Providence #6 hits stores on November 25!
At the end of Providence #5, Robert Black was still in Manchester, NH, having had some very unsettling dreams in the house of witch Hekeziah Massey. We don’t have any real advance knowledge of what will be featured in issue number 6, though there are a few clues.
Providence #6 may well feature:
- Dr. Hector North – Black encountered Dr. North at the beginning and end (Pages 3 and 25) of Providence #5, and was last seen in North’s home. North/West appears on the Portrait variant cover for Providence #6. Dr. North is the Providence’s analogue of Dr. Herbert West of Lovecraft’s “Herbert West—Reanimator.” For additional background on West, see our earlier preview post summarizing him and his exploits.
- Elspeth – Black encountered Elspeth (whose last name has not been revealed yet), on the bridge on P6 of Providence #5. Elspeth is the Providence analogue of Asenath Waite from “The Thing on the Doorstep.” Asenath/Elspeth appears on the Women of HPL variant cover for Providence #6. Asenath Waite is a young Miskatonic University student, who is possessed by the soul of her father. Most of the events of “The Thing on the Doorstep” would likely take place well after Providence‘s 1919, but Asenath/Elspeth and her father could have some ties to the American coven called the Worshipful Order of the Stella Sapiente.
- St. Anselm College – St. Anselm College is a stand-in for Lovecraft’s fictional Miskatonic University which appears in numerous stories. Providence #6 regular cover features St. Anselm’s Alumni Hall.
What is almost certain is that Black will continue his quest to view St. Anselm’s copy of Hali’s Booke of the Wisdom of the Stars – so this is a good opportunity to highlight the differences between Lovecraft’s conception of the Necronomicon and its Providence equivalent.
In Providence, the dreaded book goes by a few names. Its original Arabic name was Kitab Al-Hikmah Al-Najmiyya. It was later translated to Latin with the title Liber Stella Sapiente, and then into English as Hali’s Booke of the Wisdom of the Stars. Suydam’s pamphlet (P31-40 in Providence #2) contains an extensive, though not entirely trustworthy, history of the Kitab. It might be helpful to refer to our new timeline to follow along.
According to Lovecraft’s “History of the Necronomicon,” the Miskatonic University Library’s copy is a Latin edition from the 17th century, printed in Spain, and is one of three such copies of the Latin edition in the United States; this is generally consistent with most of Lovecraft’s other stories, though a secret copy appears in “The Festival” and another in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. Other editions hinted at or given in America are a partial English translation by John Dee, in the possession of the Whateley family in “The Dunwich Horror,” and a Greek edition held by the Pickman family, whose descendants include Richard Upton Pickman of “Pickman’s Model.”
However, Moore has already somewhat departed from this basic model. Hali’s Booke is already in English, not Latin, and there is no translation by Dr. Dee – rather, Garland Wheatley was transcribing portions of it directly. Likewise, Moore makes no suggestion of a Greek edition in his publishing history of the Kitab, so if Ronald Underwood Pitman (the Providence analogue of Richard Upton Pickman) has access to a copy, it is probably either the St. Anselm edition or a copy thereof. It will be interesting to see if Black’s continued researches take him down to Boston to visit Pitman… or if his researches bring him into contact with the Providence counterparts to some of Lovecraft’s other characters who encountered the Necronomicon, such as Edward Pickman Derby of “The Thing on the Doorstep” (whose name already suggests a possible connection to the Boston Pickmans), or the librarian Dr. Henry Armitage of “The Thing on the Doorstep” (whose already-named but so far not-seen Providence equivalent is Dr. Wantage).
So far, Providence readers have not encountered any of the companion texts in Lovecraft’s shared universe, fictional tomes like the Book of Eibon, Pnakotic Fragments, Cultes des Goules, De Vermis Mysteriis, and Unaussprechlichen Kulten. So far, Hali’s Booke appears to be almost uniquely efficacious in terms of occult techniques or knowledge – or, at least, if any other grimoires possess working magic, they haven’t so far been named or showcased. In part, this might be Moore’s individual style, keeping the supernatural elements subdued rather than flashy, or a desire not to overwhelm the readers with too much confusing mythology at once, but it would seem likely that if the Worshipful Order of the Stella Sapiente have donated Hali’s Booke to St. Anselm’s, the bequest might include many of the other works mentioned in the Starry Wisdom library in “The Haunter of the Dark“, or at least their Providence equivalents:
Here for the first time he received a positive shock of objective horror, for the titles of those books told him much. They were the black, forbidden things which most sane people have never even heard of, or have heard of only in furtive, timorous whispers; the banned and dreaded repositories of equivocal secrets and immemorial formulae which have trickled down the stream of time from the days of man’s youth, and the dim, fabulous days before man was. He had himself read many of them—a Latin version of the abhorred Necronomicon, the sinister Liber Ivonis,the infamous Cultes des Goules of Comte d’Erlette, the Unaussprechlichen Kulten of von Junzt, and old Ludvig Prinn’s hellish De Vermis Mysteriis. But there were others he had known merely by reputation or not at all—the Pnakotic Manuscripts, the Book of Dzyan, and a crumbling volume in wholly unidentifiable characters yet with certain symbols and diagrams shudderingly recognisable to the occult student.