Fight Club 2
Reviewed: Issues 1-5
Writer: Chuck Palahniuk
Artist: Cameron Stewart
Publisher: Dark Horse
Format: 10-part series It’s always risky going back to a hit. Chuck Palahniuk made his name with his slim, sick debut novel about underground fighting, soap and anti-capitalism before going on to refine his style in numerous other darkly funny satires.
David Fincher’s movie adaptation proved to be, if not a massive commercial hit, then a cult success. It undoubtedly helped Palahniuk’s career (and he has been nothing but complimentary about the film), but perhaps took the book away from him a little.
By the book
Hence this official sequel to the novel and not the film. It’s ten years later and Project Mayhem has singularly failed to bring about the end of society as we know it – though it’s still out there and the disciples of Tyler Durden continue to meet at the house on Paper Street.
Tyler, for his part, is suppressed in the mind of our nameless protagonist – now going by Sebastian. He’s settled down with Marla. They have a kid and appear to be fully assimilated into a life of suburban domesticity. Bored out of her mind, Marla starts tampering with Sebastian’s meds so that she can have an affair with Tyler. It’s not long, however, before he gets loose and kidnaps their son.
Fight Club 2 walks a fine line between the old and new. Returning elements – “space monkeys”, Angel Face, Marla’s addiction to support groups – are all present and correct, but there are stranger developments as Palahniuk begins to experiment with the comic form. Just as Fincher would have Tyler talk to camera, so Palahniuk plays with the fabric of his comic’s reality. At one point Marla runs into Chuck himself at a ‘Write Club’...
Tyler, meanwhile, is a more aggressive and malevolent force. Before, he would threaten people, seemingly to force them into improving their lot in life. Now he’s openly a tyrant, ordering executions at will. It’s a less nuanced take on the character, perhaps, but one that suits the story well.
The book evokes the diseased tone of the original. The jokes are as black as they come (at one point Marla joins a support group for terminally ill children). And it retains the sense you get from the book that this is a story that could go anywhere.
Stewart’s grubby, sketchy art is appropriately dingy, neither following the film (Tyler is a stocky surfer type here) or shying so far away as to make the two incompatible. And as the story progresses it becomes visually more adventurous, with images of Sebastian’s medication littering the page, occasionally obscuring faces and dialogue.
Something to say
Does Fight Club 2 need to exist? For the first couple of issues, the jury is out – it’s an entertaining but slow start. And then #4 hits and the story bends in some fascinating new directions. It’s an eccentric and funny book, and a supremely assured comics debut. We’d love to see Palahniuk write more in the medium.
“It retains the sense that this story could
Frankly, we don’t really
want to talk about it.