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"Knock Em Dead #5" 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
2021, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on April 21st, 2021


Pryor Brice has suffered for his craft. He's literally died to make it as a stand-up comedian. Aided by the spirits of other comics, he's been able to rise up the ranks, but not without a cost. Years later, he's still a household name, but for the wrong reasons. Waking up hungover in a playground ball pit and waving a gun around will do that to you. What's next for Pryor after all the pain and bloodshed? And how does his sister, Ronnie, play into it?

Knock Em Dead has been filled with twists and turns. If you were to jump from the first issue to this fifth and final one, you might think you're looking at two entirely different series. Writer Eliot Rahal has taken us on a crazy journey with some spooky supernatural elements serving as driving factors. What really stands out though, are the characters.

Pryor was this sympathetic, wide-eyed kid who wanted to try out stand-up. It was important to him and he was willing to do anything to get there, even if that meant bombing night after night at local clubs. After a strange twist of fate, he was able to accomplish this goal, but not on his own. That created an unparalleled case of imposter syndrome within him, but he kept going.

Click images to enlarge

As fascinating at Pryor is, Ronnie really steals the show in Knock Em Dead #5. She's been portrayed as this strict older sister, looking out for Pryor and trying to keep him safe. This chapter shows how far she is willing to take that to protect not only her kid brother, but the investment she and others have made in him. It's a different kind of horror and it works wonders here.

Artist Mattia Monaco does a tremendous job aging up Pryor and Ronnie. You can see how the years have changed them. They may appear softer in some spots, but there's a hardened line that runs through them. It's that secret they share about the spirits that Pryor's used over time to amass all this wealth and fame.

Monaco delivers some expert-level panel layouts, instantly setting the tone for a given scene. There's one shot in particular that stuck with me, instantly turning a quaint conversation between brother and sister into one full of ominous undertones. It's just an image of Pryor and Ronnie talking, but it carries such weight to it.

Click images to enlarge

Colorist Matt Milla plays a big part in this too, casting a foreboding light over the whole scene. It takes place in the evening and the place is lit by the warm lights of the pool area. This isn't a party atmosphere though. It's more of an eerie presence, like this is a place where secrets can sneak out.

The art team delivers a dynamite climax to this scene as all of Pryor's sins come home to roost. The pages are crackling with paranormal energy. Letterer Taylor Esposito uses a lilting kind of font here to convey an otherworldly voice that works wonders.

Knock Em Dead started with a great hook about a guy literally dying to pursue his dream of being a stand-up comic. It jumps ahead a bit and would have benefited with a little more room to tell this story. What shines through is the great character work that at times proves to be even more frightening than the ghosts.


Story: fourstars Cover
Buy from Amazon US.
Buy from Amazon UK.
Art: fourandahalfstars
Overall: 4 Star Rating

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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