Providence #1 Review

Plot Summary

In Providence #1 by Alan Moore, we meet Robert Black. Robert is a writer for the Herald in New York City. The world is on the edge of Prohibition, which will influence the criminal underworld’s rise to power. Robert wants to desperately write a novel, and when a coworker reminds him of Robert Chamber’s the King in Yellow as well as Sous le Monde, he begins his journey by meeting an ailing Dr. Alvarez.

Alvarez lives in an apartment that is below freezing. This is our first Lovecraftian allusion with “Cool Air.” I’ll not point out all of the allusions as it isn’t critical to the understanding of the story, and it’s unlikely those will be appreciated without reading Lovecraft. Alvarez is the motivator for Robert, who points at the Hidden America and about the Kitab al-Hikimah al-Najmiyya. This book represents Lovecraft’s Necronomicon, the Book of the Law of the Dead. The al-Khitab is the Book of the Wisdom of the Stars.

Darkness Within

Behind all this is Robert’s lover Jonathan Russell’s suicide. Robert pretends to be heterosexual, even in his commonplace book at that end, referring to Jonathan as Lily, which may or may not have been a real prostitute whom Robert used as a beard. I got a bit confused there. Robert shirks Jonathan because homosexuality isn’t accepted, and thus, he kills himself, leaving Robert blaming himself.

This is suicide sets the tone of the series, especially when Dr. Alvarez says:

We must never discard those we are loved by. Lacking them, we are cursed.

By rebuking his lover, Robert has ended the only relationship that provided him with love, and in the end, he is left cursed, despite being unaware.

Assessment

This intro to the series is pretty fantastic. The artwork is brilliant and reminds me of a movie. The storytelling is evocative, alluring, and surreal. Robert is an unreliable narrator from the get-go, which is common in Lovecraftian literature. He is a duplicitous fool, who really afraid of his own desires.

The series’ biggest weak point is its reliance on the commonplace book section at the end of most issues. These instances take up 6 to 10 pages of the ~35 page issue, and it is digitized pictures of text. All the text is designed to look like handwriting, making it quite hard to read. A lot of these entries are summaries of the story as Robert sees it in the privacy of his thoughts. A lot of details will be changed from how we see it, usually Robert talking himself out of the madness he perceives. After a few issues, I began to skim them or read synopses. Facts in the Case of Alan Moore’s Providence (https://factsprovidence.wordpress.com/moore-lovecraft-comics-annotation-index/providence-1/)

does annotations on each issue, and I thought they did a great job of explaining the relevance of the commonplace book and anything else we may not have paid much attention to on the first reading.

All in all, this is a great issue to read, and I highly recommend it.

Providence #1: 5 out 5

Pop Sugar Reading Challenge 2016: Broodhollow

I like to read. A lot.

However, I am very easily distracted, and if I feel like I am hitting a wall, I will stop a book and do something else. I also read painfully slow.

In the past few years, I wanted to increase my reading speeds, and this year, I found the best way to do that: Pop Sugar’s Annual Reading Challenge.

For 2016, there are about 40 categories of books to read from. Some are pretty easy, such as the graphic novel, books under 150 pages, or something you can read in a day, but others are rough. My goal is to do as many as I can before December 31st.

In order to make this even more interesting, I plan to do a detailed review of each book. I have no expectation of finishing all forty books, but I hope I can at least give the authors I do manage to read some review points. Here’s the first one.

Broodhollow

A Graphic Novel: Broodhollow

Broodhollow is a web comic by Kris Straus. It’s drawn like the classic comics of Peanuts, Beetle Bailey, and Dilbert only to cross into Lovecraftian horrors. This book is titled Broodhollow: A Curious Little Thing, and it is a collection of the first chapter in the web series.

The story follows Wadsworth Zane, a failed encyclopedia salesman during the depression. Zane is a nervous fellow who has severe OCD in order to preserve “The Pattern,” a construct that he believes keeps bad things out of his life. All of his luck seems to change when he receives a letter telling him his great uncle has died, and he is to claim an inheritance. However, the inheritance is in the town of Broodhollow, a town with a thousand holidays.

Wadsworth starts experiencing paranormal encounters before he gets to Broodhollow, but once he does, everything intensifies.

The book is fantastic. Period. I paid about $8 for it, and I am craving more from the author. I wish book 2 was already in digital format as well as book 3, but until then, I’ll wait patiently. The designs are really well done, the plot line is easy to follow, and the story is extremely compelling. You feel yourself falling into Wadsworth paranoid thinking very quickly.

Buy this book now at http://shop.chainsawsuit.com/collections/broodhollow/products/broodhollow-curious-little-thing-digital-edition.

One down.

Broodhollow

The Hubris of Superman – Short Story

Kal-El’s head was groggy. He was barely aware of his surroundings, and he felt that familiar pain that sent terror shocking through his body, jolting him awake. Kryptonite.

In the dark cave, with a subtle green glow stinging his eyes, Kal-El felt further from himself than ever. He had none of his strengths. Now, he was only Clark Kent.

He could feel it was close. Too close. The smell of it, whether real or imagined, began as a dull headache at the base of his neck, coiling like tentacles through his head and pulsating on his right temple with such ferocity that he lost his breath with each throb.

This wasn’t the plan.

