In every generation, there are auteurs for movies, music, and even comics. Jonathan Hickman is one such personality in the world of comics, both in independent and mainstream work.
Likely since Hickmkan’s X-Men work has been an explosive success, he’s kickstarting another book. This one’s about…well, that’s hard to explain. It’s a Hickman joint. Y’know, the guy who writes history books about his lore and includes them in his comics.
In all seriousness—Decorum is about an assassin. Well, first it’s about a courier named Neha. Like any number of underdog protagonists in sci-fi, she’s getting screwed and forced to go on a dangerous delivery for extra cash.
She ends up crossing paths with a woman, Morley, who’s meeting with a beefy criminal, Doman D’vorth V, to deliver a message from the Syndicate Major. But this is no ordinary leather-clad, frilly collared dominatrix—she’s an assassin!
Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, you wouldn’t know it by reading the damn thing, which is drowned in paragraphs of text, exposition, and clichés of all shades and stripes.
For all the portentous worldbuilding Hickman tries to smother us in, there’s nothing exceptional about the world he’s creating. On top of that, the characters are little more than stereotypes. Because at the end of the day, this comic only has two important scenes, neither of them standout in any way. Neha is your typical, cliché spunky punk rogue. Morley is a riff on the impossibly savage yet polite assassin tope found in the likes of Kingsman. Even Doman is a cliché misogynist pimp/kingpin. The overwritten, exposition-dumping dialogue doesn’t help.
However, as for the art—Mike Huddleston delivers some of the most exciting interiors on the shelves right now. Having never encountered his work before, his heavy-ink and selective colors reminded me of Tommy Lee Edwards. Not afraid to mix styles, some pages are downright gorgeous with layered paints, while others look like Huddleston scanned his pages with the ink still wet.
Granted, the designs of characters, ships, and locations aren’t terribly unique. But since it’s impossible to nail down whether Hickman or Huddleston came up with every worldbuilding idea, I won’t judge the artist too hard because he frames the designs in engaging ways.
Overall, without the gravitas or pathos of his other work, Hickman’s attempt to pen a “fun” sci-fi romp is a slog of clichés and tired ideas. However, the art is stunning and almost, maybe worth the undeserved price tag.