Providence #10 is due out in stores this week (then again maybe not this week, but fairly soon anyway), and in this third and final act, the revelations regarding H. P. Lovecraft and the Stella Sapiente are coming fast and thick—but every new revelation seems to bring with more questions and new mysteries. While we’ve speculated quite a bit about where Moore & Burrows might be headed for the climactic revelation, for readers getting ready for this issue, we’d like to focus on a few specific questions, and the stories that might influence this issue. Spoilers below the fold.
The regular cover for Providence #10 suggests this issue will focus on Lovecraft’s The Haunter of the Dark, and throughout the series we’ve been getting hints that the Stella Sapiente is effectively the “Church of the Starry Wisdom” from that tale, with Robert Black visiting their disused sanctum sanctorum in the disused Saint John’s Roman Catholic Church in Providence #9. It would seem perhaps a little too ironic for Robert Black to meet Robert Blake’s fate in this issue—after all, we still have two issues to go—but we suspect what we’re going to get is more details on the history of the Stella Sapiente itself, paralleling in some respects the formation of the Starry Wisdom and probably the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, especially it’s relation to the “secret chief” of the order, the Haunter of the Dark himself—and possibly will borrow more from Lovecraft’s short story Nyarlathotep.
Another strong possibility is that Black will follow up with Howard Charles and his research into his ancestor Japheth Colwen, delving into the background (if not the actual events) of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. So far, Colwyn is the only remaining “founder” of the Stella Sapiente that Black has yet to encounter—having met Hekeziah Massey in Providence #5 and Etienne Roulet in Providence #6. Colwen is in many ways the most enigmatic of the three, and his focus seemed to be more on alchemy than the other two, possibly feeding into Henry Annesley’s assertion of the Stella Sapiente’s interest in science as much as mysticism.
The real question about Providence #10 is what will happen with H. P. Lovecraft—who will presumably feature prominently in the issue. We still do not know exactly how the fictional Lovecraft’s father and grandfather became associated with the Stella Sapiente, or what the ultimate goal of the Redeemer or Herald stories are supposed to be. The intimation of Lovecraft and Black meeting in Providence #8 and the end of Providence #9 is that their meeting has momentous importance, but we have yet to see what exactly this might mean.
If Lovecraft is in typical form, he would probably regale Black with a lengthy walking tour of Providence—with a stop at the ice cream shop—perhaps revealing more about the hidden history than Lovecraft thought he knew.
The question becomes, as we head in to the final issues, what haunts Providence? Is it Nyarlathotep, the crawling chaos? Japheth Colwen, the alchemist and necromancer of the Stella Sapiente? Is it the shade of Whipple Van Buren Phillips, and the scheme that involved the arranged marriage and magical breeding of his own daughter? Let’s hope we find out, in Providence #10.