By Daniel Vlasaty
The Dregs, from Black Mask Studios, opens on three butchers preparing a specimen for slaughter. Shaving it and sectioning off the cuts and shooting it up full of drugs. The fact that the specimen is human only make the next two pages even more disturbing.
After the initial shock of the book’s opening, we are introduced to a world of drug abuse and gentrification and some good old fashioned cannibalism. Arnold is a man who finds himself all the way down at the bottom. Living in an alley in The Dregs, a neighborhood in downtown Vancouver gone to the junkies, and addicted to Listo, he’s wandering through life while he waits to get clean and escape the shit or die in the streets. And by the looks of him, he’s leaning toward the latter.
When he finds out that his friend, Manny, is the third homeless person to turn up missing, he sets out to solve the mystery, taking on the moniker of his hero Philip Marlowe.
I thought this was surprisingly great for a first issue. A decent amount of set up but it didn’t waste too much time before jumping right into the thick of the story.
I think Arnold is set up to be a great character, a conflicted man who seems to know what he is doing can only end one way. But such is the way with addicts.
And the art is excellent too. It perfectly fits the story. It’s dark and dirty and gritty.
I like a lot of what Black Mask is putting out and, if the first issue is any indication, I think The Dregs might be one of their best.
For now, I’ll sit here eagerly awaiting issue 2 and just hope (like some of their other books) it’s not all that super delayed.
The Dregs #1
Writers: Lonnie Nadler & Zac Thompson
Artist: Eric Zawadzki
Colorist: Dee Cunniffe
Publisher: Black Mask Studios