Decorum [And The Womanly Art Of Assassination] # 1.
Script: Jonathan Hickman, Art: Mike Huddleston, Letters: Rus Wooton, Design: Sasha E Head.
Many years ago, in the misty wilds of the late '90s, I went to see a new movie that looked pretty good. I'd seen a couple of posters, heard a few murmurs that it was a solid flick. Plus, it had Keanu Reeves! Love that dude. He was so funny in Bill and Ted. As I sat down to watch The Matrix, I had no idea what I was in for. When I left the cinema a few hours later, I KNEW I had seen something important. I knew that Hollywood action movies had just changed, possibly forever.
About a decade back, I had the same feeling. It came to me after I finished watching "Winter Is Coming," the first episode of HBO's new fantasy drama and eventual entertainment juggernaut Game of Thrones.
I have just had that feeling again. It was when I finished reading the first issue of Hickman's new Image Comics series...Decorum.
I'd love to give you a detailed breakdown of what I've just read. But honestly, I'm not sure I could. Much like Hickman's current run on Marvel's X-Men, Decorum reads more like a Japanese 'Light Novel', with classic style comic pages, intercut with full pages of text and the occasional scientific diagram. He often uses these text heavy pages to throw weighty existential topics at you, like they're common knowledge. Yet, somehow, he manages to get the balance just right. Keeping the reader a little confused, and often unbalanced. But Intrigued, and never put off, or left to feel stupid.
Boiled down to its most basic level, and once you've passed the sections on galaxy spanning empires, and the Technological Singularity, Decorum # 1 follows down-on-her-luck Courier 'Neha Nori Sood', on her mission to deliver a very important package, to the bad part of town.
What should be a relatively simple delivery is made somewhat more complex by the presence of a certain brutally efficient, and frightfully polite, assassin: Imogen Smith-Morley.
Hickman's writing, as always, is top notch. Even though we're only on issue one, and know next to nothing about this universe, the people in it, or the events that transpired within it, it already feels like a fleshed out world, thanks to the text-heavy pages. It feels lived in, with a rich history and culture that I'm excited to dive into, in what I hope will be a very long run.
However, while Hickman's writing was excellent, the thing which really blew my mind in this issue was Mike Huddleston's art. The freaky designs, blending classical elements with space age tech, the sparse use of colour, the crisp lines.
It's like Sin City had a baby with Sandman, and the midwife was M. C. Escher. And I've got to say, it works. Incredibly well. I can't think of a book on the market today that has a style anything like this.
There are very few writers working in comics today that can stand alongside Hickman, when it comes to writing long form plots. So I can't even begin to imagine where he's going to take us, within the pages of this series, but I'll tell you this right now:
Wherever he's going? I want to be there.