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Providence #6 is the best thing that Alan Moore has written in years. That’s right, I figure it would be best to get that out of the way immediately. It is better than his Crossed + 100 story-arc, his Nemo OGNs, and most definitely better than LXG: Century. That is not to say that I disliked any of those, far from it, but it is to say that in comparison they are painfully one note. Contrasted by Providence, a series that seems to be only improving exponentially with each passing issue.
Jacen Burrows and Alan Moore are doing extraordinary work on this series, but none so much as in this latest issue. That comes as no surprise, they simply top themselves, but this issue hits such grand notes that it seems worthy of this month’s Lovecraftian subject – the Necronomicon. Alan Moore is able to take a book that we’ve only ever had slight and brief views of in actual Lovecraft canon and make it something that is both interesting and alluring. The language and structure of the book ground it not as some tawdry tome of sorcery, or even as something uniquely suspicious, but rather a point-blank description of the world.
The analogue for Abdul Alhazred, as written in a stunning voice by Moore, believes in this so much that it feels all too real. There are other high points of the issue, but this stands out as the big highlight, however it would be remiss not to mention that the finale of this issue is one of the most horrific things that Moore has written. Truly horrific, and not for shock value either, it works to the story and everything is on point – unlike the laughable mess of tone Neonomicon was at it. The only complaint I could think up is that it doesn’t have the right room to breathe, occurring right after the previous section. On the writing side, Moore has proven he is a master of terror.
Now, I’ve done enough gushing about Moore for one review; it’s time to gush about Jacen Burrows. I’ve never thought of him as a particularly great artist, merely a competent one. The amount of work and detail put into the finer pieces of art in this issue, and in many of the others so far, has thrown my entire view upside-down. The look of the Miskatonic University analogue, the accursed book, and of the “Mad Arab” are all done with such skill that it becomes worthy of the story. Moore has had some great collaborators, and Burrows does his best to measure up. Does he succeed? I dare say so.
The most explicit sign of this is the way he is able to work with the aspect of the Necronomicon being an insane thing to read, and the way the panels work with this are sublime. A more subtle trick of Burrows is how he renders Robert Black in this issue. There is a scene where he is not in his right mind, and the differences in facial cues and tics are astounding. The face doesn’t contort or change drastically – but the forms put on them are so immeasurably different. It’s a hard balance to pull off but hats off to Burrows for being able to – he goes above and beyond the natural order for Avatar Press comics.
Again, like with the issues so far, it is hard to find anything to really fault here. As mentioned above the impact of the ending might seem to come too fast in regards to other developments. Elsewhere the references Moore uses can remain as impenetrable as ever for the ones new to the stories, but are pretty amazing nonetheless. The series may be suffering some delays in the future but it has no doubt remained worth the wait. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.