Read Before Providence 10: What Haunts Providence?

Providence #10 regular cover, art by Jacen Burrows

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.

Japheth Colwen, from Suydam's pamplet in Providence #2 - art by Jacen Burrows
Japheth Colwen, from Suydam’s pamplet in Providence #2 – art by Jacen Burrows

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 WardSo 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.


22 thoughts on “Read Before Providence 10: What Haunts Providence?

  1. My guess would be that the finale to this series will see Blacks consciousness transferred to H P Lovecrafts body from where he will write the storys he has encountered on his journeys. The real Lovecraft will be freed to live the life he wants inhabiting Blacks body.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clearly HPL is going to get Black’s stories… somehow. I think it will be interesting to see how Moore can do this in a way that honors HPL. If HPL gets all this material too easily, then he becomes a sort of empty vessel that his reality just came through – which I feat would kind of demean HPL. I am going to guess that Black dies and HPL gets his Commonplace Book, reconstructing the stories from it (analogous to Rorshach’s journal at the end of Watchmen.) But hopefully Moore will surprise us all!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Given that Jacen Burrows said (in your guys’ ask-the-artist-interview) that some of the covers were shuffled around after the series was expanded from ten issues to twelve, this may have originally been the cover of issue #9? Just a guess, since the church played such a heavy role in issue #9.

    However, since Johnny Carcosa’s mother was shown mysteriously standing in the steeple during that zoom sequence in issue #9, it is not out of the question that the church will return to the narrative in issue #10.


  3. Carcosa’s mum in the steeple where the secret chiefs go, where the ‘Hedron is.

    However Jacen’s told us that the end is pretty much Black passing his stories on to HP. Not that something horrible can’t happen afterward. Or maybe HP ends up writing the book Robert intended to, the underworld of America. Except he does it as short stories cos he’s best at that, and can sell them, and so as not to have people think he’s mental for claiming they’re true. With his family’s history, the last thing he needs is to be ranting about shuggoths.

    “What if it were true” ties in nicely with Neonomicon, Agent Brears thinking the same thing. Then finding out, of course.


  4. Hm, just thinking. If Howard Charles, the Secret Chief and probably disguise of Colwen, got Robert to do the magical anal in front of the shining wossname, perhaps Johnny’s mum is up there absorbing the energies from it, and falls pregnant. That means Robert is Johnny’s magical dad. Could happen.

    Johnny’s mum might just be an ordinary fishwoman, pretty sure she was in Neonomicon. If a fishman can father Cthulhu, why not be the mother of an avatar of Nyarlahotep?

    I’m convinced that sex was magical, the presence of orgone is a dead giveaway.


  5. Hi, sorry to be the bringer of bad News. Seems we ‘ll have to wait a week longer to read Number 10. It’ll be available on August 10.
    My shield is now ready is to block your rocks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 10 was the original release date, but it was shifted forward to August 3. I notice that it’s a pattern with Providence – it seems to be listed for either the second or the last Wednesday of a month in the usual course of things but gets released earlier anyway. I don’t know how common it is for comics distributors to list a work as provisionally arriving at the end of a month – maybe it’s industry standard to take care of schedule slips? We’ll know by tomorrow for sure (rocks or no rocks!)


      • What is listed on Comic List for August 3 are #8 and #9 weird pulp variants, cinéma Purgatorio #4. On comixology Providence #10 was listed August 3 as of last week but changed to August 10 Yesterday. Further more no mention of Providence 10 on the Avatar Press Facebook page for this week new realeases.


    • I dunno if you’re an Avatar insider, but I have to ask, WTF is with all the delays? Far as I know Alan wrote the plot over a year ago, and I get the impression Jacen sticks to deadlines.

      How hard is it to publish a comic on a regular schedule anyway? Other companies have been doing it since literally the beginning of pictures with words on them. Newspapers manage every day. Printing is quite an advanced technology nowadays. What sort of bunch of idiots can’t get their shit together to do their actual job?

      What’s the delay? I need to know for some voodoo I’m planning.

      If you’re nothing to do with Avatar, ignore this, this is addressed to them.


  6. I have a broad set of ideas about what could be coming in 24 hours (or 7 days, whatever the case may be) and I hope at least one of these doesn’t turn out to be complete baloney-

    1. Robert Black turns into the Deep One we see in the Necronomicon, courtesy of the human-animal transformation formulae in the copy of the Liber Stella Sapiente he found, and in part foreshadowed by the dreams he had in Salem.

