Review by Frank Plowright
Roleplay begins with a similar scenario to that featured early in Who Killed Retro Girl? Someone in a costume is dead in a pool of blood. The similarities end there. The deceased isn’t a superhero, and they didn’t die falling from a building as originally assumed, but from some shots to the head.
Yes, we’re back in the world of homicide detectives without powers investigating in a world of super beings. In this environment wearing a costume is illegal, yet the corpse discovered outside the college dorms is but the first of several called in that night, all of them costumed, all of them ordinary humans. Looks like it’s going to be a busy time for Detectives Walker and Pilgrim.
Artist Michael Avon Oeming is extremely versatile with his storytelling, which is a necessity when it comes to incorporating the full extent of Brian Michael Bendis’ dialogue. Oeming tells the story via matched pairs of eyes across the page, or TV broadcasts read vertically down columns, but this can confuse when the narrative occasionally transfers from being read vertically down the page to landscape across a spread. There’s an interesting visual effect midway through. Walker and Pilgrim are talking when a dimensional doorway opens in front of them and a man pops out, illustrated by Oeming as a computer-style 3-D model intruding on the flat cartooning. There is no impact on the story overall, but it’s nice surprise. Although it won’t be now.
Problems ensue when the person heading the list of suspects is someone already suing the police for harassment. Once again, an agglomeration of fine character moments build toward an unpredictable finale. The excellence continues in Little Deaths.