There’s a massive time jump between the end of Knock ‘Em Dead #4 and the beginning of chapter five. Pryor’s in the twilight of his career, and he isn’t taking it well. A drunken episode with a gun in a Chuck E. Cheese ball pit is just about rock bottom. He and Ronnie are on the outs. Fame and money and murder and cover-ups will do that.
Eliot Rahal has given the road map for dysfunctional celebrity. From humble beginnings all the way through the tone deaf apology tour after waving a gun in a bunch of kids’ faces. I really enjoyed the scenes back at the club, where Pryor was just finding his legs, tightening up his set, and learning the ropes. I could have spent a couple more chapters in that first half. Seems like everything really accelerated somewhere around chapter three, and then never really let up.
The story is fantastic. I love the concept. I love the twist. I love how the whole thing comes crashing down here in the bottom of the ninth. I really feel like we could have spent more time in each of the stages, though. This could have gone two full arcs.
This final chapter is much more subtle on the haunting, but Mattia Monaco does age everyone 15 years. Pryor heads down the Presley path, with the guns and drugs and alcohol, earning a paunch and a sallow complexion to go with the gaudy jewelry.
His wrong turns and bad choices are written all over his stained shirt and pasty jowls. There are also some really cool over-unders in a flashback sequence on a yacht. Water is always a fun element when you’re drinking and murdering and performing exorcism. As you do.
My biggest complaint about Knock ‘Em Dead has always been the pacing. This thing blazed right along, and I really feel like it just needed a little more space for the story to breathe. Eliot Rahal really poured a lot of himself into Pryor, minus the murders and stuff, probably. It was really refreshing to see how comfortable he is telling this story.
Knock ‘Em Dead #5, AfterShock Comics, 21 April 2021. Written by Eliot Rahal, art by Mattia Monaco, color by Matt Milla, letters by Tayor Esposito.
Knock ‘Em Dead is fantastic. I love the concept. I love the twist. I love how the whole thing comes crashing down here in the bottom of the ninth. I do wish it was stretched out a few more chapters.