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"Knock Em Dead #2" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by AfterShock Comics


Written by Eliot Rahal
Illustrated by Mattia Monaco
Colored by Matt Milla
Lettered by Taylor Esposito
2020, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on January 7th, 2021


You've heard the phrase “I'm dying up here.” as it relates to stand-up comedy, but never like this. Pryor Brice died in a horrible car crash, but he survived... sort of. His heart isn't beating and his temperature is dropping, but the guy is walking and talking. The thing is, it's not just Pryor in there. There's another spirit kicking around in his head.

If Knock Em Dead #1 was the setup, this is the punchline. This is where the comic really gets moving and showing what's at stake. The other spirit inhabiting Pryor's body is Danny Baron, another comic who died and didn't make it back during that car accident. He's not doing living though, so he makes a deal with Pryor: He'll write some new material for him and Pryor will perform it. Seems like a match made in heaven...or rather Hell. See, Danny has some control here. If he hurts Pryor in their mind meld, he hurts him in real life too.

Click images to enlarge

This is shown in a beautifully rendered sequence by artist Mattia Monaco. There's a grit to this scene as Danny floats up from the shadows, looking like a rotting corpse. Pryor is cautious and full of doubt, similar to how we saw him in the first issue. Despite his decaying appearance, Danny is the complete opposite. He knows exactly what he wants and how he's going to get it.

Letterer Taylor Esposito uses a lilting and rather haunting font for Danny, showing how his voice is coming from beyond the grave. It's a perfect fit for this sequence.

Monaco leads up to this confrontation with a few shocking panels, some involving mirrors. These are great effects, amplified by colorist Matt Milla. The darkness seems to come in like a tidal wave, engulfing Pryor and washing away anything else around him. Although we're looking at death and decay, there's an eerie glow about the whole thing, like Danny is being pushed forward by an unnatural light.

Click images to enlarge

The change in personality is apparent early as Pryor is standing up for himself in a big way, especially with his overprotective sister. Although he's the same man in appearance, he carries himself in a whole different way here. It's like Danny is driving or at least propping him up.

My only complaint with Knock Em Dead #2 is that there's a new focus on Pryor's sister that feels a little out of place. It helps the flesh her out as a character and shows the kind of stress she's under, however it kills some of the momentum that's built up with Pryor and Danny. I'm curious how this will come into play in later chapters.

It's clear that writer Eliot Rahal is in his element here and it's paying off in spades. Where the first issue was largely setup, we really get moving here and I'm super pumped to see where this series goes next. Knock Em Dead is the supernatural stand-up comedy comic I didn't know I wanted. It leans into the darkness in such a natural way that you can't help but get pulled in.


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Overall: 4.5 Star Rating

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About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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