18 February 2011

"Powers: Roleplay" by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Avon Oeming

Powers: Roleplay
Created and Produced by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming
Color Art by Pat Garrahy; Separation Assists by Ojo Caliente Services
Lettering by Pat Garrahy and Brian Michael Bendis
Editor: K.C. McCrory
Date of Publication (Trade Paperback): 15 January 2001
Collects Powers #8-11
Cover Price: $13.95
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A friend of mine gave me the first and third volumes of Powers trade paperbacks for my birthday last year, and even though he assured me it was okay not to read them in publication order I elected to track down Roleplay before moving onto the third collection.  It's just how I'm wired.

Anyway, the premise here is that some college kids have taken to dressing up--illegally--as superheroes and role playing on campus.  Only, it appears that a real life super-villain has targeted them for death.  Who's behind the attacks, and why?

Brian Michael Bendis's story is taut and Michael Avon Oeming's art is full of atmosphere.  The only glaring deficiency here is that the conclusion is so abrupt and quick that it feels tacked on and rushed.  Maybe if I had read the original issues on a monthly basis I would have been ready for a conclusion by then, but reading the collected edition in one setting left me feeling cheated.

One more nitpick is that there are a few spelling errors in this volume.  One of them is a line of Detective Walker's: "You're best bet is to cooperate."  Another comes in Maureen McTigue's two-page piece at the end of the collection describing the relationship between Bendis and Oeming, and the creation of Powers: "...and artist Michael Avon Oeming, who's work on Ship of Fools..."  They're little things, but they are glaring distractions in a professional publication.

Still, Roleplay was fairly interesting and I'm looking forward to the next collection in the series, Little Deaths.

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  1. Think of Roleplay more as a one shot episode of "Homicide." Sometimes the finale does happen suddenly, and why, because a lot of criminals are impulsive. You may catch a guy simply by swinging back by the crime scene on your way home from work just as the criminal is doing the exact same. It's still establishing tones and expectations for the series. Not every plot will pace perfectly to its finish in this world or our own. It's just another case. As Pembleton once said "I like it, it speaks to the repetitive meaninglessness of police work." Once you get past Volume 3, if you can't find the successives locally, I'd suggest abebooks.com.

  2. I did enjoy the stuff with Deena, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite comic characters. Also, whenever I read Walker's dialog I hear Patrick Warburton narrating it.

    Incidentally, I made it out to Great Escape yesterday for the last day of their 30% off sale. I plugged a couple holes in my Legends of the Dark Knight library, and I also found quite a lot of Strangers in Paradise in the $0.50 bin. Some issues were a bit worn, but perfectly suitable for reading and anyway I've long since quit worrying about my comics as collectibles. I wound up with, I think, 13 issues for $0.35 apiece and there were probably another 10 or so that I already had that I put back.