Image: Eric Zawadzki/Black Mask Studios

By Matthew C. Brown. An aching familiarity with the cold, hard street has us trudging through this muggy, tepid installment of The Dregs. I feel like I’ve been here before: Our main character, Arnold, is looking for clues with which to form an elaborate missing persons case, and so this book reads like an episode of Law & Order where detective Lennie Brisco comes around and questions people about the comings and goings in the neighborhood of late. It seems our downtrodden hero, like Sisyphus rolling the boulder up the hill, labors much only to gain nothing.

The detective and noir tropes, which are heavy-handed and numerous, are used to achieve an exhausting sense of absurdity — the Sisyphean work of man. Unfortunately, it felt that way reading it. There’s no question that this book is building to something, and I’m sure it will benefit from being collected in one place for a single reading, but this installment does little to move the story along. It provides the reader with this feeling that they’re doing the tiresome and often redundant work of a detective. However, there is some truly inspiring art to that effect (provided by Eric Zawadzki): Arnold is depicted pushing a boulder around the outer edges of a double-wide splash page, the interior of which shows his inner confusion and the spiraling nature of his weary mind at work.

Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler had me hooked with the book’s opening issue (in more ways than one), but I should hope that my first time doesn’t become the best it’s ever going to be, with each subsequent installment leaving me “chasing the dragon,” as they say. Here’s the thing — I’m still hooked. But I want to know: Where’s that confounded dragon, man?

Black Mask Studios/$3.99

Written by Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler.

Art by Eric Zawadzki.

Colors by Dee Cunniffe.

7 out of 10

Read the DoomRocket interview with Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler here.