What I thought of Providence #12

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

Finally. The last issue of Providence. It seems like a lifetime since this series started but we’ve reached an ending and what sort of ending do we have? Well, it starts in the present day with people discussing the work of Robert Black.

Events here take place after Moore’s previous Lovecraft work, Neonomicon, and here it seems a Lovecraftian hell has enveloped the world as the FBI try to solve the mystery outside their window. I will say that if you’ve not read Neonomicon then do so now because you’ll be utterly lost.

This world is a dark place though Black’s book may well be a guide to getting out of it.

Moore handily drops in some exposition for readers to explain what’s happened just in case you’ve missed it by now, and in fact much of the early part of this issue is establishing what’s passed so we can understand what’s happening in the now of the comic’s timeline.

Once at Miskatonic University we see the madness that’s been unleashed.

Dreams have melted into our world not to mention a nativity is about to happen.

As said, you really need to have read Neonomicon because if you haven’t by this part of Providence #12 you may as well cut the grass or paint the ceiling.

There’s an ending here to all of Moore’s Lovecraft-inspired work for Avatar that leaves it hard to see where it could go next as things are pretty final here. It’s a bleak, sad ending that’s also rewarding as the only ending that could work and be faithful to Lovecraft’s work is something as painfully bleak as this.

Overall Providence isn’t Moore’s best work as being tied to the (in my eyes) poor Neonomicon holds it back from becoming a truly great Moore work but this is definitely in the second tier and now completed, may well improve that rating when I get round to read it in a single sitting with the rest of Moore’s Lovecraft work. This work has made me learn more about Lovecraft and even Moore himself as this is a work that reveals much of how Moore sees creative fiction, even reality itself. This is a work to reflect upon and you really don’t get that much in comics these days…

What I thought of Providence #11

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

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Robert Black hasn’t had a fun time in this series. Sure, he’s had the odd bit of slap and tickle with the odd young lad, as well as meeting some of his idols but on the whole his time in this series has been shite. At the end of last issue Alan Moore had him in pretty dire straights.

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We rejoin Black on a strange train back to New York, and once there if you, the reader, haven’t worked out where Black’s probably going, Moore makes it clear during a piece of dialogue.

providence19Black returns to prohibition era New York a broken, and changed man as he takes a huge risk in admitting his homosexuality to an old work colleague.

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Things are clearly too much and seeing as everyone has a breaking point, Black breaks as he decides upon suicide as the only way to escape what he’s been put through.

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Things aren’t too good for those people Black met in his travels either, and that includes H.P Lovecraft.

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There then follows a potted history of events after this, mainly drawn from the works of Lovecraft, but Moore takes us on a sometimes gory journey.

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We get the ramifications of the authorities finding out about Black’s research, Lovecraft’s success, his influencing of Conan creator, Robert E. Howard and a trip through time.

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As well as a on-page mention of how Lovecraft’s most famous creation has become a pop culture icon.

 

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We pass the events of Moore and Burrows previous Lovecraft related work, Neonomicon, and beyond before landing in a present where Black’s work has spawned some awful, awful things.

Providence has been an amazing journey through the works of Lovecraft as well as pulling together Moore’s Lovecraft inspired work for Avatar to create something new, and quite special. I will say that Providence is going to probably read better as a single work rather than as 12 issues which have not exactly been published monthly, which leaves us with one more issue that promises to wrap things up. Though I’m sure Alan Moore won’t make it as easy as that.

What I thought of Providence #10

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

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The blurb for this issue states ”the end is near” which finally, it is. Hopefully before the end of 2016 too, but we got to the point last issue where Robert Black and Lovecraft finally met in Lovecraft’s hometown of Providence. This issue starts with the creeping sense of doom Alan Moore’s been building up over the last four or five issues since the last time something really awful happened  to Black before showing us Lovecraft and Black talking about Edgar Allan Poe.

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We then see that Lovecraft has read Black’s diary which has given him ideas, much to the amazement of Black himself.

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After a strange meeting with Howard Charles who has suddenly matured beyond when they last met in the attic of a church last issue, Black and Lovecraft carry on their chat in which Lovecraft outs his homophobic nature to Black.

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Lovecraft also throws in a bit of antisemitism and it’s here Moore finally throws in the more troubling aspects of Lovecraft as a man into the mix. To make things more troubling for Black, it seems he recognises Lovecraft’s father from his trip to Manchester.

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Black then realises what’s possibly been going on around him in his travels which brings back that ominous sense of dread again.

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Then bad things happen.

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Providence has now placed Robert Black in the Very Bad Place it’s been threatening to place him in for more or less the entire run. Although there’s much exposition and explanation in this issue there’s enough still waiting to be answered, especially now Providence is starting to link in with Moore’s previous Lovecraft inspired work, Neonomicon.

It does look as if Black’s story is going to end very, very badly. We’ll hopefully get #11 sooner rather than later to find out…

What I thought of Providence #9

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

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In the month or so since the last issue some friends of mine have had a holiday in America where they visited H.P Lovecraft’s grave and the city of Providence which from looking at their holiday snaps looks a nice place. No fish monsters sadly.

This issue starts with Robert Black finally making his way to Providence where he meets a Mr. Henry Annesley, someone who can see what creatures lurk in the air that’d make normal people fear for their sanity thanks to a special pair of glasses.

