By Daniel Vlasaty
The Dregs issue #3 is a bit of a change of pace from the first two issues. This one feels like a step back, like we’re slowing down to a crawl with Arnold as he continues his investigation into his friend Manny’s disappearance. As he tries to manage that and a growing Listo addiction and the onset of withdrawals. And this last thing got me thinking. The withdrawals. He’s having paranoid thoughts and hallucinations. A few things that happened in this issue seemed kind of coincidental, and what I’m wondering is how much of what’s happening in the Dregs, and also to Arnold, is actually happening at all? And, then, how much of it is just a byproduct of Arnold’s drug use and subsequent withdrawals. I don’t know; this is just me thinking out loud here.
What I really like about The Dregs is that, while it’s a homeless noir cannibal junkie story, it’s also based in reality. And especially in this issue we are really given a glimpse of the world we live in. Where a human being can be almost completely written off and ignored and cast aside for simply being unlucky enough to not have a place to live or a job or any money. We are watching ourselves ignore Arnold. The spread where he is in Vancouver and he’s just trying to ask passersby for directions to the town hall, but because of who he is and how he looks he is met with cold shoulders and “Sorry, I don’t have any money,” without even having asked for money. And this hit close to home. Think about it, how many times have you ignored or brushed past or even crossed a street to get away from an “undesirable?” From a person seen as more of a nuisance or a hassle than a human being? I’m guilty of this, I’m sorry to admit, and I’m sure a decent amount of people reading this are too. And I think that sucks. But that’s the world we live in. We’re all so lost in our own heads and own worlds we can’t even see a person asking for help when they’re standing right in fucking front of us.
That was preachy, and I didn’t mean for it to come off that way. The book’s message is clear, but it comes off in a way that slowly creeps into your head; it’s never annoying or preachy. Co-writers Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler aren’t so blunt about it. They’re not cramming it down our throats, and in no way does this message get in the way of enjoying the book as a whole. I just think that, if you let it, The Dregs will get you to look at the world in a different way. It’s easy to forget that there are people out there in the dregs of our world and maybe they need help, maybe they’re lost and just need someone to listen to them for a second so they can ask a simple question.
Maybe the world doesn’t have to be such a shitty place. I don’t know.
Eric Zawadzki’s art and Dee Cunniffe’s colors deserve just as much praise as the writing in The Dregs. I can’t think of a better artistic team to tackle such a heavy and hard story. Zawadzki’s art is just great here. It’s simple and sharp. His panel work is something I’ve talked about in my reviews of the first two issues and I think it’s some next level shit here in issue #3. There are simple pages but then there are some pages with upwards of 12 to 15 panels and it never gets too cluttered or overwhelming. In these panel-heavy pages I feel like we’re really getting a glimpse into Arnold’s head. Where there are all these different pieces in play and they are coming at him from all sides, and he’s just trying to find a balance between them (his “case” and his addiction and his increasing withdrawals and the mystery surrounding the dark and dirty city he loves).
The art in this issue really felt “cinematic” to me. It’s in the angles and the way the “camera” is tracking with Arnold. Always with him and seeing him but also showing the true grit of his world. There’s one panel that, I think, perfectly captures this. It’s a shot of Arnold sitting in the cop car. It’s raining and the window’s up and we can see Arnold’s mug behind all the city’s lights reflected on the car’s window. You can almost hear the rain and the sploosh of the cars tires riding over the wet streets. It’s a simple panel but I think it’s powerful and beautiful. And Cunniffe’s color work only helps to strengthen the already great art. It’s plays up that “cinematic” feel I was talking about. The dreary greys and blues of a rain-soaked city. Together they might be one of the best artistic teams working together right now. Seriously.
The Dregs has always resonated strongly with me, as you’ll know if you’ve read my reviews of the previous issues. And this issue is no different. It’s just a solid story with a lot of layers. When I first read this issue, I was left wanting more, but as I sat here thinking about it for a while, I think it’s great. I don’t have any complaints about it, or The Dregs, at all. Except maybe the fact that there is only one issue left.
I love this book.
The Dregs #3
Black Mask Studios