    2. The commonplace book entry we see in #9 is the last and we see something else – perhaps a newspaper report about his disappearance, or maybe an obituary by the Herald Staff – in its place. The issue has more illustrated pages and less back-end textual matter as a result.

    3. Robert Black is shown horrifying images of the future and his true role as the herald by Nyarlathotep, probably in his Carcosa form, sitting in a movie theater (“silvered visions” – the silver screen, aka cinema) and Lovecraft may join them as well, having gotten a dream-message from Robert that Nyarlathotep was in town – basing this on both the real Lovecraft’s “Nyarlathotep” and the dream that inspired it.

    4. Black is somehow drawn to the steeple or attacked by the monster in the trapezohedron and undergoes the “startling transformation” described in the back cover, therefore turning the rest of the story over to both Howard Charles and Lovecraft.

    5. Howard Charles might come to take Japheth Colwen’s history seriously after Black’s disappearance/transformation, with the consequences of that being shown. Lovecraft discovers Black’s commonplace book and uses it as a basis for his own stories – with the consequences of that (such as the raid on Salem/Innsmouth) coming either at the end of this issue or in Issue 11.

    So Issue 11 might be more of Lovecraft himself and maybe a few of Black’s co-workers in the Herald (Freddy Dix?) and 12 might come to the present and Merrill Briggs and the events preceding/following those of the Neonomicon.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. As far as the regularity of Providence releases it’s been pretty evenly spaced as a bi-monthly for a while now, seems to me. Two months is a long time to wait when you’re this into a comic book but it hasn’t stretched out into Watchmen or LOEG territory. Yet.


    • Still… why? Just because other comics can’t manage to publish on time, is no reason for this one. It’s still not good enough. If I knew what the problem was I’d at least have an inkling. Old interviews with Alan mention later bits of the plot. It’s a limited series, he has all the time in the world to write it before it goes to the printers.

      You couldn’t run any other business this way. Alan’s lucky in that people will basically wait forever and still buy his stuff, because he’s just that good. But it’s not right for (whoever is responsible) to take advantage of that. I can’t imagine it’s yet more legal / business trouble.


      • it’s really not as uncommon as you’re implying! with indie publishers especially. there’s no trick to it. and from that interview, it seems like Burrows does his absolute best to have everything done on deadline (he even mentioned sacrificing detail on #9 I believe to meet the encroaching deadline) so not really sure who’s to blame, but i’m also not sure what avatar would have to gain by “taking advantage” of moore’s audience and publishing sporadically. I’m sure they’d be as happy with a rigid monthly as us.


      • What industry doesn’t suffer constant delays, where delays are more common than actually publishing on the expected date? Well, comics, for one thing. How many issues of Spiderman or Batman or whatever are “delayed” with no reason given?

        Sure, this isn’t Spiderman, but it’s still ink on paper. The process of writing, drawing, printing, is exactly the same.

        The fact some of us have come to expect this as normal, is a terrible indictment of how sloppy the whole thing is. And I’ve no idea who to blame and quietly seethe at, because we never get an explanation. I suppose because eventually they’d run out of them, and whoever’s really to blame might actually have to own up.

        It’s taking advantage of the legendary loyalty of Alan’s readers (inspired by the legenderay quality of Alan’s work), to pull shit like this every bleedin’ issue. Most other comics would see readership numbers plummeting. Any other business would have gone out of business. You just can’t treat customers that way.

        It’s a 12-part series, so have the first x parts ready to print, with enough time left to get the remaining issues out by the time they’re due. Or even better, have all 12 parts ready to start with.

        And publishers complain that people are just buying the trade paperbacks, nobody buys the issues any more. Here we are begging them to take our money, and there’s no issues to buy! It’s just not good enough. It’s a shitty way to treat people.


  8. Exactly, Andrew. Feels like a long nothing… but yeah. We should be grateful for what we’ve been getting.Still waiting for the 1963 Annual…. ha ha.


  9. Not to mention how sporadic From Hell’s schedule was, esp. For the first half. It’s a total drag to wait on Providence because it is amazing, but compared to From Hell this is like clockwork.

    Liked by 1 person

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