Clark Kent grew sicker every day of reading about the butchers in the Middle East who would make a spectacle out of murder. He was used to otherworldly invaders coming to ruin his small ball of peace in this corner of the universe. He was ready to defend against them. But these men and women were different. They killed knowing full well how precious human life was. And Clark Kent wasn’t going to sit by a let that happen, not while Superman, his truer self, was able to do something.

His plan was simple. With a billionaire friend, he was able to pull the strings to get Clark Kent credentials into an ISIS-haunted region. Bruce fought him as much as he could, but Clark’s will was far stronger. It had been steeled too much to resolve this crisis.

Clark Kent, driving alone to minimize casualties, was captured less than a day after his arrival in Iraq. He waited patiently to spring his plan and bring the marauders to justice. He fed off the sunlight they marched him through, only to lose all of his reserves in seconds when exposed to that green pain that weakened a man strong enough to change the rotation of the Earth. He was helpless.

As the pain ebbed enough for his thoughts to return, he knew something didn’t fit. The outfit was in a cave with more sophisticated technology than Clark had seen in Wayne’s secret Batcave. Somehow, a group of people using improvised weapons and explosives, had secure Internet and an alien substance that affected only one person on Earth: Superman. He heard talking in the distance and strained to listen. Three soldiers walked up to him and held him off the ground. He hadn’t realized he was slumped on the floor until they heaved him into a chair.

Soft footsteps walked towards the chair. He looked in the darkness as a figure came towards the light surrounding him.

“Hello, Mr. Kent.” Clark’s jaw dropped.” Or Mr. Superman? I am poor with formalities in situations like this.” The man’s bare forehead creased as he smiled.

“How?” Clark asked Lex Luthor with a labored breath.

“I took my enterprise International. Would you like to do an interview?” He smirked and the third guard who wasn’t supporting Clark brought a chair. “My name is Lex Luthor, and I am the face of terror, Mr. Kent.” He nodded, and the glowing green of the Kryptonite grew in intensity. Clark lost consciousness as fear overwhelmed him.

#

Bruce Wayne’s hair was tussled in a frenzy as he pulled at his scalp. Alfred Pennyworth and Dick Grayson knew this to be his frustrated mannerism. Alfred met Dick’s eyes, and an unspoken battle began over who to pacify him. Bruce’s eyes were mad with rage.

“This isn’t like him.” Bruce broke the tension in the dank Batcave.

“You have to relax, Bruce. He’s more than capable of handling himself.” Dick smirked. “He’s even capable of handling you.”

“It’s not funny.” Bruce cut him off. His dark eyes studied the digitized map where the transponder had stopped. He typed a few commands into the computer, and all the recorded patrol routes were transposed on the map. “See, he was right in their paths. He should have found where they were and reported back by now. This isn’t like him.”

“Master Wayne, you are worrying yourself into a frenzy.” Alfred chimed in, barely looking up from dossiers on his computer that Bruce and Clark had created before launching their attack. “These men are amateurs, and Master Kent is a super being. He can improvise.”

“Maybe, but I can’t know for sure.” Bruce unclenched his jaw. His back and legs were aching from sitting in the chair for so long. He was used to being out in the battlefield and moving. This may have been the longest period he had sat in years. He stood up.

“How long would it take us to get to him?”

“About 22 hours using commercial airlines.”

“When have we ever used commercial?” Dick butted in. Bruce nodded towards him in agreement.

“You could get there by dusk.” Alfred shook his head. “You know, most people in your position try to avoid going to Iraq.””

“I’m doing my civic duty, Alfred.” He turned to Dick who was slouched in a chair with his legs up. He had a book draped across his stomach. He hated what he was about to say. He paused not relishing in the impact of his words.

“You cannot be serious.” Dick responded without him saying a word. “You’re going to get caught like Clark.”

“Then, I’ll need someone to get us both out of there.” Bruce said with finality, but he knew Dick wasn’t going to let him slide.

“This is the same argument you had with Clark, and now, where is he? I’m going with you.”

“You will.” Bruce agreed. “But, you will be at a remote location. We minimize risk that way.”

As Dick began to rear back with a retort, static exploded from the speaker system in the Batcave. Both men turned to Alfred who couldn’t hide his pride. They heard voices speaking Arabic with poor English peppered in.

“Caves are notoriously bad at being sound proof.” Alfred adjusted the levels, and the audio became clear enough to make out a voice in unaccented English.

“Keep the hostage close to the mineral. Do you understand me?” Lex Luthor spoke with authority.

“Yes. We will.” The tri-syllabic retort was thick with the Middle Eastern accent.

“He will have back up. Be ready for anything. If you any near us, shoot to kill. We need just a bit more time.”

“Luthor?” Bruce’s voice echoed inside the Batcave. “This is making me queasy.”

“The aircraft will be departing in 30 minutes, Master Wayne. ETA is five hours.”

“Five hours?” Dick burst. “How is that possible?”

“The trajectory will take you a bit higher than usual.” Alfred met Dick’s eyes. “Surely, you’ve always wanted to go into orbit, Master Grayson.”

“I hope Clark can survive.” Bruce wasn’t paying much attention to anyone. “Come on, Dick. Get your suit. You may not get the rest after all.” Bruce grabbed a heavy bag holding the Bat-suit.

“I wasn’t going to sit it out anyway.” Dick added joining Bruce’s trot out of the Batcave with his own bag. Alfred sighed as a sense of unease seized him about the situation.