"The Dregs #2" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Black Mask Studios
Written by Lonnie Nadler & Zac Thompson
Illustrated by Eric Zawadzki
Colored by Dee Cunniffe
2017, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on March 1st, 2017
Homeless people are disappearing off the streets with nothing but vague rumors about their whereabouts left behind. Maybe they overdosed. Who knows? Arnold is looking for answers. These are his people, after all. Although he's up against a ton of obstacles, both internally and externally, he's not going to stop until he finds out what's really going on.
The Dregs works like a great noir detective story, however we, know what's happening to the homeless people. It is shown in the first few pages of issue #1. This takes some of the edge off the mystery as it's been spoiled already. We know what Arnold will find if he keeps digging. Granted, the hook is pretty friggin' crazy and more than a little disturbing. I just wish we didn't outright find out right away.
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Arnold is an intriguing protagonist in that he's an unreliable narrator. He has hallucinations, perhaps brought on by his addition to the new street drug, Listo. It could also be good old-fashioned mental illness. He's got enough wits about him to make connections, even if sometimes he has little to nothing to go on. While traditional private eyes are down on their luck or struggling to make ends meet, Arnold has nothing. When the issue opens, he's fighting for his life. He doesn't even have shoes. Sam Spade didn't have that kind of problem.
Artist Eric Zawadzki brings this unpolished detective to life. You almost want to take a shower after following Arnold through these back alleys. The filth is a part of him. There's a great double-page spread that illustrates the character's internal struggles with his own mind. It's a large oval, broken up into smaller panels that spiral inward as Arnold walks the streets. The outside of the oval has him pushing a large boulder around and around. This is a perfect visual representation of the man.
At one point Arnold gets a major clue in the form of a sketch of a suspect. It's...not your average sketch. This is a startling contrast to the rest of the artwork and really pops off the page. It stands out as unusual to normal people (including us), but for people like Arnold, it just makes sense. Colorist Dee Cunniffe mixes this well. The sketch has bright, vibrant colors that are not found anywhere else in the book. The rest of the issue is filled with dark tones, like the city is perpetually overcast.
The Dregs is a solid pulp detective story, however it has been somewhat declawed by the spoiler-filled opening pages of the series. It led with such an amazing hook that I'm anxious to get back to it. Since we already know what's really going on, we have to become greatly invested in Arnold's life and his investigation. Writers Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson accomplish this well, creating an interesting, sympathetic, albeit flawed human being looking for answers in a screwed up world that has all but forgotten him.