I picked Decorum #2 as my most anticipated comic out this week for good reason: it makes you think. Jonathan Hickman and Mike Huddleston are crafting a story that is complex, thought-provoking, and visually stunning. The art itself is wildly inventive and mixes in ideas that are incredibly well thought out, further adding creativity and complexity to the story. It feels like a showstopper series that is going to go over some folks’ heads, but it’s wildly important to the comics medium.
I will admit I was a bit lost with the first issue, but that may be by design. Hickman is layering very big ideas about a singularity that has become god in a future science-fiction world where the ideas are so big it goes beyond humans on Earth. I can’t say I understand how it all fits together (even with the cool data pages we’ve come to love from Hickman), but that’s okay. With understanding comes reflection and at times yielding to being okay with not knowing.
This issue opens with abstract ideas about gods, the harbingers who rule over some kind of power, and an ever so slight hint that this may all connect to a very human assassin. I can’t say much of this makes total sense, but rules are being laid down and a thin thread to the bigger conflict is being unveiled. If you like hard sci-fi, you’re going to dig this. There’s a sense of frustration in that we’re being given small snippets in the single issue format, but you gotta respect the craft at work here. I’d wager a story like this would be best read in one sitting so that your imagination can run wild for a lengthy period.
There are good scenes with the main characters that continue to reveal the humanity of them. In the last issue, they were very good stone-cold killers, but there’s more to them here. There’s an interesting cut to prose that helps convey the internal thoughts of a character that’s quite clever. The data pages work splendidly here as well.
The art by Mike Huddleston is incredible, mixing media and blending sketch work, conventional comic looks, and impressive sci-fi robot design (to name one of the very cool sci-fi visuals here). The art is arresting — you’ll linger for some time on most pages, and it’s of a caliber that makes you pay attention.
All that said, this is a very hard book to get into. It’s hard to contemplate the god-like elements going on and how they connect to the human characters. It’s hard to care about the human characters because so much time is spent on the data pages and god elements. Ultimately, the story is suffering due to the format and will likely work better when read in a collected trade. Still, I’d hope the creators banked a bit more on the format when creating the story rather than expecting readers to come along for the ride no questions asked. It’s a hard line to walk since I can appreciate the artistry at work. Your mileage may vary depending on your patience and expectations though, as this is a sticking point that’s different for everyone.
I like what the creative team is doing and I love the art. It’s a bit early to judge this work though, as what it’s even about is still coming into focus.