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During his conversation with Annesley, Black is clearly blaming his experiences (including I assume his rape) on his lover killing themselves back in the first issue.

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Also, Black gets to meet Howard Charles, another person Annesley is helping with their research.

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All the while the creeping sense of unease that Moore so clearly enjoys injecting this comic with grows and grows, but for now Black seems to have found himself an admirer in Charles and vice versa.

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The pair tour the city of Providence and come across St. John’s Church, a disused church once used by the secretive Stella Sapiente for their meetings in the city. Sneaking in thanks to a broken railing, the pair investigate the disused building while all the time dropping hints about each other’s sexuality to the other.

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In the tower they find the meteorite Black saw hit the ground when in Manchester, plus there’s dozens of Stella Sapiente books in the deserted tower, but by this point the hints the pair are dropping to each other move a step up a gear or two. The stone however seems to be exerting an influence over the pair.

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After this encounter the pair go their separate ways and Black heads off to meet Lovecraft who after a lengthy chat takes Black to visit his mother, and that sense of creeping dread starts getting more and more.

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She can see the strange creatures swimming in the air, and she can also see that Black’s causing them to get stirred up for an as yet, unrevealed reason.

There’s a lot happening in this issue from Black’s seeming acceptance of his homosexual urges, to H.P Lovecraft’s strange encounter this is at first glance not an important issue, but it is. There’s a lot happening here not to mention that Black’s fate looks less secure with each issue as Moore and Burrows set up the final three issues of this impressively literary work.  This really is a comic that’s going to benefit being read in one large sitting but right now we’ve no idea what’s going to happen but I’ll lay on a bet that it’s not going to be good for Black.

What I thought of Providence #8

Thoughts about #1#2#3,#4#5#6 and #7.

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The latest issue of Providence finally arrives two months after the previous issue and to be frank, it’s getting a wee bit annoying but as long as it’s helping maintain the quality it’s not too much of an issue.

Anyhow, this issue starts up with Robert Black being told the tale of what we’d now call a UFO sighting.

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Black’s speaking with Randolph Carver (an analogue of another one of Lovecraft’s characters) who is a writer struggling to get published, much like Lovecraft was, and we also get our first real mention of Lovecraft by Moore in the comic.

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Much of this issue is taken up with Carver telling Black a bit about himself, his upbringing, the Stella Sapinete and the occult. Mainly though they talk of dreams and imagination, something Moore’s had as a theme running through Providence from the start. Together Black and Carver enter the dream world which brings some more disturbing sights for Black.

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The pair go on an adventure through Carver’s dream world which looks like the real depths Black descended to in the previous  issue. After this diversion, the pair go to their meeting to hear the writer Baron Dunsany speak At the talk, the pair see that Lovecraft is there, and afterwards Black and Lovecraft arrange to meet in Rhode Island.

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With Lovecraft’s entrance it feels as if Moore is ready for the final stretch of this excellent series. This is very much a talkative issue (as there all, but this one more so) but the ideas and words being discussed are important here as this is very much the core of the concepts Moore’s spent eight issues setting up.

I still feel Black’s destined for a terrible, horrible fate and although in the comic pages he’s a decent enough man, he comes over as arrogant, snobbish and weak in the text pieces. Is Moore going to totally strip the veneer away in the final four issues and dish out something awful?

We’ll see in probably another two or three months at this rate…..

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 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 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 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.

What I thought of Providence #3

Thoughts about #1 and #2.

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In the month between this issue and the last one I’ve been desperately brushing up on my Lovecraft history which means as this is the 21st century, looking at YouTube. Most Lovecraft videos there tend to be pure shite, but this rather good one called Fear the Unknown is worth a watch, especially as it’s got some interesting points from Neil Gaiman.

Back though to this issue as Robert Black visits Salem, yes, that Salem with Moore and artist Jacen Burrows still sticking to a rigid four-panel horizontal grid for most of the pages in the ‘ordinary’ world. But it’s an extraordinary time with WW1 not long finished and prohibition being discussed and the town of Salem has some very strange people living in it.

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Black’s looking for a Tobit Boggs, another rather odd looking local with a lone in disturbing little curios and equally disturbing friends.

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Like the previous issues Moore spends a lot of time having his characters indulge in what is essentially exposition, and in lesser hands this would just be painfully slow and turgid but Moore manages to make things seem increasingly ominous. It’s also helped that Burrows is turning out the work of his career by managing to make what is historical places seem contemporary, not to mention creepy. Especially as little bits of historical foreshadowing is dropped in here and there.

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Then Boggs takes Black into the tunnels…..

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This induces a quite disturbing dream for Black not to mention the reader as horrors both real and fantastic are laid out in Black’s dream but it’s the final scenes as Black is leaving via the only bus in town that are quietly unsettling. In fact Providence is becoming more and more unsettling with each issue not to mention it’s also building up into a seriously substantial work by Moore who refuses to take any easy options with cheap gore and violence. In fact it’s been bloodless with barely a hint of violence so far but it’s still a damn sight more scary than the majority of horror comics on the market right now.

Basically if you’ve not picked this up do so now because I think you’ll probably regret it.