Avatar Press likes to use variant covers to promote its series, particularly short-run limited series like Moore’s; besides their artistic merit, several of these covers have more to say about the contents of the book than readers might think.
Note that (at least as of Providence #6), especially for Dreamscape and Pantheon variant covers, the variant cover subjects depicted pertain to Lovecraft fiction, but not necessarily to the events depicted in Providence comics.
A depiction from Lovecraft’s early Dreamlands tale “The Quest of Iranon,” as commentors the Joey Zone, Conrad Perez, and Mike have pointed out.
“Into the granite city of Teloth wandered the youth, vine-crowned, his yellow hair glistening with myrrh and his purple robe torn with briers of the mountain Sidrak that lies across the antique bridge of stone. The men of Teloth are dark and stern, and dwell in square houses, and with frowns they asked the stranger whence he had come and what were his name and fortune.”
Commenter the joey Zone suggests that this cover could be a scene from Lovecrafts’s “The White Ship,” and that the image is similar to a 1987 drawing by Jason Eckhardt used for the cover for Lovecraft Studies #18.
The aftermath of the massacre of Ib before the statue of Bokrug in Lovecraft’s “The Doom that Came to Sarnath”:
So one day the young warriors, the slingers and the spearmen and the bowmen, marched against Ib and slew all the inhabitants thereof, pushing the queer bodies into the lake with long spears, because they did not wish to touch them. And because they did not like the grey sculptured monoliths of Ib they cast these also into the lake; wondering from the greatness of the labour how ever the stones were brought from afar, as they must have been, since there is naught like them in all the land of Mnar or in the lands adjacent. Thus of the very ancient city of Ib was nothing spared save the sea-green stone idol chiselled in the likeness of Bokrug, the water-lizard.
The face carved on the mountain is a reference to Lovecraft’s The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath:
Surely enough, there was the snow uncounted thousands of feet above, and below it a great beetling crag like that he had just climbed; hanging there forever in bold outline, black against the white of the frozen peak. And when he saw that crag he gasped and cried out aloud, and clutched at the jagged rock in awe; for the titan bulge had not stayed as earth’s dawn had shaped it, but gleamed red and stupendous in the sunset with the carved and polished features of a god.
Stern and terrible shone that face that the sunset lit with fire. How vast it was no mind can ever measure, but Carter knew at once that man could never have fashioned it. It was a god chiselled by the hands of the gods, and it looked down haughty and majestic upon the seeker. Rumour had said it was strange and not to be mistaken, and Carter saw that it was indeed so; for those long narrow eyes and long-lobed ears, and that thin nose and pointed chin, all spoke of a race that is not of men but of gods. He clung overawed in that lofty and perilous eyrie, even though it was this which he had expected and come to find; for there is in a god’s face more of marvel than prediction can tell, and when that face is vaster than a great temple and seen looking down at sunset in the cryptic silences of that upper world from whose dark lava it was divinely hewn of old, the marvel is so strong that none may escape it.
The black flags on the mountain path somewhat resemble Tibetan prayer flags; in “The Hound” Leng is reportedly in “Central Asia,” though in other tales it is supposed to be in Antarctica or the Dreamlands.
A depiction of Ulthar from Lovecraft’s “The Cats of Ulthar.”
A depiction of Night Guants. Commenter The joey Zone notes they are issuing from an edifice akin to David Ho’s labyrinthine cover landscapes for Centipede Press’ recent Mythos anthology, A MOUNTAIN WALKED.
A depiction of ghouls, in reference to The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath:
Now Carter knew from a certain source that he was in the vale of Pnoth, where crawl and burrow the enormous Dholes; but he did not know what to expect, because no one has ever seen a Dhole or even guessed what such a thing may be like. Dholes are known only by dim rumour, from the rustling they make amongst mountains of bones and the slimy touch they have when they wriggle past one. They cannot be seen because they creep only in the dark. Carter did not wish to meet a Dhole, so listened intently for any sound in the unknown depths of bones about him. Even in this fearsome place he had a plan and an objective, for whispers of Pnoth were not unknown to one with whom he had talked much in the old days. In brief, it seemed fairly likely that this was the spot into which all the ghouls of the waking world cast the refuse of their feastings; and that if he but had good luck he might stumble upon that mighty crag taller even than Throk’s peaks which marks the edge of their domain. Showers of bones would tell him where to look, and once found he could call to a ghoul to let down a ladder; for strange to say, he had a very singular link with these terrible creatures.
The cover depicts “Trolley No. 1852,” from a dream that Lovecraft recounted in a 1927 letter to Donald Wandrei, later excerpted by J. Chapman Miske as “The Thing in the Moonlight.”
The flying creatures appear to be night gaunts (see #6 cover above), possibly a scene from The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.
A scene inspired by The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, with the horned and hoofed Men of Leng.
The penultimate scene in The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, when Randolph Carter sees the city he has been searching for…
Lovecraft’s Cthulhu apparently transforming New York City. There seems to be some multi-dimensional shifting going on.