Decorum #4 Review

Writer: Jonathan Hickman

Art: Mike Huddleston

Publisher: Image Comics

Age Rating: M

Original Release Date: August 19, 2020

Reviewer: PlasticFrank

From the creative team of writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Mike Huddleston, Decorum issue #4: “And the Eating of a World” portrays the ongoing struggle between the Celestial Mothers and the Church of the Singularity in a brutal and unfair galaxy. Similarly to issue #3 there is no B story. We follow the Church as it locates the Celestial Mothers, forcing them to abandon the egg they’ve been protecting. Metaphysical shenanigans ensue. As usual, the scope of Decorum is huge and while the galactic implications of the struggle between the Church of the Singularity and the Celestial Mothers is hard to grasp, the resulting confusion is beautifully rendered and wonderful to look at.

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PLOT

In issue #4 of Decorum there is no update on the continuing adventures of Imogen Smith-Morely, the avowed principled assassin, or her protégé, Neha Nori Sood.

In a previous issue it was established that a rupture of the egg on the Ship of the Celestial Mothers could be detected by the Church of the Singularity. This issue opens with yet another such rupture, allowing for the Church to immediately pinpoint the location the Celestial Mothers.

The Church of the Singularity launches an attack via a swarm of nanobots. While the Celestial Mothers scramble to deal with the attack there’s an existential crisis amongst the Mothers as some doubt their destiny and duty. Are they meant to fail forever?

Defiantly, one of the Mothers severs a sample of the cosmic superbeing in the egg and ejects the egg from the ship. Once the egg is free of the ship the Celestial Mothers jump to hyperspace, leaving the Church of the Singularity, the nanobots and the egg behind.

The Celestial Mothers refer to the being in the egg as a messiah. The Church of the Singularity refers to it as a god. It’s hard to know what to make of that in a book as cynical as Decorum. Is it a being that they’ve decided to worship as a messiah and god? Or are we to believe it’s “God” as in a literal supreme being? What kind of god grows in an egg cared for by ageless spacefaring women? After their encounter with the Church the Celestial Mothers commit to sacrificing two of the remaining four Mothers, combining with the sample to create another egg and start the process all over again.

On the planet below where the altercation between the Church of the Singularity and the Celestial Mothers took place Ro Chi, the leader of the Church, finds the ejected egg. The egg is opened, revealing a half-baked empty humanoid vessel. Ro Chi admonishes himself for his fear of god. The body is burned. Ro Chi and the Church leave the planet.

ART

Huddleston uses the metaphysical and cosmic nature of issue #4 as an excuse to really let loose. The space scenes are wildly colorful and have an almost graffiti vibe. Scenes involving the Church of the Singularity have had their own art style since issue #1. But in this issue we see that the Church’s technology is comprised of innumerable swarms of nanobots that turn into giant crystalline shards. It’s all impressively designed and legitimately awe-inspiring at some of the more climatic moments.

Scenes involving the Celestial Mothers are handled in a painterly, organic way. But in the last scene when the new egg is formed things get trippy. The color scheme turns kaleidoscopic as the art becomes increasingly expressive and abstract in parallel to the metaphysical climax of the issue.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Like issue #3 before it, issue #4 is more of a straightforward story, even if the concepts within the story aren’t. The conflict between the Celestial Mothers and the Church of the Singularity comes to a head. The Mothers suffer a loss and must make a sacrifice to create a new egg and begin the cycle again. The transcendental and cosmic plot elements are well suited to Mike Huddleston’s art which runs the gamut from psychedelia to hip hop tinged space scenes and everything between.

I don’t know what the events of issue #4 of Decorum mean going forward. I’m still not sure what the Celestial Mothers or the Church of the Singularity have to do with Imogen and Neha. I do feel like a threshold has been crossed and the events of this issue will have serious repercussions even if those repercussions aren’t revealed for a long time. Decorum is nothing if not consistently mysterious.

9/10

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