Providence #1 (Avatar)

Providence01-Portrait-600x927
CREDIT: Avatar

Rating: 4/5 – Moore and Burrows Revisit H.P. Lovecraft’s World.
By ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

There’s no need to go into the impact Alan Moore has had on the word of comics, but it is substantial. Watchmen could be considered the greatest comic book story ever told, while his work on the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, From Hell and more continue to be read by new readers and re-read by existing fans each and every year. Avatar continues to be a place where readers can find Moore’s most recent work with his take on the world of Crossed set one hundred years in the future, and now with his revisiting of the world of H.P. Lovecraft in this new series called Providence.

This isn’t the first time Moore has written about the ideas originally created by Lovecraft. In 2003 Avatar adapted a prose story that Moore had written for an anthology tribute book to Lovecraft, and in 2010 Moore and collaborating artist Jacen Burrows followed that up with a four issue series titled Neonomicon. Now in a series that serves as both a sequel and prequel to those previous titles, Moore and Burrows are exploring the world of Cthulu once again. This first issue focuses on main character Robert Black, a news reporter from the New York Herald. When the paper is looking for a new article to publish, Black follows a story that has ties to two books, one called the ‘King in Yellow which is an actual real world book, and another called the Sous Le Monde. These two works of fiction according to Black and the stories that follow them, have caused some of their readers to become mad and/or commit suicide.

Black’s investigation into these mysteries lead him to a meeting with a Dr. Alvarez who had previously published an article about the books and the effects they had on readers. The encounter with Dr. Alvarez is the strongest part of this first issue as Moore and Burrows create a creepy atmosphere and wonderful dialogue that intersperses Black’s personal past throughout. This first issue does require some research on the reader’s part, but the majority of this issue is extremely straight forward despite a parallel subplot that hints at something much darker. Burrows art is so clean and sharp throughout, and he’s able to make you feel as though you’re in the early 1900s with his attention to details in both architecture and clothing. As an added extra, there’s a prose piece at the end that provides even more context to the main story, and again shows a level of detail in Black’s handwritten note that’s subtle, but feels real.

Moore and Burrows drew me right into this world, so much so that I’m excited to dive back into their previous Neonomicon and Courtyard books. Providence takes it’s time to draw readers in, and much like Lovecraft’s writing, hints at a darker world not yet seen. I’m not quite sure where Moore is headed with this new series, but he’s hooked me with this first issue. Providence seems as though it’s going to take it’s time in showing us the horrors that await, which is making the dread of what’s to come that much more compelling.

Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
(shawn@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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