Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Mike Huddleston
Publisher: Image Comics
Age Rating: M
Original Release Date: Oct 7, 2020
Issue #5 of Decorum: “And the Miseducation of Neha Nori Sood,” from the creative duo of writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Mike Huddleston, returns focus back to Imogen Smith-Morely and Neha Nori Sood after the last issue’s Celestial Mothers-centric story. This issue is much more on the murdery side of things. Some of the execution scenes are gratuitously violent to the point of hilarity. In this issue we get an expedited overview of Neha’s three years of training at the Sisterhood of Man. And while we get very little from the Celestial Mothers storyline there are five full page illustrations spread throughout the issue indicating progress in the gestation of the new egg. The art is as great as you’ve come to expect from Mike Huddleston and Decorum.
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We get an overview of each of Neha’s 3 years of training. Death threats from her fellow classmates are a regular thing. She studies biology for the purpose of exploiting weaknesses and vulnerabilities. She studies weaponry, not just use and maintenance but also design. Sparring with much deadlier classmates is part of the curriculum.
In year one of her training she falls on her face and fails in every possible way. In year two she struggles to be barely competent. By year three Neha is excelling and is able to best all of her fellow students but one.
Neha is taken on three training missions under the tutelage of Imogen. On the first mission Neha can’t pull the trigger. When Imogen executes the target of the mission in a particularly grisly way Neha vomits all over Imogen. On the second mission Neha yet again can’t pull the trigger and yet again vomits when Imogen finishes the job for her.
On the third mission it gets personal. The target of the assignment is Luca D’Luca Dann, the mid-level criminal from issue #1. He’s also the guy who had strung Neha along, giving her just enough courier assignments to keep her desperate. Imogen tries to take the assignment away from Neha, citing “your first kill shouldn’t be someone you know.” However, Neha takes control, confronts Luca and vengefully blasts him to pieces. Unbeknownst to Imogen and Neha, one of Luca’s henchmen, Jev, was hiding in the back during the execution, presumably setting up a future confrontation.
The Celestial Mothers are barely represented this time around but by the end of the issue it seems that the egg created in issue #4 has matured.
Mike Huddleston is such a flexible, adaptable artist. In Neha’s second training mission the hit takes place on an airship. The uniform of whatever contingent is running the airship is that of a colonial navy. Neha and Imogen don corresponding attire to ‘fit in’. The visuals are so absurd that it makes the already darkly funny scene even funnier. I credit Huddleston because the costumes and the whole scene are so well executed. All the action in in issue #5 is really well done. And the way some of the montage aspects of the issue are handled are particularly creative.
I wasn’t expecting Neha’s education to be handled so swiftly. For an issue that is basically a montage sequence it was surprisingly satisfying. It’s great to see Imogen and Neha in action but what gets me is the humor. The banter amongst the central characters has always been great but Hickman’s facility with dark humor really shines in this issue. The dialogue in Neha’s first training mission is funny on so many levels.
Decorum continues to take me by surprise. I’m never able to guess what’s going to happen next. It’s refreshing. Neha is either fully or almost fully trained now. She and Imogen likely have Luca’s henchman, Jev pursuing them. The Mother’s egg is ostensibly completely developed. I can’t wait to see how these arcs resolve. I thoroughly enjoyed issue #5 of Decorum and look forward to issue #6.