, this comes as a disappointment.

Still, this is still the best of the post Alan Moore issues and is highly recommended for an exceptionally good script that sets up the next issue perfectly.

What I thought of Crossed +100 #10

Thoughts about #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8 and #9.

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At the end of the last issue Future and her group had encountered a gang of  what they thought to be Crossed but where in fact, humans being kept by the Crossed, and once they’d been discovered all hell broke lose.

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Except everything isn’t clear at all as these humans/Crossed can pull back the more feral Crossed just by shouting at them.

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From here it seems there’s been experiments at human/Crossed hybrids, and even controlling the wild Crossed that’s worked, so these creatures can develop though it becomes clear these are the results of Salt’s ‘seven dwarves’ and that things are actually worse than Future thought.

Then it kicks off…

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There’s a battle and people are lost in the most action orientated issue of Spurrier’s run so far, and there’s one moment that’s just brilliant in it’s insanity, however this is leading to something larger as the scale of the Crossed threat becomes very clear to Future. Her job now is to convince the Imam of it and then gather an army to take these more organised Crossed on which leads into next issue…..

What I thought of Crossed +100 #9

Thoughts about #1#2#3#4#5#6#7 and #8.

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Last issue Future Taylor realised the smarter Crossed were holding human settlements to a horrendous ransom rather than just go piling in torturing, raping and killing as the human race have got used to the Crossed doing. This issue picks up shortly after the ending of last issue with Future back in Mursfreeboro and having to deal with religion in a post-Crossed world.

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Spurrier treats this modified version of Islam well, but the issue remains in that Cautious is acting erratically and Future needs to try to convince the people of her current settlement to take the fight to the Crossed, something they’re reluctant to do.This sparks a bit of a domestic and some interesting use of profanities in this new world.

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This helps Future get a group together to scout the Crossed town she found previously to help get the proof she needs to convince the Imam that there needs to be a war to wipe out the intelligent Crossed, but the town has been wiped clean as if it never existed. The Crossed have cleaned up after themselves.

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Future doesn’t give up and decides to kick on to see what she can find, and what she finds are the Crossed. However they appear to be scared or at least wary of Future Taylor.

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But it becomes clear these aren’t Crossed, in fact Future works out what they actually are.

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There lies one more horrible twist in this issue which makes it clear just how long the Crossed have been using humans in their plans, and that makes things all the more scary as these aren’t mindless animals Future is facing. But smart, ruthless and totally immoral creatures that will wait if need be to get what they want which is to inflict pain and suffering where they can.

This issue doesn’t so much close on a cliffhanger but it does make one desperate to see where this story goes from here, but there’s definitely something huge Spurrier is building up to.

What I thought of Providence #5

Thoughts about #1#2#3 and #4.

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Alan Moore’s journey through the world of H.P Lovecraft continues it’s slow build and sense of creeping dread as protagonist Robert Black arrives in Manchester (no, not the real Manchester) to find a particular book to help him in his research for his own book.

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Even to someone that isn’t steeped in Lovecraft lore like myself will be able to work out just who from Lovecraft’s works Moore is referencing as the issue progresses.

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Hector North? Herbert West more like it. Moore had to at some point deal with the lead character of the Re-Animator stories and films, so here we are as things continue to become creepy, and here’s a fantastic panel by artist Jacen Burrows which is part of Black being shown his room he’ll be boarding in while staying in Manchester, but there’s a lot more going on.

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I love how the branches of the plant growing on the side of the house reach menacingly at Black, but only one small one reaches for his landlady, Mrs. Macey. There’s also a mirror panel a couple of pages later which is also fantastic.

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I’ve not praised artist Jacen Burrows enough in these reviews. He really is turning out some incredible work and 99% of the time he’s just drawing people talking as there’s been (so far) very little fantastical or horrific for him to draw, but the sense of the fantastic and menace drips from his pages. He also seems to get Moore’s scripts perfectly, something not every artist does when they work with Moore.

His ability to make the seemingly ordinary something fearful is fantastic. Considering I’m more familiar to his work via his Crossed material which dripped in extreme images, the subtlety and craft here is showing what a real talent he is. Especially for drawing creeping vines…

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This issue of Providence is superb.There’s not only a ramping up of the threat aimed at Robert Black, as well as the more fantastical aspects which Moore has been very carefully drip feeding us readers now for four issues. As for black this issue suggests things aren’t going to go well for him in the future so I’ll be back next issue to see how Moore manages to get Black out of the situation he’s walking into at the end of this issue.

