Review: Fight Club 2 #1
“Fight Club 2 #1 will make fans who balked at the need for a sequel wonder what we did without it.”
Fight Club 2 #1
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Chuck Palahniuk
Artist: Cameron Stewart
Release Date: Wed, May 27, 2015
Transformation can be a tricky thing. At some point or another, we’ve all come up against a bout of identity crisis, and maybe we’ve even made a concerted effort at being true to our own ideals and sense of right and wrong rather than what we see as morality imposed upon us from the top-down. But as the weight and detritus of the world builds around us, compromise becomes not so much a failing but a necessity. The path of least resistance can appear less exhausting than to fight against a seeming juggernaut doing its best to tell you This Is How Things Are.
Writer Chuck Palahniuk, who penned the original Fight Club novel, was able to tap into that zeitgeist of unrest and uncertainty that many of his readers felt, the feeling of letting oneself atrophy for the sake of the greater whole, and the suspicion that there might be others who feel that way and are drowning in their own loneliness. With the first issue of Fight Club 2 from Dark Horse, the comic book follow-up to the original tale, Palahniuk shows once again that he has his finger on the pulse of what many of his readers might be experiencing as they lurch toward middle age.
The Narrator of Palahniuk’s first installment has settled into a comfortable existence following the events of Fight Club, marrying his one-time support group partner Marla Singer and having a son with her. While the veneer of their life has the happy shine of an IKEA coffee table, below the surface belies a reality as flimsy as particle board. Now going by the name Sebastian, The Narrator uses medication to keep at bay the spectre of Tyler Durden, his alter ego and the split personality who attempted to subsume The Narrator in the name of violent cultural revolution. And Marla, once attached to The Narrator, finds herself bored to exhaustion with the man he’s become when the dust has settled and the excitement and danger of Project Mayhem is but a memory. Marla’s attitude and secrets, as well as Project Mayhem members who recognize The Narrator in public suggest that Tyler is being prepared for a resurrection, or possibly has already returned.
Palahniuk must be fully aware that he’s been heaped with expectations that many fans of the first novel and the David Fincher adaptation might feel that a sequel to Fight Club is superfluous and could possibly detract from the impact of the original story. We’ve seen this happen in comic books as well—looking at you, Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again. However, this is Palahniuk and, if his body of work says nothing else, he always has poignant commentary and something new to say. While many readers of Fight Club felt a kinship with The Narrator and his feeling of being unanchored in a world of manufactured goods and disposable ideas, Fight Club 2 seems to be aimed at those same readers who are a little older, a little greyer, a bit more settled into their lives after the blasting heat of idealism has cooled a bit. We see a Narrator who appears happy enough, but might be plagued by the could-have-beens, the doors that close with each passing year. And, as with his novels, Fight Club 2 #1 hints that extremes on either end of the spectrum are not always preferable. A lot of dashes of Buddhism and the Middle Way are sprinkled in for good measure.
That’s not to say that Fight Club 2 is all Big Ideas, as Palahniuk knows how to spin a romping yarn on top of the underlying themes. We see cracks in a marriage that often come when partners want different things out of life, with Marla crashing a Progeria support group and hijacking it with her own problems and self-confessionals. We see the shadow of Tyler in Sebastian’s son, who uses simple household items in an attempt to make gunpowder. And we are regaled with blink-and-you-miss them Easter eggs hidden in the comic, such as the Genesis 6:11-13 tattoo on a Project Mayhem member’s neck, eluding to Noah and the destruction of humanity and the world. I snorted out loud when, upon hearing the babysitter tell the police that a man has entered the house, Sebastian exclaims, “I’m not a man,” an echo of emptiness left after discarding his former life and his state at the start of the issue.
Artist Cameron Stewart is a master of linework, as he’s shown in his Eisner-winning work for Sin Titulo. In Fight Club 2 #1, he brings to the table a grit and sketchiness that matches both the tone of this tale and harkens back to the original novel and film. The sometimes-disjointed lines were an excellent choice by Stewart, as it mirrors the state of mind Sebastian is in as the simple world he’s created threatens to come crashing down. That’s not to say that Stewart doesn’t deliver some beautiful splashwork, from the peeks into Sebastian’s mind to the visuals catching up readers on the basics of the story that’s come before. Stewart is giving Sebastian, Tyler, and Marla their due.
Fight Club 2 #1 addresses not only the question, “What do revolutionaries do when they’ve left the war?” but also, “How willing are we to deny who we are in order to survive in the world?” After reading the first issue, the same feelings and emotions stirred that emerged after I consumed the first few chapters of the novel, without the slightest hint of pandering to readers’ affection for the original. Fight Club 2 #1 will make fans who balked at the need for a sequel wonder what we did without it.