Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Chuck Palahniuk
Artist: Cameron Stewart
Release Date: 27th May, 2015
By the end of Fight Club 2 #1’s first deeply sarcastic and biting page it is clear that Chuck P(checks front cover)alahniuk is dedicated to making his comic sequel in the exact same vein as his amazing novel. In a simple, multiple-choice questionnaire ,it is established exactly what kind of sappy modern man Pala(looks at front cover)hniuk is aiming his vitriol at, and also what is expected of an initiate to Project Mayhem.
Moving on to the comic itself, the art is simple, but beautifully so, capturing expressions perfectly; from chipper smiles, to deep worry. Small touches like pills seemingly spilling out across the page and obscuring character’s faces are fantastic, and bridge the visual language of the film and the illustrated language of the novel. The comic medium may have seemed a strange choice for a direct sequel to Fight Club, rather than an adaptation, but the experiment is certainly proving itself in this first issue.
Some of our beloved characters have changed drastically from when we last saw them hanging out in a skyscraper while the Pixies played us off, but some, like Marla, have stubbornly refused to change a bit (which is honestly, exactly what I would expect from Marla). Watching ‘Jack’ try to leave behind Project Mayhem is a great metaphor for approaching middle-age, in the same way that Fight Club was about being lost in your twenties. Palahniuk (yass, made it!) shows that he has lost none of his trademark ability to write disgustingly immoral and hilarious scenes, with Marla’s newest support group being a highlight of the issue.
Fight Club 2’s biggest strength so far is how the split personality of Tyler Durden and ‘Jack’ is now handled, now that the audience is in on the twist of Fight Club. With Marla seeking her old, crazy life back her manipulation of ‘Jack’ to bring back Tyler is amazingly dark, and I can’t wait to see how this all goes to hell.
Did Fight Club really need a sequel? Especially so far down the line? That does seem to be the question on the majority of peoples’ lips in the build up to the release of Palahniuk’s first foray into comic territory.
The answer is a fairly resounding ‘probably?’, and yes, that’s a question mark at the end of it. Whilst ostensibly following on from the ending of the book rather than the film, the issue seems rather conflicted about this. On the one hand, this can be something of a frustration, but at the same time, it’s an almost ingenious artistic decision, given the established fact that our (unreliable) Narrator – calling himself Sebastian these days – is a bona fide crazy person.
Stewart’s art plays into this rather neatly,and it’s one of those books that displays a rather perfect synergy between writer an artist. One particularly joyous facet is the way that the pages are occasionally littered with…well, clutter. Pills, seemingly obnoxious onomatopoeia, all obscuring the dialogue and beautifully emulating the fracturing, distractable state of the Narrator’s psyche.
Overall, it’ll remain to be seen quite how worth a sequel this is – Palahniuk is a man who’s mission is to toy with your expectations and neatly subvert them, and this being an issue #1, he’s barely had a chance to do it at all. But it’s a great start, and I’m excited to see where it goes next.
Chris B Says…
We’re clearly breaking the first two rules here, but here goes…
Ross has already said it, but while we didn’t actually need a sequel to Fight Club, now that I’ve read it I’m glad we have one! Following “Sebastian”, we see middle class suburbia decay over the course of the issue, with the same depth of story we would expect from Chuck. There are a few levels working here, and I can’t help but feel I’ve missed a million things on a first read through. Plus, I’ve learned over the years not to trust a single thing until the final reveal.
Team Stewart are the icing on the proverbial cake here, both bringing their absolute a-game. The design of the book is superb, with the page layout being exactly what the book needs to display the kind of insane we’re dealing with here.
While the story hasn’t quite had a chance to flex its muscles yet, the art alone is worth the cover price.
Following in the footsteps in one of the most critically acclaimed movies of all time, Chuck Palahniuk was always going to find himself in something of an uphill battle with his eagerly anticipated Fight Club sequel.
All the familiar traits and tropes from the 1999 movie (wait, that was sixteen years ago?!) are here in this first issue, making it an engaging bout of nostalgia – if not a particularly exciting sequel. The narrator – now calling himself Sebastian – is living in domestic ‘bliss’ with Marla, suppressing his inner Durden with a cavalcade of pills. Marla isn’t happy though, and longs for the wild life that brought her into this suffocating world in the first place. We are treated to commentary on the superficial nature of the modern world, Sebastian’s fractured inner monologue, the insomnia, the self-help groups… it all just feels a little too familiar, y’know?
One thing that Fight Club 2 definitely has going for it however is the absolutely stellar art of Cameron Stewart, crackling with creativity as he churns out spectacular splash pages and kinetic layouts as though his very life depended on it. This is clearly Stewart’s career-best work, and it manages to inject a sense of energy and dynamism into what is otherwise a fairly flat opening issue. Brilliantly inventive tweaks like pills laying on top of the pages to obscure faces and lines of dialogue help give this book a truly unique aesthetic, serving as a showcase for Cameron’s artistic chops and boundless creativity. I am Jack’s grovelling admiration.
Overall, while it struggles slightly from ‘sequel syndrome’, this is still an encouraging enough opening chapter for this new series, and in spite of the somewhat familiar narrative from Palahniuk, Stewart’s stunning artwork manages to keep Fight Club 2’s head above water – for the time being, at least.
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