What I thought of Crossed +100 #8

Thoughts about #1#2#3#4#5#6 and #7.

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Last issue Future Taylor saved the pilots of a balloon, That’s right, in a post-apocalyptic world there’s still balloons which allows Si Spurrier to drop an obvious reference to early 19th century science fiction and the work of Jules Verne. It’s a lovely little touch.

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In a world where the Crossed are a serious threat again this is a lovely bit of romance but it’s a practical device for Spurrier to open up the future Crossed world Alan Moore developed as Future and Mr. McBlarney (the main pilot of the craft) travel this world. As for McBlarney, his dialogue is incredibly hard to read til I sussed that Spurrier is using a similar trick to what say, Irvine Welsh did on Trainspotting so it makes perfect sense if you read it exactly as it’s written down.

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It turns out Future is a celebrity after escaping the carnage of Chooga, and she’s not exactly comfortable with her new found fame, but although the threat of the Crossed hangs over everything, the scenes between McBlarney and Future are a joy. It’s somewhat refreshing to see such scenes in a Crossed comic because they’re human, and if this is a world where humanity is finding itself again these are lovely little touches. As said though, the horrors of the Crossed aren’t far away and on a trip to another settlement Future is given a shocking video by another archivist.

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The smarter Crossed are now not just murdering, torturing and raping at a whim, but instead are raiding smaller settlements and setting out a clear set of demands.

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After the earlier scenes this is horrifying which is exactly the point because the town Taylor is in is the same town the Crossed have threatened, so the hope is that she ends up being one of the quota imposed by the Crossed.

This is an excellent continuation of Alan Moore’s story that is saying something more about this broken world, and the things that people will do to save themselves. It’s pronounced how much more the threat is here than the initial issues of Moore’s run, partly because Moore was telling a different type of story but mainly because Spurrier wants us to face the decisions made in this issue and a slower pace wouldn’t be suitable for this story.

So a great issue and a horrible final page to top it all off. Fantastic stuff.

What I thought of Providence #4

Thoughts about #1#2 and #3.

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In a week of very real horrors it’s somewhat refreshing to climb into Alan Moore’s world of creeping dread which instantly throws you for a loop as the first page is, well, impossible to read. What is happening or being said I don’t know but right away it’s unsettling because it’s familiar and I almost think I maybe, possibly know what it is but I don’t so frankly, it’s a tad creepy. Great stuff.

The story picks up with Robert Black trying to track down Garland Wheatley, who goes by a very weird name.

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The Wheatley’s are a ‘blighted’ family in that the family is from ‘declining stock’. Basically Moore exposes us to the snobbishness of early 20th century New England, but what really is the problem with the Wheatley’s? Robert finds out right away that Garland is, a bit odd.

providence12Black and Wheatley have a very lengthy discussion on magic that smacks of Moore mixing up the opinions of his characters with that of his own, but the conversation leads him to meet Wheatley’s daughter, Leticia, who is also a wee bit odd. Problem is that slow creeping dread starts to creep back in and we find out something about the father of Leticia’s child even if we didn’t actually ask the question.

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Quite who ‘he’ is that was ‘working daddy’ isn’t revealed but the horror of what happened to Letcia is made perfectly clear in one of those splash pages artist Jacen Burrows excels at. Black though still has the boy, Willard to meet, and once we meet him even anyone with a passing knowledge of Lovecraft should suss out what fathered Willard, who is awfully advanced for his age.

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Moore keeps dragging Robert Black deeper and deeper into this Lovecraftian world which is getting stranger, more disturbing and more menacing for Black as these people he meets are guiding him towards a path that he can’t seem to get off.

Providence is proving to be a serious work by Moore. The skill that he Burrows show in spinning this tale which as yet is still a mystery but the entire premise that it’s about Black writing a book is hiding what is really happening, though as yet I’m not sure exactly what that is. The one thing Moore is excellent at is hiding the bigger picture until you least expect it, though next issue will shine a little bit more light on where exactly this story is going.