Story: Eliot Rahal
Art: Mattia Monaco
Colors: Matt Milla
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
What They Say:
Pryor Brice has just killed an entire room full of people — because he just won a stand-up comedy competition!
Pryor should be on top of the world after his win, but he’s not. The spirit of his dead friend that’s trapped inside him has grown more powerful. Now Pryor is acting…differently. How do you exorcise a malignant spirit for bargain prices on such short notice? Well, all we can say is…thank God for the internet.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Eliot Rahal’s tale of two comedians that come back in one body delivers the right kind of horror and I can easily see this working well in a theatrical setting. That feeling comes from such a well-done script combined with a wonderfully detailed and rich design from the artwork by Mattia Monaco and Matt Milla. The settings really make you feel like you’re in the places in a way that feel real and whole while the dialogue is spot on, even as ridiculous as Pryor gets about what he wants to do here. The buildup of it all as well definitely helps as Rahal gave the first issue enough room to breathe so that Pryor himself felt fully realized.
Pryor’s in such a win/lose place here that he can’t help but to make a bad choice as he sees so much potential in his life. With him winning the standup contest that night, he’s got the $500 and a shot at a late night show but he’s also feeling like he’s dying because of Danny inside of him. I love that Ronnie helps him work through it, taking on the role of his manager, but that he’s willing to tell her the truth about the situation and that Danny came back with him. It’s not exactly clear whether she believes him or is humoring him, but she is going along with things because he believes it so clearly. Plus, with her having lost her job, she needs him to be able to bring in some cash because things are going to get really tight very quickly. But her first priority is still, thankfully, making sure that Pryor is okay.
Having him hire an exorcist is a comical move that even Ronnie can’t take seriously but it’s just a proper delight in the horror vein that he’s good at what he does and seemingly is able to exorcise Danny. That’s going to be its own arc I’m sure with some fallout but the immediate effect is that Pryor feels better – but is back to being a terrible comedian. Sometimes it is just the charm, confidence, and certain something as he replicates his winning act with a new crowd and gets no love. So, what’s a comedian to do? Perform a reverse exorcism and invite in another spirit to live within him so he can succeed. And if you’re going to hunt up a dead spirit, who better than Lenny Bruce? I expect some subterfuge here but I really love how all of this plays out since the exorcist is just so into all of this and the situation gets so completely out of control that something bad is going to be happening now.
Knock ’em Dead continues to be a really fun book. I wasn’t sure how well it was going to handle the balance between humor and horror based on the original solicitations but it’s leaned into the horror more than anything else – while being really creative with the way it handles the comedy – that it just makes me enjoy it all the more. Rahal’s providing for some good curves in the story here that are keeping it engaging and surprising and I adore Monaco’s artwork here a lot. I can’t wait to see what happens to Ronnie and Pryor next.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: AfterShock Comics
Release Date: February 10th, 2021