In the third issues of Black Mask’s The Dregs, Arnold’s journey through his own dark addiction come obsession continue to twist and turn through a maze like city that bears little resemblance to what he has experienced before, with his friend Manny lost to the Sweeny Todd of the restaurant world. This is no way to impress Gordon Ramsey!
For a third issue, things should be starting to coalesce into a sense of order and for the most part, you could say that is true here as the story continues with Arnold not making a great deal progress. Still, there are clues for Arnold to follow and of course it has been said that experiences color life. Unfortunately for Arnold, the color of the world seems to be depression with a side helping of despair.
Writers Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson carve out their story well, continuing the overall mix of impressions and illusions generated by a drug addled mind. This is a one trick pony, with Nadler and Thompson walking the edge between engaging story and wearing out Arnold’s welcome. This is a major concern as with out Arnold as our guide, we only have the backdrop of the city and no-one to care about the missing Manny. Nadler and Thompson’s dialogue carries the tone of a desperate man, looking for one big score; in this case the score being the final good deed rather than the final high.
Eric Zawadzki provides the art with a style that emphasizes the slight statue of the characters, contrasting against a the huge city. Simple lines, almost cartoon like in some panels, show the emotion of Arnold’s seemingly never ending struggle. Whilst it may not be the prettiest of art on the eye, it certainly is food for the soul. Zawadzki’s world view is helped greatly by the colors of Dee Cunniffe who seems thrive in the darkness of the Arnold’s lonely crusade.
For me, a self admitted superhero fan, this book is an odd experience. At first glance, it is easy to dismiss as just another mature book with less than explosive artwork. Yet, it is actually the comic book version of a good cup of coffee. It just needs time to percolate. So read this book; put it down; reflect and read again.
Writing – 4 Stars
Art – 4 Stars
Colors – 4 Stars
Written by: Lonnie Nadler & Zac Thompson
Illustrated by: Eric Zawadzki
Colored by: Dee Cunniffe