Acclaimed veteran writer Christopher Priest (Deathstroke, Black Panther) and artist Montos step forth into the reality-breaking universe of Heavy Metal with Entropy #1. Featuring colors from Bryan Valenza and lettering by Willie Schubert, the events of this opening issue are a bit hard to parse, but it is overall saved by haunting and compelling moments and some truly great visuals. Heavy Metal is off to a solid start with a top-notch creative team throwing us into the chaos of their version of the cosmos.
“Henry Hanks had a good life, until he betrayed KAKO, the living embodiment of chaos and misery! With his whole world destroyed, Henry is killed and reborn as the newest herald of Kako, with the power to destroy entire worlds in his master’s name.”
Writing & Plot
Christopher Priest has long been known as a writer who plays the long game, and that’s exactly what he’s doing here in Entropy #1. His unmistakable style makes its presence known with a script that throws the readers narration and plot at a jarring pace while keeping the story feeling strangely enrapturing. What happens in this first issue can be a bit hard to parse, as we don’t yet understand why Henry Hanks has been chosen by KAKO or who is behind this comic’s narration. However, as stated earlier, Priest plays the long game. All of these questions will no doubt be answered in future chapters. There’s really no way to discuss the plot without spoilers, so all I will say is that there are some time-related hijinks at play involving Hanks and his becoming KAKO’s new herald. Priest has a tendency to unabashedly wear his influences on his sleeve in his work, and Entropy is no different. Elements of Green Lantern, the Fantastic Four, and Jack Kirby’s Fourth World are blatantly laid out as almost searing visual and narrative references, but there are even hints of Swamp Thing and Spawn to be found. The solicits and Priest himself tout Breaking Bad as a major influence, but that bit seems hidden in this issue. While entertaining in its own right, this is very clearly a classic Priest opening chapter that obscures many of its details in order to clear things up in later issues.
There’s an intricate and impressive duality to what artist Montos does here in Entropy #1. His work in this comic is split between two different settings. The first is Henry Hanks’s happy normal white picket fence life that falls apart. The other half is Hanks in space after he has become the herald of Kako. His work in both parts is impressive, but for very different reasons. The sequences in Hanks’s lost life of normalcy are marked by a kind of inconsistent visual style. Facial details and animations appear exaggerated at points, with certain characters and panels being strangely ugly. There are elements of genuine horror when this reality start literally falling apart for Hanks as he’s being called to serve. The pencils and inks here are mostly sharp, but there are still these moments of strangeness that, in any other context, would just be chalked up as a negative. However, the sharpened beauty of the space sequences shows that this may not be correct. Montos’s work with Henry as the herald is reminiscent of Gary Frank or Liam Sharp’s Green Lantern. The thick lines and detailing are a stunning contrast to the opposite sequence. Montos carries the narrative through his compositions at a breakneck pace that intertwines with the chaotic speed that Priest’s style demands.
Bryan Valenza’s vibrant, darker-skewed colors add a dense atmosphere to this comic’s experience. His work here makes this comic aesthetically appear like an issue from mid to late 2000’s DC, and I don’t mean this as in insult. This visual choice firmly plants the reader in the zone of what this comic truly feels like and what its influences are. All of this plus Willie Schubert’s solid, adaptive, and multi-font lettering makes this a great and surprisingly complex visual experience.
Entropy #1 is a compelling yet inconclusive opening chapter. Christopher Priest is at it again with a comic issue that is presented in his usual chaotic but entertaining narrative style, and crafts a script that is absolutely intended as a first chapter rather than a story chunk all on its own. The visuals from Montos and Bryan Valenza are intentionally inconsistent and, at times, absolutely stunning, making this comic feel even more like its titular subject. If this dark space adventure seems like your kind of tale, then be sure to grab this issue when it hits shelves on July 6th!