In Review: Providence #6

Any reader who's been following this series will truly go mad at what they witness. Highest possible recommendation.

The covers: Alumni Hall at Saint Anselm College is the Regular cover for this issue. It’s a creepy looking setting in the daytime, but at night, in the rain, with a few windows lit, the structure look absolutely foreboding. Excellent design on this cover, which was illustrated by Jacen Burrows (as were all the covers for this issue) with the colors teasing just enough to elude to the building’s features. The Ancient Tome cover is the same as the Regular cover, though the artwork has been shrunk and tinted to resemble a photograph that’s been inserted as the cover image on a leather book, which features the title of this installment along with the writer and artist’s names. Very cool. Several ebony colored humanoids, with large horns and equally big violet colored wings, are emerging from geometrically shaped windows that are part of a white rock structure that goes beyond the reader’s view. This is a bizarre cover, that will capture a reader’s imagination, as only a Dreamscape Variant cover can. The Pantheon Variant cover has a monstrous toad sitting upon some rocks that are a barrier from the flaming liquid before it. The creature is fantastic looking, colored in a golden brown, looking as if it were from another world. Outstanding. The Portrait Variant cover features Dr. Hector North looking closely at one body he’s dissected. Two of this previous subjects are also in the room, which is a tiled walled and floored interior one would expect of doctors, if North was a legitimate doctor. Decent, but not enough North for me. The Women of HPL Variant features Elspeth Wade, looking up at the reader in a sinister fashion, just below a portrait of her father Edgar Wade, who looks very grim. I love the emotion, which borders on accusation, on Elspeth’s face, and after what occurs in this issue, this was the image I had to use to accompany this review. There is also a Weird Pulp cover pencilled by Burrows and pained by Michael DiPascale, but I couldn’t find an image of it anywhere online, so good look hunting that cover down! Overall grades: Regular A, Ancient Tome A, Dreamscape B+, Pantheon A+, Portrait A, and Women of HPL A+

The story: Two images of someone reading the forbidden Hali’s Booke are intercut with Robert Black in bed. Two people not shown are discussing his fate. Hector North wishes to do something with him right now, but Jimmy Montague argues, “A scandal here in Manchester could finish us.” North’s desires are put off, and in the morning Jimmy has cooked breakfast for Hector and Robert. After Jimmy leaves the room, North makes a pass at Black that catches him off guard. Before he can respond to North’s advances, Jimmy claims to hear someone at the door. A female student was at the door, “Sh-She said there’s been a letter received at the college, asking about us.” Hector leaves Robert alone to speak with Jimmy privately and the two men return to rush Black out of their home. His quick exit has him encounter a very important person across the street who walks with him for a while until he meets Dr. Henry Wantage, who leads Black to finally encounter Hali’s Booke of The Wisdom or The Stars. What he finds in the book is more than just words, but a vision of the book’s original writer. There are several visual clues that Black’s study of the book is not what it appears, but this installment truly goes into horrific territory with actions that occur on Pages 18 – 23, as Black is involved in an incident. The dialogue on these pages is fittingly alien. To make this occurrence even more horrifying are the final three pages, which makes a previous installment creepier. Black is officially over his head in his issue and I don’t think there’s any way he can save himself. Absolutely riveting reading from Alan Moore. Overall grade: A+

The art: Just as detailed as Moore’s script are the visuals of Jacen Burrows. Every inch of every panel should be examined by a reader, otherwise some clue could be overlooked, and then the reader would be as damned as Black. The book opens with a partial page from Hali’s Booke. The scene transitions to Black sleeping. The third panel then has the page turned, revealing more from the book, and ending with Black turning in bed to face the reader. This is an incredibly cinematic opening as a future event appears to be a dream that Black is having. Montague’s face, hidden from Black, reveals the depth of the dialogue in a scene that goes over the hero’s head and the trouble that he and North are in. The bottom panel on Page 4 is incredibly tense in its silence, as it would be. When Black walks to Saint Anslem the settings are stunning in their realism. The visuals for this book become absolutely key when Black gets to read the book. Readers should pay close attention to those around him as he takes in each page. The character encountered on 14 and 15 is a nightmare come to life, which is perfect! I was shocked at what occurred on 18 – 23, which begins in the most subtle, unassuming ways, and then I was stunned at the final three pages. Burrows realism makes the insanity all the stronger. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Juan Rodriguez’s work on this book adds to the visuals’ terror. Certain panels are foreshadowed by the coloring, which is done in the first and third panels on Page 1: they have a faded quality, signifying future events that Black is somehow seeing/experiencing. The bright interior of North and Montague’s home give of the appearance of normalcy, but hide much, especially as Montague is shaded as he experiences feelings that Black does not see. The pages of Hali’s Booke have a wonderful yellow-gold age to them, which outshines Black’s reality. The incident on 18 – 23 is in a darkened room, but there’s still enough light to have its horror fully shown. Lighting and another light source explode on the issue’s rainy finale, providing glimpses into other arenas. Gorgeous work. Overall grade: A+

The letters: The text of the book, dialogue, the story’s title, and some screams are supplied by Kurt Hathaway. Hathaway has outdone himself with the pages from Hali’s Booke. They are gothic, which gives the book’s contents an instantly aged tone of a sinister nature. Excellent work. Overall grade: A+

The notes: The final fourteen pages are from Black’s notes on the book. These reveal the elements of the text he’s most concerned with as well as what he believes the text to mean, though he does admit he may have made mistakes. These pages increase the tension of the book, as it lays out the universe of Providence and some of the characters that Black isn’t aware he’s already encountered. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Any reader who’s been following this series will truly go mad at what they witness, but that’s as things should be. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

    One Comment
  • Sage North
    1 December 2015 at 4:52 pm -

    Absolutely spot on. This series is nothing short of a masterpiece.

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