The Dregs #2
Writers: Lonnie Nadler & Zac Thompson
Artist: Eric Zawadzki
Colorist: Dee Cunniffe
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
A review by Anelise Farris, Greg Brothers, and David Hildebrand
You might be asking, why does it take three of you to write a review for The Dregs #2? Well, I’ll tell you! The three of us have been fans since we got an early copy of the first issue. We interviewed the writers, Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson, on The Comics Agenda, and the pair are really thrilled to work on this book! We collaborated on the review for the first issue and had so much fun doing it that we decided to do it again!
The Dregs #2 picks up right where the first issue ended. Arnold, overwhelmed with trying to find Manny, has one suspect and not much more. Arnold injects himself with the street drug Listo, falls unconscious, just to wake up captured and hanging by his wrists. After making a rather gruesome escape, Arnold has no clue that he almost met the same demise as Manny, who ended up as the main course at La Mancha. Arnold weak and broken encounters the mysterious woman he met in the first issue. She takes him in, cleans him up, and tries to talk some sense into him. Arnold isn’t hearing it, and in no time is back on the streets continuing his investigation that keeps turning up more questions than answers.
Thoughts on the story:
Greg – I loved the pace of The Dregs #2. It could have been obvious what was going to happen here based on the end of last issue, as we knew our “hero” was not going to meet his demise. The “escape” was done in a unique way and fit perfectly with the character. The character development also continues to be strong. They led on that our lead was a well-read man in the last issue, but here we find out that he is much more so than we thought, and are given hints as to what his life was like before he hit his current low. Like I said at the beginning, pace is what I like. As the evidence is collected, we quickly move from one character to the other, which keeps the reader from being bogged down in any one area.
Anelise – This issue surprised me (in a good way!) as we are dropped right into the story mid-action. It’s intense! And you can immediately feel the urgency behind this story and Arnold’s desperation to find Manny. I appreciate the way that Arnold’s background is revealed, slowly and carefully—which is a fair description of the writing as a whole. Although the pacing of the issue is quick, the story is delivered in a clear, affecting way—managing to be neither too explanatory nor too ambiguous.
David – I’m a fan of the direction that Nadler and Thompson are taking this story. On one page it’s a horror story, the next it’s a murder mystery, then it’s a drama! There is so much going on in this book and it is all wrapped up in this nice present with a big red bow! Mixing genres can be tricky, but this pair has everything in order and it hits every mark. I love mysteries and this book hasn’t disappointed so far. I also admire how they are taking their time unraveling the mystery of who Arnold actually is. By the end of the first issue, all I wanted to know was Arnold’s backstory. We don’t get much progression with my questions in this issue, but I enjoyed the direction of the story so much, I really didn’t mind not getting any more clues yet.
Thoughts on the art:
Greg – I am still loving the art here. First the grit and the distortion that goes along with the character is perfect. I love how the red blood pops throughout and creates this visceral reaction in the reader. The stark differences of how the homeless are drawn as compared to those of the upper class drives really emphasizes the social gap. The use of basic shapes and symbols continues to be brilliant and when you find out what it is, you ask yourself how you didn’t see it before.
Anelise – As I stated with The Dregs #1, this is a comic in which the art and the writing come together seamlessly. The gritty, thick-lined, often shadow-laced, world of the Dregs works so well with the story being teased out here. As with the previous issue, the way the faces appear distorted to those who have consumed Listo is clever, and there are some really unique design choices at work in terms of panel arrangement and line work.
David – My feelings on the art are same with this issue as the first. It’s all very gritty and dirty looking, but fits the story perfectly. I don’t feel clean while reading this. Very few comic books have left me feeling like that. When the mysterious lady saves Arnold, I was hoping the poor guy would get a shower! But alas, he got himself some new shoes and kept going. The combination of Zawadzki and Cunniffe’s art is gripping!
The Verdict: Buy It x 3!
David – I never thought I would encounter a murder mystery with a bum that has so much punch! We are just now starting to scratch the surface to everything that is going on in The Dregs #2. Arnold’s past is still very much a mystery and who is this woman that keeps showing up? I want answers! I am cheering for Arnold, not only to get a bath, but to find out the mystery behind Manny’s murder! With the art, story, and well crafted characters, this book is the complete package!
Anelise – Can I just say that I LOVE that Arnold is a literary man? From the Albert Camus quote to the allusion to Sisyphus rolling the boulder, The Dregs #2 got me so excited about what other literary references I will see in future issues. I am really intrigued by this idea of bringing philosophy, mythology, and classic literature into a horror comic about a homeless population. So cool! And finally, what is great about this series is that it is more than just a solid story; it is subtlety political and certainly has the feel of a work that is capable of social change. Placing a photo from the Off Hours photo series at the end of the issue is a brilliant way to ensure that readers are thinking about the actual homeless long after they finish the Dregs. BUY IT!
Greg – By the end of The Dregs #2, I was satisfied with where we were with the story and how we got here. The storytelling, the art, the mystery! All of it comes together perfectly and totally grips the readers.