Saturday, 14 October 2017

Providence, Act Three Review (Alan Moore, Jacen Burrows)


And so Alan Moore’s meandering and flummoxing mash note to HP Lovecraft, Providence, comes to an awkward, unsatisfying and confusing end in Act Three. Watch in dismay as Robert Black continues to tediously research his book on New England folklore until he doesn’t and then the world sort of ends! Oh my god, what a load of pretentious bollocks!

I really don’t understand the love for this series. But then I’m not an Alan Moore fanboy so perhaps therein lies the problem! There’s barely any story here. Black wanders a landscape filled with Lovecraft references before pointlessly meeting the writer himself and then basically disappears for no reason!

I’m not sure if anyone knows how HP Lovecraft actually spoke but Moore gives him the most wanky speaking style possible here, having him make grandiloquent exclamations and calling old people young and vice versa for no reason. “Why, my dear Robertus! Please be afforded ingress to my meagre sanctuary. I trust my young granddaughter here has not already wearied you with her girlish entreaties?” Gah - it’s so annoying! 

When he’s not referencing Lovecraft’s stories Moore’s referencing his own as Providence links in with previous Lovecraftian comics The Courtyard and Neonomicon for the finale to no real effect (and, before some pedant chimes in, yes I know Alan Moore didn’t write The Courtyard comic, just the short story it was based on). I call it ineffective not just because reading them beforehand adds no greater understanding to this book but also because I have no idea what any of it meant or what he’s trying to say - Lovecraft was a messenger for otherworldly creatures whose work was misunderstood as fiction? Ok, so what? Moore is far too cryptic and inaccessible making it impossible to care about anything happening here. It’s not even entertaining to enjoy on a surface level. 

Jacen Burrows’ art is excellent though. The layouts are appealing, the linework is very skilful, and I liked how he took advantage of the wide panels to throw in sneaky background details and heighten the atmospheric weirdness. I’ve always found artists’ interpretations of Lovecraft’s work far more compelling than the original stories they’re inspired by and Burrows’ visuals here are vastly more fascinating and creepy than anything I’ve read by the author himself. 

Though I’m disappointed with them more often than not, I’ll always be drawn to Lovecraftian comics like Providence because I love horror and I would like to see the vast potential in his stories realised if someone who can write came along to reinterpret Lovecraft’s work. As it is, while it started well enough, the series failed to develop into something coherent or interesting. Outside of the Lovecraft and Moore fandoms, Providence definitely isn’t worth bothering with - a very overrated comic with its head stuck firmly up its bum!

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